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Life Behind The Counter

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the and-other-sordid-tales dept.

81

MTV Games has a run-down on a blog that relates what it is like behind a videogame store counter. The blog, DayintheLifeofVideogames relates the best and worst moments from their unique perspective on the games industry. From the article: "So pity the game store employee anxious to sell apples to people shopping for oranges. 'I die a little bit inside each time,' Post said. 'I think people are afraid to take a chance.' He gets just that close to getting people to buy the good stuff, but he said that if people haven't seen a TV commercial for a game, it's very hard to sell them on it. And cheer Post and Whitman for their acts of retail kindness, like warning customers buying EA's recent 'NFL Head Coach' that it doesn't actually let people play football. 'I warned two people, and both of them said, 'I'm glad you told me. I don't want it now,' ' Post said. 'You want to make the sale, but you don't want the guy to go home and say, 'That guy doesn't even know what he's talking about.'" It would be against the scriptures not to mention the most holy of holy books at this juncture. Yay, though I walk through the shadow of the non-believers, always do I keep the Acts of Gord in my mind.

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81 comments

Sales (3, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372113)

How does the customer know whether the salesman is giving him good advice or just trying to push some POS game for other reasons, like higher profit margins or pressure from management?

Re:Sales (5, Insightful)

01101101 (869973) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372163)

How does the customer know whether the salesman is giving him good advice or just trying to push some POS game for other reasons, like higher profit margins or pressure from management?

Which is pretty much true anywhere a salesperson is involved. At least with video games I never feel like when I am at the store I HAVE to buy a game right then. If I see a few that look good, but I am not familiar with them, I can come home and look for some reviews and screenshots and be able to make a more informed decision next time I am out shopping.

Worst frag ever.... (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372267)

Bart: 'Scuse me, my good man, I have five hundred dollars to blow.
            What've you got?
CBG: Behold, the ultimate Pog. (indicates the Steve Allen Pog)
Bart: I'll take it. (Bart hesitates as he sees Lisa walk by the shop)
Bart: Mmmm!

Re:Sales (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372253)

Gotta talk to 'em about it. If he's just pushing drivel you'd hear in an advertisement, then there you go. Ask him why it's good. If there are any bad points. If he's got tips you should know before you start. The kind of stuff he'd only know if he'd actually played and liked it.

Re:Sales (4, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372257)

Instead of shopping at big box stores, you shop at your local retailer that actually has to worry about their reputation. I have a great local store (that is a Gamestop franchise) where I know that the salespeople will always give me a straight answer. I keep going back because of that.

Re:Sales (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372777)

And don't the smaller stores usually have gaming mags (with reviews) for sale?

If they don't, it'd be a good business move to keep around back issues just so you can point people at a review and say "look, this is good, buy it"

Re:Sales (1)

writermike (57327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16373775)

Instead of shopping at big box stores, you shop at your local retailer that actually has to worry about their reputation. I have a great local store (that is a Gamestop franchise) where I know that the salespeople will always give me a straight answer. I keep going back because of that.

Good point, but I think you just got lucky. I mean, it's a smaller store, yes, but it's still a national franchise and it all comes down to the quality of workers. I'm sure if you try easy enough you can find thousands of complaints about idiots in GameStops. You got lucky.

m

Re:Sales (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376401)

That's very true. There are several EBGames stores near me. There was originally only 1 at the mall, 40 minutes away. The manager, Denise, was always great about answering questions truthfully and suggesting games that are like the one I was looking for. (I'm -bad- with names, too, so she impressed me enough that I know her name now.) She kept everyone in that store in line.

Well Denise went to the new store that opened up, that happened to be within miles of where I live. It is also a wonderful store and the workers have a great attitude. Every once in a while, I go back to that mall store... It was horrid. The people didn't know what they were talking about and you could barely get them to ring up your sale. Another opened within miles of that one, and it was nearly as bad. Eventually they got another new manager and it's a nice, helpful store again, but Denise's store is still WAY better.

Due to their being helpful and honest (they've given me info that stopped me from buying more than a couple games that I would have regretted) I listen to their advice more. It's gotten them sales on things they wouldn't have gotten before, and I'm more loyal to them. Even if it's out of my way, I prefer to buy there over anywhere else.

It's also nice that due to my loyal-customer status, they've been willing to bend store rules a few times. Like if I'm buying something (Nintnedo DS) that is going to go down in price next week, they often tell me I can bring my receipt back and get the difference, despite the store's rules to the contrary.

That's the kind of service I expect these days. I could buy it online from the comfort of my home and never have to move except to answer the door for the UPS guy. But they add so much value to the shopping experience that it's worth the drive to go see them. I wish all stores would understand this concept.

Re:Sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16374157)

What happened to the pr0n?

Re:Sales (2, Informative)

Trogre (513942) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374179)

Download Loose Change [demonoid.com]

And while you're at it, don't forget to have the Loose Change viewing guide [loosechangeguide.com] handy.

Re:Sales (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16377179)

Huh? When was the last time you got a on the spot game suggestion/review from a Best Buy rep on the floor. Hell, I can't even flag one of those guys down for directions to the rest rooms let alone find one with any amount of knowledge on video games.

Having worked in a couple of CompUSA's I can say that at the big box stores you are more likely to get an honest answer out of the software sales guys because they don't get commissions on sales, and no one is going to buy a service plan on a video game. If some kid at a BB or CompUSA tells you they enjoyed game 'X', it is with all probability that they did in fact enjoy game 'X'. There just isn't enough profit on games to warrant a 'push' from management to sell any specific game.

Now your little ma-and-pop game store that is depending on game sales for revenue to stay in business, I would expect them to push the higher profit items.

-Rick

Re:Sales (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372315)

Same way the customer knows anything else.

Re:Sales (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#16373111)

By being told it on TV throw "hip" advertising campaigns?

Re:Sales (2, Insightful)

cazbar (582875) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372343)

A salesman telling you not to buy something is usually a good sign.

Re:Sales (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16373419)

When they give you a bad review.

I was gonna buy Prey, since it was from the local game studio. Then I asked what it was like and the guy basically said: The new things where cool, but it was too easy. You die and you spend 30 seconds shooting stuff and then you come back alive. Don't buy it.

And I followed his advice.

Re:Sales (1)

Hangin10 (704729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374137)

I can understand why that would turn you off if you're good at FPSs; I suck at them, but what ticked me off about Prey is that it has no split screen death match (online only). If I had known that, I wouldn't have bought it.

Even gamestop guys can have a heart (2, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372213)

The dude at the counter told me I didn't really want to buy Dirge of Cerberus when I slapped it down. I knew if he was willing to do that (after seeing the shit his boss makes him pull to bring in sales before), he had to really beleive it.

Well... (2, Insightful)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372235)

That sort of situation is not unique to the gaming market.
Pretty much any form of retail will suffer from this sort of thing, such as a person buying an electric saw only to find out it doesn't cut the material they want to use it on.
I guess the gaming market is just a good example for people on Slashdot to relate to...

Re:Well... (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372439)

Pretty much any form of retail will suffer from this sort of thing, such as a person buying an electric saw only to find out it doesn't cut the material they want to use it on.

I'm sure it will cut salesperson quite effectively. You just need to be more forward in expressing your opinion of his job performance.

Again, Steam (4, Interesting)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372237)

Another advantage of Steam: Many games have playable demos you can try before you buy. Many other good games do too. This used to be much more common, such as Duke Nukem 1,2 3. And yes, they promise that there will be a demo version of Duke Nukem Forever as soon as it comes out... (swear to you)

Shareware isn't dead, it has just evolved. Anything that you make worth selling should be worth letting someone try out for an hour or two (or a chapter or two) first.

Parent isn't a troll (0, Offtopic)

Xiroth (917768) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372787)

I don't get some people. Do they just randomly moderate posts troll? Do they hate moderating that much? I wouldn't have said that it was really that onerous a responsibility.

Again, Steam, bake, broil, sate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16373605)

"Shareware isn't dead, it has just evolved. Anything that you make worth selling should be worth letting someone try out for an hour or two (or a chapter or two) first."

And people will still pirate even when you secede to all their demands.

Re:Again, Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16373819)

It's funny you should mention Steam. My last experience with a game-store employee involved me picking up a copy of Half-life 2: Episode One and asking "Does this use Steam?". He, very helpfully, informed me that it did - and thus lost the sale.

I bought Half-life 2. After the hassles I had with it, I won't touch another game from Valve unless it works without Steam.

Re:Again, Steam (3, Informative)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16373909)

Xbox 360 is the same way. Every disk game and Live Arcade game has a free demo available for everyone with a free Xbox Live account. IMO, that's one of the best features of the system and yet nobody talks about it.

Re:Again, Steam (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376421)

Not -every- game, but a good portion of them. And it's definitely an awesome feature. I would never have even rented Prey without the demo. Now I'm considering buying it. (I beat the normal single player on a rental.)

New Slashdot Meme! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16375735)

DRM is bad, unless it's Steam!

Re:Again, Steam (1)

goarilla (908067) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376747)

Shareware isn't dead, it has just evolved. Anything that you make worth selling should be worth letting someone try out for an hour or two (or a chapter or two) first.
Shareware is evolved into what then?
Some stupid one hour boring demo of 700 mb
Shareware (apogee's) used to be 1/3 or 1/4 of the actual game back then
counting for hours and hours of fun gameplay!
if short demos is what shareware has evolved into ... i want it to
devolve as quickly as possible

Re:Again, Steam (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16377107)

It sure beats having to spend $5 to rent it, only to discover that you hate it right off the bat.

This is one of the best features of the Xbox 360, IMHO.

-Eric

Game Fly or Blockbuster (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372251)

If you're not sure, tell 'em to rent the game first, then play it.

Renting is far cheaper.

Re:Game Fly or Blockbuster (1)

ShadowsHawk (916454) | more than 7 years ago | (#16378369)

Have you rented from Blockbuster lately? I did about a year or so ago. I believe it was in the $7 dollar range. Sorry, but I can bargain bin for that price.

Re:Game Fly or Blockbuster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16381947)

You must have gotten in just before they raised prices. Around this time last year games were going to $8. The "buy after two weeks" add-on for the game would have been less than the actual rental. It would literally pay not to return the game and incur the difference in charges. That was the last time I set foot in a Blockbuster.

please don't go for the easy sale (4, Insightful)

rabiddeity (941737) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372295)

The point that hits hardest is the one thing a lot of the Gamestop/EB managers seem to get wrong. If people wanted cheap, they'd go to Walmart. But they come into the GAMES store for the large selection of games, and the assumption that people behind the counter know what's good and what's not. If someone asks for a recommendation and you go for the easy sale, and recommend a piece of crap game, you'll come off looking like a tool and people won't come back to your store anymore. "The guy at the store told me my son would like this game, but it sucked. That guy didn't know what he was talking about. Screw that, I'll just go to Best Buy next time." But if you recommend a great game, people might come back next week or next month and buy another, and another. Or maybe if you're really lucky they'll recommend your store to their friends.

please don't go for the bingo sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16373687)

What's insightful about playing customer bingo? Since what's considered a "crap game" varies from person to person. And the same for a "great game". It's a crapshoot to say anything. Best to say nothing and your business rep. stays safe. Open your mouth and you could end up on slashdot.

Re:please don't go for the easy sale (1)

thebdj (768618) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376049)

In a truly great moment in my gaming history, I went into my local Software Etc. (which is now and EB), to bring back my World Series Baseball (I think it was 2K1). Anyone who had a Dreamcast will remember what a tragic failure this game turned out to be. Much to my surprise, and possibly because I was a regular or had pre-ordered my DC almost 6 months before launch (yet I still cannot get a Wii pre-order, but that is another story), but I was unable to return it for a full store credit. I was expecting to have to "re-sell" it to them and lose a huge chunk of change, but the game was just that bad, I would've been happy.

Our store was very good about stuff like that during my high school years. Unlike just about every place else, where they seem to just try to sell you the most expensive thing in the store, they were quite capable of telling you what you wanted to know. I actually once interviewed for a job there, just before the DC launch. It was at this time that I learned they allowed employees to basically rent out any games they had in stock. This is a great policy in my opinion, because you make sure your employees are on top of the current games. I wish more places hired and taught their people about the things they sell. (We know that Best Buy is horrible with this. I hear more BS out of some of those employees mouths then anywhere else.)

Re:please don't go for the easy sale (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16377239)

Yeah, and let me give you the flip-side to that--having once worked as a clerk/manager in a game store myself. Hiring the uber-gamers and being known as the "it" place to go for game advice often produces:

  • A group of loser kids and teenagers who hang around your store every day after school, never buying anything and scaring off real customers
  • Arrogant employees who chase off customers by bad-mouthing their favorite console/genre/controller setup/etc. ("You play FPS's with a gamepad?!?! Well *I* only use a Keyboard/Mouse, it's the only way to *REALLY* play...Hey were are you going, sir?")
  • Employees who would rather sit around playing the latest games all day than provide any customer service or keep the store clean
  • Customers who come to your store for advice on games and consoles, then actually go buy them used for a lot cheaper at half.com or amazon.

Not to say that your employees should be a bunch of gaming dunces, but they should also keep in mind that they're working in a business, not their own personal arcade.

-Eric

what a bunch of crap (1, Interesting)

abradsn (542213) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372321)

I own a video game store, and the first couple paragraphs are hugely wrong as a whole... except for the people with birds on their shoulder part, as I've seen that too.

For one thing you don't know what has not occurred yet. That is called a guess. For another women/girls like videogames too. Maybe not I New Jersey, but In Washington State they do.

The people are also no stranger than you would get in say a Jack in the Box, or a Mervyns. Which is not to say that those people aren't strange too.

Anyway, just ignore this stupid article. I wish that I had.

Re:what a bunch of crap (1)

Hahnsoo (976162) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372475)

Because all video game store experiences must be identical in every way, shape, and form. Thus, all blogs involving video game stores must contain the same content. There is only one "right" way, and every other way is hugely wrong. And no matter if you live in different American cultures from opposite ends of the coast, all experiences in the video game shop must be similar in details. *sigh*

The guy is writing a blog, for God's sake. It's not like he's the Gamestop Messiah coming to speak for all game shop employees.

Re:what a bunch of crap (1)

abradsn (542213) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372779)

It got pointed to as an article on slashdot... so I was pointing out that there are differences and that there way might not necessarily be the same. That was exactly my point. You were just ignorant, and needed to restate the obvious.

Re:what a bunch of crap (1)

Hahnsoo (976162) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374187)

Of course. I'm the ignorant one. I'm so silly for introducing sarcasm into slashdot. If I'm making my point for you, then you have no need to feel so defensive and reply to your own comment twice as I'm simply reiterating your opening argument, however opaque it may be... what was it again? Oh yes. The article is a bunch of crap, by virtue of your unverifiable credentials.

The context of the article was the fact that this guy got an MTV news interview for his blog. That's really the only reason it's on Slashdot... there have been worse reasons for a newspost, certainly. No need to yell and scream about it.

Re:what a bunch of crap (1)

abradsn (542213) | more than 7 years ago | (#16412483)

True enough. I over-reacted. Please accept my apology.

Re:what a bunch of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16372707)

I own a video game store, and the first couple paragraphs are hugely wrong as a whole..

And your anecdotal opinion carries more weight because?

Re:what a bunch of crap (1)

abradsn (542213) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372831)

It doesn't carry more weight. It just shows that there is a difference, and that life behind the counter of a video game store is not the same across the board. In particular it is not even close to the depiction of the blog.

One experience does not equal another, so pay no heed to how this article submission title as an overgeneralization to a retail industry.

I can't believe this even made it into slashdot as it has almost no redeeming qualities of legitimacy.

where's your store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16374925)

Why don't you do us a favor and tell us what your store is? Then people don't have to discover that you're a jerk when interacting with you in the store, they can simply go somewhere else right away. OK?

Re:what a bunch of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16375833)

In other words, you wish you'd thought to blog about your own store first.

Re:what a bunch of crap (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376003)

I see a lot of women in my local GAME shop, but that's a mainstream chain - I think the shop the blog is about is a smaller independent store.

Pr0n (1, Offtopic)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372557)

It seems every few months, something new comes out that becomes an Internet cornerstone.

The first I remember was BOFH.

Acts of Gord was okay.

Then there was Tucker Max. God how funny.

From TM, I found the Tard Blog. It was the first blog that made me want to go to confession after.

I'd also like to throw out a shout to True Porn Clerk Stories. Now that's some sad shit.

Acts Of Gord Rox (1)

RobK (24783) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374465)

If you've been around retail for a while, Acts of Gord will take you to tears.

I spent 3 ok, 4 hours of my life reading through it. I don't regret it.

http://www.actsofgord.com/ [actsofgord.com]

If you don't agree with me, the door's to the left.

Re:Acts Of Gord Rox (1)

rjung2k (576317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374971)

Yeah, it's only a pity that Gord's no longer regaling us with his tales. That's some fine readin' there.

Re:Acts Of Gord Rox (1)

RobK (24783) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376831)

Can you imagine the damage he's doing in Asia?

Re:Acts Of Gord Rox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16387115)

yes what ever happened to good ole' Gord? Did his store go under? What's he up to now?

Rust Proofing (3, Insightful)

Cy Sperling (960158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372601)

I am a semi-regular at an EB Games in Portland, Oregon. I reluctantly use them to purchase new PC games on release day mainly out of convinience- it is on my drive home from work. My wife and I refer to the store as 'Rust Proofing' due to their excessive hard-sell of the extended warranty on every object in the store. There have been many times where I have had to repeatedly insist that no, I don't want to insure my DVD/CDs as I am very careful with them and have never once had a scratched disc.

I have long since abandoned trying to ask questions of the staff that stray from their script as they seem determined to veer me back into their needlesly complicated Wii pre-preorder down payment plan or DS cartridge insurance.

This blogger sounds more self-aware than the robo-teens at my local EB. I must imagine that the pressure from management to sell their high profit rust proofing is pretty intense. Couple that with the high ratio of mouth breathing junior high kids, and it has got to be a thoroughly maddening and soul crushing job.

DS games that are broken (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372797)

DS cartridge insurance.

I've read articles about salespeople pushing extended warranties on the Tetris DS game card [consumerist.com] . Could it be because Tetris DS actually is broken [the-inbetween.com] , what with the infinite spin rule [ytmnd.com] that takes all the challenge out of single player and the counterintuitive T-spins [pineight.com] required for competitive play?

Re:DS games that are broken (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375923)

The infinite spin was part of the official Tetris rulebook at the time the game was made. Without infinite spin they wouldn't have been able to use the Tetris license.

broken by design (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376645)

The infinite spin was part of the official Tetris rulebook at the time the game was made. Without infinite spin they wouldn't have been able to use the Tetris license.

If this rulebook [tetrisconcept.com] prohibits adding an option, then all Tetris brand games from 2001 on are broken by design, and if you want a challenge in single player, play clones.

Re:broken by design (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16379153)

That wiki says that yes, infinite rotation is in the official rulebook and in an interview on PGC linked from there Hank Rogers says it's not optional, they want Tetris to be consistent between systems and infinite spin was a concession to beginners on mobile phones or something.

Off-Topic but I liked this snippet from the interview:

PGC: Because we know that you are an acquaintance of Mr. Yamauchi at NCL, we wanted to ask how you would contrast Satoru Iwata with his predecessor, Mr. Yamauchi?

HR: I wouldn't compare those two. How could you compare those two, come on? Yamauchithat's like comparingDon Corleone andwho else? I don't know. (Laughter)

PGC: So you would compare Mr. Yamauchi to Don Corleone? (Laughter)

HR: Or Darth Vader and C-3PO. (Laughter) I like Mr. Yamauchi a lot, he's like my mentor in business. I'll never be as tough as him in business, he's "the guy", he's awesome. I've got nothing for respect for him. But he's alsohow do I say?

PGC: Imposing?

HR: Yeah. I mean, if you ever disagree with him, that's it for you.


Possible reference to Gunpei Yokoi?

Re:Rust Proofing (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374411)

The thing about "minimum wage plus 5%" retail jobs is that intelligent people quickly realize that pretending to be a retard works really well for making people go away.
Actually putting effort into your job isn't rewarded and you'll probably get shitty shifts and eventually be forced to leave because the "$7.50/hr and doesn't get paid overtime manager" sees you as a threat.

The "how stupid is this person" and "how much bullshit can I spout until he stops nodding his head" games are also amusing if you're a bit twisted and really hate working there.
If people came in with the attitude that all the employees were retarded, our IQs would drop by 60 points in the time it took to put on a retard face and blink several times.

Needless to say, I only worked retail for a short time before it was soul crushing (and the pay was dismal), but I sometimes still feel a little guilty that I was such an asshole.

Re:Rust Proofing (1)

Cy Sperling (960158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16379685)

I do think that there is a subset of retail jobs- mainly game/record/movie rental stores- that can be interesting due to ones own excitement about the medium. I have wokred in record stores in my late teens and early 20's for very low wages- but still enjoyed the job because I could have interesting and meaningful conversations with regulars- pass on recommendations to them and in return be turned on to things I otherwise wouldn't have heard. I think, with not much effort, one can find a record store in most any city with a staff of relatively cool people who will gladly talk music, make recommendations etc. I have never been to a game store where I experienced that kind of 'vibe.' Perhaps it is the larger corporate dominance in that subset of retail store. I certainly never fealt the same in a Sam Goody as I did in a local indie store. Are there local indie game stores that manage to compete with the chains?

Hats off to good retail people (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372617)

I'm a consumer - and I worked retail and tech support... so I can honestly say I've been on that side of the counter.

My hat's are off to good people who can treat me like a valued customer without the upsell shoved down my throat.

(cough... bestbuy do you want a subscription to this and that, what's your phone number, you should buy the warranty crap... cough cough)

Re:Hats off to good retail people (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374439)

When I'm in a pissy mood, I play a game which is called "convince the employee that 911 is a valid nxx".
Yeah, probably not a good idea, especially if they sell the list, but I am sort of an asshole.

My experience.. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16372731)

I worked in a gamestop for a year and a half (granted a few years back but still) and I don't feel like these guys at all. Sure it might be a lot different if you actually own the store but...

For a context the year I worked included the GC/360 release year.

For a simple sales monkey the gig was pretty straight forward. For most of the year the load was pretty light and generally we had a lot of free time to just tidy up the store, chat, or just play the video game demos. Around Christmas (especially after) was busy and we always had a line an a sea of stuff to package for resale behind the counter but that was really the worst of it.

The only things that we had to do (at the time) was push the subscriptions to game informer, which in all actuality was/is a pretty good magizene (I still get an issue for free somehow as part of a subscription) and try to sell warrenties/strategy guides. Fortunetly our boss was pretty lax and we really only had to push the subscriptions.

Overall the crowd was also a good mix. Sure you got a lot of guys coming in and many buying Madden, GTA, etc but we also had a fair amount of females (mostly buying for someone else), parent/children, and the 'hardcore' crowd looking for the rare/older stuff or the cult hits.

People in generally were pretty receptive to our advice. We always made sure to warn parents about M rated games and many of them seemed pretty grateful to know about it (though their kids weren't) and often gave some recommendation. If you try to force a game on someone they're going to think you're full of it usually but being able to offer advice or recommend a game similiar to another game usually ended up with most people leaving with a decent game.

To me it kinda sounds like the people with the blog are more of the type of gamer who focuses on the genre pushing, artistic style , or in generally the type of games that usually don't make mainstream but are what makes gaming worth it for most of us. I enjoy the games as well but I feel like you have to understand they're not for everyone and games are about fun. Plenty and plenty of people buy and play Madden and have a blast why should you try to dissuade them from that*.

There's also a good chance that working there will be one of the best (not pay wise) job's I'll ever had. It was a blast.

*Other than the fact that EA is a terrible company.

It's true. (2, Insightful)

NexFlamma (919608) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372755)

I worked for Game Crazy (the Hollywood video owned game store) for 2 years, and though it was one of the better ones, it was, at times, a nightmare.

The reliance on extended warranties and upselling is almost (but not quite) as bad as at big box places like Best Buy (whom I also worked for). They expect you to push 2 to 3 things per sale whether you know the customer will want it or not. Warranties, pre-orders, CD cleaning kits, it's all totally useless, but we had to push it anyway.

Thankfully, I had a very cool boss who was happy as long as we made him look good, and the staff was pretty good about actually selling stuff to people who could use it (CD resurfacers to parents with young kids, warranties to parents with young kids, discount cards to people who were there constantly... etc.) If we didn't think someone was going to go for something extra, we were usually right, and he let us get off without offering it (which is demeaning as all hell).

Of course, the employees were also forced to buy this stuff on anything we bought, but we could actually use it. PS2 got a nick on it when you moved? Maybe you should warranty it out for a new one!

One last note, we also told people they could destroy their own systems to get the warranty to give them a new one. Most people never did, but they enjoyed the idea that they could, and it sold a lot more warranties than the standard pitch. Of course, such talk would get you fired if the higher-ups ever heard about it, but they left us alone since we kept selling warranties for them.

Re:It's true. (1)

non0score (890022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16380117)

About the system warranty part, it is true. My friend went to EB to buy a used XBox (this was a few years ago), and the employee there told him, "If you're not satisfied with the system in 30 days, you can come return it. If it broke before 30 days, you can exchange it for a new one. As a matter of fact, if you walked out of the store and walked back in and complain about your XBox, we'll give you a new one." And so he did, and so he ended up with a new XBox paying a used XBox price.

How hard is it really? (2, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 7 years ago | (#16372995)

How hard is it really?

You're interested in games. You can read. There are magazines in every store, there are millions of websites, your friends have their own "reviews" and you have a brain.

The man behind the counter is interested (directly or indirectly) in making money. Even if he's a nice bloke, he still likely has a stupid manager behind him making him recommend games that make them more money. The man behind the counter HAS NOT necessarily even played the game (no matter what he says), has no idea of the type of games that you like, does not have to put up with a bad purchase and is primarily a salesman.

Now, what do you do if you want to choose a good game to play? Why this incessant need to listen to salespeople in order to determine what to buy? Customers have NEVER had so much information (and summarised information, and rating systems, and word-of-mouth and...) available to them for, in some cases, absolutely no money whatsoever. Why listen to anyone behind a counter whose wages ultimately depend, at the end of the day, on people like you buying games from them? They may be "nice" to you and try to help you, but it's YOUR decision first because it's YOUR money.

If you are really in doubt between two games, ask for a demo of each. If they can't provide, locate a demo of each next time you see a magazine on the shelf, or download one, or play a friends copy. Why take some clerks word for what YOU would like, or even a magazine for that matter?

If you approach me while I'm browsing video games and you ask if I need help then you will get told that I'm fine. If you start trying to question my purchase or even question what game I've picked up to read the back of (which is far and away a different thing altogether) then you will get a "No, I'm alright, thanks". If I go to the counter and you offer me ANYTHING other than the game I want to buy or to point out that they are 3-for-the-price-of-2 then I guarantee you will get answered before you can finish your sentence. "Can I interest you..." "No." "Would you like to read abo..." "No." "Would you like to become a member.." "No."

I just want the damn game. It's not being unsociable, I've had many a good chat in the local video games store, it's not wanting to be pestered. You don't get people come up to you in a library saying "Oh, no. I read a review of that book that said it was awful, it only got 5 out of 10" or "Really, sir, this book is so much better even though it's not even on the same subject".

Become educated buyers. That means NOT listening to salesmen (this is a general rule that will keep you in good stead in lots of other situations too), who always have other ulterior motives.

My dad probably buys one DVD a year, plus possibly a video game when it comes to birthday time. He knows absolutely NOTHING about the games at all. Does he get the salesman to choose? Never. He's smarter than that. Does he spend money on magazines full of other people's (usually very biased) opinion? No. He looks at the back of the box of several games that catch his eye, studies them carefully, maybe he's heard of one or maybe he saw someone play a demo or maybe he can even get to play one of them in the store. Then he chooses and buys, using all the information that ONLY he has about the potential reciever of the game. Does he ever make bad decisions? Very, very rarely. This is a man that can't figure out how to run AND jump in Super Mario.

If you really, really make a bad mistake, that's what receipts are for - take it back and change it. If you're prone to making mistakes, rent the games instead.

I apply this to EVERY purchase. Electronics? Don't breathe down my neck, little salesman oik - I can probably take any of those DVD players apart and explain how every single component works whereas you've never SEEN a real Video-CD. If I wasn't that knowledgeable, guess what? I'd go look it up beforehand, or at least know the difference between a DVD player and a DVD recorder and have an idea of brand names and an idea of features that I want (even if it's as simple as "a small remote control"). After that, it's just a matter of looking along a single shelf and picking the cheapest or, depending on whether I feel it's worth it, the more expensive one that suits my criteria.

Buying a car (I know NOTHING about cars): Same. I'd listen to my own voice rather than a salesman's any day. And I'd probably try to take an expert along with me or at least get "briefed" on what I'm looking for beforehand and be totally unsteerable when I'm in front of the salesman.

I haven't yet met a member of sales staff that can change my mind on a purchase. I HAVE met several that have made me leave their shops because of how they sell stuff (I like to make a fuss on the way out, too, to save other people the bother of having to deal with salesmen like that).

But really, why on earth would any sensible person actually take any notice of a salesperson in ANY field?

Re:How hard is it really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16379043)

Do you research panties before you buy them for your wife at VC? C'mon man, somtimes you need a little help / advice when buying something - you can't know everything about everything (if you think you do, you are the real fool) Not all salesman are rotten bastards who are trying to hawk shit off on you - sometimes they can actually help you make the final call.

Re:How hard is it really? (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 7 years ago | (#16389129)

No. But do I take my wife with me and say to the salesman "Here's my naked wife. Choose something for her to wear that will turn me on. Thanks." and then buy the head-to-toe rubber suit when he recommends it?

For every one good employee, (1)

DoctaWatson (38667) | more than 7 years ago | (#16373309)

there are ten who don't know a decent game from Daikatana.

One time I was sarcastically joking with a salesman at my local store about how "great" JAWS Unleashed looked. His clueless partner, sensing a sale like blood in the water sidles up next to me and pours it on thick. He even mentioned the glowing review Gamespot gave it, [gamespot.com] with an unabashed lack of irony.

Some of the pure bullshit I hear them tell uniformed customers amazes me. For instance, salesmen who tell customers that all their old XBox games will play on a 360 (or GB games on a DS).

Luckily, the more I go in there, the more they recognize me and leave me alone. I suppose knowing your customers is pretty important when you don't know your products.
The sad thing is that that one employee who's well informed and honest is actively discouraged by management from saying anything that would dissuade a potential sale, and the clueless ones are encouraged to foist as many crap "special offers" onto customers as possible.

Re:For every one good employee, (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16373445)

Some of the pure bullshit I hear them tell uniformed customers amazes me

lol, if only I wasn't too tired to make a witty comment, because whatever joke I can think of involving the cops or such would undoubtfully get me modded down for flamebait..

Two words... (1)

cliffiecee (136220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16373371)

"Return Policy."

I did a very brief stint at Egghead Software in the early 90's. The return policy was my ace in the hole: "Hey try this game; if you don't like it, bring it back for a full, no-questions-asked refund." Customers are very willing to try new stuff when the risk is minimized.

(Yes, folks were copying software and then returning it- but not as many as you'd think; apparently, the hassle of going to and from the store was a deterrent.)

Re:Two words... (1)

Kazzahdrane (882423) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375155)

I work for Gamestation in the UK and this is our returns policy too (on hardware) for 7 days. People seem to appreciate that we understand that you can't always somehow know if you'll like a game before you buy it. And because we devote a lot of time to helping customers we notice if someone has been returning a lot of games and can nip them in the bud before they start using us as a rental place.

My favorite video game store experience (3, Funny)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16373529)

I was at the counter and this woman that I presume was the mother of two small children, a boy and a girl, came into the store to look around.

The boy wanted a specific game and the mother was asking me about it. Her daughter was running around being a little shit, intentionally knocking things off of the shelves and talking far too loudly. The mother was in mid sentence, she reached out and caught the little girl by her pony tail spanked her twice on the bottom and sat her down on the floor without breaking the cadence in her speaking or breaking eye-contact with me.

It kind of went something like this...
"So, is this a an action game, a puzzle game or a " --Catch, WHACK WHACK, plop-- " strategy game?"

I wanted to thank her, because it was going to be me that had to pick up all of the things that the little girl had knocked onto the floor.

LK

Hm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16373811)

I remember a EB guy trying to make me feel like an idiot, saying that without a memory card, how are you supposed to save when using the N64. Turns out the cartridge did have internal save like I had thought.

I suppose it depends on the person who enters the store. If you clueless, the store guys might be helpful. But if you buy *niche* product, they're idiots.

it's 'yea', not 'yay' (0, Offtopic)

dataspore (1008243) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374089)

that's all

Depends on how you see the glass. (3, Interesting)

marshallbanana6 (992780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16374855)

I too, like many Slashdot readers probably, have spent some time working at a games shop. I worked for a year at a local shop in a relatively small city in Iowa (150k pop. or so). http://www.videogamedepot.com/ [videogamedepot.com]

I worked this year during about the exact midpoint of the current gen's lifetime, when the PS2 was pulling away, though you had some great releases on GC like Viewtiful Joe, and Soul Calibur II (the GC version sold WAY more than the other 2) and the Xbox was actually starting to sell. We had a large collection of used "classic" games as well as quite a large selection of imports. We had movies, anime, all the usual game store stuff. Unfortunately, most of our import sales were online sales, and since then the online business of the store has declined dramatically.

Being a gamer, and quite a geek, I was of course excited to sell the people the games I liked, and got rather dissapointed on the days when all we would see were a few people looking for the new Madden, etc. But I did make a point of knowing about even these games, even though I hadn't really played much of them. I learned a lot from my co-workers' experiences as well, and became quite a bit more knowledgable about video games than I was before.

The best part about it was the fact that we had a policy to tell it like it is. We never lied, but we never said "buy that" or "don't buy that" without a reason either. It's just a matter of understanding what your customer is looking for, and making your best effort to sell them exactly what they want to play, even if you don't like it. In other words, don't try to dissuade people on entire genres, but rather on the worst games of each genre.

Did I like working there? Heck yes! Was it rediculously annoying at times? Oh yeah. Would I do it again? Maybe, but not long term.

One other thing I found to be very different in my experience was the last section about playing less since working there. My game playing habits increased tenfold while working at VGD, largely due to the discount I received.

To think it was a job I wanted once... (1)

Warbringer87 (969664) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375083)

Then I read Acts of gord. So I figure I'd rather make the games than sell them, but unfortunatley I had to deal with the "h4rdc0r3 gam3r" in a classroom. Alas, every corner of the gaming world is full of idiots and assholes. Whether its the jackass who wall hacks in CS, the the moronic uninformed buyer/seller, the ganker, griefer, and 1337 speaker, or the moron who wants to make games via playing them all day.

When you find an industry... (1)

fujiman (912957) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376993)

... that isn't filled with idiots and assholes, let me know.


Serioiusly, though. Don't let other people determine your career path. If that's what you want to do, then do it.

It's a shady industry. (2, Informative)

Kyokugenryu (817869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16375229)

I was an employee at GameCrazy (Subsidiary of Hollywood Video), and I was always told to push, push, push. I actually was reprimanded more than once for reccomending someone NOT buy stinky games. I remember one instance in particular where a mother came in and had two games up: Spiderman 2 and Fantastic Four. Since FF came out that week, it had a $50 pricetag where Spiderman was only $20. I told her without a doubt, buy Spiderman 2 because FF is just terrible. My boss was very pissed at me for selling the cheaper game. I eventually was fired for low sales, but if you have a conscience about gaming, you simply can't work in that industry. The worst part was pushing the stupid "Club Membership", which was not worth the $20 they charged for it. 5% off used games and a magazine subscription isn't really worth $20, and the managers would get really upset that they weren't selling. Not only that, but we'd OFTEN take the discs out of "New" games to play in the store, then shrinkwrap them back up and put them on the shelf when we were done. The game was clearly used at this point, but if someone brought a game back that they hadn't even taken the adhesive seal off of, but the plastic was off, we couldn't give refunds, only trade-in value. To this day, I will NOT buy new games at a game store, because I know how we used to treat those discs. Games would be in demo units for days, weeks on end, and we'd just toss them back in, shrinkwrap it, and charge full price. This wasn't even an isolated thing, this was their policy to do this.

Report them (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16378797)

I would have reported that particular store. Whether used by the store or by another customer, the item cannot be sound as new. It would fall more under the category of the "floor model" items you see at bigger stores.

Here's how to get free work from gaming employees! (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376283)

I heard a rumour that at least one games store gets extra unpaid work out of its employees, by only contracting them for a very small number of hours a week, but have them rota-ed in for the hours the store needs them for. Then, they expect them to stay late unpaid to hoover up and clean up the store, on top of their rotated hours. Should anyone complain, they find themselves rotated down to the minimum number of hours they were contracted for.

Games are still sold at brick-and-mortar stores? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16376285)

Games are still sold at brick-and-mortar stores? That alone surprised me; I didn't think there was any need for that anymore with Internet try-before-buy, downloads and price-checking web sites that help you avoid shipping, taxes, etc.

Re:Games are still sold at brick-and-mortar stores (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 7 years ago | (#16377765)

Barely.

Go to any Gamestop or EB Games (same company now) and you'll find the store is 80-90% consoles (whatever they're selling/not selling in this realm I wouldn't know). What few PC games they have are only the top name/commercialized hits (i.e. crap).

Frye's and Best Buy carry a very wide variety, but I have yet to speak to an informed salesperson in either of those stores.

I tend to look for betas and free trials of games. If I like it, I'll order it online comparing shipping costs vs. tax if I get it at Frye's.

Acts of Gord (1)

xymog (59935) | more than 7 years ago | (#16379495)

Long live the Gord! True tales of true imbeciles and the people who breed them. Whenever I need a mood lift, I go read a few chapters from the Books of Gord. Priceless!
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