One of my favorite Black Friday rituals is going around GameStop on my phone and picking up a lot of inexpensive games. It usually works out nicely. It was a nightmare last weekend. It’s difficult to express how bad the experience of attempting to buy something from GameStop has become in 2023, but I’ll try.
Shopping at GameStop was never fun, but things have only grown worse amid meme stock antics, ongoing cutbacks, and a floundering c-suite. Throughout it all, I’ve remained a member of the company’s Pro rewards program because 1) I purchase a lot of games and 2) I appreciate having a reason to come into a shop and talk to folks who like games in real life. It used to be a terrific deal as well. Not so much anymore. The price increased, the privileges decreased, and there are a slew of additional limitations designed to take advantage of you. This has been obvious for some time, but one particular Black Friday event highlighted exactly how awful things truly are at the business.
One of GameStop’s major Black Friday discounts was “buy 2 get 1 free” on used games. My five-year-old has suddenly become a capital G Gamer, telling me over soggy Cheerios and orange juice at breakfast that Santa was bringing him a new Zelda and Mario game for Christmas. This is new to me. So, in between the warmed-up Thanksgiving leftovers and Bluey marathon, I began browsing through the GameStop app, which I had put on my phone as a devoted customer.
I decided to buy Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity since my son spends most of his time in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom raiding the same goblin camps again and over. To optimize my savings, I began loading my basket with other options in the $35 range: Yoshi’s Crafted World, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Sonic Frontiers was overpriced. Skyward Sword was already in our possession.
It was dinnertime by the time I decided on Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Link’s Awakening and began picturing my kids’ delight as they unwrapped each consecutive item on Christmas day. I’d get three good games for only $20. As previously said, I like the art of putting together a fantastic gaming deal. Then GameStop began ratfucking me.