Author Topic: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price  (Read 14764 times)

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Offline NWR_Lindy

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EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« on: March 16, 2010, 11:38:50 PM »
Jon visits GameStop in search of a free disc and gets more than he bargained for.
 http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/editorialArt.cfm?artid=22770

 Late last week I stopped in at a GameStop at a local mall to pick up Capcom's free Monster Hunter Tri demo disc.  I stopped in on my lunch break, and thanks to several nearby schools the place was, predictably, a zoo.  A large crowd is something I can handle, but what I have a harder time stomaching is the chain's borderline dishonest customer service.    


Full disclosure: GameStop and I have a history.  I've never made a secret of my less-than-stellar customer service experiences at several of its stores, and while I wouldn't say I have an axe to grind, I'll readily admit that I'm not a GameStop fan and generally avoid their stores like the plague.  I pre-order from them only when they have exclusive swag, and enter their stores only when absolutely necessary.  The brief anecdote I'm about to relate did nothing to alleviate my disdain.    


Upon entering the store, I figured that I might be able to find the discs somewhere in a floor display, thereby skipping the lengthy cash register line entirely.  I had no such luck, so I took my spot in line to wait to ask if they had them behind the desk.  Aside from the clerk manning the cash register, there was another clerk standing around on the "public" side of the counter doing nothing.  Was he on his lunch break?  I have no idea.  However, he seemed perfectly content to stand there and watch customers wait in line while he assumedly "worked the floor".  To his credit he did eventually open up a second register (maybe after he was off of break?), but this was only after the line became ten customers deep and we'd all been waiting there for at least fifteen minutes.    


I had a couple of friends with me, so I stepped out of line to walk over and ask him about the demo's availability.  He told me that I had to place a pre-order to get it.  This was noteworthy on two fronts:  First, it was flat-out wrong.  The demo has been a known freebie since it was announced, and was always intended to be that way.  Second, I can only deduce that he was deliberately trying to mislead me in the hopes that I would mistakenly place $5 down on the game in order to get the demo disc.  When I challenged him on the pre-order caveat, he played dumb and asked the other clerk for confirmation.  Without looking up from her checkout duties she replied, "Yeah, it's free," in a dull monotone.  I walked up to the front of the line, grabbed my disc from the cardboard holder on the counter, and left.    


All of this could be excused if it were an isolated incident.  Maybe a clerk in a store here and there didn't listen or didn't care, so when asked about the disc they didn't really know and erred on the side of their commission.  I could understand that.  However, according to an informal poll taken by NintendoGal, this "mistake" is happening at Gamestops all over the country.  In the Seattle area alone, over a dozen stores apparently denied customers the free demo altogether without a pre-order, and based on my own experiences here in Atlanta, I can believe it.    


The only explanation I can come up with for this sad state of affairs is that store-level managers are tacitly endorsing this behavior, or at the very least looking the other way.  I can't see GameStop corporate encouraging the willful misleading of their customers, but the cynic in me can't see them discouraging it either.  After all, it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, right?  And certainly all Gamestop head office cares about at the end of the day are the pre-order numbers coming in from each store, so if a manager decides to "misinterpret" the price tag on a demo disc, the ill-gotten pre-order money will certainly make it all better.    


However, the long-term damage on the customer end is an aversion to the company and an expectation of shady behavior by its staff.  I typically expect GameStop employees to be fountains of misinformation, pushers of overpriced used games in poor condition, and hustlers that seem like they're going to get beaten by their pimp at the end of their shift if they don't secure a pre-order.  No, I don't want a strategy guide.  I don't want "protection" for my game.  I don't want to have to pay $5 for something that we both know is free.  I will, however, take a one-way ticket out of your store as quickly as possible.    


GameStop needs to start treating its customers with respect instead of trying to squeeze them for every dime.  They need promotional instructions clearly articulated across their organization to prevent individual store staff from becoming an obstacle to the game-purchasing process. With online shopping becoming easier and easier and digital distribution looming just over the horizon, poor retail service like this will ultimately result in GameStop's retail outlets becoming a thing of the past.  I, for one, wouldn't miss them.

Jon Lindemann
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Offline Nick DiMola

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Re: EDITORIALS: At Gamestop, Freedom Has A Price
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2010, 11:01:18 PM »
Down here in Tampa, I had a similar situation. The clerk refused to give me the disc and after I argued with him a bit, he eventually just caved and gave it to me as if it were a bag of illicit drugs.

I'd have to imagine that GameStop at a corporate level is pushing this behavior and maybe a handful of honest clerks who know better are doing the right thing and giving out the free disc ... for free.
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Offline BlackNMild2k1

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Re: EDITORIALS: At Gamestop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2010, 11:14:22 PM »
They tried to charge me $5, I refused to pay and cited the Press Release and how it was specifically said at the time of announcement that "no pre-order was necessary". The clerk said they wanted them to get pre-orders in exchange for the disc, pointed to the $5 pre-order today and get 500 MH points thing on the display box. I told him how even that doesn't say I need to pre-order the disc, he turned to his co-worker who shrugged, so he said that he didn't really care and just handed me the disc.

I still haven't played the demo, but atleast I didn't pay for it.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 11:18:29 PM by BlackNMild2k1 »

Offline greybrick

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2010, 11:17:19 PM »
I had, quite literally, the same experience. I was pressuring the clerk to give me the disc without having to pre-order the game, noting that Nintendo wouldn't have said it was free at their media summit had it not actually been free. He disagreed and in an extremely patronizing tone he asked the manager if it was free or not. The woman, without looking up, noted, "Yeah, its free". The guy was a jerk about it, but he graciously gave me permission to pick up the free demo disc. This was, of course, after I bought a full $60 dollar game off of them, and paid completely for SMT Strange Journey that I had decided to preorder that day. (I normally don't give them my preorder business, but the Atlus scarcity scam sometimes forces me to).
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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2010, 11:23:33 PM »
I must have a great GameStop, because I don't remember anyone there ever asking more than once if I wanted to preorder something or if I wanted a strategy guide, or being less than polite in asking it the first time. As I said in the Monster Hunter thread, the guy behind the counter not only didn't insist that I preorder to get the demo, he didn't even ask if I wanted to preorder it. I know he saw me take it, and I was standing there buying something else so he had the opportunity. The people at that GameStop are great; it's other corporate policies that keep me from shopping there regularly.

Also, and don't take this the wrong way, is there a specific criteria on NWR as to what is a blog post and what is an editorial?
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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2010, 11:25:00 PM »
Capcom was giving these discs away at GDC, so I thankfully didn't need to get the Gamestop experience this time.  They are obviously meant to be free.  Heck, at GDC, I asked for one, and the rep handed me three.

Regarding Gamestop... I take Zogby online polls that are occasionally e-mailed to me.  Usually, the questions involve political opinions, but the last one I took had some interesting questions relating to gaming.  They were asking which specific retailers I use, online and offline, to purchase games, new and used, and reasons why.  But what I found most interesting was the inclusion of a free response section where I could give my opinion of Gamestop (they alone were singled out for this).  I wonder what they were looking for (could it be related to all of the negative experiences such as this that pervade the internet?).  Anyway, be on the lookout for the results from Zogby.  If you're interested in getting these kinds of polls, you can sign up here: http://interactive.zogby.com/pollregistration/registration/index.cfm?refsite=tell
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Offline MegaByte

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2010, 11:26:56 PM »
Also, and don't take this the wrong way, is there a specific criteria on NWR as to what is a blog post and what is an editorial?
We're going to be merging and reorganizing these two sections soon.  The Editorial label will mean they've been fully edited and are meant to provoke deeper discussion.
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Offline TheYoungerPlumber

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2010, 11:27:20 PM »
You know, if I were Capcom, I'd be pretty pissed at this state of affairs. They clearly wanted to distribute a free demo disc that the casual GameStop patron could pick up on a whim, bring it home, and try it out. The idea is to "hook" gamers with the demo so that they WANT to pre-order it. And from GameStop's perspective, this demo entices people to swing by GameStop who might not otherwise, during which time they are likely to make an impulse purchase while they're there. There's no need for this pre-order ****. It's ass-backwards.
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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2010, 12:41:31 AM »
On my way to pick up the demo disc, I wondered if they would "pull a GameStop" on me and try to get me to pre-order... but they didn't. The clerk gave me the disc and then (noticing a sign near the demo disc box) said "oh, if you wind up pre-ordering, you'll get $5 off and 500 Wii points." So, I asked "$5 off what? What is the price?" and he didn't know, but he looked it up- $50 for game, $60 for game and controller.

Still, Whenever I enter a GameStop, I feel on edge.
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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2010, 12:52:55 AM »
My Gamestop must also be one of those rare "good" stores, because I was in it a couple days before the "official" release date for the demo picking up a strategy guide for an RPG I was playing.  I just walked up to the counter, bought my guide, and took one of the demo discs with me without a single word out of the cashier.
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Offline NWR_pap64

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2010, 01:15:41 AM »
My Gamestop must also be one of those rare "good" stores, because I was in it a couple days before the "official" release date for the demo picking up a strategy guide for an RPG I was playing.  I just walked up to the counter, bought my guide, and took one of the demo discs with me without a single word out of the cashier.

Apparently, "good" GameStops aren't hard to find. Out of the three GameStops I attend to out of town none of them have given me any trouble. Sure they ask if I want to pre-order stuff, warranty etc. but they were always courteous to me and have yet to see any incompetence from the employees.

If you don't mind my blunt opinion, while I do agree that the whole chain is guilty of some dubious practices it seems that most horror stories are caused by the employees and not the store itself. And like I said before even the best companies hire the worst employees.
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Offline Jonnyboy117

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2010, 01:41:12 AM »
At my local store, the demo discs were just stacked up on the Wii kiosk, which is close to the door. I'm generally with Jon on the store chain -- a necessary evil or mere convenience in some cases, but I spend as little time as possible in that store. If I walk into a GameStop, I know exactly what I'm going to buy or trade in ahead of time.
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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2010, 02:08:47 AM »
I actually forgot about this demo disc until I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about having trouble getting the disc.  next chance I got I went to a gamestop and was expecting to have some trouble but luckily it went pretty smooth.  I saw the discs on the counter, asked it I could take one, they said sure.  however when I asked if I could take a second for my girlfriend's family (they're really into guild wars and they usually buy the current Nintendo system) they said only one disc per person, oh well I had to try...
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Offline greybrick

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2010, 02:34:23 AM »
My Gamestop must also be one of those rare "good" stores, because I was in it a couple days before the "official" release date for the demo picking up a strategy guide for an RPG I was playing.  I just walked up to the counter, bought my guide, and took one of the demo discs with me without a single word out of the cashier.

Apparently, "good" GameStops aren't hard to find. Out of the three GameStops I attend to out of town none of them have given me any trouble. Sure they ask if I want to pre-order stuff, warranty etc. but they were always courteous to me and have yet to see any incompetence from the employees.

If you don't mind my blunt opinion, while I do agree that the whole chain is guilty of some dubious practices it seems that most horror stories are caused by the employees and not the store itself. And like I said before even the best companies hire the worst employees.

Once I went into a Gamestop and the person behind the counter asked if I wanted to preorder a game. Being courteous (it's part of the scout law, man) I replied, "No thanks, I would rather decide if I want a game after it comes out and get it then." The man told me that, "Dude that is the stupidest thing I've heard, how the hell are you going to get a copy of Halo 3 when it comes out." I responded, a bit more tersely, "I am sure that you will have plenty of copies, I think it would be dumb to not order enough of the biggest game coming out this year." His idea of a witty response was to imitate a crying baby, smashing his fists into the counter and screaming (really, yelling), "Whaaaahhh I am such a baby! I am too scared to pre order a game and I cry when I can't find it when it comes out!" As people turned their heads, he continued his show. I walked out, disgusted.

Then there are multiple instances of them selling me demo discs/cartridges in stead of the real game.

Yet another time, I purchased a brand new copy of the PC game Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Not having seen one in stores for a while, I bought it. Turns out, when I went to buy some deodorant (or something) at the Target that shared a parking lot I found a copy of the game a full twenty dollars cheaper. Needless to say, I bought that version and went to return the more expensive copy I had bought at Gamestop. The person working there refused my return, saying they had the right to do so. I don't look like a criminal, at least I hope not, and there was no way in hell that I had copied the game within fifteen minutes and managed to do so without even breaking the seal on the game. So I was stuck with that copy and had to drive to two cities away to return it, because the guy had called his friend at the closer gamestop to warn him of the "thief".

So that is two gamestops marked off my list of available shopping locations. The very last bastion of hope is the one at which they attempted to refuse me the Monster Hunter disc. I will have to forgive them out of necessity.
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Offline ShyGuy

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2010, 04:06:47 AM »
I just walked in and got my copy. Nobody said a thing. They know better than to be steppin'.

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2010, 04:27:24 AM »
The Gamestops around here have generally been good -- except for their policy of "resealing" games with a sticker and selling them as new.  When they tried to pull that on me, I demanded the used rate.  They said it was corporate policy and they couldn't do anything about it, so I made them refund it, and they did so without protest.  Too bad it was the only copy in the store.  It's because of that and their general used games rip-off racket that I usually avoid the chain completely.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2010, 04:29:27 AM by MegaByte »
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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2010, 05:26:42 AM »
Well I've been doing used games back when a chain called "Funcoland" existed. With that said I enjoy the used games market. I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, was stationed in Oceanside, California, Yuma, Arizona and Jacksonville, North Carolina. All of which I frequent there stores. Each of them had 4 different stores that I shopped at. 70% of the time it was a " less than favorable" experience. Yes good companies can have bad employees but there is too much of a trend.

There are too many bad experiences shared amongst gamers, but that's it.....GAMERS. We know better, we expect better. You can't convince a vehicle mechanic he needs to by synthetic oil for his 87 Chevy or it wont "run right", but Sally Nonobetta takes it hook line and sinker. Until mothers of America feel like there not getting good service, they wont change........

But what else do you all think is happening but not discussing..........
If Nintendos "DEMO" service was worth any thing or at least somewhat mirrored PS3/XBOX 360's service, would Lindy ever had to go into Gamestop????? We can only wonder........
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Offline Stratos

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2010, 06:49:33 AM »
Funcoland is what turned into Gamestop. I remember those days.

I was at my friend's place tonight and he has a 360 and we went online and d/l'd some demos to play.. I was curious about Darksiders so we d/l'd that and chose some other demos to try and while we played Darksiders the other games d/l'd in the background. Pretty slick. It sold me on getting Darksiders once I get an HD system.

What I wonder is why Nintendo hasn't added new demos. It's been months since they new ones added.

I'm getting tired of waiting for the Monster Hunters demo so I may just brave the local gamestops to try and get it. I'll report back my findings.
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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2010, 08:00:08 AM »
This happened to me too in Tallahassee, FL.  I didn't want to get into an argument with the guy so I gave up and left.

Offline NWR_Lindy

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2010, 09:08:16 AM »
Also, and don't take this the wrong way, is there a specific criteria on NWR as to what is a blog post and what is an editorial?

Editorials are generally opinion pieces.  Blogs are more general-interest stuff, or funny stuff, or pictorials.  We edit them both when it comes right down to it, but the structure of Editorials is much more fixed than our blogs.  If anything, we've probably had some past blogs that could have been editorials.  We just don't do editorials very much around here, and I'd like to change that because I enjoy writing them and seeing how people respond.

If you don't mind my blunt opinion, while I do agree that the whole chain is guilty of some dubious practices it seems that most horror stories are caused by the employees and not the store itself.

I don't think this is an employee issue.  If GameStop instructed every single manager to be brutally clear that the demo disc was free, and it was made clear from the top-down that B.S. like this wasn't tolerated, nobody would have a problem.  It's pretty obvious from the preponderance of people being denied a FREE ITEM that Gamestop, as a company, promotes - whether directly or indirectly - an atmosphere of tolerance for this behavior, and a "get money by all means necessary" mentality in its employees.

There are certainly "good" Gamestops out there, but the very fact that there are "good" and "bad" stores is a problem in itself!  I never hear people creating blogs that track "good" and "bad" Best Buy stores.  It's unheard of.  If Best Buy was offering this demo disc, they'd have people handing it to you at the door with a smile!  Why?  Because if they didn't, their manager would chew them out.

Yeah, where are the demos Nintendo?  Don't make us go to Gamestop!
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Offline Sundoulos

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2010, 10:15:48 AM »
I don't think this is an employee issue.  If GameStop instructed everysingle manager to be brutally clear that the demo disc was free, and itwas made clear from the top-down that B.S. like this wasn't tolerated,nobody would have a problem.  It's pretty obvious from thepreponderance of people being denied a FREE ITEM that Gamestop, as acompany, promotes - whether directly or indirectly - an atmosphere oftolerance for this behavior, and a "get money by all means necessary"mentality in its employees.

I have a cousin who happens to work at a Gamestop in Houston.  After I tried to obtain a copy of the demo from the store here in Huntsville, AL, I complained about it to her.    Her response was: "As an employee of Gamestop I know the reason. The demo comes with Wii points. I'm not saying it's right, just what I'm told. :-)"

Yes, it's completely anecdotal evidence, but her wording implies to me that she was directed to charge for the demo.  The problem is well beyond the employee level.  I can't imagine employees care enough about Gamestop to simply stiffarm people for the heck of it; I think they've probably received direction either at the regional or the corporate level. 

I would say that Gamestop has lost my business because of this, but the truth is that I stopped buying games there a long time ago.   They just can't compete with the other online options for obtaining games now. 

There are certainly "good" Gamestops out there, but the very fact that there are "good" and "bad" stores is a problem in itself!  I never hear people creating blogs that track "good" and "bad" Best Buy stores.  It's unheard of.  If Best Buy was offering this demo disc, they'd have people handing it to you at the door with a smile!  Why?  Because if they didn't, their manager would chew them out.

In my experience, Best Buys can be shifty as well.  Granted, this is a long time ago, but back in the Gamecube days, I tried to pick up one of the Gamecube demo discs that had a preview of Wind Waker (or the Viewtiful Joe demo?  I can't remember) on it.  Best Buy tried to charge me full price ($45 or so) for a demo disk;  when I challenged that, the girl at the register tried to tell me that the price was that it had 4 games on it, which, of course, really meant that there were four different game demos.  For the most part, I'm sure she was either just repeating what she had been instructed to say or that she was really just speaking out of ignorance.  Either way, apparently, it was the policy the store manager had set up for the demo, even though it was advertised elsewhere that the demos should be free.   

Also, Lindy, I'm curious...as the Monster Hunter Club Chairman :D, do you have any impressions of the demo vs. your experiences with the previous games on PSP.  As I haven't been able to play the demo, I'm still on the fence about getting it.  I noticed that other people on the forums seem to have a negative opinion about the game after playing the demo.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2010, 10:21:21 AM by Sundoulos »
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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2010, 12:21:02 PM »
I'm curious where everyone is? Are you all in the U.S.? I'm in Canada. We have about 10 Gamestop/EB Games around my vicinity, I've been to about 8 of them and I regularly frequent three of them. I've had nothing but excellent service from all of them. Really helpful, nice folks. Yes, they always ask if I want the game protection or they point out that the strategy guide is also on sale, but I respect that's their job and they always ask with a smile. Across the board, the employees are enthusiastic about games and there are hardly any I would call "kids". There are many times that the employee is not quite as knowledgeable about a particular game or release date as I am (I do extensive homework) but when they're not, they want to know what I know and thank me for the information. The line-ups can get a little long (they really have a slow system at the register that could be improved) but I often see them making efforts to handle big lines. Like, one employee will come out to the line, collect the empty boxes from people in line so he can go fetch the associated game discs. That way, the game is ready for purchase when you get to the register. Doesn't always happen but when there's a big line-up, they're usually pretty good about it.
Anyway, without exception, the store staff around here are reasonably knowledgeable, very friendly and really enjoy games and like to talk about them. I am shocked that people have such a lousy experience at other stores. Maybe its a Canada vs. U.S. thing?
Speaking of that, I wonder if the Monster Hunter Demo Disc is even available in Canada? Anyone know? I'll go to my local store at lunch and check but I'm wondering if anyone in Canada already knows?
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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2010, 01:01:12 PM »
I thought the preorder came with free Wii points, and the demo was just the demo, Sundulous.  Can anyone who picked it up actually say if it came with anything aside from the disc, the packing, and whatever control scheme stuff they needed?

Offline BlackNMild2k1

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2010, 01:07:16 PM »
"Pre-Order to day and get 500 MH Points" is what the display says.

GameStop employees are reading it wrong or are using that to mislead people (who don't bother to read it) into pre-ordering.

Offline MegaByte

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Re: EDITORIALS: At GameStop, Freedom Has a Price
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2010, 01:08:32 PM »
Funcoland is what turned into Gamestop. I remember those days.
Actually, GameStop ate all of the other game retailers: Funcoland, Babbage's, Software Etc., EB Games, Rhino Video Games (and several other international retailers).  Those other stores used to be a lot more interesting before GameStop took over the entire market.
Aaron Kaluszka
Contributing Editor, Nintendo World Report