Amidst sinking revenue and increasingly senseless company-mandated sales tactics and targets, a massive interview project by Polygon has documented a widespread, systemic state of desperation among GameStop’s corporate bosses and an enervated, hopeless air from its employees. The company is in a mad scramble to change its identity and secure new revenue streams as the retail games market circles the drain. Unfortunately for GameStop, most of these new sales moves, such as having to pitch used cell phones to fifty customers a week, are untenably annoying for customers and workers alike. In over a dozen interviews with current and former GameStop employees, Polygon found universal reports of dwindling sales, fewer customers, and increasingly obvious desperation from corporate. A few of the most eye-opening quotes follow below, covering the chain’s struggles with declining sales as it is left behind by an evolving market. You can also check out the full editorial for more.
GameStop is getting hit hard by declining sales, and many employees believe that they can sense corporate’s frantic need to correct the course. Still, many of the company’s policies seem counterintuitive, almost as if they’re merely delaying an inevitable end as customers slowly drift away.
“I’ve seen a change in the sheer desperation the company has towards its profit margins.”
“The company is frantic and distrustful. You can feel it in every message they send. The structure is falling apart and they’re scrambling.”
“I think they’ll close a thousand stores this year. They have to cut costs. The games retail market is dying.”
“My store is well known for solid sales performance. But customer traffic has dipped significantly in the past two years. Aside from some expected high-traffic days like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and major game release days, we’re missing our daily sales plans almost every single day.”
“Things have changed drastically. Our district manager is pushing tech trades, like iPhones and tablets, as well as [pre-order] reservations. No one cares about the games, or the customers, anymore. It’s obnoxious.”
Corporate is desperate to squeeze what they can out of the few customers that GameStop does have left, but that paradoxically involves some aggressive, annoying sales pitches.
“They want us to hound customers about trading in their old cellphones and tablets. I recently had a visit from a senior manager who said that close [to hitting target] isn’t good enough. If you aren’t hitting the goals set, you are failing.”
“[The company] would always make us shove promotions down customers’ throats. They would ‘coach’ us if we weren’t constantly bothering our customers by trying to get them to pre-order a game or sign up for a rewards card. I’ve never seen a company so focused on tracking an associate’s sales metrics and performance in a job that isn’t commission-based.”
Declining revenue is hard enough to deal with, but the company has evidently offset a lot of that struggle by cutting hours accordingly. Combined with GameStop’s many, many forced initiatives, some employees feel quite overworked.
“This results in a store that always feels unorganized and dirty,” said one manager. “Now there’s often just one employee in the store. Between dealing with guests and doing the absolutely mandatory stuff [corporate] demands, there’s no time. This accumulates in feeling overworked, underpaid, and a store that looks like you have given up and don’t care.”
Is it all doom and gloom, though? The odds are certainly stacked against GameStop–revenue has fallen dramatically, employee morale is clearly at a low point, and the customer base just keeps shrinking. Against all odds, however, some workers have maintained a shred of hope.
“I worked for [a failed retail chain] in its last few years, and while we’re not there yet, I definitely see some warning signs.”