US retail giant GameStop's controversial Circle of Life program is changing next week, according to several store managers. The program has come under recent criticism for putting employees in a difficult spot between the best interests of the consumer and the business. Though the retail chain will continue to use and monitor Circle of Life scores, GameStop plans to enact several changes that will make the program more amenable to their employees.
Illustration by Sam Woolley
Starting next week, according to managers who spoke with Kotaku tonight, GameStop will no longer monitor individual employees' Circle of Life scores. Each GameStop store will now simply have a single Circle of Life number, for their entire store, which will help reduce pressure on individual employees to hit their numbers.
GameStop is also changing the way they calculate Circle of Life scores, managers say. Until now, a COL score had been based on four metrics: 1) pre-owned sales, 2) trade-ins, 3) pre-orders, and 4) rewards cards. Now, GameStop is adding a fifth metric: total sales, which will track each store's sales numbers against their goals. This will — at least in theory — prevent employees from being punished for selling new games, as they had been in the past.
The changes are not official yet, but GameStop district managers informed some stores via conference call on Friday afternoon that they will be rolling out the new program on Sunday and Monday. From what we hear, the move was decided at a district leader meeting in Houston, Texas this week. However, news is trickling out slowly, and not every store is aware of the change yet.
This news comes several weeks after a series of Kotaku articles reporting on how the Circle of Life program punished salespeople for selling new games by making those sales count against their other quotas. Dozens of current and former GameStop employees reached out to Kotaku to express their displeasure with the program, which had ramped up last fall and was even leading some employees to lie to customers about what was in stock.
GameStop employees say they're cautiously excited about the news. "Wins for everyone all around," said one employee in an email. "Should eliminate a lot of the sleaze and take a lot of pressure off everyone from at least the [District Leader] level down. At least in theory."
GameStop managers expect the official announcement to come next week.