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Gamer's Piece: Gamestop isn't always your best friend

By Joe O'Leary
On October 9, 2012


On Wednesday night, after a long period of exams had finally been defeated, I headed to Gamestop to buy myself a reward: "NBA 2K13." Thing is, I didn't want to pay the full $60 for it, so I decided to bring two games to trade for it: "Skyrim," which I figured would be worth something because it's still insanely popular 11 months after it came out, and "Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock," because I completely regretted buying it in May even though it was only $10.

Two games, both somewhat recently released. I wasn't expecting much, but I also wasn't expecting the highway robbery the game store hit me with. "Skyrim" was worth about $16. This was fine with me because I wanted "NBA" as soon as possible, although used copies of the RPG go for twice as much on Amazon. "Guitar Hero" was worth $3, but I just wanted it gone, so I didn't mind. However, I was charged $4 for a refurbishing fee on "Skyrim" and wasn't told, which set me back more than the entire value of "Warriors of Rock." Never mind that the game never froze up on me or my roommates once for the year we owned it, but I was charged for something that wasn't necessary and was not told about it.

This may have simply been an issue with the store I went to. This might have been company policy for a while and I wasn't aware. But this incredibly poor customer service is the effect of Gamestop killing off pretty much every direct competitor they had. How many independent video game stores are left these days? No one can stand up to the mighty billion-dollar company, so they have total control of the market, and can therefore set the prices high. Luckily, there's always Amazon as a backup.

Amazon, though the experience is somewhat more complicated than Gamestop's, is better on both the buyer and seller sides of the transaction. Though it's come by total domination of the online market just as Gamestop did by the real-world one, selling on Amazon is a longer process, but almost always has higher prices for sellers and lower prices for buyers than in brick-and-mortars. The money drops into either a Paypal account or a bank account instead of some kind of Amazon store credit; you're buying from or selling to average people, so no one's likely to go out of their way to screw you like Gamestop does, and a trip to the Post Office can be a heck of a lot closer than a drive to a mall or shopping complex in most areas. And because it's a huge website with millions of users, it's going to be much easier to find a rare copy of a game for cheap, or a non-rare game for pennies. 

Next time you want a new game or you want to sell an old one, take a second look at Amazon before you run out to Gamestop. The savings will add up on both sides of the transactions.

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