In Defense of GameStop

GameStop is a neccesity, despite the (un)popular opinion.

By , Contributor

Fun fact: GameStop isn't some evil entity out to squash the entirety of the video game industry.

Reading some of the vitriol being spewed across video game forums and comment sections, you'd think GameStop was owned by the Death Eaters from Harry Potter or some sparkly vampire from Twilight. I honestly can't say which would be worse.

Regardless, they're neither of those things, just a company that has spread across the country selling video games... used video games. The latter has apparently become a source of true demonic possession, or at least since a few PR talking heads stated the used industry is killing their profit margin. Never mind that some of those PR types worked for EA, a company who managed to double their quarterly profits last year.

GameStop has become this weird, illogical target. Any time someone takes a stand against the likes of overpriced downloadable content, online passes, or other anti-consumer practice, it's GameStop's fault.

Sure, that doesn't say much for GameStop's place within gaming culture, but they keep a stable, video game-related cash flow going. Trade-ins, used sales, and, yes, new game sales are all part of this at a time when the middle class is being crunched and game prices continue to rise thanks to the likes of DLC and subscriptions. Hell, controllers cost $50 now. The savings have to come from somewhere, because clearly the game makers themselves have no interest in leaving some slack on the rope.

There are other reasons for the bile spewed forth over gaming's main retail establishment, like low trade-in values. If a gamer takes in a new release game, they might see a whopping return of $20 on their $60 investment. Never mind that same gamer could put the game on eBay or Craigslist to get most of it back (or make better purchasing decisions in general); many people clearly don't want to put in the work, so they take what they can get.

Gamestop isn't giving $20 just so they can sail towards pure profit. It's anticipatory, planning ahead for when the fickle pricing structure of said new release game takes a dive. If GameStop gave $40 for a new release trade, suddenly they end up in the hole on the trade-in when the new price drops to $40 two weeks later. GameStop is taking the chance; the customer is taking the lazy way out.

Is GameStop too big? Possibly. But, ask yourself where the industry would be right now without a mainstream outlet, some place for the more casual among us to browse a wide selection of Wii games. GameStop has their own internal gaming economy that funnels not only money into their own bloated pockets, but those of publishers too as they stand as the top destination for new game sales. EA may claim to hate them, but they sure don't have any problem funneling their product through GameStop's doors.

As popular as Amazon or a Best Buy may be, GameStop represents a singular industry. They put a face, good or bad, on gaming. To despise them, (or heaven forbid) blame them as some sort of anarchistic self-destruct button is to declare your ignorance for the industry you supposedly stand up for.

Hate GameStop all you want, but they're not the source of gaming's sickness.

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Matt Paprocki is a 13-year veteran of the video game, movie, and home media scene. He has written thousands of reviews, has been published on a variety of websites, and contributes his thoughts daily on a diverse range of topics.

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