A new program established by GameStop management may be forcing humble store clerks to lie to you about the availability of brand new games – and it's kinda crazy. Reddit has been bubbling over with reports of the retailer's 'Circle of Life' initiative for a few days now, but Kotaku's ever-excellent Jason Schreier has pulled together all of the threads in a brilliant investigative report.
The program itself is complicated, but allow us to try and break it down. Each store is given quotas across the following commercial activities: pre-orders, reward card subscriptions, used game sales, and game trade-ins. These are determined by the outlet's dealings: pre-orders and reward card subscriptions by net transactions; used game sales and game trade-ins by total dollar value.
So, if a store's quota for used game sales is, for example, 15 per cent, and it sells $1,000 worth of goods, management expects $150 to come from pre-owned items. Make sense? It basically means that for every new game (or item) that a store sells, it'll have to compensate for that by peddling more used games. Are you keeping up?
This wouldn't be so bad if it was just an internal target, but some employees are reportedly being threatened with a termination if the quotas aren't met. And with such pressure coming from the powers to be, it's forcing some stores to resort to scuzzy tactics, such as faking the availability of titles in order to make the numbers add-up.
For example, if you enter a store hoping to buy a sealed copy of Watch Dogs 2, the employee may be encouraged to tell you that it's out of stock because selling the game will put pressure on the store to move even more pre-owned stock. This is a particular problem with high-priced goods like hardware, and at midnight launch events where only new copies of games are being sold.
The whole thing sounds like a complete and utter mess. GameStop appears to be actively discouraging employees from meeting the needs of its customers and driving business to its competitors as a consequence. In a statement, the company said that it will "continue to refine [the program] to provide a great store experience".
Perhaps it should consider dropping it altogether, eh?