GameStop: Power to the Shareholders

GameStop Logo

As many of you know I used to work for Funcoland back in high school and college. Funcoland was bought out by Babbages Inc. prior to my departure. The Babbages Inc./Funcoland hybrid became GameStop which then bought EB. GameStop Inc. is now the “Wal-Mart” of the Game Retailers. Sure there are other smaller outfits like GameCrazy, Play-N-Trade, and others but they’re so few and far between that they don’t stand as true viable options for most gamers. Sure you can get your games at BestBuy or Wal-Mart but I want to talk about the Game retailers specifically. You see what bothers me is the current GameStop store model. You walk in a GameStop these days and it looks like a God Damned flea market half the time with products strew about, not organized in any fashion, and a mess on all the shelves. God forbid you actually are able to search their shelves alphabetically for anything! After you find what you’re looking for and you go to the counter and pay you are then BOMBARDED by your sales clerk’s up-sale pitches. They’ll most likely push some reservation on you or a subscription to Game Informer. I actually overheard a new GameStop policy has just gone into effect that states that when an employee starts their shift they have to plan out their up-sale goals for the day with their shift supervisor. When I heard that, it made me sick…

Lets travel back in time to when Funcoland Inc. was still just that, its own company. Its no secret that Funcoland rewarded its employees with a bi-weekly commission check for selling cleaning kits, Game Informer subscriptions, or other designated items. The cleaning kits gave customers an extended year warranty for their systems they bought from us and cleaned their games and systems, the Game Informer subscription gave them 10% off used games and a pretty decent magazine, and the other items well I guess depending on the item they were either getting a good deal or getting tricked into a piece of shit. One thing about all of the Funcoland up-sales was that there were no hard up-sale mandates for employees. The only person you were hurting by not selling them was yourself because you didn’t get any commission and management was always fine with that and from the customer side of things they were really getting something postivie out of each of the up-sales. Once GameStop took Funcoland over the commission system went the way of the Do-Do. Reservations and up-sales were then pushed heavily by management with no sales person incentive. My understanding is that still is the case.

So who benefits from the current up-sale/reservation philosophy at GameStop’s stores? Not the customer. Not the gamer. Its the shareholder. That’s fine. I’m a very pro-business person and believe in laissez-faire but don’t bill yourself as the store for “gamers”. If I want my games shilled by corporate mandates I’ll take my business to BestBuy, thank you very much, as they always seem to have tons of copies of titles in stock and their prices are always fair. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the days of the specialty game retailer, for gamers by gamers, is dead. I guess I just haven’t really noticed.

David Pomije, I want to say that you were the first and last person to develop a retail chain that was truly for Gamers. You invented Used Game sales for Christ sake. I enjoyed working for your company when it was still YOUR COMPANY. I don’t fault you for selling as how could you say no? Maybe its time you got back into the game.

Luckily I found an EB by me that isn’t as bad as the others and the staff there is good. But if that changes I’m going to wash my hands of you GameStop once and for all!