Gamestop doesn’t get much positive publicity these days; once a gaming giant famous for their dedication to gaming culture, the brand has since been sullied by a series of notoriously underhanded business practices and a total overabundance of Pickle Rick plushies. Seriously, why is it that every single Gamestop store has at least one of the things on display?
With gamers long fed-up with their tactics and tons of industry analysts predicting their demise, the future doesn’t look bright for the company formerly known as Babbage's. It’s no secret that gaming is steadily moving away from physical media as digital downloads threaten to render CDs and Blu-ray discs totally obsolete in the coming years. What’s more, some rumors suggest that the upcoming generation of consoles will forego disc inputs entirely, an absence already common among newer PCs.
Yet, Gamestop somehow clings to life, partially thanks to their increased reliance on retro gaming. The business has long depended on trade-ins and resales to keep themselves afloat, but it’s hard to say how long that will last.
Worse still is their attitude toward employees; though working with Gamestop may seem like a dream come true at the outset, store clerks are often treated more like used car salesmen than traditional retail workers.
Tons of ex-employees have taken to YouTube to discuss their disdain for their former employer, and wary job-seekers need not search far to find negative opinions of the organization. With that in mind, here are 30 ridiculous guidelines which Gamestop forces on their employees.
30 Gaming Knowledge Isn’t Required
While knowledge regarding all things gaming would seem like a fairly obvious requirement for Gamestop, the company doesn’t seem to make that much of a priority during employee training. While most employees—seasonal ones especially—receive very little training at all, they aren’t coached in the field of video games and are expected to gain most of their info on the topic from personal experience. While a vast majority of Gamestop applicants will come equipped with a wealth of knowledge on the subject, the company has certainly hired clueless retail workers in the past. It would be unfair to point the finger at anyone for this bit of carelessness, least of all the store’s base employees, but it does seem strange that they don’t even offer a crash course in most cases.
29 Employees Are Encouraged To Sell Warranties And Subscriptions
While anyone unfamiliar with the video game retailer would assume that a vast majority of their profits come from video game sales, that isn’t necessarily the case. It has been estimated that somewhere around 40% of the company’s total revenue comes from the sale of additional warranties and subscriptions to things like their Powerup Rewards membership club and the Game Informer magazine. While warranties can sometimes come in handy, it’s fair to say that Gamestop pushes these services to the point of exhaustion, and most consumers expect to hear a sales pitch each time they bring a game up to the counter.
28 The Circle Of Life Policy Prioritizes The Sale Of Used Games
Though Gamestop rolled back their extremely controversial “Circle of Life” policy in late 2017, the mentality persists within the company in all but name. This Circle of Life priority works by encouraging gamers to purchase new games at Gamestop and then return and redeem them for store credit at a later date. Theoretically, buyers would then use that credit to buy used games, and the cycle would continue. When it was at its height, the Circle of Life policy heavily prioritized used games and even punished employees who didn’t meet certain sales quotas in that field. This system made working at Gamestop much more stressful than an average retail job and led to a wide-scale backlash from which the retailer is still struggling to recover.
27 Employees Could Be Fired For Failing To Meet Quotas
While aggressive, employee-hostile tactics like this may be expected in high-pressure sales environments like used car lots, the Circle of Life mentality brought a huge strain on quality of life for both consumers and representatives at Gamestop. Employees were stressed out because there were very real examples of workers being released from the company for failing to uphold certain quotas, and it hurt the consumer experience because gamers constantly felt pressured to spend more than they actually intended to. While a Gamestop higher-up may earnestly insist that the Circle of Life mentality has been corrected, that isn’t really the case at most stores.
26 Employees Are Discouraged from Selling New Games
It’s no secret that Gamestop struggles to make a profit from the sale of new games. As a result, they aren’t as likely to advertise game releases and will sometimes fail to stock upcoming titles entirely if the profit margins aren’t promising enough for the store. With that in mind, when the Circle of Life standard was in its prime, employees were essentially discouraged from selling new games because it negatively impacted their quotas and sometimes impacted their CoL scores. Workers with CoL scores lower than forty-ish percent were often reprimanded, and it got to the point where game releases were the bane of most employees existences. Now that Gamestop has done away with Circle of Life scores, these issues have been somewhat assuaged.
25 Some Employees Have Been Outright Told To Lie To Make a Sale
Deception and misinformation have long been associated with Gamestop’s sales practices, and, in some cases, ex-employees have relayed that they were outright told to lie to customers in order to push more products out the door. While the blame for this shouldn’t be placed at the feet of any base-level game advisor, Gamestop’s executives may want to re-think what their aggressive sales tactics are doing to the company's image. A majority of Gamestops clientele consists of young children or non-gaming adults who wouldn’t be able to suss out most well-delivered misinformation, meaning that Gamestop can usually get away with this underhanded tactic. It’s no wonder why the store is slowly losing popularity among gamers.
24 Game Advisors Push Pre-Owned Sales Even If The Price Isn’t Right
The largest profit margin available to Gamestop comes through the sale of used games. The chain has long been criticized for paying a pittance for used games and then turning around and selling them at ridiculous markups. In some cases, Gamestop will charge so much for a used game that it’s hardly worth buying used at all. Despite this fact, employees are often encouraged to talk-up the supposed value of used games because the store will earn more selling a $50 used copy or Red Dead Redemption 2 that they bought for $25 than a new copy of the game for $60. While the end user is still getting a deal, the risk of receiving a damaged or incomplete copy doesn’t justify the meager savings.
23 Gamestop Would Rather Sell Used Consoles Than New Ones
Gamestop regulars will no doubt have noticed the store’s increased devotion to the sale of used seventh and eighth generation consoles. While dozens and dozens of videos on YouTube have condemned Gamestop’s notoriously awful refurbishing practices, the company has continued to push the mentality of used-over-new down the throats of consumers. This is because, much like their used game sales, Gamestop enjoys a much higher profit margin from the sale of used consoles. Why encourage a customer to buy a new system when they could essentially sell a system twice should that customer buy a used one? It’s an annoying tactic, especially if the consumer ends up with a malfunctioning system.
22 The Hard Sell Is Corporate Mandated
There are a few national video game outlets in the West, but Gamestop is by far the most recognizable. With great power, of course, comes great responsibility, and the number one games retailer certainly hasn’t handled their power well. As previously mentioned, Gamestop is all but infamous for their annoying sales tactics. Everyone who walks through the door knows to brace themselves for a few knock-down-drag-out sales pitches from employees looking to hock some more Funko Pop figures or Game Informer subscriptions. This wouldn’t be an issue for gamers who aren’t budget-conscious, but visits to Gamestop have long since become more agonizing than enjoyable thanks to these ruthless corporate-mandated sales practices.
21 Returned Games Can’t Be Marked as New
Gamestop’s return policy is by most accounts pretty archaic and doesn’t allow the customer much leeway should they want to rescind their purchase. While used games can be returned no question asked, the same privilege has not been extended for new games. Should a buyer be dissatisfied with their $60 expenditure, all they can do is sell it back to Gamestop for less than half of what they originally paid in most cases. That’s a major issue, and low-level retail workers often have to bear the brunt of customer’s frustrations despite the fact that they’ve done nothing other than follow orders mandated from on-high.
20 Some Gamestop Employees Are Forced to Work Long Hours
Gamestop employees often tend to feel either overworked or underworked; while some ex-employees have claimed that they struggled to earn ten hours per week, others have lamented that the company forced them into working twelve hour days during crucial crunch periods. Neither working situation is ideal, and a company already infamous for mistreating their employees doesn’t seem to be eager to do anything other than exploit its labor force. While most base-level game advisors or senior game advisors don’t need to worry about receiving too many hours, many keyholders know all too well the pain of a bleary-eyed twelve-hour shift over the holiday season.
19 Corporate Wants Employees To Lie About Console Availability
Despite being half a decade removed from the release of the Xbox One and PS4, it can still be relatively difficult to track down a brand new console at any given Gamestop location. Many stores will often say that they simply don’t have any new consoles in stock, though they will often happily suggest the purchase of a refurbished or pre-owned console. Some ex-Gamestop employees have stated in the past that workers sometimes aren’t sure of what is really in their inventory, but most of the time they’ll say that they don’t have any new consoles in stock simply because Gamestop Corporate prioritizes used consoles. Even if they have a couple of new PS4s sitting in the back, game advisors may say that they are fresh out in order to garner another used console sale.
18 Employees Have To Lie About New Game Availability
Given how prevalent digital video game sales have become in recent years, pre-ordering has become less and less of a necessity. Originally instituted to ensure gamers could get their hands on new games the minute they released, retailers continue the practice because they want to earn as much money up front as possible. Particular game releases will see certain Gamestop locations only ordering as many copies as were pre-ordered to cut down on costly new game sales. What’s more, Gamestop employees will sometimes lie about the availability of new games because the company would rather sell a used copy. While this isn’t nearly as common since the end of the CoL era, buying new games at Gamestop can still be tricky on some occasions.
17 Gamestop Employees Must Sell Damaged Units First
Damaged goods are typically difficult if not impossible to sell in any other business, but Gamestop has developed a shrewd method to ensure that games in dodgy conditions always make it out the door. Employees are often instructed to sell worse-for-wear games first to ensure that they sell, be that a missing game label, damaged box, or scratched CD. Gamers frequenting Gamestop would do well to always check their discs before walking out of the store, though they could always return used games if they aren’t happy with the condition. While Gamestop doesn’t usually sell outright dysfunctional material, buyers may still need to be aware of these practices.
16 Employees Have Been Fired For Failing To Meet Quotas
Unlike typical retail work, Gamestop employees are often encouraged to act as salesmen rather than desk clerks, often to the detriment of both worker and customer. That said, Gamestop management took this to the extreme when they implemented the Circle of Life system by which employees were issued CoL scores based on how well they performed in certain sales areas. While there weren’t any incentives for performing particularly well, employees were encouraged to keep a median score of at least 75%. Those who failed to do so would often be reprimanded and, in some cases, outright terminated. Given these circumstances, there can be little wonder as to why nobody wants to work at Gamestop in 2018.
15 Sales Reps Need To Live Up To Gamestop’s Slogan
Couching is a method by which someone pitches an idea by making it sound like it will benefit whoever they’re pitching it to more than it actually will. This often occurs in the business world and is not an unfamiliar tactic in Gamestop’s stores. The company supposedly takes great pride in its “power to the players” slogan, though they usually don’t come across as having an interest in anything aside from players’ wallets. That said, Gamestop’s game advisors are often told to couch many of their sales practices in an attempt to get more money out of the consumer. For instance, Gamestop employees will almost always give a small speech about how important game warranty can be should you at first refuse it, which is always annoying.
14 Gamestop Doesn’t Usually Take Stock Of Its Inventory
This is less of a rule and more of a rule of thumb for frequent Gamestop visitors, but Gamestop employees—especially new or seasonal ones—often have a very poor idea of what the store has in stock. If it isn’t on the shelf or easily accessible in the shop’s backroom, chances are pretty slim that an associate is actually going to come up with it. Though they will sometimes offer to call nearby stores to see if they have that item on hand, it is far easier to simply look on Gamestop's website or buy it online from another retailer. Gamestop seems to have forgotten that the internet exists and doesn’t hold a candle to other, more web-adaptable retailers.
13 Employees Don’t Need To Have Played A Game To Sell It
As previously mentioned, Gamestop doesn’t seem to care whether or not the people running the counter have actually played that games that they are selling. Though Gamestop corporate opts to call them “Game Advisors” rather than sales associates, they aren’t guaranteed to know anything about some of the products they sell. With that in mind, ex-employees have stated that they were sometimes encouraged to lie about an upcoming games features in order to earn more pre-orders for the store. While nobody aside from the developers and play testers can know exactly what will be in an upcoming title, this comes across as yet another scummy tactic in the chain’s long history of questionable dealings.
12 Gamestop Employees Aren’t Trained
While most retail work doesn’t require much training—especially for employees with prior experience—Gamestop is fairly infamous for pushing newcomers out into stores without any real training at all. This is much worse for part-time or seasonal help, and some ex-employees have lamented that it feels very much like a sink or swim scenario. Retail certainly isn’t rocket science, but it does take a little training to get the hang of. Those without previous experience in the field may struggle and face termination as a result of Gamestop’s unwillingness to help out their temporary workers, and fresh faces may want to think twice before signing up to work with the retailer over their holiday break.
11 Employees Can’t Accept PS2 Trade-ins
Though the era of the Playstation 2 has been over for more than a decade at this point, it seems a little odd that most Gamestop stores won’t accept PS2 trade-ins based on the retailer’s newfound enthusiasm for retro games. Perhaps Sony’s second PlayStation console still doesn't qualify as retro. However, the store still sells things like PS2 consoles and controllers, so it seems strange that they are no longer willing to buy PS2 games from customers. With that said, they probably wouldn’t be willing to pay market value for most games of that era, and a large majority of releases from around that time aren’t really worth anything to begin with. Still, for a company that pretends to offer “power to the players” it seems like a bit of a strange move.
10 They Sometimes Sell Used Games As New
Again, much of Gamestop’s revenue is derived from the sale of used games. With that in mind, it seems like they would be eager to buy back any recently-purchased game and re-sell it as used with a minor discount. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t always make the distinction between a brand new disc and a week-old return. All of the games are opened to prevent theft at any rate, so in some ways it doesn’t much matter. However, though they can almost always pass a used game off as a new game if the product is in good enough condition, this is a pretty underhanded business tactic, and it’s yet another issue weighing on the conscience of some game advisors.
9 New Employees Have To Earn More Hours
Just about every for-profit organization encourages employees to work their way up the company later and prove themselves to be valuable corporate assets. Though Gamestop certainly promotes this sort of mentality, they may take it a bit too far. New game advisors—Gamestop’s lowest level position—often struggle to earn more than ten hours a week and only make a dollar more than minimum wage if not less. That’s hardly enough income for a minor, let alone a grown adult. Obviously, this serves as a duplicitous tactic to encourage employees to live up to their full potential, but it often hurts those forced to obey these unfair rules.
8 Circle Of Life, End Of Employment
The Circle of Life motto was so totally hazardous to employee morale that it was scaled back sometime in 2017. Unfortunately, that hasn’t done much to assuage the fears of Gamestop employees. Still, when it was in full effect, Circle of Life quite literally had some employees fearing for their jobs. Retail work can definitely be come-and-go at times, but this was an extreme. Game advisors, senior game advisors, and even keyholders could face severe repercussions for letting their CoL scores fall below 45%, and some workers were flat-outlet go as a result. Though Gamestop certainly isn’t as public with their hiring practices as they used to be, suffice it to say that this concept isn’t entirely gone.
7 They’re Forced To Prey On The Uninformed
One extremely significant difference between Gamestop and most other major retail outlets is that a massive chunk of their business comes from minors. While it’s one thing to dupe a clueless buyer into purchasing a less-than-sterling used car or mark up the price of a pair of jeans only to immediately put them on sale for the original price, it’s something else to haggle a child into buying unnecessary subscriptions or ancillary expenditures. What they’re doing isn’t illegal, but it’s hard to know that the company wouldn’t be near as well off were they content with allowing shoppers to go about their business without nickel-and-diming them over every little thing.
6 Employees Need To Be Careful About Their Online Etiquette
Gamestop usually tries to make it clear that things their employees may say or do online isn’t intended to represent the store in any way. However, they aren’t shy about reprimanding or even firing employees whom they believe to have crossed the line. Back in 2007, an Australian man working with the company—known as EB Games regionally—posted a video of himself dancing with a customer to a metal track to Youtube. It’s fair to say that the video sharing platform certainly wasn’t as popular or well-understood as it is today, but the corporation definitely overreacted when they outright fired him over the incident. It may seem ridiculous today, but all current Gamestop employees need to bear in mind that their online presence can definitely negatively impact their lives at work.
5 Shipping Unwanted Stuff From Store To Store
This isn’t something many customers will be aware of, but current and ex-employees will both be familiar with sending and receiving shipments of unsellable junk from other Gamestop locations. This is a practice typically mandated by store managers and forced on lower level employees. A tactic meant to clear out one store’s backlog of useless trade-ins and out-of-date peripherals, one store will unload tons of this stuff until the other can’t carry anymore and flips it to a third Gamestop location. This is a good way of moving shelf space-clogging stuff without outright throwing it away. Unfortunately, it’s usually pretty frustrating to be forced to find room for a truckload of Guitar Hero Wii controllers when there is absolutely zero chance that even one will sell.
4 Employees Aren’t Allowed Fo Play Games At Work
Though Gamestop game advisors are usually allowed to borrow a game for a night or two before bringing it back, corporate mandates involving playing games on the clock are nothing less than totally stringent. This isn’t a rule endemic to all Gamestop locations, but some employees in certain stores aren’t allowed to play any of the games on any of the display kiosks ever—period, no questions. They aren’t even allowed to pick up a controller to demonstrate something in-game to a customer. While Gamestop higher-ups certainly don’t want their employees hogging game kiosks and playing games all day, this rule is perhaps a little bit too extreme.
3 They Have To Sell Game Informer Subscriptions
Though monthly snail-mail paper magazine subscriptions have got to be going the way of the dodo, Gamestop still places a huge emphasis on garnering subscribers for their monthly Game Informer Magazine. The publication has been around since 1991 and has a lengthy history for which most video game historians have nothing but respect. Yet, at the same time, it’s hard to imagine paying for a subscription to a magazine when up-to-the-minute gaming news is readily available online. Unlike the Nintendo Power days, gamers no longer have to rely on magazines or player guides to get through a game, and Game Informer increasingly feels like a relic of the past.
2 Push Pre-Orders Or Get Pushed Out
Though it was brought up previously, some Gamestop locations make pre-ordering a near-mandatory process because they will only order as many games as were pre-ordered at their store. While customers living in more urban environments may well be able to head somewhere else on release night or perhaps purchase the game online provided the download size isn’t too large, those looking to play the game the night it comes out are out of luck should they fail to preorder at Gamestop. This is an annoying tactic which keeps pre-order culture alive, and the company’s ever-present pre-order bonuses, though increasingly anemic, offer yet another reason for collectors and completionists to get their hands on Gamestop’s pre-order premium.
1 Bundling Up And Selling Out
If nothing else, Gamestop loves its two-for-one bundles. These are most prevalent during the holiday season, but some locations seem to have them on a nearly year-round basis. Gamestop is infamous for pushing extra stuff on their consumers, and this is yet another way of tricking someone into buying something they weren’t originally going to purchase. Of course, the two-for-one deal is nothing new in the world of retail, but it feels particularly mischievous when Gamestop relies on it so heavily. Why sell someone the game they wanted to buy for $60 when they could throw two extra games in and double the price. While some consumer-friendly transactions can definitely be found, that probably isn’t what Gamestop wants it’s customer base to focus on.