GameStop Store Closings: They Do This Every Year.

I've seen a lot of articles lately going on about how GameStop is closing "x" amount of stores. While that is sad it's nothing new. They do this every year. Every year GameStop closes an "x" amount of stores and then opens an "x" amount of stores. So why is it making headlines the past two years or so? Because we are all watching them circle the drain and for whatever reason, we are all pointing and laughing as it happens.

You might be wondering from what authority I speak on this subject, right? I worked for GameStop for a while, made my way up to Store Leader. I no longer work for the company but I keep in contact with my ex-colleagues. Also, if you're an employee reading this, my employee number started with a "1". That should tell you how long I've been with the company. Given the state of the industry, the current climate of everyone's "to hell with Gamestop" mentality I understand why this stuff makes the "news". However, I would like to point something out: You're ultimately cheering for the store level employees to be out of a job. The people you go and BS with about games and typically enjoy interacting with. If GameStop goes under, then the people at your local store no longer have a means to support themselves. Even if they only work there part time, it might just be an additional job they work to help make ends meet or a job they work so they can have gas/snack money for school. Either way, we shouldn't be cheering for GameStop to go under. We should be pulling for them to get their head's out of their asses and fly right.

From working there I understand that some of the policies and things that GameStop does isn't in their control. Like Sony pulling DLC cards off the shelves leaving you only with the Playstation Store currency cards to buy. Or at how when you buy something new from GameStop there's only a $5-$10 profit margin on the games and a $30-$50 margin on consoles. To where GameStop has to closely mirror the return policies of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft in order for you to be able to return anything bought new in store just to cover their own asses. Not everything GameStop upholds in their stores is actual company policy; it's some other companies policy they have to adhere to if GameStop wants to play ball.

Which is why GameStop pushes their used sales so hard. There's an exponential profit margin there to be had but any problems that arise from a used product is taken care of in house and usually right then and there. You may not like it but that's why used is pushed so fervently. Not only is the profit there they can help you solve any problem a lot quicker and efficiently if it's used compared to new.

The profit margin for the Geek "collectibles" is also really high; which is why you've seen it infest the stores within the past few years as well.(Not to mention GameStop just recently bought out Think Geek I believe). If you really think about it, the only thing that is keeping the doors open at this point are used sales, collectible sales, and hardware(consoles and accessories). Because lets all be honest here, with the expansion of internet coverage people are getting more access to better/reliable internet connections which is helping to usher in the digital age. That is killing the software side of GameStop and is also starting to eat into the available titles of used games they have to sell as well.

So what can GameStop do to actually try and combat this circling of the drain? Honestly, I don't think there's too much they *would* do aside from standard procedures of close down stores and eliminate staff. That goes with the archaic corporate structure they still adhere to. While store closings and "trimming fat" is a way to handle things, it's not really a solution if you do it every year and your business keeps failing. But GameStop is too set in the corporate ways to actually think outside of the box. For years they were/are the only game in town and have become a victim of their own success so they never planned for (possibly) becoming obsolete.

From working there as long as I did I can say that they need to loosen up on the stranglehold they have over all the stores/day to day operations of a store. They need to give Store Leaders more wiggle room with how they can present their store, and allowing them to hold tournaments and events at the stores without the miles of red tape required to hold one(A lot of us wanted to hold events but because it was such a circus to get clearance to do so, we didn't even bother.) Not only would that help make the store feel more like it was their store it would give Store Leaders a sense of pride and accomplishment. It would also bring the community back into the stores giving more opportunities for sales to occur by just having more bodies in the store.

GameStop could up their trade in values and make their Pro card worth something again. Since GameStop has killed the physical copies of Game Informer and have taken out the $50 off coupon code from their rewards catalogue, what is the actual point of the program now? Sure, you can redeem a multitude of denominations to get $50 off, but I guess they got tired of people who shopped their frequently enough to redeem a $50, $25, $10, and a $5 all in one huge purchase? I did that a few times when purchasing my Xbox One X and PS4 pro. But now the rewards program is a joke and not worth the $15/year that it is, even if I use my points to renew for "free".

GameStop could also maybe open up franchise options? Or possibly stop being a publicly traded company? Make it an employee owned company so that way employees actually feel like they have ownership of the company and are more invested in seeing the company succeed. Because I think that's one of the big reasons why you see GameStop keep grasping at straws: They promise an R.O.I to their shareholders and then when the quarter/year is up and they fell short, they institute all sorts of "cost saving measures" across the board just to try and make their investors happy again much to the detriment of store level employees.

I don't see GameStop doing anything anytime soon though. A shake up of their archaic corporate structure would be a good start, but they've done that a couple times already with no positive results. They brought in an outside marketing agency to try and figure out a way to remain relevant in this day and age which appears to have also been another colossal waste of money. They re-vamped their salary/hourly wage scale and while it offers more for people just getting into the company, it kind of shafted people who were already there and had performance raises under their belts.

If it's one thing that I took away from the way GameStop really works with my tenure there was this: They *love* the way things look on paper. But when it goes into effect out into the wild and fails, they scramble to correct ship, are quick to play the blame game and not take responsibility. It's always the store level operations fault that someone in an office in Texas thought that since it worked in California or New York it would work anywhere. That's why you will see so many policy/procedure changes which makes it to where it was one way last month but two months later it may not operate the same way. In conclusion, it's not your local GameStop staff's fault you don't like GameStop and are cheering for their company to fail. It's the higher ups. It's the people you will never ever see or even know exist. They have this "shield" around them of employees that are beneath them so the problems/repercussions never make it back to them(usually). We shouldn't be screaming for GameStop to fail, we should be screaming for them to get better leaders. Notice I said leaders and not managers. There's a huge difference.