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“Whadda buncha jokahs.”

As I’ve pointed out previously, the rarity of Nintendo’s Xenoblade Chronicles game has now pushed average eBay prices past $100. So….now, guess what. Reports are coming in that GameStops nationwide suddenly, coincidentally, have a massive inventory of used copies of Xenoblade Chronicles. Used copies with prices in the $90 range. Used copies that are suspiciously pristine, scratch-free and fresh with the new-game smell. Most damning is that the Club Nintendo codes inside have never been used. There’s really no doubt what’s going on. This is a reprint that GameStop raped. It’s gouging, plain and simple.

It’s important to note Nintendo is not the one being hurt here. Contrary to most of their used game practices, GameStop already bought all these copies new. All that’s left is to sell them to customers for a profit, and normally, it would be illegal to set the price above MSRP. But due to the legal loophole they’ve exploited for years, if they open the cases and sell the games under “used” status, they can charge whatever price they want.

The question you might be asking is, if GameStop can really get away with this, then why doesn’t it happen all over the place? Why aren’t our prescription aisles filled with open bottles of Excedrin labeled “secondhand” and marked up to $500? Because there’s more than one place to buy those things. GameStop is the only retailer selling Xenoblade.

If capitalism was really working the way it was designed to, another store would start selling their copies of Xenoblade for much less than GameStop is selling them for, forcing GameStop to lower the sticker back to a reasonable level to compete. But GameStop has the monopoly on this game, proving for the billionth time that monopolies are a bad thing which people must resist, boycott and fight. All a corporation needs to take advantage of you is the chance to get away with it and they WILL do it.

But ay, here’s the rub: without GameStop, North America probably wouldn’t have seen legitimate copies of Xenoblade sold at all. Nearly every other retailer was resistant to stock the game, and Nintendo didn’t have enough confidence in JRPGs given the declining sales numbers of the genre. If GameStop hadn’t agreed to partially fund a US printing, we would have all modded our Wiis to play the European copy years ago. I was this close to doing it myself when the announcement finally came.

Without a specific national chain focused on games, a lot of the more niche titles would not have a sales outlet to justify their printing costs. If GameStop ever went under, the likelihood of another chain taking their place in the digital age is small. It would mean you could only buy the latest Disgaea or Atelier Girl’s Name as a download, if that.

Anyhow, what this news means for the collector is that since EVERY new copy of Xenoblade will be open from this point, a sealed copy will be worth even more in the future than it is already. A sealed Xenoblade must never be opened; it must be VGA-laminated and locked in a safe within another safe. This will drive up the price even more, making GameStop raise their own prices to $150, making the sealed copies worth $200, causing GameStop to raise them to $250….until finally the world blows up.

Written by Torque Smacky

Other things I've done, written and pooped out can be found in one place: www.platypuscomix.net. I am also the founder and editor of BANG! The Entertainment Paper, a Portland publication spotlighting creative talent.

24 Comments

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  1. It’s not illegal for Gamestop to sell new games above MSRP. In fact, it would be illegal for a manufacturer to make them sell new games for any price in particular, above or below MSRP. That’s why it’s MSRP. The “S” is for suggested. Gamestop just guts reprinted games to try and avoid criticism for charging above MSRP for new games. Having said that, Gamestop in major cities and on some releases still charges $5 above MSRP on certain new games as does Toys R Us in bigger cities like New York City. In any event, I agree this is shady, but it’s not illegal in any way used or new.

    • This is true, but any price above the MSRP puts the retailer at a disadvantage against anyone else who does put it at MSRP. However. this is pretty much moot since only Gamestop sells this game.

      Oh lawyer man, your thoughts on some sort of civil/class action about Gamestop selling clearly new copies as used. Think the concept has a leg to stand on?

      • “Gamestop selling clearly new copies as used”

        That’s blatant misrepresentation, which is unlawful. The issue being, they’re calling them used, not new–rather than the reverse. So, by selling new copies as used, the consumer benefits–so it’s probably not actionable as there are no damages…

          • It’s one of the many reasons I don’t shop there…I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been some type of class action for this type of misrepresentation. New is clearly NEW, as it not opened or used for any purpose…Not “looks new” or “maybe but maybe not previously owned.”

          • On top of the gutting, with the “checkout” system (employees are allowed to take gutted games home to try them), you really have no idea if your new game is truly new or not.
            That’s why informed people don’t buy new games from there.
            And considering that places like Best Buy, Target, Kmart, and Amazon routinely have decent sales on newly released games, there really is no reason to buy new games from GS.

  2. ebgames.com still shows the game to be 50$ new and 45 used, so make yourself some canadian friends and have them send you a copy!

  3. I’m fortunate enough to still have a sealed copy in an unopened Nintendo.com mailer. But only because I was away from home around the time it shipped. Guess I won’t be opening it!

  4. The best thing about all this is the opening all of the sealed games. They should apply this practice to all new releases.

    I don’t really ever buy games to flip for profit, but I had a feeling about this one, and was unemployed, so I bought 2 extra copies on release day. I sold them last year, both opened.

  5. My question is, is there any manufacturing difference between the first run and these? If so then the first printings will go up in cost even more!

    • I have heard the indentation inside has the Wii logo in Printing #1 and the Nintendo logo in Printing #2. Of course, you’d have to open them to know this, but the second printings are open anyway.

  6. I’ve heard speculation that this is a lead-in to Gamestop entering the “retro” games market. Buy your Nintendo 1st-party stuff now, everbody…

  7. This is not the first time they have done this. I have seen re-issues or reprints of many games back in the day when the value of them were high on the internet. EB /Gamestop did this with PS1 games, Saturn Games and PS2 titles as well. They buy the license to do a re-issue but they put it on the shelf with THEIR pricepoint since they are the only retail that bought the license to re-issue it.

    There is NOTHING WRONG OR ILLEGAL with this, but it is morally wrong because Gamestop is taking advantage of the collectors value of it and floods the market with a re-issue which sometimes can be hard to differentiate from the original, also it drives the prices DOWN on the original copies because their copy makes it easier to get. People who are collectors get screwed but Gamers who open and play games get another change at a game that might be hard to come by at a high pricepoint. Not saying that gamestops pricepoint is much better but it makes it more readily available, no auction to sit and wait for its ending or hoping to not get outbid on and such..

  8. As an aside, you should know that this is an excellent editorial. I wish more gaming “journalists” would write these types of editorials about such practices in the industry.
    So, thank you!!!

  9. And, as one more aside. I recall when it started to go up in price that I looked to see if there were was an extra copy I could snag before it really want up in price. I check Gamestop online to see if any, on the off chance, had copies. None did.

    However, I just did a search and nearly every Gamestop within 20 miles has “low stock.” Ya, they just happened to acquire hundreds of thousands of copies to send to a vast majority of their stores and still maintain inventory online OUT OF NO WHERE. So shady…

  10. I agree with eveything that has been said, but I can’t help but wonder… Wouldn’t you rather buy this game at a retailer rather than dealing with a random dude from Ebay or Craigslist?

    I mean yes it sucks and Gamestop is evil but even if Gamestop sold it at MSRP what makes you think you would get a copy? If I worked at Gamestop and I knew the game was rare and limited I would buy every copy and sell them myself on Ebay. Fact is at $90 bucks that’s still a deal in the current market. 🙁

    • “Wouldn’t you rather buy this game at a retailer rather than dealing with a random dude from Ebay or Craigslist?”

      No, but I’m biased. I’ve been using Ebay and Amazon Marketplace for years as a buyer and seller. I rarely have a “bad experience” that isn’t quickly remedied.

      “If I worked at Gamestop and I knew the game was rare and limited I would buy every copy and sell them myself on Ebay.”

      And, while people might frown upon that, that’s not exactly what Gamestop did…What they did is worse. They sneakily held onto hundreds of thousands of copies of a game, knowing full well it would artificially drive up the cost on the entire market. Then, when it was official driven upwards, they released said copies to pocket the extras, screwing the consumers and Nintendo.

      • While I agree that it sucks to deal with this but we have to look at everything here.

        First, without gamestop the game never would have had a US release.

        Second, All collectors hold on to things to drive up the price. I am a baseball card collector. While many cards are available, there are a few that are super rare. For example, I don’t remember what card it was but on one of my card collecting forums there was a story of an old tobacco card that was very rare, about 7 known to exist. One collector owned TWO of them so he owned 2 of the 7. Then a 8th card surfaced and was the best conditional card of all 8. That collector bought 2 of the 5 he didn’t own, cause the other 3 would not sell theirs. He also bought the best rated one and then torched the 4 he owned in lesser condition making the new card he owned one of 4, and the best condition one he owned. Was that Shady? Sure, but he artificially drove up the value of not only his card but the 3 others that were not owned by him. Many say he only torched ONE not 4, and that he is storing them, but experts said that his near mint card more than tripled when the other 4 were destroyed.

        Lastly, you can’t blame game-stop from having a good strategy for making money on it’s investment. This could have backfired, should this game have not gotten the kind of reviews and praise amongst gamers in the US, their stack and store could have backfired with the game not becoming worth more. So while we call call gamestop evil (and I agree they are shady in business practices) they do need to make money there are many people who have stock in that company and they are responsible to serve the interest of their shareholders. I happen to be one of them (like 100 shares). So as a customer I hate what they do sometimes, and I refuse to buy a gutted game as NEW and such, I do hope they make good finical decisions to keep my portfolio satisfied.

        • “First, without gamestop the game never would have had a US release.”

          The fact is, we don’t know that. And, even if it’s true, it does excuse Gamestop’s subsequent behavior. They can easily exist sans shadiness.

          “All collectors hold on to things to drive up the price. I am a baseball card collector.”

          We’re not talking about individual collectors. We’re talking about an international corporation using a shady strategy that affects the entire market. Apples and oranges…

          “Lastly, you can’t blame game-stop from having a good strategy for making money on it’s investment.”

          We don’t blame them for a “good strategy.” Just because it makes them money, does mean it’s good. That’s kind of a straw-man argument that ignores the problems with what they’re doing…

  11. Arcade weekends on a Wednesday, random gamestop rant… what happened to the fun/cool/random auctions that made this site ok?

    • I honestly think the entire staff has just been busy. I know I’ve been writing a LOT less than I’d like to, but work has taken priority.

    • I turned in that Arcade Weekends on a Saturday. Link didn’t put it up until Wednesday. That one’s not on me.

      I’m writing a new one right now, just so you get an idea of how long they take to appear. See when it shows up.

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