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GameStop Is Ripping You Off, And Here's How They Do It

Updated September 6, 2019 267.9k views12 items

We all have fond memories of shopping in GameStop. Heck, the store supplies us with video games, which, as we all know, are the ultimate sources of human happiness. But despite all that, we sometimes find ourselves wondering, "Is GameStop a rip-off?"

Ask any random gamer about the store, and the responses will vary widely from highly positive to violently negative. In fact, GameStop employees even have conflicting thoughts about the brand. So, the question remains; is GameStop  really all about giving power to the players or is the shop more focused on stealing money from children?

Sometimes the company really isn't at fault (like that credit card security breach), so it's necessary to dig around and see if GameStop is intentionally shady. Maybe it's all just a misunderstanding. You'll be surprised to learn the truth.

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  • The PowerUp Reward Card Doesn't Save You That Much Money

    This is less about GameStop deviously ripping you off and more about the company banking on your inability to do math clearly. Let's think about this for a moment. The GameStop reward card (called the PowerUp card) only costs $15 a year for 10% off used games or $30 a year for 20% off used games. Not bad, right? 

    Well, think for a second about what that actually requires of you. Say you're enrolled in the cheaper tier, and you spend $200 on used games. These games will all be less than $60 (because they can't be new), so that's a minimum of four, nearly-brand-new games. That's a pretty decent amount for an adult gamer. Now how much money did you just save?

    Only $5.

    You technically saved $20, but after the $15 membership, you take home a grand total of five bucks. Even if you take advantage of the 10% extra trade-in portion of the PowerUp card, you're going to need to trade in tons of games. It's unlikely that employees will give you anything over $30, which means you're getting less than $3 per trade-in. 

    In the long-run, you don't save much at all.

  • You Pretty Much Have To Take Store Credit

    Photo: BrokenSpere / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    If you're a kid who only purchases video games then sure, it makes sense that every time you sell a video game you'd want to immediately transfer that money into a new game. But what if you're a little older, and you want to sell a few video games to buy something more important like food? You'd better not go to GameStop, because it's unlikely that you'll get cash instead of store credit.

    The company claims that customers get 20% more by trading for store credit, but in reality customers just get 20% less for cash. Whenever you trade in a game, most employees say something like, "Have you heard that cash isn't the only way to pay here at GameStop?" Then associates present the store credit as this miraculously better option.

    The store doesn't offer that much money anyway, so it's almost irresponsible to take the cash. Even if you haven't eaten in weeks, it makes more sense to buy a Wii U than accept the measly cash offerings.

  • Most Customers Don't Understand What "Trade-In" Even Means

    Forbes ran a piece about the two-thirds of customers who don't understand GameStop's trade-in policies. The article seemed to commend GameStop for finally admitting and simplifying the policies.

    However, GameStop customers were consistently dumbfounded that their expensive games could be worth so little during the trade-in process. The company liked to brag about special deals gamers could count on, but customers were frustrated. They could never receive those deals for arbitrary reasons. 

    The gaming mecca has since simplified the process, claiming to give more money for trades. You'd still be hard-pressed to find GameStop sellers who feel fairly compensated, though.

  • GameStop Kills All The Competition

    Photo: Stu Pendousmat / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    How many people remember Babbage's? What about Funcoland, EB Games, or Software Etc.? You're not skipping into any of those stores to pick up the hottest new Elder Scrolls game because GameStop crushed all the other establishments.

    GameStop has a convoluted history of buying and rebranding all other game stores. There's nothing inherently illegal about this practice, but capitalism allegedly encourages healthy competition. These days, GameStop stands unchallenged when it comes to selling preowned games.

    If customers want to buy a game from someone other than AngelSlayer666 online, GameStop is basically the only option. That means GameStop gets to make all the rules and dole out tiny amounts of store credit for your three-week old console.