Last night was my first visit to a GameStop in sometime. I, like any gamer who has dealt with this company, have had my fair share of both good and bad experiences with them. However, I walked straight in there, head held high at the prospect of purchasing a brand new 3DS XL with the help of a few trade-ins and birthday money.
It was 8:30 on Wednesday, 30 minutes until the closing time of the local shop. There were two clerks and a couple of customers in the store, not even enough to form a line longer than 5 minutes. When I got to the desk I pulled out a mere 4 games and a DS Lite system and put them on the counter. Immediately the clerk began to complain about me trading in games 30 minutes to close. At first I thought he was joking and making small talk, but then I realized that he was legitimately mad and kept saying that I should've come in earlier throughout the whole transaction. When they didn't have the XL in the color I wanted(blue), I asked for it in red. He didn't say anything, just gave me a glare. Eventually he went to the back and got me one but then tried to convince me to get the Fire Emblem special edition 3DS instead, which is a different product that I didn't want. He kept trying to push it and I had to tell him "No, I'm sure I want the red XL" at least 4 times. Then he said "Oh, we had two blue XLs an hour ago; should have come then." Wow, cool dude, I get it. After another 10 minutes, I left with my XL, but I wasn't happy. I was annoyed.
GameStop is like the World of Warcraft of gaming stores. It's not the only one, but it is definitely the most well known, both among gamers and the general public. Not to mention, it is well advertised and pretty widespread.
Now, I'll be the first person to say that I LOVED WoW. I played it during what I consider to be it's prime and downfall, all over a 6 year period. I messed around with other MMOs during those 6 years, but never found any that could captivate me like Warcraft, so I stayed strong with Blizzard. Sadly, though, I lost interest this past year. Pandaria didn't hold my attention and the release of Guild Wars 2 rekindled my love for ArenaNet, thus catapulting my MMO addiction forward.
Why the comparison to WoW? Well, while I once loved GameStop because of all that it offered, I have outgrown it and frankly am ready to move on.
I feel that GameStop's main marketing value is the ability to trade in your old games for the prospect of new games. Kind of like trading in your old adventures for new ones, to put it in a different way. The return prices may not be that great and you may have felt ripped off at one point or another, but hey, that's business, right? I, personally, have never been a fan of selling a game, priced new at $50, only to get $15 and to see my same copy on shelves for $44 a day later, but that is GameStop.
So, what is the point of all of this? I'm getting there, I promise.
The popularity of GameStop being the most well known trade-in site has its drawbacks. People who have dealt with the trade-in prices before know exactly how to deal and what to expect, so it's never an issue and feelings aren't hurt. It's the n00bs that get pwned by the process. They walk in expecting a lump sum of money and end up getting far less. Feelings get hurt. People get mad. Frustration. Leads to the Dark Side. That sort of stuff. Point is, the person left in the shop is the clerk and he will be there for another X hours. Now you have a stressed out clerk who is tired of putting up with customers and just wants to go home. He doesn't want someone to come in 30 minutes before close to make some trade-ins. He doesn't want that guy to overreact because his Deus Ex on PS3 is only $3.50 trade-in value. He just wants to go home. In relation, the guy who walks in hoping to get his new 3DS XL doesn't want to be made uncomfortable by a disgruntled employee. It's a bad match up on both ends.
I've encountered this far too often. Occasionally I get awesome customer service and the clerk is genuinely interested in what games I want to play or why I prefer Sony over Microsoft. And that, my friends, is awesome. I love that guy. I love him because he makes me happy to be a gamer. He makes everyone who walks into his shop happy and even better off because he might even recommend a title that the consumer hadn't even considered. This guy is why I shop at GameStop. The sad thing is, it's just not consistent.
Thus, I can bring things into full a circle.
Although I have been writing about GameStop in a negative light, it would be wrong for me to say I dislike it. It's a lot like WoW for me. I love it. It has been my primary choice for gaming retail for years, far longer than I can remember. That being said, I have outgrown it. While I was once amazed at the idea of trading a game in to get another, I am now over it. I feel as if it shouldn't be that which defines GameStop, but rather should be held as an industry standard, much like WoW revolutionized and set a bar for MMOs.
I don't know what I am waiting for though. When WoW declined for me, Guild Wars 2 just happened to arise concurrently with my feelings. GameStop has hit the same decline for me that WoW hit, so now I find myself waiting for another store to steal my business for the next few years. It doesn't have to be better, mainly because that is subjective, but just different. Guild Wars 2 doesn't captivate me because I consider it superior, but rather that it was the change of pace that I was looking for.
Only time will tell, but in the meantime I'll be my own salesman. Black DS Lite anybody?
(An item GameStop refused to buy from me because the serial code was missing. Too bad it was sold to me by another GameStop :( read