Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Did you pre-order it?

I didn't anticipate the majority of my blog posts to be inspired by Penny Arcade strips, but so far that's how things are rolling out. The archives are just a wealth of entertainment and inspiration for me.

I have been employed by GameStop (EB Games before the acquisition) since November of 2004. So, y'know, five and a half years. Yikes. As a mandatory slave to the pre-order system, this comic really strikes me. In terms of real world comparisons it's just incredibly accurate.

Armed with "insider knowledge" of how video game distribution works, I do possess a certain... defense of the pre-order system. They are extremely expensive to produce and the companies generally like to know how many to create for the initial launch wave. If the companies make too many then they're losing money. If they make too few then customers are disappointed. The pre-order system appears to be a decent gauge for these people to lose the least amount of profits.


Companies such as Target and Best Buy have video game sections, and last time I checked they had no pre-order system. How is it, then, that they always have the newest games in plentiful stock with no worry of over or under purchasing?

Here is my theory: GameStop just sells video games. They have no other form of revenue, no appliances and home furnishings and surround sound system sales to fall back on. Target and Best Buy can afford to buy too many copies of a video game, they won't be losing out. Frequently, non-dedicated video game retailers will have new copies of fairly old games: I can only assume that this is because they purchased a massive amount at launch and they never were able to sell through all of their stock.

I have no proof of any of this, it is simply my best educated guess based off of everything I've learned about the business. There's my disclaimer.

I have a few personal stories to share with you.

Certain games are guaranteed hits; no matter what the pre-order numbers are that game is going to sell. These are most commonly franchise games, or sequels to popular titles. Madden, NCAA, Zelda, Mario, Gears of War, God of War, blah blah blah. There are many more. The "hype machine" is infectious throughout customers and stores alike, so it's easy to know when they're coming. It is stupid to be forced to push Madden reserves and actually try to convince people that they have to reserve a copy in order to get one on launch day. Thoroughly insulting and embarrassing to all parties involved.

Another instance on the opposite end of the spectrum is the rare time when a game just isn't reservable. Last year this was the case with Black Sigil. We received one copy and that was that. People wanted to reserve it but they were unable, including my co-worker James and myself.

In conclusion (?), GameStop boggles my fucking mind. You're a dedicated video game store, just sell the games please. I'm so tired of hearing about 300%+ end of fiscal year profits. I know where that obscene profit comes from and it's not a good place.

This ended differently than I thought it would.


I forgot to mention that I always pre-order games. I like to encourage more shipments, since I know how it works at GameStop, and I enjoy being able to pay off games in $5-$10 increments instead of $40-$60 all in one go! And, one last sad reason, I understand how difficult it is to get reserve numbers when I work and I like to support my friends that are on shift. The lengths I go to for friendships.



No mention of Metal Gear? I'm astonished!

Good blog, though. Hopefully people perk up their ears and start doing what we've been doing for years. It's also a bit easier on the wallet, people! Throw in $10 here and there and it's paid off before the game even comes out! Much better than $60 or more at one time!

Maybe people hear "reservation" and think Natives. So, I have to go to Suquamish to pick my game up?

Yes, I should add that I enjoying reserving games because I like being able to pay for it in increments instead of $40-$60 all at once! That is an important piece of information.

I don't recall Metal Gear getting as much hype as the games that I mentioned. Not that it's not worthy of hype, however!

Best Buy and Target both have pre-orders, though no real system like Gamestop does. The only reason I know this is because of 3 years ago at the Halo 3 launch at the Best Buy in Bellevue. I was second in line and wasn't sure whether or not they would have loose copies available to buy. So I foolishly went in and got their last regular edition preorder. Later, when the doors opened, the first couple of people went to the customer service desk to pick up thier preordered copies. While the guy right behind me grabbed one of the loose copies and went to the regular checkout stand. Guess whose face ended up all over. Yeah...

I had no idea either place offered that! I'm guessing this is because they don't hassle me the moment I step foot into the video game section. That's good to know though :)

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