OPINION: GameStop - goodie or baddie?

Ben Parfitt
OPINION: GameStop - goodie or baddie?

I have a right hand and a left hand. For the purposes of this article, my right hand shall be called mAStaK1lla. He represents the gamer and the consumer in me. I like great deals on new titles and am delighted when games turn up early. For the sake of sanity I will pretend mAStaK1lla is semi-literate. In real life he isn’t.

My left hand will assume the role of Mr Herbert. He represents me in my MCV hat. He recognises that aggressive discounting puts huge pressure on margins, and that such practices have cost hundreds of people jobs over the last two or three years. He frowns upon early selling and recognises the struggle games retailers face right now.

For reasons that shall remain unspecified, mAStaK1lla and Mr Herbert like to chat over MSN. Or Skype. Or BBM. Or whatever it is the kids and the retailers use nowadays.

This is a conversation they had just now:

mAStaK1lla: OMG! dude. did u c that deal gamestop.co.uk was doing on driver san francisco yesterday

Mr Herbert: No. What was it?

mAStaK1lla: they r selling it for like 21 quid or sumthin. mental

Mr Herbert: £21? Plus postage?

mAStaK1lla: nah thats all in delivered its the best service ive seen anywhere

Mr Herbert: £21? That must have been a mistake. My trade price is £36. There's no way they could be selling it for that.

mAStaK1lla: for real man i ordered it yesterday at lunch time and it turned up this morning. its not out til friday im so pleased. these guys at gamestop must mean business :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

Mr Herbert: It arrived today? I'm been told by my distributor that I can't sell it until Friday! Last year when I shifted a few copies of Black Ops early under the table I got a right bollocking and was denied stock of some stuff for a couple of months. Nearly sent me under.

mAStaK1lla: bad luck dude :-(

Mr Herbert: It kind of annoys me that you'd order from them in the first place to be honest, K1lla.

mAStaK1lla: wtf?

Mr Herbert: This sort of stuff is killing my business. I had to re-mortgage the house last year to cover the bills and the wife has cut down to three working days a week. We can't afford the childcare any more. And I had to let Jenny go from the store so now I have to cover Saturdays and Sundays.

mAStaK1lla: shit man that sucks. tell u wat ill send this back and buy it from u. how much u sellin it for? can i get it this afternoon?

Mr Herbert: £39.95. It'll be on sale from Friday morning.

mAStaK1lla: lol seriously mate how much really

Mr Herbert: £39.95.

mAStaK1lla: but i paid 21 quid from gamestop innit!!1! cut me a deal bruv <3

Mr Herbert: OK K1lla, because it's you I'll sell it at cost price as long as you pick up an accessory or something at the same time.

mAStaK1lla: 36 quid. fcuk dude thats harsh. but i can get it today right?

Mr Herbert: No, I can't give it to you until Friday morning.

mAStaK1lla: what!!!1!!! why dont you get it til friday?

Mr Herbert: No, I've got it in stock now. Arrived this morning. But if I get caught selling it to you before Friday I could get done again. If they cut me off another time it could be the end of the store.

mAStaK1lla: dude im sorry but ive got it here now and it cost me alot less i think im gonna keep it so sorry man hope u arnt mad?

Mr Herbert: :-(

mAStaK1lla: but if gamestop can sell it for 20 quid then why dont u just do that to? just tell your supplier that you need it as cheap as them innit its not fair they pay less

Mr Herbert: They're probably not paying a huge amount less. Just under £30 maybe.

mAStaK1lla: but y they sell at a loss that crazy!!!!1!

Mr Herbert: They can afford to. They want to get people using their website, to get them signed up, have them checking back regularly, win their loyalty. They can afford to make losses on key products for a few months and reap the rewards later.

mAStaK1lla: well y dont u do that dude take then on at there own game?

Mr Herbert: Because I haven't got the capital or the backing to sustain a loss making business as I build toward something bigger. It's beginning to feel like I just can't win in this market. I was doing OK for a while selling some games online on the side. Took up all my evening but kept us afloat. But I can't even compete online now.

mAStaK1lla: that suxxxxx!:-( dude y dont u join the french foreign legion this game sounds like shit for you get out now to the desert

Mr Herbert: Yes, you're right. Good idea. I'm going to pack. Tell the wife and kids I love them. Bye.

mAStaK1lla: laterz


Tags: Opinion , uk , online , gamestop , cheap , bad

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As a game retailer I have never read a more accurate report on the state of today's industry, well done Ben.....are you sure you don't own an independent game store ?

Adrian Hill

Adrian Hill INDUSTRY
Aug 31st 2011 at 4:27PM

0 1

Thanks, that's very kind.

Ben Parfitt

Ben Parfitt MCV STAFF
Aug 31st 2011 at 6:29PM

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That is frighteningly accurate, mate. In the last couple of days I have had very similar conversations with people regarding getting games early from websites. Surely release dates should seriously be looked at? It seems fine that online retailers are allowed to despatch ridiculously early, yet bricks and mortar retail have to sit on precious stock for a few days before selling it. That gives a dramatically unfair advantage to online, in addition to their VAT-haven headquarters and non-existent running costs. In a day and age where content is so freely available, why not just let retailers sell it straight away? At least they'd have a fighting chance going forwards.....

Lee Hunt

Aug 31st 2011 at 7:30PM

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"Mr Herbert: It kind of annoys me that you'd order from them in the first place to be honest, K1lla."

As true and as painful as that may be for [independent] retailers, Ben, you've neglected one very important factor:

No one owes retailers a living.

The whole deal is rather shitty, I know, I used to co-run an indie, but situations like the one you describe is just the way it is and it isn't looking to change any time soon - even IF the powers-that-be cracked down on early selling.

That's a cold hard fact that many independent retailers are going to have to face up to I'm afraid.

Joseph Brown

Joseph Brown INDUSTRY
Aug 31st 2011 at 9:15PM

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Sadly I think that's very true

Ben Parfitt

Ben Parfitt MCV STAFF
Sep 1st 2011 at 9:47AM

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Just to clarify for the indies here, I wasn't having a pop when I said no one owes them a living. The indies position is terribly frustrating and I do sympathise.

Joseph Brown

Joseph Brown INDUSTRY
Sep 1st 2011 at 10:46AM

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This might be a slightly sweeping statement, but isn't the wider issue the fact that consumers these days are just far more educated in terms of which games they want to buy due to the increase in media access / coverage? I appreciate the insight and information a specialist retailer can provide, but most gamers have decided what games they want to buy way before release date thanks to reviews, online trailers and chat between their mates... at which point it's just a case of where they can buy it for the best price.

The question tends to be online or supermarket vs indy, but isn't the wider issue whether enough consumers need the specialist service these days?

Personally I'm all for the indys and I'd much rather hand over my hard earned cash to those who dedicate themselves to the industry. I'm sure there are other factors I haven't considered so feel free to put me straight, so to speak!

Ben Cheesman

Ben Cheesman INDUSTRY
Sep 2nd 2011 at 9:42AM

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One thing I have to do to squeeze costs down is to buy the stock from outside on the UK. Why can I buy stock from overseas and get it cheaper delivered to me than from the official UK suppliers.

This whole industry is on its head with every part of the chain working against each other. This industry is getting bigger and bigger yet everybody is intent on giving stock away and not making any money.

Simon Cunningham

Simon Cunningham INDUSTRY
Sep 2nd 2011 at 4:06PM

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