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"YOU'RE WINNER !" — Victory screen from Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing

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I'm sure you can help them sort it out, Dunban.
― Fiora, Xenoblade Chronicles
This article is about an American video game and pop culture retailer named GameStop.
You may be looking for video gaming website that provides news, reviews, previews, downloads, and other information on video games named GameSpot who has a similar name.

For a company with "Power to the players!" as their slogan, the players really don't have a lot of power.
Founded: 1984
Founder(s): Leonard Riggio
Daniel DeMatteo
Richard Fontaine
Headquarters: Grapevine, Texas, United States
Key people: Dan DeMatteo (Executive Chairman)
George Sherman (CEO)
Subsidiaries: Babbage's
EB Games
EB Games Australia
Game Informer
Zing Pop Culture
Rhino Video Games

GameStop is an American video game and pop culture retailer. Founded in 1984 by Daniel DeMatteo, it was first headquartered in Texas, United States. It is currently one of the longest lasting retailers that specializes in video game sales.

Why They Don't Give Power to the Players

  1. The company is notorious for treating their employees terribly, with higher-ups constantly pressuring them to keep their sales numbers up, resulting in a poor customer experience:
    • Due to the controversial "Circle of Life" policy, employees are forced to aggressively push used sales, trade-ins, pre-orders for upcoming games, PowerUp Rewards Pro memberships, and extended warranties (referred to by GameStop as the "Gameplay Guarantee" (GPG) for software and "Product Replacement Plan" (PRP) for hardware). Also, employees have to push a high-interest credit card at 27% APR on customers aged 18 and over.
    • Despite the often unrealistic sales expectations set by district managers, region managers, and corporate, many sales associates only earn around their state's or province's minimum wage and do not receive any bonuses for exceeding sales goals; exceeding sales goals is also detrimental to employees since higher-ups will expect them to meet those same goals again, if not higher, in the following week. The only incentive for employees to meet their sales goals is to keep their job.
    • Employees, if they're not a keyholder (store manager, assistant store manager, or senior sales associate), rarely get hours and must meet their sales quotas in order to earn additional hours. Keyholders may end up working by themselves for an entire shift without any breaks.
    • Unscrupulous employees may resort to tacking on additional charges on customers' receipts without the customers' knowledge or consent to artificially inflate their sales numbers; some managers, both store-level and district-level, even encourage this practice. Elderly customers, children without their parents present, distracted parents, customers with large transactions, and customers who don't speak English well are particularly susceptible to add-on fraud. The most common form of add-on fraud is adding the GPG to games without the customer's knowledge, since it's a relatively small charge and is likely to go unnoticed, particularly on a large transaction; however, some employees may resort to creating fake pre-orders to pad their numbers.
    • Managers often encourage lower-level employees to lie to customers about having certain products new in stock in order to improve their used sales numbers. However, this practice is becoming harder to pull off since most customers can access GameStop's website from their smartphone to check the stock status of any particular product, although this is not always reliable.
    • Employees may be forced to lie about the quality of a particular game, whether by GameStop themselves or the publisher, especially if the game in question was highly promoted but has negative reviews. An employee giving their honest opinion contrary to what they are told can lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
    • GameStop aggressively pushes for trade-ins of smartphones and tablets, particularly high-end devices. GameStop employees have to make quotes for customers' phones, with a certain percentage leading towards a transaction. Also, employees had to go to other stores and use their personal social media in order to promote tech trades.
    • Employees who fail to meet their sales quotas are often threatened with disciplinary action up to and including termination. In certain cases, the entire staff of a single store had been fired by their district and/or region manager for failing to meet quotas. With GameStop's declining revenue in the last few years, corporate has threatened stores with outright closure if they fail to maintain consistent high sales numbers.
    • GameStop is notorious for firing long-serving employees, specifically those whose wages exceed $15 per hour and/or have been with the company for at least five years, generally finding a flimsy excuse to terminate their employment to avoid paying severance or unemployment insurance, all to hire cheaper and less experienced staff to save money and pay their executives a higher bonus.
    • Because of the high employee turnover rate, many employees have limited or outdated games knowledge at best to absolutely none at worst.
    • In November 2020, GameStop challenged its employees to submit dance videos to TikTok, in which one of the "prizes" offered was their store being rewarded with 10 additional payroll hours for Black Friday.
  2. Bad customers are also notorious for mistreating employees, further exacerbating GameStop's bad reputation with its current and former employees:
    • As with most other major retail stores, managers will more often than not side with the customers over the employees in a dispute, even when said customer is clearly in the wrong or attempting to defraud the store, essentially rewarding bad behavior.
    • Entitled parents will often leave their children at GameStop unsupervised to use the store as "free" babysitting while they go to a different store. This practice is inconsiderate towards both employees and other customers; for store employees, having unsupervised children wreaking havoc in the store often results in extra clean up work, and for customers, misbehaving children can greatly diminish their shopping experience. It is also reckless and dangerous behavior, since an unsupervised child can potentially hurt themselves, become lost, or in the worst case scenario, be abducted by a predator!
    • Entitled parents who do accompany their children to the store will often fail to keep their children's behavior in check, allowing them to wreak havoc in the store. Sometimes, the children may be well-behaved, but it's their parents who will make a scene. Employees who attempt to bring up bad behavior to an entitled parent, whether it's the parent themselves or their children, will often face snide and condescending remarks, and the manager will more often than not bend over backwards to appease the entitled parent and write up the employee.
    • Female employees can face catcalling and sexist behavior from bad customers and co-workers. While sexist behavior can occur in any workplace, it is more pronounced in GameStop's case, given how gaming is often wrongly stereotyped as a male-dominated hobby. In the worst cases, unscrupulous customers or co-workers, particularly management, may attempt to sexually harass female employees.
    • Employees have been assaulted, both verbally and physically, by bad customers, usually over the store's trade-in and return policies, particularly the low trade-in values. In one viral incident, a man trashed a store after he couldn't return an opened new copy of Fallout 76 for a full refund[1], while in another incident, Tiffany Moore, a trans woman, acted belligerent towards an employee and another customer for alleged misgendering, with her cursing out said employee and threatening him with physical assault.[2]
  3. In recent years, GameStop has shifted away from its core business of selling and trading video game consoles, software, and accessories:
    • In 2013, GameStop began offering prepaid mobile phone plans and started accepting trades for smartphones and tablets, particularly high-end devices like those from Apple and Samsung.
    • After acquiring ThinkGeek in 2015, GameStop started to focus more on general pop culture memorabilia, directly competing against other pop culture/novelty stores such as Hot Topic and Spencer's. Clothing, collectibles (particularly those made by Funko), toys, card and board games, and other merchandise take up more shelf space than actual game boxes. Also, many GameStop stores are fairly small, often less than 1,500 ft2 (~140 m2) on average, and adding large amounts of physical merchandise makes the stores, particularly smaller mall-based stores, seem even more claustrophobic.
  4. GameStop stores overfocus on current-gen video game consoles:
    • For example: Xbox One, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch games have more shelf space and more noticeable displays.
    • Retro games are generally sold online, which is a problem because retro games should be inspected before purchase to make sure they work.
  5. GameStop opens new sealed copies of games to use their cases as displays instead of using fake cases.
    • This is particularly egregious for highly anticipated and promoted games, since the marketing department will send out multiple fake sleeves for said games in the stores' marketing kit.
    • If all sealed copies of a new game are sold out, opened copies are supposed to be sold as "new" at full price and "resealed" with a sticker to enforce the return policy; however, depending on a store's manager, customers might get the open box game at a discount, even though doing so is against GameStop's policy. While other electronics retailers such as Best Buy and Micro Center also sell opened box products, either as customer returns or floor units, they are transparent about the products' condition and sell them at an appropriate discount, especially if components are missing. Selling opened box products as new is considered unethical as it is a deceptive practice by misrepresenting the products' actual condition; in some places, it is outright illegal to sell opened box as new.
    • GameStop has a policy where employees are allowed to check out one game for up to four days. While this policy has a seemingly legitimate purpose, to allow employees to familiarize themselves with a game to help better inform customers, and is not a problem for used games, a "new" game could end up getting scratched and paper insert codes for bonus content could end up missing, if not outright redeemed.
  6. Their trade-in values are insultingly low:
    • They can take in a recently released or highly popular game for less than half of its original price, then resell it for $5 less than new.
    • Cash value is 20% less than store credit. Also, any promotion that offers bonus credit is void if a trade is cashed out.
    • While it could be argued that GameStop could offer better trade-in values and still make a profit, the store does assume liability for all merchandise traded in, especially if any part of a trade turns out to be stolen.
  7. It's been proven that they don't even check the video games or consoles they take in. Some people report that used games are scratched up beyond belief with little done to try and improve them, while their 'Certified Refurbished' consoles are either poorly fixed in a way that they will eventually break again or were not even fixed to begin with.
    • One of the used games that Scott The Woz bought from GameStop had gum in it.
  8. Some of their cartridge based trade in games are in horrible condition. For example, a Reddit user revived a copy of Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures on the 3DS, that was in extremely poor condition. He tried to email them, but he got no response. He was able to fix it up though.
  9. PowerUp Rewards (PUR), GameStop's customer loyalty program, used to be decent despite employees constantly pushing it, but it is now no longer worthwhile.
    • In the past, PUR members could redeem their accrued points towards exclusive physical merchandise, such as t-shirts and hats. Rewards are now relegated to in-store coupons, membership renewal, or charitable donations.
    • PUR Pro used to offer a 10% discount on used games and accessories and a 10% bonus on trades, making it attractive to customers who frequently trade and buy used. In January 2020, GameStop discontinued the 10% used discount in favor of a monthly $5 voucher, which does not stack with other coupons or offers, expires at the end of each month, and basically takes away the incentive to buy used over new; however, the 10% trade bonus remains intact. Also, the price of the PUR Pro membership was increased from $14.99 to $19.99 annually if customers choose to receive a physical Game Informer magazine each month.
    • In September 2017, GameStop introduced the PUR Elite tier but discontinued it less than a year later. At $29.99 annually, PUR Elite members received 30 points per dollar spent, a 20% discount on used games and accessories, a 20% bonus on trades, and free 2-day shipping on online orders of at least $35. GameStop allowed existing PUR Elite members to continue renewing their benefits until January 2020, after of which all remaining active PUR Elite memberships were downgraded to PUR Pro with a prorated refund.
  10. Digital storefronts such as Xbox Games Store, PlayStation Store, Nintendo eShop, Steam, and Epic Games Store as well as free-to-play online games (whether on PC, consoles, or smartphones) such as Roblox, Fortnite, and League of Legends have diminished GameStop's relevance in selling physical games, leading to poor decisions in an attempt to stay relevant.
  11. Large retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Best Buy also sell video games. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, these retailers have greater justification than GameStop for staying open.
    • Amazon, as the world's largest online retailer, sells practically everything.
    • Both Walmart and Target, as two of the world's largest brick-and-mortar retailers, sell essential items, such as food, baby needs, cleaning supplies, and medicine, and many stores also operate in-store pharmacies.
    • Best Buy sells computers and their related accessories as well as computer repair services through their Geek Squad subsidiary.
  12. During COVID-19, they have been busted for not properly enforcing their mask requirements.
  13. Despite the negative reception revolving around NFTs among gamers, GameStop launched an NFT marketplace in July 2022.
    • The launch of the NFT marketplace was ill-timed, considering that GameStop had massive corporate layoffs just days before the launch, the cryptocurrency market had a massive downturn, and the NFT bubble was seemingly on the verge of bursting.
    • The marketplace sold indie games without consent from the developers.
    • More controversially, the marketplace allowed an NFT to be minted based on The Falling Man photograph, which depicts a man falling to his death from the Twin Towers during the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. It is handy to have a store that will instantly take your old games off your hands, as opposed to doing an online marketplace (e.g., Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc.) sale.
  2. You can find some last generation games easily at some stores.
  3. Employees who truly are the most passionate about gaming are often the most helpful; however, such employees are often few and far between, due to the points explained in reasons #1 and #2.
  4. While trade-in values are typically not great as mentioned above, it is possible to maximize trade-in value by taking advantage of trade deals, especially those that offer bonus credit for large transactions (ex., trade 3 games, get 10% additional credit) or if the trade is applied towards a highly promoted game.
  5. The Game Informer magazine, while questionable, is still a good magazine sometimes.

COVID-19 "Essential Business" Controversy

During the COVID-19 pandemic, GameStop came under fire by saying that they'll stay open, claiming that they are an "essential business". GameStop claims they "continue to provide essential products to our customers that allows them to stay connected, and provide products that allow business and consumers to work remotely". Some employees refuted this claim, stating that the expensive gaming peripherals sold by GameStop were not essential for remote work and that cheaper basic peripherals could be easily found at stores which were allowed to remain open. The company even sent out a legal memo to store managers to show to law enforcement, stating that GameStop has all rights to stay open, should the latter show up to try and shut down stores.

A conference call got leaked out, which corporate executives claimed that cleaning and hygienic supplies were going to be shipped out to stores in the next few days, all the while dismissing manager and employee concerns. Despite corporate claims that cleaning supplies were being shipped out, employees and managers took to Reddit to express their anger, saying that they haven't received any kind of shipment like that. One employee says that he and his coworkers are using supplies that he bought himself, and he expects to be reimbursed by the company.

The real reason why GameStop wanted to remain open was because stores reported sales and foot traffic in stores have increased due to quarantine and stay at home orders were being declared throughout countries and states. It is also widely speculated that GameStop wanted to remain open to see and capitalize on the launches for Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

After outcries and resignations from employees and managers, the company losing their Retail Permit in the State of Pennsylvania, and harsh criticisms from lawmakers and gamers alike, GameStop has finally decided to temporarily close all stores across the US.

Despite the huge amount of backlash, GameStop decided to start re-opening stores around one month later, after the governor of Georgia decided to re-open the state.


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