Ranting And Raving: Why I Don’t Shop At Game-centric Retail Stores

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Like many of you reading this site I love videogames. And like many of you I have to pay for most of my own games. My preferred method is to go to some super chain store (Best Buy, Walmart, Toys R Us, etc.), but from time to time I’ll occasionally go to a store that specializes in selling videogames, and I’m always reminded in some way, shape or form why I choose to avoid those stores and their practices like a game controller laced with AIDS. From employees trying to push subscriptions and discount club offers, pre-order Nazi’s, ship dates vs. in-store dates, I end up asking myself why bother? Especially when I can go to a super chain store and receive the game that I want to buy, hassle free, available ON THE DATE THAT IT SAYS IT SHIPPED, and be home and happy gaming.

Case and point, this week I was caught up full tilt in the madness that would be Super Smash Brawl and it’s release date, I decided to see what my options would be to get the game. I don’t pre-order games, most of the time that $5-10 I have is the difference between eating lunch or having some sort of social interaction with the world. And I’ve been burned too many times, promised a game would be “in-store” on a certain date, paid the cash only to have the game not arrive on said date at said store (but it did at a super chain).

The Pre-emptive Strike

So in trying to make sure I’d get a secure copy of Brawl I do a little research. I check the web and see that Ebgames and Gamestop are doing midnight releases. I check their listings provided and see that there are two stores in my area that are participating. I make a call to the stores, I get no answer after repeated attempts all during business hours, and the other store tells me that they aren’t doing a midnight release, but opening an hour earlier to accommodate eager consumers and start their tournament.

I do some more research and call the local Game Crazy which is nicely located in my neighborhood and I speak to a cheery employee.

Game Crazy: Hello, this is Game Crazy, where you can buy, trade, or sell games and home of the MVP Players Club. How Can I help you?

Me: Hey man, what’s up? I just wanted to call and check and see if you guys were doing a midnight release for Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Sat?

Game Crazy: Yeah we are [pauses]. Bu there is one problem…

Me: What’s up?

Game Crazy: We’re only getting 100 copies of the game in. And we have about 145 pre-orders.

Me: Oh

[employee jumps in immediately]

Game Crazy: The thing is we’re getting our second shipment of another hundred copies or so of Brawl on Tues. My manager has told me since we’re getting more in so soon, that we’re to sell ALL copies of the game, regardless if the pre-orders show up or not. So if you come on Sat. night you just might get a copy if not all hundred people show up.

[At this point I repeat back everything that he just said just to make sure I’m on the same page]

Game Crazy: Yup that’s right.

Me: Cool, well I’ll see you on Sat. then!

Game Crazy: And another thing, bring in copies of some old games or something you want to trade, that’s good for us and that’ll be pretty good for you in trying to get your copy.

Me: Great, I actually had planned on getting rid of a couple games.

Frustration! Disbelief! I Knew This Wouldn’t End Well

So Sat. rolls around and being my day off I generally sit around and do nothing, but play games, and fool around on the internet. Between taking out the trash, playing Madden 08, Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles, The Orange Box (Half Life 2), and Undertow, the days rolling. I decide to watch some TV for the last couple hours before I’m headed to Game Crazy and around 11:40 pm I’m off, old games in hand, along with my PSP to keep me company in case there’s a crowd.

I get to Game Crazy and there’s about 30-40 people standing around. It’s about 11:50 pm and I spot an employee I made friends with at the store awhile ago. He’s off duty and he asks if I’m here for Brawl. Of course I am! But I tell him about my pre-order and about the conversation I had with another employee and he confirms everything the other guy told me.

A couple minutes later there’s a line forming and I decide to get my place in line, around this time another employee comes up and asks: “Does everyone here have pre-orders?” I raise my hand, and say that I do not have a pre-order and he shakes his head and says “Well I can’t sell you the game then, sorry I told people we weren’t playing around!” I’m dumb founded, I ask him if he’s serious and he shakes his head yes, very seriously. Now at this point I could have, and should have made mention of the two separate conversations that I had with store employees about purchasing the game at midnight, but I didn’t. I just turned around and walked out. While walking out the employee says to me: “Don’t worry we’ll have games available tomorrow for all others that didn’t pre-order,” and the whole time I’m thinking “It is tomorrow douche-bag.” I then decide right then in there that out of the gazillion day one purchases Brawl will receive, one of them is not going to be from Se Ajala at Game Crazy and head home.

Alls Fair That Ends Fair

So I end up getting the game a little after 10 am from Best Buy. It’s right after they’ve opened and they have about 50 copies of the game just sitting on the shelves. I’m the only one there buying the game as far as I can tell. The whole transaction takes me less than 10 mins. On the drive home I start to ponder writing this blog and the events that from which it’s inspired and it comes down to principals.

See I can deal with all the stuff that goes into going into a game-centric store because I understand that the employees are doing their job. Half the time they don’t want to force anything on you, but it’s in their job description, in the end it’s my right as a consumer to turn down what I’m not interested in anyway.

But as a consumer what I can’t deal with is: 1. inconvenience and 2. being lied to.

I can understand why technically I shouldn’t have been allowed to purchase the game. I’m all for rules and regulations. But why tell someone exactly how many pre-orders you have, what to do if you’re looking to score a copy despite those numbers, and then encourage them to come in?

That to me doesn’t make much sense, and reinforces why I choose to give stores like Best Buy my money. That’s not a fair practice, and criminally un-cool. Either way I was going to purchase the game, whether it was at midnight or at 10 am in the waking hours. But it’s scary to have blatant disregard for your customers or potential customers. Maybe everyone wasn’t on the same page or didnt’ get the memo from the manager. But it’s just very odd that two seperate employees would tell me the exact same thing only to have another employee shoot that down.

Now like I said I didn’t push it, it wasn’t that serious, just another structure solidifying my position for not wanting to spend my hard earned cash in game-centric stores.

Thanks for reading!

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