GameStop Vs Best Buy Argument Ends With Shocking Twist

When Kotaku editorial director Joel Johnson and east coast reporter Michael Fahey launch into an argument over which video game retailer offers the superior shopping experience, one withholds a terrible secret that renders the other's argument moot.

Joel: How in the hell can you say shopping at GameStop is better than shopping at Best Buy?

Fahey: Oh I'm not saying that. I'm saying that shopping at GameStop for a GAME is better than shopping at Best Buy. If I were looking for a dishwasher or a surround sound system, BB would be my first choice.

Joel: But... but GameStop is the worst buying experience. It usually takes longer to buy a game there than it does to buy one at Best Buy, despite the fact that I have to walk 100 extra paces in Best Buy. (Presuming we're not talking about, like, a mall GameStop.)





Best Buy is one guy in a polo shirt who hands me the game from his crate of 1000 copies and sends me on my way.

Fahey: Seriously, if all of the questions they ask you at the register still bother you after all this time you might as well start ordering all of your games from Even at Best Buy you can't leave the register without the cashier trying to get you to purchase an extended warranty on the soft drink you purchased to quench the thirst you built up hiking a mile from the parking lot to the store.

And that whole 1000 copies thing sounds lovely, but in my experience it's hardly ever the case. Sure, for big games like Halo or Call of Duty, but for an obscure role-playing games like Atelier Unpronounceable Name, Something of Mana? Either they get one copy in, or they don't order any at all. At least at GameStop half the time they know which game you're talking about.

Joel: Bullshit. They had two copies of Something of Mana.

Fahey: Obviously they hired an ex-GameStop employee.

Joel: But that's the thing: I do order most of my games from Amazon. But if I decide I want to pick up a game that came out today, going into a GameStop is almost always going to be an unpleasant experience. And it makes no sense, because walking into a cluttered store more-than-often manned by nice guys fettered to a terrible point-of-sale system and then being told not only can I not get the game I want, but that I'm an idiot for not pre-ordering it, does not really make me want to be a loyal, repeat customer.

And I mean, honestly, are there really that many obscure titles that GameStop has that Best Buy doesn't? Maybe in the back catalogue, but not new.

Fahey: Man, tell me about it. I don't know how many times I've had my shopping experience ruined by a store's point-of-sale system. The way it beeps at them all smugly.

Look, people love to bring up the whole preorder launch day argument for GameStop whenever they rail against it, but I've only experienced that particular problem maybe two times in all the years I've been shopping there. It's launch day, they run out sometimes. There are five of them within 10 miles of my house, odds are one hasn't run out. Sure, another store might have plenty. K-Mart has it. Walmart has it. If the situation does arise, I'll run down the street to another store, but it's not enough to turn me away from the chain completely. It's still much more convenient for me to hop into a GameStop than wade through Best Buy to get to its game section.

And you really should have preordered.

Joel: Why you little...

Fahey: *dives behind the counter*

Joel: Also, I wish to hell I knew this was happening before we started this conversation, but Crecente just forwarded me an announcement that Best Buy is changing its "Gamers Club" to work more-or-less like the Game Informer subscription/card at GameStop.

I've been set up!

Fahey: Oh, you saw that, did you. I happen to be writing a post about that.

In fact, this is that post about that.

Starting September 12, Best Buy is launching Gamers Club Unlocked, the paid extension of its Rewards Zone Gamers Club. For $US15 a year (just like GameStop) members will earn an extra 10 per cent off used games (just like GameStop), 10 per cent more trade-in credit (just like GameStop), a 12-issue subscription to Best Buy's @gamer magazine (which is sort of like Game Informer), and special offers exclusive to paid members.

So, coupled with the recent push for a store-within-a-store format for its games business, it looks like Best Buy is slowly transforming itself into an electronics store with a built-in GameStop.

Now back to your regularly scheduled debate.

Joel: So now every time I buy a game at Best Buy they're going to be asking me to subscribe to @gamer magazine, aren't they?

You f**kers set me up.

I'm going to go cry now. Or probably make an intern go cry for me.

Fahey: Even if Best Buy were the superior video game shopping experience, and I'll never give you that, they want to be GameStop, so eventually all of this will be moot, and a man in a blue polo shirt will chastise you for not preordering.

But hey, they sell toasters.

Joel: Have GameStop stop letting employees open up new games, take them home, then shrink wrap them back up and sell them as new, fingerprints and all? Because if they've shut that down I'm about out of barbs.

Fahey: They were never supposed to shrink wrap them back up. Basically they'd check out an already gutted copy (they remove the disc so the case can be displayed on the wall), and the whole point was to keep it in good condition. Managers were supposed to check that shit (I worked for GameStop for a few years). I generally avoid purchasing if they try to give me a gut. A better solution would be to let each store build their own nonsalable video game library. But yeah, either avoid the guts, or examine them thoroughly before purchase.

Joel: Ha. I worked at GameStop for a few years, too. Hence my hatred and your compassion.

Fahey: I was weekend help, hence my compassion

Joel: I give up. I'm just going to buy games from Amazon and Steam from now on.

Fahey: If you need me I'll be on Craigslist and eBay.


    I've never known a Best Buy OR GameStop employee that knew anything about what they were selling.

    The closest I got was when a GameStop employee said "Hey, lemme know how this one is if you come back..." but I heard him say it to every person who bought a game in front of me. :-P

    They know Halo and Call of Duty. They know that everything other than an Xbox 360 is a 'waste of time'.

    That is the extent of their 'knowledge'. :-P

    I use Steam and, thanks.

    I've only seen the 'you should have preordered' thing happen only a handfull of times in Australia with EB and most of those have occured recently with Rockstar games and the 3DS launch where supply was an issue for all retailers not just EB.

    The push for used/disc insurance does irk me somewhat but it's easy to say no. I think our point of sale system isn't as bad as the likes of Gamestop yet. If you want that nightmare POS experience in AU though just go walk into any mobile phone store and see how you go!

    Its funny, but our specialist retailers (EB and GAME) tend to have the worst range. If I want something obscure (and today) I'll usually go straight to JB HiFi.

    JB, you've done it again!

    I just order from OzGameShop and pay 1/2 to 1/3rd the price. Think that makes me the winner. :p

    I used to work at GAME here in the UK and it quickly became apparent that customers didn't want to be bothered by staff asking the same old questions all the bloody time.

    When somebody came into the shop I'd watch them out of the corner of my eye for a couple of minutes, just to see what it looks like they want. Then ask if they need any help (rather than, at the moment, pouncing as soon as someone enters the store). If they say they don't (75% of the time) quickly point out a special offer (such as "by the way, we've got 2 games for £30 here") or something they're interested in (e.g. if they're looking at PS3 bundles say that you can do others not on the shelves), say "if you need anything just let us know" and go back to what you were doing. Customers will feel less harassed and that will actually get a lot of them interested.

    Also, make sure the shop is tidy. This keeps you busy a little too. Dust each section once a week, doing a little bit each day.

    And yes, we used to shrink-wrap game "guts" because head office would barely send us any stuff to advertise stuff with. We had literally no inserts to use in display cases, and of course when older titles come back in you'd have no inserts for them either. So we'd have to gut them to make sure something was out on the shelves, then shrink-wrap them. Well, until one dumb Christmas temp mis-used the shrink-wrap machine, got a small static shock and cried Health & Safety, then it got removed pretty sharp-ish and we couldn't shrink-wrap any more.

    (sorry for the rant)

    In any case, it was a lot better than what GAME stores seem to be now where you're assaulted by staff as soon as you enter, who try and push everything from strategy guides to insurance on you and then stand around doing nothing for the rest of the time.

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