Ironically, while looking over Kotaku this morning, a page I rarely take seriously, a story happened to catch my eye by it’s title and picture alone. “Extreme GameStop Pricing Leaves Some Fans Calling Scam” with a nice picture from the cover of what could easily by my personal favorite game on consoles… Xenoblade Chronicles. The story seems to be about how used copies of the game (previously sold out throughout the USA in both new and used forms, and having tried to help a friend get his own copy, I can speak to this through experience), is suddenly and readily available in used form from the chain. So what’s so bad about that?
Well, the problem isn’t that the game is more readily available. In fact if you read my review of the title, you can only imagine I would see that as something to celebrate. The problem here, is that this game is suddenly available from the only retailer who can carry the game (Gamestop), suddenly has a catch of “used” games… for a game that retails for $50, but sells used for $90. A lot of people are crying fowl and in fact claim that the games are not used, but new and freshly printed minus the shrink-wrap so Gamestop can claim the sale as used and charge an extra $40 for it. In short, they believe it’s a scam. In fact, some are even claiming that when they bought it, the game came complete with the Nintendo Club code the game originally shipped with and the code was unused. For anyone who has dealt with used games before, code papers are rarely included because the original user usually uses them or (if they don’t care for something really stupid) lose it over time. This sounds highly suspect.
Taking a quick look at the Gamestop website, I was unable to see any real pimping out of the game like Kotaku claimed. Instead, I DID find it relatively suspect that a game just 6 months ago from my own experience (and a few weeks ago according to the author of the Kotaku article) was impossible to get is suddenly in 12 stores that are within 20 miles of me, even if they are all claiming “low stock.” And considering this is the same company who cut open copies of Deus Ex to remove OnLIVE codes for the game from the package in the name of “not supporting their competition,” I certainly wouldn’t put it past them.
But if this is truly a scam what does it mean? Frankly, from the consumer’s side, it’s annoying, but I don’t think we have any grounds to argue. If it’s classified as used, it’s classified as used, and we can either pay up or walk out. And as much as I don’t like scams, I would rather see the bullet bit and more people play this absolute masterpiece. The real eye Gamestop should be watching for here is Nintendo. If this scam is real, the guys who set the retail price are going to be PISSED Gamestop is overriding them, and Nintendo is not known to shy away from lawyers when they feel they have been wronged. If this is real, the Big N will likely sue.
As for me, I will update this article later when I can see the issue up close and person. I planned to go do my groceries today after work, and with any luck, I can swing by one of these stores and see for myself.
UPDATE: I went to two of the local Gamestops after my actual job (as fun as it is to play and review games, or even talk about the gaming world, this has to remain a hobby), but sadly no one still had a copy available. However, I did notice something else while looking around. Neither store had a section for new Wii games either. This could be a much more direct reason as to why these games are selling as used: the company simply may not stock new games for a platform the successor of which has been out for almost a year.
In addition, Kotaku once again has more information, this time with words from Gamestop themselves about this story. According to Gamestop, they have been actively looking for “vintage” games that PowerUp members (holders of their little in-store point card) have told them they want. They are not claiming new prints, just aggressively seeking out copies for their audience. In addition they will be doing the same with other limited run titles like Metroid Prime Trilogy. The pricing, however, is based on what the game demands on market.
People are still claiming it’s a scam at this point, claiming that Gamestop, due to deals to be the only retailer to carry the game, are the market. But I think to define that, we would need more details on the deal. Did the deal include being the only retailer to carry it used, for example. Gamestop’s business model abuses this area, true enough, but they are not the only retailer to sell used games anymore. And personally, I do not believe a business deal can control used sales as evidenced by the people willing to part with their copies (albeit for a bit more then the $90 pricetag Gamestop is going for).
Which brings me to one more point in this story. Looking for additional information I came across the heading of “Gamestop restocks rare game. Collectors screaming scam.” and I didn’t even need to read this before my blood started to boil. If you have read my reviews on other sites in the past (and will likely see this in my next review) I despise collectors. No, not the guy who wants to actually have a collection of all the games in a series they love and cherish. Those collectors are actually very enthusiastic gamers.
The “collectors” I’m talking about are the assholes who will not even unwrap the cellophane off their new copy of the game because they see how rare it will be and plan on holding the game ransom for a huge wad of cash from actual gamers. These people are a blight on the gaming community who do nothing but hold back rare classics from the gamers who might actually enjoy them. Sticking it to these assholes are why I celebrated when games like Final Fantasy 7 and Earthbound became downloadable, and if these are the people crying fowl now… remember this. These are the same people who want to sell you the game for almost $120 now online.
Just a thought.