273: Confessions of a GameStop Employee - Part One

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Confessions of a GameStop Employee - Part One

In the first installment of a four-part series, Scott Jones relates the story of "Ben," an employee from a New York City-area GameStop and finds out exactly why they operate the way that they do.

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Quite an informative perspective. I've only bought a few games from GameStop, but they seem like an all-right store.

Interestingly this is very different from my perception of the games retail industry in the UK. I've known a few people who've worked in Game and Gamestation shops, and all of them have been keen gamers. A friend working for Game also told me about how employees were encouraged to take the new releases home, for free, to play through so they knew what they were talking about to customers. For those who didn't own a particular console, (despite the decent hardware discounts) each of the current generation static and portable machines were there in the staff rooms to be used on breaks. Finally, I don't think I've ever encountered an employee in one of these stores who wasn't able, and willing, to engage in a reasonable conversation on games. Very often they'll express an opinion, be it 'Buy Arkham Asylum now' or 'Yeah I'm not surprised you're trading Haze in'. It would quickly become apparent to me if someone had played nothing but Madden and Dead or Alive.

As for the whole 'gutting' thing, I can't see what the hell people's problem is. It's not like there isn't a very, very good reason for it. Thieves are arseholes, anything that prevents theft is a good thing. In the long run, prevention of theft keeps costs down for all of us. And what, you think those disks were born inside the box? Of course it's still a new game, long as it hasn't been played/scratched/pissed on by anyone! Long as it works, no issue.

Edit: Oh, I guess the whole 'gutting' thing is pretty dull for the employee, but what are you expecting when you take a low grade position in high street retail? It's really no different from stacking shelves. The narrator even starts out saying he wanted something low-pressure, low-effort, low-responsibility. I'm not being snobby, these are the jobs most of us start out in and build up from. Hell, I wish mine had been in a games shop rather than a burger bar!

-Bim

I understand the gutting thing. It makes sense to me. What I don't understand is why people complain that a game isn't new when only the shrink wrap is off. To me as, long as the disc is pristine, I get an instruction manual, and the box isn't dented, it's new.

I'm actually a fan of Gutting, stops dirty thiefs as mentioned but more importantly, saves me having to rip it all off!

Intresting read.

I never buy from local game stores, because mines all sell pirated disks, which suck arse, because I can't find any legit games.

I have to buy from Steam.

I can't wait to read more.

I've noticed that often with those games that have been "gutted" the DLC codes are missing.

Most of the time you can ask for a wrapped copy and you'll get one, unless they're out.

Being someone who works in an EBgame (Australia's evuivelant. Funnily enough owned by gamestop) i cant wait till te subject of game guarentee's comes up. im always at odd's with my area manager because i feel if someone spends an extra 3-5 bucks on a game to basicly insure it with us, we should not give them a "USED" game as a replacement.

its ridiculous. I personally dont mind gutting but then im in one of few stores with a very small staff contingent in a rural area with a suprisingly large back room and its nice to relieve the tedium of dealing with hicks whom i have to explain why thier ps3 game is not working on thier computer.

Gutting makes sense to me. The disc is still new, just put in a sleeve. You're only going to tear the shrinkwrap off later, anyway.

Yeah as long as the disks are pretty and shiny, I don't care about wrappings.
Whats the problem. You are in need of plastics ?

I worked at EB games for 5 years, thisi isn't shock/horror.. this is just retail. As for the hiring requirments, it comes down to the manager but to be honest your ability to play games takes a back seat to your ability to sell games. You dont need to play it to sell it; read a review, get a few key points and pass them on to a customer with an enthusiastic tone of voice and bingo, job done. If you want to talk to a hardcore gamer, talk to a member of the escapist community. As an EB/Gamespot employee you have to talk to a huge range of people and you arent going to play the same games as all of them, by extention you dont need to play the same games as any of them so long as you keep up to date and the lingo. Anybody upset by this needs to move on, its retail and its life.

I work at EB Games (Gamestop in Australia basically). Strangely, I get a complaint about unshrink wrapped games about once every 2 months. And that's generally from someone who wants to give it as a gift.

I understand where he's coming from; I'm actually surprised more people don't complain! But they don't. No one seems to care.

I quite enjoy gutting, but that's cause it's not my one and only delegation. We do all our work at the counter with work mates, which lets us break up the task with talking, selling, or other stock. I really enjoy my job. But I think it's as they say: it's not where you work, it's who you work with. A crappy boss and crappy team mates make for an all round crappy experience.

Adultratedhydra:
[...] i feel if someone spends an extra 3-5 bucks on a game to basicly insure it with us, we should not give them a "USED" game as a replacement. [...]

Wait, what? If someone puts EB's disk guarantee on their game, their mint copy of Halo Reach, and returns it with an Xbox Ring Burn, you'll replace it with a used copy of the game if one is available? Is that correct? Please tell me it's not, because that's ridiculous. New should be replaced with new, preowned with preowned.

As seems to be more common than I thought, I also work in the gaming retail industry. I don't have gutted games in my store. The shrinkage is pretty bad. I can see why other retailers do.

Overall, though, nothing to see here. Retail is boring. This is how we prevent theft. Let me know when the next post is here...

Doughboy0:

I've noticed that often with those games that have been "gutted" the DLC codes are missing.

I have noticed this quite a bit. Also, other small things that are sometimes added into the case (posters, maps, stickers, ect) also tend to be missing. I've gone so far as to ask about it, and had the manager give me the blank stare of a cow. Then, while browsing the shelves, see same manager pass fistfuls of the stuff to his slacker highschool pals. It was a great day, indeed, when that neckbeard was fired.

My other complaint is thus; If I'm buying a brand new game for the brand new price, don't try to pass me a disc with a fuggin burn ring. I know what they are, what they look like, and it pisses me off to no end when the store managers acts worse than the guy who runs the pawn shop down the street.

Needless to say, the local Gamestop here has shut down. I consider it mission accomplished. You spread the word of this enough, and it won't be long before their sales show the reflection of their deeds.

I am The Ska Assassin, and as a former Gamestop employee, I apporve and enjoyed this article.

But I don't want to wait next week... I want it all now!

Really interesting article. I have been pretty close with some EB Games managers and staff for about 10 years now. It is really amazing the stories you hear about and the things I have seen happen at those stores.

bimbley:
Interestingly this is very different from my perception of the games retail industry in the UK. I've known a few people who've worked in Game and Gamestation shops, and all of them have been keen gamers. A friend working for Game also told me about how employees were encouraged to take the new releases home, for free, to play through so they knew what they were talking about to customers. For those who didn't own a particular console, (despite the decent hardware discounts) each of the current generation static and portable machines were there in the staff rooms to be used on breaks. Finally, I don't think I've ever encountered an employee in one of these stores who wasn't able, and willing, to engage in a reasonable conversation on games. Very often they'll express an opinion, be it 'Buy Arkham Asylum now' or 'Yeah I'm not surprised you're trading Haze in'. It would quickly become apparent to me if someone had played nothing but Madden and Dead or Alive.

As for the whole 'gutting' thing, I can't see what the hell people's problem is. It's not like there isn't a very, very good reason for it. Thieves are arseholes, anything that prevents theft is a good thing. In the long run, prevention of theft keeps costs down for all of us. And what, you think those disks were born inside the box? Of course it's still a new game, long as it hasn't been played/scratched/pissed on by anyone! Long as it works, no issue.
-Bim

Damn... I should move to the UK and get a job in game retail... sounds nice to me...

as for the gutting thing? I have a very real issue with it. I've been forced by a gamestop employee (lets call him Mr. Duche) to get them at times.

Mr. Duche refused to grab the shrink-wrapped cases behind him and threw me an opened copy of a game, and made me pay full price. Upon getting home, I find that its missing its manual and the $10-20 code that is supposed to be with every new copy of the game. I go back up there, he tells me I don't know what I'm talking about. So I wait til he eventually goes off into the back room before asking the other employee there (this one has worked at the particular gamestop for a while). He says he never heard about the code being in only a small run, and even takes a shrink-wrapped case from the shelf and opens it up on the spot, produces the code from inside it, hands me the new case with code, slaps a used sticker on the case i was given, and tosses it aside.

Best part was seeing Mr. Duche walk out of the closet in time to see me getting the new game with the code, and get pissed off cause of it. At least he seemed to be missing after that day.

Double Post grrrrr!

Deleting this one just to be different!

cursedseishi:
as for the gutting thing? I have a very real issue with it. I've been forced by a gamestop employee (lets call him Mr. Duche) to get them at times.

Fair enough that sounds like a shitty situation, but it seems to me that your problem was with Mr Duche rather than gutting in general. Say I go to the coffee shop and order an espresso and the server chooses that moment to snap, (his missus left him this morning, his boss made him clean up the shitty toilets, his Mum rang to tell him his Dad had gone nuts and shot the dog and himself because Mum's been shagging the neighbour and incidentally she caught AIDS off the neighbour, etc) and throws hot coffee in my face. I hate that guy, I don't hate coffee!

-Bim

My main problem with gutting new game is that it reeks of hypocrisy. If I buy a game and open it, even if I never put it in my console, it becomes used as soon as the shrink wrap comes off. However, if Gamestop opens it as a means of preventing theft, well then it's still a new game even though DLC codes, maps, stickers, and god knows what may have been removed by store employees.

However, what I will say is that Gamestop has an awesome return policy on used games. Seven days, no questions asked. If you can't find a way to turn that into week long free rentals then you are doing something wrong.

use to work at GameStop myself. Never had a problem with gutting games because i enjoyed seeing the look on the occasional busted shoplifter as the cops opened up the cases to show him he just tried to steal an empty case.

Xanthious:
However, what I will say is that Gamestop has an awesome return policy on used games. Seven days, no questions asked. If you can't find a way to turn that into week long free rentals then you are doing something wrong.

there are limitations on that. had to deal with someone trying to get away with the same thing and our store manager denyed him a refund.

bimbley:

cursedseishi:
as for the gutting thing? I have a very real issue with it. I've been forced by a gamestop employee (lets call him Mr. Duche) to get them at times.

Fair enough that sounds like a shitty situation, but it seems to me that your problem was with Mr Duche rather than gutting in general. Say I go to the coffee shop and order an espresso and the server chooses that moment to snap, (his missus left him this morning, his boss made him clean up the shitty toilets, his Mum rang to tell him his Dad had gone nuts and shot the dog and himself because Mum's been shagging the neighbour and incidentally she caught AIDS off the neighbour, etc) and throws hot coffee in my face. I hate that guy, I don't hate coffee!

-Bim

True that it was mainly Mr. Duche's court, but gutting itself facilitates such a practice with some people, especially when they are there just to ensure a better bottom line for the store. Hell, he had the nerve to try and get me to buy a $20 point code both times.

Wherein your example, the act is caused by personal issues and not some company policy, though it doesn't make it any less funny to read.

Gutting is a GOOD thing...so you whiners...shut up.

Good article...will read up on the others as they are released.

I'm in the 'I don't care if the wrap is off it as long as it isn't scratched camp'.

On another note though, the hiring process for the GAME store near me seems to be very strange. I recently applied for a position there (Sales Assistant, nothing fancy) and despite having nearly 10 years of face-to-face sales experience, they didn't even give me an interview.

Even more mind boggling is the guys they hired, 3 new guys, all about 18, all nervous as hell and without an ounce of gaming knowledge between them.

....Dammit I really wanted that job

I worked at a EB Games (Canadian Gamestop) for about 2 years, and the memories are flooding back. I actually enjoyed gutting, because it got away form the morons asking about games, or who think that I want to stand around and talk about their World of Warcraft characters.

Seriously: Guys would walk in, read your name-tag, and think you want to hear about their epic killstreak on Call of Duty last night, or every detail of your 4 hour raid. Guys, they just want to sell games. Get out of here.

I'm glad I'm done with it.

Scott Jones:
[snip]They would pay me. I'd bag up their already opened/gutted game. And they would go on their merry way without making a peep. That's a fact.

For the record, I'm with you on this subject. When GameStop sells me an already-opened copy of a so-called "new" game, steam practically whistles from my ears.

But the rest of the population? They really don't seem to mind.

It's true.

I don't get it.

Why would anyone care? The disc has never been used, there's almost no potential for damage to the disc. Is this job supposed to sound bad? I worked for a mechanic shop and I don't know jack-shit about cars, and I did my job just fine. It's not their job to sell what is "good", they sell what people want and make money. Of course a lot of them don't give a crap about video games personally, they're a business. Almost no one does what they really love to do as work. This is like every single other company ever.

Personally, I've no problem with gutting. Then again, the folk at the Gamestops in my area actually do it properly and give you the rest of the stuff that comes in the case along with the disc. They also tend to actually be gamers that I can get into actual discussions with regarding the stuff I'm buying.

Gutting is just one of the myriad reasons I don't shop at Gamestop - not the most important reason mind you, as that would be "they don't carry any damn games for my platform (PC)", but paying for new software that's already been handled and is therefore "used" is rather onerous. So let's review - if I (try to) buy games at Gamestop, I'm going to be badgered about memberships/subscriptions that are completely useless to me, probably waste my damn time because there won't even be any copies of what I want in stock, or if there are I'll be sold an opened copy where they've placed the install media in a bloody cardboard sleeve.

Alternately I could just go to the Best Buy across the street where they will have brand new unopened copies of whatever it is that I want, which I can take to the counter and purchase. Funny how that works.

Doughboy0:
I can't wait to read more.

I've noticed that often with those games that have been "gutted" the DLC codes are missing.

Most of the time you can ask for a wrapped copy and you'll get one, unless they're out.

I can't speak for others, but I make it a point to put the DLC code in the sleeve with the gutted disc.

And as others said, a new hire would get that kind of bitchwork.

Sealed =/= new. Buy the time you get the disc was probably burned in Mexico weeks if not months ahead of the release date. Several people have already handled the game/case before you get it. The game itself doesn't do anything less because its been opened.

Really don't matter either way to me I hardly buy games brand new as there's hardly any that warrant paying full price for. Its funny seeing fools on ebay bidding more for a game just because its "sealed". Unless you're gonna take the game and not play it and just keep it with the hope it'll become so rare its value will increase; you're just wasting your money.

Wow. I knew that people in general were stupid, but I never knew that so many were dumb enough to just happily pay full price for a used, gutted game which is clearly not new once you remove the shrink wrap. Why the hell anyone would accept that when you can go to any of the other stores that carry games and are franchised like GameStop (Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc) is beyond me... Man people are dumb.

Infernoshadow211:
I understand the gutting thing. It makes sense to me. What I don't understand is why people complain that a game isn't new when only the shrink wrap is off. To me as, long as the disc is pristine, I get an instruction manual, and the box isn't dented, it's new.

Okay, go buy any new game from any other store, take off the shrink wrap, and try to return it and see if they think it's still new. HINT: They don't, because it's not. Even if you get a shrink wrapped copy at GameStop, they won't take it back under a return policy if you remove said shrink wrap. Hypocrisy much? You'd sell an opened game as new, you should return an opened game as well. Hell, unless they do something special to say you bought the gutted copy, you might not even be able to return that because it's got no shrink wrap.

And if you actually get a clean disc with no damage to the box or manual AND all of the DLC codes in the box and haven't been used yet, congratulations, you seem to have found the one GameStop on the planet that doesn't suck as much as the others.

I hope the later installments are more revealing.
I figured all this already.

I can tell the hiring practice isn't very stringent just going by how many times I've had to wait 15 mins for a 3 person deep line, when the case has been handed back to me with the wrong (or no) game in it, or because the clerk keeps trying to sell me magazine subscriptions and pre-orders for games coming out next year even though I've already put my headphones back on.
And the whole gutting thing doesn't work. I might stop theft but once the cases are out there they seem pretty useless. If I bring the case to the counter, I get the game in some generic case anyway. That is, if they have any copies left. Given the formula here, if a case is on the shelf the game should be in stock.

What's next week's big story going to be: they only sell new games to pre-orderers so people will give them money months ahead of time and so that when they start getting traded in a week later, customers will have to buy a used copy for $2 less than the new price? That scheme is pretty obvious too.

I understand how Gamestop operates and makes it's massive income. I just don't understand why gamers fall for it. Not just fall for it but become loyal fanboys of sorts begging for the opportunity to pay in full a game they wont see for 6 months or get $20 credit for a game they bought for $60 2 weeks ago.

How about Confessions of a Gamestop Fanboy. That I'm much more curious about.

Game stop employees don't need to be video game fans, they just need to know how to process the customers purchases. Display boxes being empty is a good policy to have. I honestly expect any display boxes to be empty as common sense. In any case most people I know wont want to buy the last copy of a game put on display even if it is unopened. Something about having it out there up front makes it seem less fresh.

I really dont have a problem with Gamestop. Ive bought from them in the past, though these days I usually just grab a game off of Amazon and wait a day or so for it to arrive at my door step.

As someone who hates hates HATES HATES Gamestop's policy of gutting new games, it was nice to see it from an employee's perspective, but I read nothing but flimsy excuses and gross exaggerations meant to make the solutions far more difficult and "convoluted" than it really would be.

There's no excuse for gutting new games. NONE. I don't want to hear about costs or time or space, because anyone with half a brain can figure out solutions to all of those. Gamestop isn't even trying. New game sales are clearly an afterthought for them anyway, as they spend most of their efforts pushing used game sales on us. No Gamestop employee has ever pushed a new game on me, aside from harassing me about whether I want to pre-order something (I don't); in fact, quite the opposite: when I ask for a game, they automatically start digging around in the used drawer, and when I point out that I want it new, they give me a wicked attitude, either like I'm inconveniencing them, or that I'm a moron for paying $5 extra for a game that hasn't been mauled by a 12 year old.

I also flat out refuse gutted copies, which all told severely limits what I can buy at Gamestop, since the only games they ever seem to have new (ie "sealed") copies of are brand new releases. Everything else, all they have laying around are the gutted display copies. Even if they do have sealed copies, more than once they've STILL tried to sell me the gutted copy. I have to say "I want a sealed one, I know you have one, I saw it in the drawer." And again, more attitude. I don't care that you think I'm an obsessive wack job. I am absolutely an obsessive wack job. But your job is to sell me video games, so GET OVER IT, smile, and do your goddamn job.

Now, since the only games I can buy there are brand new releases, I'd say that more than 90% of my games are bought elsewhere. Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, even K-Mart. They've all got this figured out, but a store DEDICATED TO GAMING can't figure out how to sell new video games honestly.

EDIT: I should point out that the reason I'm opposed to gutted copies is because most Gamestop employees are exceedingly careless when handling discs. I watch them when they "examine" my trade-ins (something which must be for show...they don't actually look at the disc long enough to notice anything beyond a disc-length gash or crack). I've examined display copies of games I simply can't find anywhere else, and they're dirty, dusty, almost always covered in fine scratches and/or fingerprints, and occasionally have a few more serious scratches as well. This is as often because of the cheap paper sleeves as from the employee's own carelessness.

Not to mention that we all know about how some less scrupulous employees "borrow" games from the store's stock. I know this practice has been outlawed, but I'm also certain it still happens. When display copies of games look as used as some of the ones I've seen, it's hard to believe otherwise.

So sure, some display copies will be in perfect shape, but many MANY of them won't be, and I'm not interested in closely examining every game before I buy it. Just sell it to me sealed and that problem's taken care of.

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