There’s No Way Only Forty Percent of GameStop Customers Know About Trades

It’s hard to know where to begin writing about this because even the most controversial statement should be given an impartial first look.  Bully is a better game than Grand Theft Auto IV?  You can easily make a case for that, and whether you end up agreeing or not you at least understand the logic behind the statement .  Only 40% of the people who go to GameStop know you can trade in used games?  That’s going to take more than a comment from an interview with Gamestop’s president to be believed.

The actual quote by Tony Bartel, according to VentureBeat’s gaming sub-section GamesBeat, is “Believe it or not, only 40 percent of the people who walk into a GameStop store today know that we accept trades of games.”  Three out of five people who visit GameStop don’t know you can trade games in there.  All the people who visit and are accosted by an employee under incredible pressure from every level of management to maximize the used game aspect of GameStop’s business, explaining endlessly how the trade-in system works, and only 40% know about it.  Flyers, e-mail campaigns, signage, and every bit of marketing hammering the point home, and 60% don’t know a thing about it.  I’m sorry but I simply do not believe this statement, at all.

Still, let’s look at the phrasing and see if there’s any wiggle room.  The main point is “40 percent of the people who walk into a GameStop”.  At first I was thinking they were counting parents bringing in babies to pad that number, but they’re normally carried in or pushed in a stroller so they don’t “walk into” much of anywhere.  First-time customers may not know, but the percentage of Gamestop’s business being brand-new visitors is nowhere near enough reach 60%.  Second-time customers might have forgotten or, more likely, not cared all that much.  There’s a rule with ads that it has to be seen several times before it’s remembered, but that probably doesn’t count when the information is being presented in conversational form by the register-jockey when all you want to do is buy your game and get out.  No matter how you look at it, 60% isn’t a figure that works.

bunnies

Normally an article-appropriate picture would go here, but that would end up as little more than free GameStop advertising. Have some bunnies instead.

Rephrase it, though, and all of a sudden the statement becomes more believable.  “know that we accept trades of games” is a very different concept from “care that we accept trades of games”.  It’s very easy to know something yet not bother using that information because it’s simply doesn’t matter at the moment.  To GameStop, game trading is the most important thing in the world.  To the average customer, it’s not really all that important.  Getting $3 back on a game that originally cost $60 but is now selling new for $20 and used for $18 isn’t a great driver of customer enthusiasm.  Still, knowing and deciding it’s not worth the hassle isn’t the same thing as being unaware, which is what the original quote claims.  Unfortunately there’s no information available on where this percentage came from.

Gamestop accepts used games in the same way an alcoholic accepts a drink.  The company is addicted to the profit margin they provide, originally because new games have a terrible return but eventually due to going public and the need to show increased profits every quarter.  There’s no way to remain unaware of their trade policy after a visit or two, and adding up the first and second-time customers doesn’t equal 60% of the foot traffic.  If Tony Bartel wants us to believe that only 40% of GameStop’s visitors know about trades, he’s going to have to show some incredible evidence to back that statement up.

Disclaimer- former Electronics Boutique and then GameStop employee.  I’m pretty sure I got out with my soul intact but then again I haven’t seen my reflection in a mirror in years so who knows?