A new company-wide program called “The Circle of Life” sets quotas for GameStop employees and is forcing them to lie to customers in order to reach said quotas, according to a report from Kotaku.
The program reportedly began late last year but became more intense at the beginning of 2017. Each store is required to sell a certain percentage of pre-orders, reward card subscriptions, used games, and trade-ins, with the pre-orders and card subscriptions based on the number sold, and used games and trade-ins based on a dollar amount. This means that if someone were to buy only a new game and not any of the above requirements, it actually hurts the company’s progress towards the quota.
In the end, this discourages the sale of new games and has apparently led to employees lying to customers in order to sell used games instead of new ones. An anonymous employee at GameStop told Kotaku’s Jason Schreier that GameStop is even threatening termination if employees don’t reach the quota. “We are telling people we don’t have new systems in stock so we won’t take a $300 or $400 dollar hit on our pre-owned numbers,” a GameStop employee told Schreier. “This is company wide and in discussions with my peers, it is a common practice. We also tell customers we don’t have copies of new games in stock when they are on sale—for example, Watch Dogs 2 is currently $29.99 new and $54.99 pre-owned. We just tell them we don’t have the new one in stock and shuffle them out the door.”
This doesn’t even take into account the idea of midnight game releases, which will spike up the sales numbers of new games, and make it even harder for employees to come back and reach their goal. One GameStop employee told Schreier, “The other day working the Resident Evil 7/Kingdom Hearts launch we were telling walk-in (non-reserve) customers that we didn’t have the games in stock or that they were only for pre-orders in order to not sell new copies of games. It’s that bad.”
Corporate managers are monitoring GameStop employees to make sure that they are filling at least 75% of their personal quotas, and if they don’t, the employee will either be punished somehow or fired, according to the report. GameStop actually got back to Schreier when he contacted them and said, “All of GameStop’s internal programs are designed to provide our customers the best value in all their video game purchases, including new and pre-owned merchandise. With any program, opportunities arise for improvement and we will continue to refine it to equip our knowledgeable store associates to provide a great store experience.”
With the rise of digital sales, GameStop has implemented multiple programs in order to raise pre-orders and used game sales, but this seems to be the most drastic of their efforts. We’ll keep you updated here at Hardcore Gamer as the story progresses.