GameStop Has Switches, But Good Luck Buying One

Posted April 10, 2017 by Chris Berto in Nerdy Bits
GameStop Luigi

The Nintendo Switch is so far a runaway success selling out at digital retailers almost instantly, and leaving store shelves not more than a few days after being placed on display. As with many of Nintendo’s more popular devices or collectors (I’m looking at you amiibo’s), these consoles aren’t always going from store shelves to someone’s living room entertainment center; but, are instead being purchased by scalpers and/or eBay resellers for considerable markup before being resold to consumers who aren’t able to refresh their Amazon wish list as often as they would like. This has been a problem with Nintendo merchandise for quite some time now, and whether it’s a manufactured scarcity or a legitimate issue with production lines being able to keep up with customer demand, eBay resellers are a problem that Nintendo fans would love to make go away, but how would one go about doing so? Well, one particular retailer seems to have come up with a plan, and it may not be a solution you want to stand behind.

Often the ire of the internet echo-chamber, GameStop has a policy in place in which they will not sell a Nintendo Switch without forcing their in-house bundle on the customer. Let me repeat, this is not an official Nintendo Switch bundle endorsed or packaged by Nintendo, but is instead a corporate mandate in which as an attempt to thwart resellers, GameStop will only sell you a Switch if you also purchase several other add-ons including but not limited to Zelda: Breath of the Wild with expansion pass, Lego City Undercover, and Has Been Heroes (digital code). You’re reading this correctly, GameStop is refusing to sell Nintendo Switch consoles unless the customer agrees to also purchase several other accessories or game titles to go with it. I tried to purchase a Switch this past weekend from my local GameStop and was told they had 1 in stock, but that I had to get their bundle which consisted of Zelda, a Zelda themed case, the expansion pass, and 1-2 Switch.

But wait, you said the bundle was all that other stuff!

I asked the sales associate why the bundle wasn’t the same as what was advertised, and was told that each store has its own attach rate, and what they include is up to the manager. What appears to be standard is a minimum attach rate of at least 4 which typically includes Zelda and its expansion pass, and while I understand that most, if not all customers who purchase a Switch are doing so to play Zelda while we wait for everything else, but not everyone wants to buy that from GameStop if they can get it elsewhere, nor does everyone want to buy a physical copy of the game, myself included. In fact, the very portability of the console lends itself to a fully digital library, of which I fully intend to endorse; once I get my hands on one that is.

I asked the associate how long GameStop plans to keep this policy in place and while he wasn’t able to give me a date or even a rough timeline, he did at least agree that this can’t stay in place permanently. I understand what GameStop is trying to do, but this particular policy is a slap in the face to honest customers who just want to purchase a new gaming system for themselves or a loved one and is a policy that screams Anti-consumer. If the point is to prevent scalpers from buying a system and turn around to resell for a profit, how is manufacturing a forced bundle any different? All GameStop is doing is inflating the initial buy-in cost of the system. Sure you get some good games, but who are they to tell me what games or accessories I have to buy? More importantly, what authority does GameStop have to determine what someone does with a console once they purchase it? Are eBay resellers scum for taking a hard to find hot commodity and selling at a 50% markup, absolutely! Is it GameStop’s job to ensure this doesn’t happen; absolutely not. No retailer should have the authority to tell a customer what he or she can do with a product once it’s purchased. Once a transaction occurs and a receipt is printed, what happens to the merchandise in question (game console or a new pair of shoes), is up to the customer, not the retailer who sold it. I applaud GameStop for trying to help, but this particular tactic is as far from a viable solution as anything I could come up with. I’m not suggesting that I have a better or even an alternative solution to the problem customers are facing, but this is an anti-consumer move that I can’t get behind or support, and you shouldn’t either.

In the end, it’s up to Nintendo to increase manufacturing and production times to get their hotly anticipated system out to market and on store shelves; however, Nintendo isn’t the only one to blame. The black market exists because people look to it and use it. Scalpers resell consoles for $100 – $200 over retail because people are willing to pay for them. The onus is on us, the consumer base to not reward these practices, both in the black market as well as in the stores that try to pawn off their policy as pro-consumer even as they ask you to fork over $500 when all you wanted was a $299 gaming system. I for one won’t be purchasing my Switch, or any other hardware from GameStop moving forward. This latest policy is just more proof that GameStop sees the writing on the wall and is chomping at the bit to stay relative. If I need to sell old and used games I can do so through eBay (for an honest price) or locally through sites like Craigslist or even various Facebook groups. Do yourself a favor and make sure you make informed, educated decisions before handing over your hard-earned cash to these types of scams. Even if your intent was to purchase all the items in the mandated bundle, it should always be your choice, and you should never allow any associate or retail chain tell you how to spend your money. This is a step far worse than insisting you sign-up for their reward system or magazine, and could be the beginning of a trend that I don’t think gamers, or consumers at large would appreciate.

About the Author

Chris Berto