The Massive GameStop Interview

Well, we already know what disgruntled ex-employees think of GameStop; how do the head honchos think they're doing? Christian Nutt sat down with Bob McKenzie (senior vice president of merchandising) and Tony Bartel (executive vice president of merchandise and marketing) at the yearly GameStop Expo event for managers and management to talk about GameStop, games, sales, the market .... It's a hefty piece, clocking in at eight pages, with a lot of soft peddling on tough issues, but what would you expect from marketing management types? One of the issues brought up was the value of trade-ins — or perceived value (or lack thereof):

You're talking about the 150 titles every day, worth over $15. What we found was that the perception of our trade value was far different than the reality of our trade value. Far different. I'm sure you see that on the blogs, and so forth, you don't have to read very far. The reality is that there are a significant portion of our games that do actually represent a strong value.

So that was the basis of our campaign — to let people know that a large portion of our games are over $15 when you trade them in. We see that really as a very unique part of GameStop. We provide currency for the purchase of new games.

We really believe, and the reason that we're so passionate about our trade program, is that it drives new games. Last year, alone, we put over $700 million of trade credit back toward new games. I think that new games is about a $9 billion market. So if you stop and think about the currency that we're generating for the sale of new games, it's an absolutely amazing proposition.

It's long, but pretty interesting, even if you find yourself rolling your eyes somewhat frequently as I did. I generally go out of my way to avoid dedicated game store retail experiences (having gotten the 'Hey little lady, can we sell you something you don't need?' pitch more than a few times), and I've had some abysmal experiences at GameStop, so my laptop wound up with a mouthful of coffee on it when I read "It's the time that we get to spend and interact with the customer that really differentiates our experience from anyone else."

GameStop in 2008: The Mega-Interview [Gamasutra]


Comments

    Listen, the thing is, no one at EB/Gamestop thinks your copy of Ridge Racer PS2 is worth anything more than the other 50 people that have traded it that week.
    Why would EB give you "full value" for a game that you've had for 6 years, played countless times, ruined the manual, wiped your nuts on the disc and bought in to trade with Oni, GTA 3 and Gran Turismo 3.... your all lucky to get ANYTHING for those games so stop your freaking bitching, EB is a business not a charity!

    Gamestop comparing themselves to car salesmen, a bunch of weasely pressuring trash-merchants out to squeeze every dollar from your flailing bank account. The car salesmen aren't much better.

    Even with that comparison there's a difference. You can take franchised dealerships into the equasion but it's not a massive difference. Car dealerships are not separate 'middle men' but an extension of the producing car company; sales at the dealership directly profit the company and help make more cars. Gamestop are more like pawnbrokers. That $700M figure they kept waving about? It's money straight back into their own pockets, the developers will only see a fraction of that money. And those games that are being traded in for a 'percieved fair' price (who'd they use as a test group, the Amish?!?) are sold at a profit, and there is no way in HELL the developers are going to see any of that little gold nugget.

    The Penny Arcade games and Greenhouse is a great example of GameStop's attitude. They attempted to use their percieved clout to bully the PA guys into either giving GameStop exclusive sales of their game, or threaten to not stock their game at all. They even had the gall to suggest they -might- stock the PA game if they got a big enough cut of any sales made via Greenhouse and any other sales medium. PA told them to fuck right off, and guess who lost out on that? Sure as hell wasn't the PA guys, the pissant amount of money they'd have been in on had their game been sold in GS stores is piddling by comparison to the profits GS would have been making had they not been such pricks. Digital distribution is leaving GS' asshole in ruins, and they think they can bully their way into making money? Fuck GameStop right in their stupid faces. They are a coldhearted calculating BUSINESS, their sole concern being money, money and more money. Do not think for a microsecond that they genuinely give a shit about gamers (or their staff if what's said is to be believed) past their disposable income.

    If it comes down to it I'll just buy my games from retailers like Big W, Target and K-Mart. They can order stuff in for you, and the price difference is negligible. They may not know much about gamers but they give enough of a shit to respect us as customers.

    @CKYnut: Personally I don't give a toss that they'll only give you a measly $15 for a used game. That's pretty fair to me. However, GameStop selling said games at a price marginally less than a brand new game is complete bullshit, and they need to be called out on it. GameStop's execs are still laying the weasel-words on thick in these interviews, but cracks are starting to show in their armour. Oh, and to complete the metaphor Digital Distribution is a slowly descending atom bomb. GameStop's concerned because that threat is a reality, but so far their response to the increasing number of people buying games online is to cover their ears with their hands and sing. GameStop's online store will be vaporware this time next year if it's run anywhere near as pitifully as their stores. By the way that's a stab at GS's store policies, not the actual staff. Those poor bastards have orders to follow.

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