Saturday, December 29, 2007

Boycott Gamestop

If you've shopped at GameStop you're familiar with the question;

"Would you like to pre-order anything today?"

This may seem like an innocent way to create repeat business or, entice you to commit to a future purchase, but it's actually part of a larger revenue generating conspiracy.

Every time a customer leaves a deposit for a pre-order, GameStop has gotten money for nothing. You may say the customer will get the product eventually, but in the meantime they have thousands of preorders either for $5 or $59.99 on their books.

This translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars in GameStop's pockets.

Good for them you say? Well, they took their scheme one step further, and they've created deceptive retail practices to keep gamer's cash in their registers.

There are two independent retail practices in play here that GameStop is using to mislead and exploit their customers.

"Dead Product"

To keep customers from shoplifting games, GameStop displays empty video game cases, and keeps the actual games behind the counter, or in the stock room. As there is nothing "live" on the sales floor, this is called "dead product".


When a customer wants to be certain a game is available, they can "pre-order" a game by leaving a nominal deposit, and know that a copy of the game is reserved for them on release day.

GameStop decided that since pre-order deposits equal "free money" they are interested in getting as many pre-orders on the books as their sales staff can get.

As there is no product on the shelf, the customer can't tell if a game is in stock or not. It's up to the sales staff to let them know.

GameStop pressures it's staff to meet pre-order "quotas". This pressure has created an environment where the staff wants to "punish" or "reward" customers who have gotten a pre-order or not.

GameStop knowingly withholds product from customers who have not pre-ordered the game. This is supposed to "teach them a lesson" so they will pre-order next time, and GameStop's cash cow will be healthy.

Since the product is "dead", the customer has no way of knowing if it's truly available or not.

I have had some experiences with this behavior, but as I am not a frequent customer, I tended to let it go. A recent discussion on Penny Arcade made me realize that this behavior is not just in my neighborhood, but company-wide.

That day I sat down to write a letter to GameStop to let them know I would be boycotting them until these practices ended.

I never got around to it.

A few weeks later, I thought, what better way to boycott than with the gaming community at large.

My goal is simple; force GameStop to end their deceptive practices and simply....

..y'know, accept legal tender for videogames.

That and a public apology to gamers everywhere.

GameStop acquired EBGames, and are a gaming-only behemoth, but they aren't the only retailers in town.

I haven't been to GameStop for two months, and I don't miss it. There are several outlets such as Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and others to buy games and equipment.

So let's get the word out, and boycott GameStop together. Let them know we won't let them change "free market" retailing into a subscription based service.

I'll post more information soon, but send in your LameStop experiences and I'll post them.

Here's the link to the Penny Arcade article. (skip down to Gabe's post)