Confessions of a Former GameStop Employee

The Escapist has the first part of a two-part feature from Reviews on the Run co-host Scott Jones about what it is like to be a GameStop employee. The first part of the article describes the culture inside GameStop and offers some "inside baseball" moments including what the employee calls "gutting." Here is a taste:

"Gamers on message boards constantly say – and yes, they typically write the following in caps – "HOW CAN THEY SELL AN OPEN COPY OF A GAME AS NEW WTFFFFFFF GAMESTOP SUX BALLZ?" The answer from GameStop’s corporate perspective is this: Gutting keeps shrink to a minimum. Definition of shrink: Customer theft. Irrefutable fact: If you put an empty box on the shelf, there is no incentive whatsoever for a thief to steal it. 

Gutting also provides store employees with a very useful visual cue that tells us what’s left in stock. Don’t see a box of Gears of War 2 on the shelf? Then someone bought the last one. Meaning we’re out of Gears of War 2. Period."

Ben goes on to say that most of the people at the top of GameStop’s corporate structure do not have very much experience with games. Many of them do not play games at all. That is somewhat alarming to hear. Anyway, read the rest here. Part Two rolls out next week.

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  1. Mr.Tastix says:

    Read the other parts, less of a "confession" and more of a rant. That’s all it is, some random guy who works at GameStop ranting about the job he works at and the people he has to serve.

    Don’t like your job? Either suck it up or get another one.

    Edit: I should note that I’m aware this guy apparently no longer works for GameStop, and that’s fine. The article was interesting in a few places but, overall, it wasn’t that much different to somebody else ranting about their job.

    I can rant, you can rant, too many people rant. Hell, it’s the one reason I stopped writing blogs, mine was just a massive rantfest and if anyone wanted that they could just watch someone on YouTube ranting because, quite honestly, that’s 100x more entertaining.

    Like I said, some parts are interesting but there’s no real "confessions" here. The only real "confession" is that he hated his job. Well, I ask: So what? How many actually enjoy working in retail, working with idiot customers? I don’t know anyone who does, and I’ve known many people who worked in retail.

    — Randi Tastix

  2. count23 says:

    Yea, I worked for a company in Australia called ezydvd before they made the switch to becoming Gametraders. Gutting is a standard practice for any discs we couldn’t put on the shelves with a security device that would snap the disc in half if you forced the case open. And yes… you could "rent" a movie or game overnight from the store, sign it in or out as long as you shrink wrapped it and put it back on the shelf when you finished.


    Lots of dodgy practices with these types of companies.

  3. Outrun1986 says:

    The people who work at Gamestop around here are definitely interested in games, I talk to them about games all the time.

    I generally get good service at my GS stores around here.  If you want a brand new sealed game, just go to Walmart.

    Would I buy a gutted game for full price, no, I would go to walmart and get myself a sealed copy if I wanted it that bad.  I no longer have that issue though as I rarely buy a new game, I play older, slightly outdated games that cost a less than new ones.  In the rare case that I want a new game, I usually order online, the price is almost always a few dollars cheaper.

    I do not like some of GS’s policies, especially placing stickers on the cover art instead of directly on the case like they used to where they can be easily peeled off. I really wonder who thought of that one.  I also think they should charge a different price for a disc only game, when I buy a game online I pay less for a disc only copy, when I buy a game at GS I pay the same price for a disc only copy of a game or a complete copy of the game including disc, manual and cover art.  Many modern games cost $60 at retail and $55 used at gamestop, I am not paying $55 for a used, disc only game, regardless of what game it is.  I don’t care how much work this would be for employees to implement, it needs to be done.

    Putting the games in clear boxes is the easiest way to solve this problem, walmart got rid of the large locked game cases here and put each game in a clear box, Target did the same. I bet they sell a lot more games now since people can just grab them and go to the register and they don’t have to wait for an employee to unlock the case to get a game.  With this system there are no games to gut and no shelving to do, just locking each game in the box.

  4. SilverMelee says:

    You’re right about it being an article on GamesRadar – I came across it a few months back and found it very intriguing.

    Here it is, complete with all the parts. I believe there were were a few extra topics concerning the matter that aren’t shown here, but I’m sure one can find them in the "related topics" of these articles.

    — I do more than just play games. I draw, too:

  5. Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    I remember an article at Gamesradar (I think) about all the crap some employees have to stand on game stores like Blockbuster or Gamestop, like parents using the store as day care and other bullcrap that costumers tend to make when they fake ignorance about game ratings, etc.

    It´s a very dirty job, indeed.

    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship):

  6. Quarantine says:

    What you’re saying is that I can play a game for years and then resell it as New since I kept all the things that came with it and kept the disc in mint conidition – Techincally, that is inaccurate.

    As soon as that seal breaks, it’s used. Or, if there is only shrink wrap sealing the product, when more than 25% of the *factory* shrink wrap is removed around the case/box opening, it’s used.

    This is usually how all the other retailers handled their multimedia, so why should GameStop have the right to open them in the first place? They do, obviously. But, shopping there knowing the fact they "gutted" the game would not be the best decision to make. Of course, there are other factors where the retailer will reshrink their product and present it as New; it’s misleading and should be considered illegal.

    The condition of New consists of the packaging itself from the manufacture, packaging that goes towards the price of the brand new game. When GS opens the game, it comprises the condition, and should no longer be considered New, ESPECIALLY when humans are handling the removal of the packaging.


    "Because this town is under the stranglehold of a few tight eyed Tree Huggers who would rather play Hacky Sack than lock up the homeless" — Birch Barlow

  7. BigRedNutcase says:

    I don’t get what the big deal is. To me, new is just a guarantee that a) All items listed on the box are inside the box, b) the item works as intended right out of the box. If either points a or b is not true, I get a full refund or a replacement copy. I don’t care that someone else has opened it, take out the contents, then puts everything back in and reseals it when he sells it to me. As long as the two points stand with a way to remedy things should they not, I’m perfectly happy to pay full price.

    New is more expensive because of this guarantee. Used games comes with NONE of these guarantees. You buy it from another person on craigslist and the game doesn’t work, you have ZERO remedies to get your money back. You can demand all you want but he has no reason except for personal honor to give it back. Guarantees like this have a cost associated with it and that’s why new is more expensive than used. Anyone who understands business will find Gamestop’s gutting to be a non-issue.

  8. GrimCW says:

    i wouldn’t call them morons so fast.

    Gamestop notoriously hides new releases behind the counter with a pre-release box on the shelf at times. they’ve also been noted having some titles not on the shelf at all, and kept behind the counter, and other stores will sell out on the shelf but have stock in the back.

    hell when i went to get my copy of battlefield 2142 back when it was released they had NONE on the shelf, asked a clerk and they looked confused as to why it wasn’t since they had a pallet of them open in back.

  9. beemoh says:

    >Don’t see a box of Gears of War 2 on the shelf? Then someone bought the last one. Meaning we’re out of Gears of War 2. Period.

    To be fair, you get morons coming in asking if you’ve got something that clearly isn’t there (Or even better, without even bothering to look for themselves) in all kinds of retail, not just games.

    "Why yes, we have loads of stock in the back, that’s how we make our money, by hiding all the product so you don’t know if we have any or not."


  10. GrimCW says:

    not even in the back, if they ever tell you that look at the shelf behind them.

    9 out of 10 times its there in plain sight for anyone to see and they’re just being lazy about openeing the glass door on it, or its in the cupboards below.

    or tag team it and have one person ask with the opened case, and shortly after another ask without, directly at the counter.

    i’ve seen them pull that trick often before to uninformed parents and the like (hell i worked at one shop that had the manager say it to an old lady as she was staring right at the product she was seeking behind him and just above his head! he swore up and down we didn’t have anything like that and tried to pawn off some other crap on her).

  11. GrimCW says:

    ""Gutting" a new game does not turn it into a "second-hand" game. The game is in the exact same condition–it has simply been removed from its original shrink wrap."


    your right, but the problem isn’t always that simple to solve.

    As i mentioned above i bought a gutted title, first i ever dared, and it was scratched, not lightely either.

    Its the behind the scenes abuse of these game disc that make them second hand. once they are put into a system, scratched, or dropped onto a gritty floor, its second hand.

    to boot, according to the powers that be, if i bought a sealed game, opened it, and returned it immediatly thereafter without having played it, its still "second hand". moreover this actually applies if i were to hand them a SEALED game too, despite never opening it.

    the only differance is i’m the one holding it vs the store clerk having it, and i’m sure they’d take the second hand sealed copy and sell it full retail.

    also, those little paper slips can, and often do, damage the discs. they reuse the same slips until they literally fall apart, in doing this they often put discs in them backwards and allow the label to be damaged by the edges of the plastic as it peels away from the paper. it may not sound bad, but anyone worth their weight in anything knows the data is on that label, and companies will cheap out on the quality of said label often, leaving it very prone to damage over slight corners and constant shifting within those little packages. to boot, those packages are often no safer than large DVD/CD carriers in which the shifting around can cause other forms of damage, from moisture, to smaller scratched across the back surface.

    people don’t often check the labels, as one should, i do because i’ve had that issue on used games before where it was unplayable, and unreturn/exchangeable because the label was damaged with the smallest of specs.

  12. jsnlomberg says:

    People, people…

    "Gutting" a new game does not turn it into a "second-hand" game. The game is in the exact same condition–it has simply been removed from its original shrink wrap. And unless you’re a collector who doesn’t plan on opening it (and it must remain in original, "mint" packaging) what difference does it make?

    I worked at EB for two years and let me tell you another story…if a new game was returned within our specified return policy, and the game was in good condition (a prereq for accepting the return) we’d re-shrink wrap it and sell it as new. Before you scream about how evil that is…think about the alternatives…either we wouldn’t accept returns for new, opened games, or we’d eat the loss and sell them as used games. And now it seems like Gamestop has adopted the former solution.

    (Edit 10/27: I just read Part 3, and the author mentions the practice of re-shrink wrapping)

    Regarding management, all the managers at my store were hardcore gamers, and relished our company’s "sign out" policy (similar to a library). Similarly, every employee (including the manager) at my local Gamestop is very knowledgable about gaming. I’m sure there’s managers out there who haven’t played video games since Pac-Man but I haven’t seen them.

    Overall, a great read…brought back many fond memories.

  13. GrimCW says:

    i find that (gutting) a less common practise because of things like that happening.

    GS does it with many used games, why not new? is it that hard to use a fake box on the shelf? they obviously make a shit ton of’em anyways for used copies.

    to boot is it SO hard to pull a sealed copy from the shelf behind the counter when someone hands you a gutted case? ala, i dunno, every other store out there?

    also Wal Mart, Target, and a host of other stores are doing away with the glass wall (yet Toys R Us just started)

    Wal mart in my area now has open shelves and the big plastic security cases that used to get used on CD’s, and Target has an awesome method where one copy is in that security case and tethered to a locked shelf.

    you can now look at both sides of the package, see if its in stock, and a simple request for assistance, have the title.


    gamestops archaic "the customer is always a thief" method tells me they’re not only behind the times on security measures, but untrustworthy enough to sell me a new game as new. I have bought one title from a store that was "gutted" and found it to have been scratched, be it from use, dropping, or the cupboard it was half assedly shoved in, i dunno, but it was an instant return. Due to this if i ever shop GS (i’ll now avoid them if possible) i prefer to ask the clerk for a copy thats sealed, and refuse gutted ones.

    and FYI i can’t return this now opened gutted copy because i opened it a second time. instead i hear excuses as to why they sold me an obviously ABUSED game at full price. till i finally got an exchange. Needless to say due to that and the managers inexcusable asshatery in dealing with it when i was trying to be civil to begin with (and to boot he wasn’t even asked for, he just kinda bumped in and began insulting me) i never return to that store even in the case i can’t find what i’m looking for anywhere but. i also steer other customers away at every chance, and over to the better one around the corner. needless to say its an more oft than not empty store these days, and i’m sure i had only a very tiny part of that.

  14. lomdr says:

     That would be a good way to do it too.  Best Buy is doing it to some new games [Though it looks like it was done with a shitty old home printer] and ToysRUs did it before they merged the Rzone with the rest of the store by me and took upon the glass wall approach that Walmart employs.  Funny thing is that when TRU was doing it, the covers looked PROFESSIONALLY made.  Probably they had a deal with the pubs that ended up falling through.

  15. captain_cthulhu says:

    hmmm, but you take the alternate to the other extreme.

    why not just photocopy the covers (and backs) and put them on empty cases? customers bring the empty cases with the photocopied covers to the register so you can still see what’s in stock by looking at the shelves. this is how a lot of oldskool vhs stores did it, why not here? because of the negligable cost of photocopying? but this is just 1 idea, to say there are no alternatives shows a lack of creativity or no desire to make things better – not sure which is worse.

    also, to suggest that an employee taking the disc out of the case is the same as the customer taking it out of the case is ridiculous. If I buy a game I also buy the right to damage the disc, the employees have made no such pact yet it can (and sometimes does) affect the product I’m buying – that’s simply BS. what if they did this at the supermarket? Employees take the steak out of the package and handle it before putting it back in it’s wrapper at the time of purchase? yuck.

    there is no upside to this for the customer, y’know, the people keeping you in business? #logicfail

  16. DorthLous says:

    It’s called eating your own dog food, and would you know it, most of the top industries of the world actually DO follow this process. Why? Because it DOES improve business.

  17. beemoh says:

    Do you think the people at the top of Wal-Mart’s corporate structure buy their clothes at Wal-Mart? Do you find that "alarming?" If the used car manager at your local dealership drove a new car, would that be "alarming?" 

    In order: No, although I would assume that the same person still wears clothes. I would be alarmed if the people with direct responsibilty for Wal-Mart’s clothing line were nudists. And no, although I would be alarmed if the used car dealer didn’t drive at all. (Or in the case of a brand-specific dealership, if the manager drove a different make)

    Why? Because I expect people running businesses to have at least some interest in the product they’re hawking- it shows a little faith in their business, and it equips them to make better decisions regarding the products themselves.


  18. captain_cthulhu says:

    it’s an enthusiast thing – no one is an enthusiast for Walmart clothes.

    but as far as I’m concerned you’re right, I don’t give a stinkin tentacle whether the suits play games or not but keep in mind that’s partly why they treat their customers (aka: gamers) like objects – they don’t relate to their customers and therefore don’t necessarily have their best interests in mind when making policy.

  19. SpiralGray says:

    Why is it that "gamers" think that if someone doesn’t play games they can’t possibly be cut out to be involved in the game business in any way?

    Do you think the people at the top of Wal-Mart’s corporate structure buy their clothes at Wal-Mart? Do you find that "alarming?" If the used car manager at your local dealership drove a new car, would that be "alarming?" Stop being ridiculous and sensationalist. It’s a freakin’ retail business. You don’t have to *be* the customer to run a retail business. Get over yourselves.

  20. Thad says:

    "LOL, how soon before we get the "I have a right to steal a game off of shelves" argument in this?"

    Dunno.  Where’s Zippy?

    "Even if they only took off $3-$5 from the price, I would have been more receptive to the idea of buying their opened games."

    I don’t know that I would, as that would still only put them about equal with what Amazon charges for unopened ones.

  21. Zerodash says:

    LOL, how soon before we get the "I have a right to steal a game off of shelves" argument in this? 

    Gutted new games sucks, but how hard would it be to just make a compromise and mark down the price of a gutted game by a few bucks?  Back when I shopped at Gamestop I would refuse to buy any new game at full price if it was gutted, and they lost several potential sales from me.  Even if they only took off $3-$5 from the price, I would have been more receptive to the idea of buying their opened games. 

  22. ChrowX says:

    Hi there, I’m a GameStop employee, and apparently we all feel a need to do constant damage control on this kind of stuff.

    The short response is that we hate gutting games too and agree that it’s a shitty practice. It’s a crappy thing to do, but it is what they pay us to do. However, it’s shrink wrap, and with many games, being removed from the case doesn’t change a thing. Most people take the games home right away and open them anyways. You can’t account for shitty employees, though, and this can lead to problems.

    The alternative is to make all GameStop stores like a food court store: One lone counter, a cash register, and a c ouple employees there to go fetch games from the back. No browsing, no case opening, no shrink. You walk up, order your game, pay, and get out. Honestly, most employees would probably love that idea. We’d never have to gut or shelf anything ever again.

  23. djnforce9 says:

    I remember watching Silent Rob’s gamestop rant and I remember that "gutting" also allows Gamestop employees to check out certain games for a few days so not only can you get a game that’s out of its shrink wrapped box, but it could have very well been PLAYED by someone else already. I believe in the rant he mentioned how he bought a Nintendo DS game brand new and it already had someone else’s save file on the cart.

  24. Bennett Beeny says:

    This all sounds like a lot of excuses to me. I really don’t care what problems Gamestop has that makes the company and its employees feel justified in turning a new game into a second-hand game before selling it to me for full price. If I pay for a new game I want a new game, ‘mint in box’ with the wrapping on, so that I know that the disc is as untouched and as undamaged as possible.

    If Gamestop can’t find some better way to foil thieves and/or to know what they have in stock, then maybe they should find some other business. Incompetence is not a ‘reason’ to screw over your customers.

  25. captain_cthulhu says:

    I remember reading the same thing or something similar and feeling angry about it. what gives them the right to treat consumers like garbage? But gamestop customers don’t seem to care so the injustice continues. I don’t understand this recent trend in tech to treat the customer like an enemy or a fat cow full of milk just waiting to be drained as fast as possible. i hate suits. may Yoggoth lay black roe in their feotid entrails!

  26. eston says:

    I think the whole shrink aspect is pretty well understood, even by those who don’t know what the word shrink means. We get it. Common sense dictates that empty cases on the shelf equals less theft. Not difficult.

    The issue is that GameStop still sells those games as new after they’ve been gutted. If I pay $60 for a brand new game, I want it sealed, I want it never before played, I want it NEW. I don’t want to take GameStop’s word for it. It seems to me like having to sell a few more games at the used price is a pretty reasonable trade-off for reducing the amount of theft in their stores.

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