Living with GameStop

This is the third in our series of articles about GameStop. In the Case Against Gamestop articles, we explained from both a Customer and Employee perspective just why we at Everyday Gamers have taken such a strong stand against the company. The biggest video game retailer in North America has not exactly helped its case since then by breaking street dates on major holiday titles. If it was possible, we would tell our readers to flat out refuse to deal with them.

Unfortunately, we realize for many of you this just is not a realistic ideal. Being the largest video game retailer in North America and one of the few that deals in used games, GameStops are everywhere, and for many of you there just really is no good competition in your area. On top of that, the company uses its market share to negotiate special deals with game makers, allowing it to offer exclusives the competition just cannot match. In the end, even those of us who are the most hardened against the company find ourselves having to deal with it from time to time.

In light of this, we at EDG thought it would be a good idea to share some of the insights we have gained on how to get the most out of your dealings with the game retailer. These insights come from years of being GameStop customers and, for at lest one of us, from being an employee. Hopefully these tips will help you even the odds a bit the next time you go to purchase or trade games with the company.

Tip Number 1: Not all GameStops are alike

I know it can be easy to lump all the stores together because GameStop is a retail giant, but not all stores are alike. While the prices and corporate strategies will be the same no matter where you go, the employees working for the store can make all the difference. If there are multiple stores in your area, which seems likely since GameStop loves to over saturate the market, check more than one out before deciding which one you will frequent.

Need help determining which GameStops employ friendlier, knowledgeable and helpful staff? Here are some tell-tale signs:

1. The state of the store: Look to see just what state the store is in when you enter. Does it look like the employees make an attempt to keep it looking nice? Are the games alphabetized, or are they just strewn all over the place. Do you see employees walking the store, seeing if games are out of place? The state of the store will give you a clue about just how much the employees care about their job and the customers.

2. How customers are treated: Are the employees sensitive to the customer’s needs, or are they too busy trying to force preorders and Game Informer subscriptions down their throat. Are they listening to the questions customers are asking and providing thoughtful answers, or are they just schilling the latest game corporate is choosing to push. Look for signs of a staff that actually cares about the customer.

3. Test their knowledge: Ask the employees about a few games or gaming related issues you are familiar with. Check their answers. Do they know of what they speak. If they don’t know, are they willing to admit that, or do they make things up to hide their ignorance. Personally, I would much rather have someone tell me they are not familiar with a game then try to make up an answer to hide lack of knowledge.

Once you have found a good store or two, you will find dealing with the company a much more relaxing experience.

Tip Number 2: Watch the Sales

Though GameStop’s general prices are no better than anyone else’s (in fact, they can often be worse), it does tend to have good sales. These can range from just good prices on new games to the popular “Buy 2 Used games, Get 1 Free” sales the stores have on a regular basis. Every summer GameStop runs its Gamer Days sale, and the prices during that sale can make dealing with the company worthwhile even to its most hardened critics.

If you really want to know what sales are coming up for GameStop or any retailer for that matter, there is only one website to check: Cheap Ass Gamer. As much as I am not a fan of the the name of the website, the site itself is packed with info on how to get games for great deals, and it is the place to go to find out what sales all retailers are running, including GameStop.

Want to know just how good the sales can get? Earlier this year, I picked up a copy of Street Fighter IV for $19.99 when it was selling new for $39.99. During last year’s Gamer Days sale, certain Guitar Hero controllers were being sold for $9.99; and it is not unusual to see games on sale for 50% off during that sale.

Tip Number 3: Trade to your advantage

We all know GameStop almost never gives fair value for trading in games, but there are ways you can make sure to get more for your trade:

1. Trade early: If you know you are going to trade in a game after you beat it, beat it as soon as possible so you can trade it in as early as possible. GameStop is always looking for trade ins of the hottest releases, and the company will generally give you better trade credit for them. This is becoming even more important with the recent trend of games to drop in price a couple of months after coming out, and it is a must if you are going to trade sports titles. One thing I do is look at my games and evaluate whether or not I am really going to play them anytime soon, If the answer is no, I will trade them in, knowing that is I really want to come back to them, I can pick them up later for a good price or GameFly them. Granted, I take my trades to Play N Trade, but the principle is the same.

2. Trade for New Releases: GameStop almost always has trade in deals when you put the money toward a preorder or new release. If there is a big game you are looking at preordering and you have some games to trade in, take advantage of these deals. A game that would normally only trade in for $10 will give you $12 if you get an extra 20% for preordering a qulifying game. That is how I was able to afford Rock Band; after trades, I paid about $40 for it, including all the instruments.

3. Know when to trade: After the holidays, GameStop almost always needs trade ins. As a result, the company will often offer trade deals right then. Also keep an eye out for major deals where it offers up to 40% trade credit. Those are rare, but they do happen.

4. NEVER trade for Cash: GameStop will never give you anything close to what games or consoles are worth if you trade for cash. If you need the money, look at selling on Amazon, Craig’s List or even your local pawn shop. They will generally give you a better deal.

Tip Number 4: Remember the alternatives

No matter where you live, there will be alternatives to GameStop, at least in terms of new games. Best Buy has been in the midst of a price war with the company, offering “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” deals on all games and even at one time offering to sell some new games and GameStop’s used price. Toys R Us, Target and (I hate to say it) Walmart have all been offering deals on new games as well. See if you can find local stores that offer trade credit for games, such as Play N Trade. Also, never forget the online alternatives, such as Amazon, Ebay and Craig’s List.

It’s up to you

While these tips can help you deal with the company, in the end there is only one way to make sure you are not going to be fleeced by GameStop: determine before entering the store what you are willing to deal with. If you are trading in games, think about what the lowest amount you are willing to get in return is, and if the store will not meet that, walk away. When buying, know before you go what would be a good price to pay for the games you want, and if you find GameStop’s price is higher, go elsewhere. Never forget that GameStop is not the only video game retailer in the US. If you keep that in mind, you can make sure you deal with the company on your own terms.

Eric Bouchard

I am the Senior Editor and current Admin for Everyday Gamers as well as the primary editor of the podcast. While I tend to gravitate towards shooters or RPGs, I will play any genre of game which catches my eye.

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