How a 10-minute GAME interview turned me off For Good
News hits today of GAME’s credit assurance problems with game publisher EA, hot on the heels of similar issues with Ubisoft and the oddity of PlayStation Vita games being sold with stickers saying the game is property of Sony until passed onto the customer. The company is in deep trouble, and over on Big Red Barrel I have postulated some thoughts as to why the company’s finances have ended up in a sorry state.
One of these reasons, I speculated, was that GAME’s occasionally hyper-aggressive sales tactics and push for pre-owned was driving people elsewhere, after putting up with it for so long. My conversion to online and to other retail businesses happened around two or three years ago, when I was given an impromptu interview on the shop floor of one of my many local GAME stores.
A friend of mine introduced me to the manager of the store as a somebody friendly and knowledgable about games - surely somewhat suitable for a job working in games retail. But the manager wasn’t interested in these assets, instead brusquely pounding me with retail questions the likes of which I never pondered each time I bought something from a GAME store.
He rattled off what he called the Five Ws - after pushing me, without warning, for what they were. It turns out they were What, Who, Where, When, Why - five essential stats for working out ‘what the customer wants’. It turned out it was less what the customer wanted, and more how to hawk any and all GAME products at a potential consumer.
Look at this Xbox 360, I was told. How can you sell add-ons to this product? Look at what it’s made of. This case doesn’t conduct heat very well. It could crack. If the console falls it doesn’t offer very good protection. You can add insurance onto the transaction.
And what about accessories? Sell our controllers, our memory units, our headsets, our charging kits. Sell, sell, sell. Not once was I told to give the customer what they want, or to help them pick a game. The only time games were mentioned was in the context of a bundle, and I should aim for the best bundle you can, depending on the aforementioned Five Ws.
I was given an umbrella and told to sell it to the manager, as one final chance. Everything from the material to extra uses for the handle were scrutinised - things you wouldn’t use a damn umbrella for. As a Man of Common Thinking, I failed this test too.
The impromptu interview soon turned out to be an Endlessly Barbaric Schooling, and truth be told I almost left the store in tears, having been so endlessly embarrassed in the middle of a busy store by a man who clearly saw GAME as just a business, rather than as a convenient and helpful method of selling games to consumers. Since that day, I’ve barely touched GAME, opting for cheaper online sellers and friendlier local retailers.
The same has even applied for sister store Gamestation. A Christmas job interview in 2010 went much the same way after being told I wasn’t very good at selling bags used to pick up dog shit. The old adage of “you can sell anything” isn’t necessarily true if you’re being told that dog shit collectors can be used as spare bags for Hallowe’en treats.
Since these interviews, I have found myself in a retail job with another store. The work is good, the atmosphere is better, the emphasis on selling equally focused but ultimately far less aggressive and pushy. I’m glad I missed out on jobs with GAME Group, because ultimately I know I am far happier here than I ever would have been in a sales culture like that embraced by GAME and its sister stores.
That GAME is in trouble is bad news for the high street, who will be short of a specialist games retailer if things truly go south. It’s also bad news for several of my friends who work for the firm - and who are completely different from the hyper-aggressive managers I have encountered in the past. But if GAME and its umbrella businesses go down the tubes, part of me will not be sorry to see it go - if only because I hope that a retailer more interested in selling games than cold profiteering will take its place.
Read my post, ‘Just Why Is GAME In Trouble?’, on Big Red Barrel.