GAME THEORY: GameStop fails with expertise

Nathan Mendelowitz

With video games becoming a more widely accepted medium for entertainment, it is clear gamers need a place to go to for information and buying games. GameStop has become the biggest store solely dedicated to offering services for gamers and it’s been nice for a while.

Electronics retail giant Best Buy has made a strong effort to become gamer-friendly by adding rewards for purchases and incentives for trading in and pre-ordering games.

It’s good to see some competition forming, but the real problem is they both are failing in the same area: Video game knowledge and interest.

GameStop still offers rewards for consumers with its PowerUp rewards program. A free membership offering points for all purchases and trade-ins that can be used on future purchases. 

A paid membership of $15 a year gives gamers more. It adds 10 percent of the money given to games traded in and gives gamers the same amount off for a used game purchase. A subscription to Game Informer for the year is part of the deal along with 10 percent off strategy guides.

Gamers get the exact same benefits at Best Buy with its program Gamer Zone Unlocked. Instead of Game Informer though, members get a subscription to @Gamer.

This is where the benefits begin to differ because inside @Gamer are more than $100 worth of coupons to use at Best Buy for games or gaming accessories.

The other bonus is if someone wants to trade-in a game and pre-order one, they get an extra 50 percent value added to the trade-in value. GameStop doesn’t do this for every game, only specific games.

It’s good to see both companies fighting for gamers dollars. But they only seem to be going at it to get money and not competing when it comes to the best customer service possible.

Making it easier to buy and sell a game is nice, but when the people working at the store know less than the customer it leads to a bad experience.

GameStop used to be known for being more than just a place to go and buy a game. It was fun to talk with the workers about anything and everything video game related. Employees were knowledgeable and more than willing to help the gaming impaired find the perfect game.

Now, the employees almost seem bored with video games.

It can leave a bad feeling being in the store because it feels like the employees don’t want to be there.

Obviously not all employees should be fired because of no interest in gaming, but it’s reasonable to assume if someone is working at a video game store, they should have an avid interest in gaming.

Best Buy also contributes to this problem by having people who don’t know much about gaming working in the electronics department.

When people go to comic shops, they know exactly what to expect. Someone who loves comics and knows a great deal about them. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for the same when going into a video game store.

It’s difficult for Best Buy to accomplish this since they sell a wide array of electronics and don’t focus solely on gaming.

However, GameStop doesn’t have this excuse; the only products in the store are video game related items.

Gaming is a huge part of pop culture now with millions of people who love games and proud of how much they know about them. 

If GameStop or any new video game store wants to stand out, they need to keep it simple and remember one thing: Gamers love talking about games, so make it easier to talk about them in a store dedicated to them.

Nathan Mendelowitz can be reached [email protected]