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Where Gamers go? No…

posted on February 27th, 2008 by christian

There’s this great little electronics shop near me. I used to loathe them, and I still do for some things, but lately they’ve been picking up the pace in the games department. In the stores near my home and my job, I have found fresh copies of No More Heroes and Zak and Wiki. Back in the summer there were multiple copies of Persona 3 (despite its obscurity and its odd box shape). I have seen Every Extend Extra and King of Fighters XI in $10 bargain bins, and if you really want to get crazy, I can grab you a copy of Metropolismania 2. Today I picked up a copy of Patapon on its release date, though if I ordered it online I could have had free shipping (after watching a lovely trailer on their store website).

The source of this gaming joy is perhaps second only to Walmart in its unlikeliness. It’s Best Buy. I’m not sure who decided it would be a good idea to start stocking games of all shapes and sizes (and spreading the word about them too), but Best Buy has slowly turned from the place where the only guarantee is that there will be a flood of PS2 Greatest Hits to my number one stop for launch day releases. And while I haven’t bought any of their used games, I do appreciate how they re-shrinkwrap (and I think they guarantee to play). Considering how many other products the store sells, and especially considering the reputation big box stores have in general, there is no reason for Best Buy to behave like this, but I’m sure as hell glad they do.

After all, it gives me less and less reason to shop at EB/Gamestop.

As you can see by this blog’s picture, if not for Best Buy I would have been screwed out of Patapon, or forced to drive out of my way after a busy day of work. I am absolutely sick of how this chain has decided to use preorders as their inventory system when it comes to anything not published by EA, Square or Activision. It just causes a chain of frustration like this:

1) I don’t always know if I can afford to buy a game until days before release, so I don’t like the hassle of preorders
2) I shouldn’t have to fucking preorder in the first place
3) Preorders do not guarantee a copy, despite what claims are made. Just ask the many people who have been screwed by them.
4) This is where you realize that just about all new games get one spot on the shelf in these stores, so the biggest reason for minimizing extra copies of new games is so that they can stuff as many used copies of everything and anything onto the shelves. It’s one thing for these assholes to make so much money off of used games, but now they’re trying stifle the industry even further by keeping the new stuff out of your and my hands.

There might have been a time when putting up with Gamestop’s bullshit was necessary if you wanted to get certain games, but everyone who has said that this time is over is absolutely correct. When you can find more copies of Odin Sphere in a Walmart than in an EB, it just goes to show you how little they care about this industry and those that support it. They can’t even beat the most monolithic corporate giant.

But hey, at least I got Patapon from another monolithic corporate giant. Did I mention my Best Buy actually lets me leave if I don’t sign up for a Reward’s Zone card? Makes me feel human.

Later this week I’ll be having another little discussion about some clever new Sony marketing.

6 Comments

  1. GJ said on February 27, 2008:

    I’m probably totally off base, but what indicates to me the supply chain for video games is so fucked up is how Amazon can’t get you games quickly. They can get you books THE DAY THEY COME OUT IN STORES (yes Virginia, this stuff is actually shipped to distributors ahead of time, so non-asshat companies with strong logistics can make it all work like magic), yet they can’t get video games out. When I went to order Guitar Hero III at Amazon so as to not give Best Buy or Gamestop my money, they told me it’d take 3 weeks– so Best Buy won again.

    And don’t worry, soon Best Buy will offer a $10 “product replacement plan” in case you scratch your CDs or you crush your DS cartridge. And then it will become mandatory. So your options will be pay $10 extra for games at Best Buy, be forced to listen to a 5 minute magazine pitch at EB/Gamestop (which you’re only eligible for if you pre-ordered), or wait 3 weeks at Amazon. Capitalism is awesome.

  2. chris said on February 27, 2008:

    I like Gamestop for browsing the used section, but I don’t often actually buy stuff there. It’s almost like a used bookstore now – whereas a Barnes & Noble is a better bet if I have one thing I’m looking for, random used bookstores are great if I just want to look around.

    Too bad they don’t sell used computer games like EB used to. I picked up a used copy of System Shock 2 at one just after the merger, and I’d love to find old gems like that more often.

  3. jay said on February 28, 2008:

    Best Buy does carry some surprising games, but I have to agree with GJ’s sentiment. It’s already a five minute process of turning down magazine subscriptions, a Rewards Zone Card, and extended warranties every time I check out of Best Buy. Soon I fear I won’t be able to leave at all.

    My less than great solution has been to simply buy from Amazon only these days. Waiting sucks, but somehow the faceless computer system retailer gives me much better customer service (mostly by not harassing me) than actual stores. Which someone who understands business needs to look into – it was my understanding that real stores used good customer service to keep people interested and away from internet retailers.

  4. Christian said on February 28, 2008:

    Good points all. I know that my experiences in Best Buy are not the norm. For GJ’s reference, they already do offer warranrty plans, but out of them, the magazines and Reward Zone, only one ever gets asked by me, and that’s simply employees that don’t give a damn (thank you employees). I have had easier times turning each of these down though – warranty has always worked with a simple ‘no’, and I tell them I already have the mag subscription. Since they’re asking me as they ring me up, it doesn’t really delay my purchase. This is not the best, but still better than Gamestop giving you the whole sales pitch while waving my game in their hands.

    Sadly, I don’t think I could completely kick the ‘stop out of my life, simply because they’re the easiest (and sometimes cheapest) way to get an out of print game I want. When that happens I’ll have to deal with the one store I know that asks no questions.

    Also, I’m still impressed that a big box store has been so on the ball in getting quality releases in stock. They really don’t (and prob. shouldn’t) have to.

    GJ also brings up a point that Pat and I just discussed – what is the distribution chain for games, and how does it cause them to arrive later in the week than other media?

  5. Shota said on February 28, 2008:

    As long as reward-zone-card-magazine-special-membership-preferred-cusomer
    -discount-club-coupon-labor day-special-buy 8 get 1/17th free deals make these people money they will keep pushing it on us. Making money is the only good business practice they know. For every one of us that turns down their stupid offers there is probably at least one who takes em. It’s worth it to these companies to aggravate us with their stupid pitches if it hits enough times. It’s like the sleezball who comes on to every woman he meets and acctually sleeps with one out of 100. Usually a whore. Except in our case those people are consumerist whores.

    Also, I’m very lucky. My gamestop is 3 blocks away from my house and i stop by there often enough that the cool 2 employees that work there are acctually friendly and helpful. But maybe thats because they know me as a regular and know not to bug me with superfluous nonsense.

  6. Stefan said on March 2, 2008:

    I’ve pretty much stopped buying things at Best Buy because I can’t go through the checkout without feeling like I’m watching a piece of spyware install on my computer…sneakily worded offers being pushed on people in order to screw the unsuspecting. They do have a great selection of games, but I always feel dirty by the time I’m done with checkout.

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