The EB Games Employee Manual
December 4, 2008 2:59 AM   Subscribe

I read that there was a 'leaked' copy of the EB Games employee handbook floating around the web a few years back, and it explained in some great detail about how to talk to customers and to push really hard on getting people to pre-order and so on. Despite my best efforts, I can't get Google to show it to me. Does anyone have a link to it (or a saved copy they're able to send me)? Also, as a side question; why do EB Games and similar video game retailers push so hard to try and get you to pre-order stuff? What's in it for them, other than a potential sale once the game is released?
posted by Effigy2000 to Shopping (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's not the employee handbook, but this is similar to what you're talking about:
The Mad Gamer #4: EB Games EXPOSED
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:27 AM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Improved cash flow & trying to get an idea of actual demand for the product. I'm sure there's a marketing edge to being able to say a game's just been released and has already sold a kazillion units, but from an accountant's POV, it's more about the money and forecasting.
posted by Grrlscout at 3:39 AM on December 4, 2008

It's probably related to the time value of money. $1 today isn't worth all that much more than $1 tomorrow, but $500,000 today is worth significantly more than $500,000 three or six months from now. Even if the company were to just get a CD, we could be looking at $15,000 in interest. I'm sure the company has better things to do with the money than that though, and this sort of thing probably allows them to pay for things which for which it would otherwise have to rely upon its lines of credit. Pre-ordering is essentially a way of loaning money to retailers for free.
posted by valkyryn at 3:42 AM on December 4, 2008

Addressing the side-question, the link I posted above says:

If you don't pick up whatever you pre-ordered in a certain amount of time EB Games will take your deposit. Yes, I said "take your deposit".
EB Games purges their system of pre-orders after a certain period of time. Why? EB Corporate Headquarters will say that the system is overloaded and needs to be refreshed. And maybe this is true, but it still boils down to the fact that they are basically taking your money. Or maybe a better word is "stealing" since there is only one way to get what you paid for after this purge. That way would be you having hard evidence of your pre-order which would require you to have held onto your pre-order receipt.

posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:55 AM on December 4, 2008

I might be wrong but I thought penny-arcade released it, at least they discussed it a lot. Searching through the website I cant find anything. Maybe ask on the forums if you really need it?
I worked there about 5 years ago and was given the exact handbook that was floating around on the net, they enforced it, we had to fill in the questionaires each week, it was horrible.

Why do they want you to pre-order?
-I cant remember if it was compulsory but we used to ask for some money up front. So there is the chance of getting a free $10 or more if they dont pick it up.
-It is also really hard to guess how popular a game will be, often it is hard to get something new and popular for a customer. It was quite common to have to turn down a whole bunch of people who hadnt pre-ordered.. all those lost sales!!
-People seemed really receptive to pre-ordering, you tell them its just $10 and youll get it as soon as it comes out. I reckon you make sales you wouldnt otherwise make, people are more likely to pay this little bit of money that doesnt hit them so hard. Then they will always cough up the rest when it comes out. You ring people up, no-one says they dont want it and want their money back.

There are lots of potential benefits and no-downside.
posted by phyle at 4:08 AM on December 4, 2008

Retailer here. Not computer games, but it's all the same. Yeah, maybe "time-value of money" is a factor but it's one of the last things that we think about. The biggest issue that shops face daily is inventory management, i.e. figuring out what people want and how much of it they want. Order too few of a product, and sales go to your competitor across the street. Order the wrong product or too many of the right product, and you have to discount the leftovers or beg the distributor to take them back (and pay a restocking charge). Encouraging customers to pre-order reduces the risk of misgauging demand.
posted by randomstriker at 4:13 AM on December 4, 2008

Actually I found this on penny arcade but its not the whole thing and it doesnt talk about the pre-ordering..->
posted by phyle at 4:19 AM on December 4, 2008

I cant remember if it was compulsory but we used to ask for some money up front. So there is the chance of getting a free $10 or more if they dont pick it up.

What's more, if EB sell a game for $60 and Amazon sell it for $50, but you've put down a $10 deposit at EB, you won't save any money by going to Amazon.

So if you pre-order that's $10 in their pocket whether you pick up the game or not.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:43 AM on December 4, 2008

@ randomstriker:
The thing is, with GameStop (EB, whatever), they do a terrible job of inventory management on big selling games. I've never once been able to walk in on the day of a game release and pick up a game there (I try every time, since it's downstairs in my building), and ALWAYS end up walking 5 blocks down to the Best Buy because the GameStop doesn't have it, or only has copies left for people who pre-ordered it. I also always see people asking the same thing as me and leaving. And games, unlike gaming systems, are not difficult to produce, so it's not like they are not able to get enough from the manufacturers. I really don't understand why they think that pre-ordering is such a good idea. I suppose in more rural areas maybe the cost of getting to the best buy is higher, so it's worth pre-ordering?
posted by Grither at 4:46 AM on December 4, 2008

Busy Old Fool - I don't know if that is true anymore. I got a refund on 6 games I preordered and never purchased 6 months later earlier this year.
posted by zennoshinjou at 5:48 AM on December 4, 2008

I have a direct link to gamestop and worked there when it was EB.

Busy Old Fool- i'm sorry, you are mistaken, this was NEVER a policy. you only ever have to put $5 dollars down, and it has always been that way. they NEVER erase the system, therefore just taking people's money.

Grither- The policy now is that they only order as many games for launch day as there are pre-orders. therefore, if you don't preorder it, you will not recieve it on the day it comes out. i'm not entirely sure why they do this.

a side note- if you guys ever have a problems with the policy of a Gamestop store, i beg you, please do not give the employees a hard time about it. it is not their decision. the policies are mandated my corporate and the employees cannot bend or break them. you yelling about somthing they cannot change will just make things much worse and get you nowhere.

also, you're not paying extra to pre-order it. you're putting money down on the game. so put 5$ down, and that's 5$ less you pay when you pick it up.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 6:06 AM on December 4, 2008

To answer the specific questions asked:

I'm sorry, I can't point you towards the manual you're seeking.

Pre-orders are pushed, and not too forcefully in my experience(YMMV), because, as you understated, they become basically guaranteed sales, and as others have stated, they help the store gauge how many copies to order initially. Based on my own experience, I have a hard time believing they order exactly the number that are preordered, but they probably don't order too many more.

To contribute my $0.02 on "general EB/Gamestop issues":

I must be visitng some crazy-ass Gamestops, because I experience none of these things that apparently every other Gamestop in the nation does. The ones I've been to are a random sampling of the "millions" of stores in the Dallas-Ft Worth metro area(mostly Irving, Grapevine, Plano, and Garland).

I frequently go into a store on launch day, or the day after, and easily purchase a copy of a game I haven't preordered(I also frequently purchase games I have preordered, but that shouldn't be surprising). The exchange usually goes like this, using last night as an example:
owty: Hi, I'd like to get Prince of Persia.
Employee: Did you preorder?
owty: No.
Employee: Ok, let me see if we have any extras. Yep, no problem.
[complete transaction and leave happy]

On the stealing money front, I've never seen this either. Any time I've changed my mind about a reservation, I've been offered the option of transferring it or getting a refund. I would say "no questions asked" but it's more like "with minimal prying." I've certainly never gotten a hassle about it, and nothing even near the levels of Best Buy employees pushing Best Buy warranties(if you scratch your disc, you can bring it right back! ... or a 95 lb. 16 year old female cashier telling me, as I'm buying the Rock Band 2 drum kit, "I have that at home, and I accidentally broke the bass pedal in like an hour of playing". I'm about 220 lbs., never had any problem with my launch-day Rock Band 1 bass pedal[non-responsive pads are a different story], and seriously doubt many, if any, people have literally broken the metal-reinforced Rock Band 2 bass pedal, but now I've gone way off track.)

It really confounds me that all the other Gamestops in the US could be so universally horrible when the ones I've visited have been mediocre at worst. If this is just my good luck, I wish it would manifest itself as a winning lottery ticket or something like that, instead of making the local Gamestop stores (apparently) the only good ones in the world.

posted by owtytrof at 6:50 AM on December 4, 2008

Grither, retail branches are encouraged to pursue different techniques and strategies to manage their inventory wisely, but at the end of the day if the branch manager is an idiot, then the shop is gonna be poorly run.
posted by randomstriker at 7:11 AM on December 4, 2008

I used to work for Take-Two, when they launched GTA: San Andreas. One of my duties was tracking pre-orders.

From the video game company's perspective, it's really difficult to estimate how many units will sell. And the general trend is that the most games sell the most in the first few weeks after launch, and then taper off after that. So the bigger the number of pre-orders, the better you know the game is going to do. And it helps both the video game company and the retailer estimate how many units to provide at launch.

As someone mentioned above, you don't want the retailer taking too many units initially and not selling them- because then generally the video game company has to buy the extras back (not sure exactly why, but I think it's mostly to keep good relationships with the retailers). This of course greatly impacts the video game company's financial projections (and in fact, this is precisely what brought Take-Two under fire from the SEC- they were not properly reporting how many units were bought back when reporting and projecting profits, etc.).

The retailer can always order more units if they're short, and I think that's preferred to having too many.

Hope that helps! :)
posted by thejrae at 8:23 AM on December 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not to mention the simple math of: I wander in, pick up a $5 used game, the cashier asks me if I want to reserve X, and if I say yes, I have to return to the same store to pick it up. Another chance for them to try to get another reservation, preserving the vicious, vicious cycle.
posted by Jacen at 12:18 PM on December 4, 2008

phyle get's a best answer because he's linked to at least two of the pages of the manual I was seeking to read. It's not the whole thing (and if someone has the whole thing... maybe you're an EB employee?... drop a comment in this thread or send me a MeFi Mail) but it's better than nothing and that's where I was before his answer. So thanks, phyle!

randomstriker and thejrae also get best answers because they answer the pre-order question for me from both a retailer and a game companies perspectives respectively.

Busy Old Fool gets a favorite for this comment. I considered it for best answer but the other perspectives in this thread seemed to suggest that the linked-to article was more often wrong than it was right. That, plus I have a feeling that the linked-to article was more the ramblings of a bitter ex-employee as opposed to a considered perspective on the inner-workings of EB Games, the latter of which is what I'm looking for. Still, it's a good, interesting read that I'm sure I'll want to read again someday, so it gets a favorite.

I feel there's still more to answer when it comes to this question, so I won't yet mark it with a resolved tag. If anyone else has anything to contribute, please do so. Thanks for all your answers so far though, everyone!
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:15 PM on December 4, 2008

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