Video game retail giant Gamestop has never been an honest or fair company to its patrons and the latest news on GameStop should not surprise anyone. It is amazing that GameStop is even still in business with all the scams they were caught executing and yet people still purchase video games from them. I say it is time that some light is shed on GameStop’s business practices and hopefully those that read this will understand why it is a bad idea to shop at GameStop.
As most people reading this are aware that GameStop makes a significant portion of its money off of used games. They take advantage of gamers out there who don’t have a lot of disposable income. Most would say that they are doing them a service because they are offering games to people that couldn’t afford them and making those games fit their budget. The part that they don’t tell you is that GameStop traditionally offers some of the worst trade in values available on the market. They also mark the used games up more than anyone else will. Anyone buying a used game from GameStop is getting ripped off every time they buy a game used. The most ridiculous example of this is getting a new game and trading it in a week or two later. Most people could expect about a $35 to $40 trade in value. Soon after GameStop will sell that game for $55 or in some cases $60 in “New Condition” which is anything but new. Now I will admit that this is more an issue for those allowing their games to be traded in for such poor value and those buying the games at an incredibly high markup. I just mention this as an appetizer for what is to come.
A few years ago GameStop was taking people’s phone numbers to complete game purchases. Soon after they would be added to a telemarketing phone list where patrons would be called several times to complete surveys, asked to participate in upcoming promotions and using their previous purchase history to try and convince gamers to trade that game back to them for much less than what they paid for it. There is a time and place for everything and if they did all this in the store I would say that is their prerogative. However, if you take information and then add people to a calling list without prior authorization, that is bad business and incredibly annoying for anyone making a purchase at GameStop. I know I especially didn’t appreciate the speech they would give me when I would go up to make a purchase. They would kindly offer to pre-order a couple of games for me and then proceeded to read me the list of games coming out that year. This just doesn’t work for me and how anyone could put up with that would drive me crazy. I could forgive parents falling for this pre-order trap because there was a time where if you wanted game you would have to wait in line to get it and most stores sold out of those items extremely quickly leaving disappointed children at home during the holidays. Fortunately this phenomena doesn’t occur that often anymore especially with video games and thus there is no need to pre-order anything. Trust me, every retailer will have the game you want pretty much whenever you want it so don’t fall for that.
GameStop’s worst offenses come when the company defines whether a game is new or used. Every game that is sold is sealed in plastic by the distributor and that is how you know that a game is new. GameStop, however, does not see things that way and they prefer to say that a game is new as long as you believe it is new. There is documented proof that GameStop “guts” their video games or rather the act of breaking the sealed game open, removing the disc and leaving the boxes on the shelf. They claimed that this was meant to deter theft and I can understand why you don’t want to leave a complete copy of the game on a shelf that is only occasionally watched, but by breaking that seal the game becomes used. I wouldn’t even have a problem is GameStop only sold opened games but when you charge new prices for those games, that is where the problems begin.
We just learned of the worst offense so far which just occurred recently with the release of Deus Ex: The Human Revolution. The game was released on the PS3, Xbox360 and the PC. All of the PC copies of the game included a code for the PC users where they could get the game on OnLive for free. GameStop recently acquired a video game streaming company that directly competes with OnLive and made the decision to open all the copies of the PC version of the game, remove the OnLive coupons and sell the games as new in stores. This is, of course, outrageous and since this leaked GameStop removed the game from their stores and sent it back to the distributors. This has gone far enough people. If you or I went into a store, opened the box and took a code from the box we would go to jail. Product tampering is a serious offense and is defined by altering a product meant for consumers or selling an incomplete product with the knowledge that the product was tampered with. This is a second degree felony and in Texas, where GameStop headquarters is located, the penalty is up to 20 years in prison with a $10,000 fine. These are obviously standards for an individual and I’d imagine they’d be much worse for a corporation.
If we can’t trust retailers to sell us a complete copy of a game then who can we trust? It isn’t right that GameStop is getting away with this. We gamers deserve better treatment and I encourage anyone out there to forge new relationships with other retailers. Best Buy and Amazon have excellent used game markets and give much better trade in value with free shipping. GameStop never has sales or rebates on games but retailers such as Kmart and Amazon give out $10 to $20 dollar coupons on select games for future purchases. If you play it right you’ll never have to pay full retail price for a game again. Either way GameStop has shamed themselves with poor business practices and blatant disregard for consumers rights and privileges. It is up to you, the consumer, to send a message to GameStop that their behavior is not acceptable and you want your games how they were intended for you and until then this industry giant continues to make victims out of all of us.