Feelin’ Lo in 2022.
Recently, my wife and I took my daughter to our local arcade and video game shop. I generally try to avoid going there for purchasing games since the first and basically last time I was there.
In the spirit of supporting a new local business, I stopped in one summer afternoon to have a look around at the store’s inventory. They had a lot of titles, mainly retro, and I was delighted to see a couple big shelves of PlayStation 2 games.
I made small talk with the owner, who seemed more concerned with watching my every move from a stool behind the counter than actually interacting with me but I didn’t take much offense to it, we don’t live in the nicest of cities and I’m sure shoplifting is an issue for him, like every other gaming store I’ve ever shopped at.
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular but I always enjoy just skimming libraries and eventually picking up a couple bottom-of-the-barrel-bargain games. If you follow this site, you’d agree I don’t have much of an issue finding bad games to write about.
At the time, the football season was fast approaching and I decided to round out my Madden collection by picking up Madden 2005. I wanted to spend a little money there – but not go too crazy at first – just to get a feel of the establishment. The idea of developing a friendship with a local video game business was super exciting.
I grabbed a dusty copy of Madden 05 off the shelf and lifted it up as he looked over me. “How much are your Ps2 games going for, man? I don’t see any prices on this one.”
“That’s not how I operate.” He replied, his tone darkening a bit.
I flashed him a confused look, continuing he said, “You pick out what games you want, bring them up to the counter and then we’ll price them out.”
Assuming, maybe he had some large binder of his inventory or master chart under the counter, I nodded, agreeably. Okay, no problem. Not exactly how I would do it, but it’s not my store, so I shut the hell up and brought the football game up to the register. He opened the case, it was missing a manual, which I assumed should go in my favor price wise, especially on a game that is already unwanted everywhere else in the universe.
He took out a piece of paper and a pen and looked at the disc. As he looked at it, he seemed to type the title into his phone. “Alright, Madden 05’ .. let’s see… just checking the prices online for you.” Wow – this place checks the going rate for games online? This game is going to be dirt ch- “That’ll be .. uhh.. It says $17.99 – so we’ll just go with $17 even.”
Now let me get something out of the way – I completely understand that the gaming prices are out of control and have been since COVID. Half of the reason I started this blog was because I wanted to warn people against spending astronomical amounts of money on lackluster games (looking at you, Echo Night Beyond). I also completely understand and expect to pay more than online prices at a flea market or especially, a retro game store. I get it. I’m here for it. I will always gladly pay more to get to spend an hour browsing over every title and even more important – not having to wait for a game in the mail (or giving money to bald dickhead, Jeff Bezos).
…he saw what he thought was another dough eyed moron that didn’t know what he was looking at. I mean, why wouldn’t he? Did I not pay his price?
But, there are just a couple things about this situation that simply did not add up.
To start, a universal truth, since the beginning of sports computer simulation: Madden games depreciate faster than used toilet paper. (More on this later, as well).
Generally, like all sports games, the rosters are just too topical to remain valuable. The minute Madden (or other popular titles like, FIFA, NHL, NBA 2k ect) drops, it becomes obsolete. Even with roster updates and community contributions, you’re never getting the $59.99 you just spent back on that game. You could literally buy it, turn around and go to sell it back to the same store for store credit and they would give a third of what you just paid. So, I was a bit surprised that this sixteen year old copy of Madden was so valuable from whatever, “Market reference” he had pulled up on his phone.
Calmly, I countered his price, “It’s missing a manual, probably knock a buck of two off for that, right?”
Almost before I could finish the sentence, I was stonewalled with a cold and rehearsed, “My prices are final.”
After a moment or two, he recoiled a bit, maybe gaining a sliver of self awareness about how much of a dick he sounded like. Maybe he saw my jaw tighten, as I became agitated at what I felt like was being unfairly treated, as if I was trying to swindle him. At this point, I basically had made an internal compromise. Sure, I’ll pay the steep price for the game today but I won’t be back anytime soon.
“If manuals are your thing, I think there are more copies of the game over on the shelf, go and help yourself to a copy with a manual.”
Wondering out loud, as I cross the street back to my car, “Since when has, “supporting small business” meant consensual robbery?”
Mind you, this entire transaction has taken place at his counter, him not even standing from his stool, only craning his neck to keep an eye on me in his establishment. I shrug and go back to shelves of PlayStation games. This time with less awe and excitement. Noticing the dust bunnies over all of the top of the cases. I do find another copy of Madden 05, several even, and as I go to pull one from the shelf, the game case sticks to the games next to it, all of the cases coming off the shelf as one large brick. I have to separate my “new” copy of the game. This place has never been dusted.
I bring the case with the manual back to the counter and hand him my debit card. “Cash only. There’s an ATM over there.” Gritting my teeth into a powder at this point I go, take out twenty dollars and pay the ATM fee, pay for the game and leave the establishment feeling battered and bruised. Wondering aloud, as I cross the street back to my car, “Since when has, “supporting small business” meant consensual robbery?” Is paying over 500% the fair price for an item supporting a local establishment or just stupid consumerism?
Maybe, he’s oblivious and his intentions are good but misdirected. However, more likely, he saw what he thought was another dough eyed moron that didn’t know what he was looking at. I mean, why wouldn’t he? After all, did I not pay his prices?
Activate time lapse mechanism through New York’s seemingly perpetual slate skies and snowstorms
In the ever constant quest to get the child out of the house despite the air outside and it’s stinging qualities, I have promised her to go to the Arcade. The same arcade that is connected to the Video game store. I have a bag of doubles, different video games I have more than one copy of, most hardly worth anything more than five or so dollars but one that seems to be quite valuable on the online market right now. So despite assuming how disappointing this transaction was going to end, I’m the type of person that has to see it through, regardless. I have to at-least try to see if I get offered any kind of reasonable store credit for buying my extra games. A fair service, this proprietor proudly advertises almost every other Facebook or Instagram post.
After playing a few games with my daughter and, “losing” a game of Air Hockey to her and my wife, my ladies went off with a hand full of quarters to go do more things while I approached the same counter I never wanted to return to. Our dear owner was a bump on a log, texting on his phone not acknowledging me until I approached and stood there awkwardly for a moment. The attitude of the room seemed to have change from our last interaction but somehow felt even more contentious.
I had seen a copy of, Bully, a game I have always wanted to play and brought it up to the counter. I asked him how much he’d want for it. He again consulted his phone, babbling about market reference and made the offer for $25. It’s a price I could tolerate. It’s steep for the title, one that’s not especially rare or valuable, but to me a reasonable convenience tax for having a gaming store in your neighborhood. I ask him if he is taking any titles for store credit and he tells me he’ll never trade me game for game but he’s willing to take a look at what I have.
After returning from the car, I had the grab bag of games, a couple of Nintendo games and a copy of Syphon Filter, Logan’s Shadow for the ps2. A game that has steadily risen in price over the past couple of years. When I show him my gaming selection he immediately seems less than enthused, with a sigh, he tears off a piece of receipt paper and reaches for a pen. He spots the copy of Madden 2004 and basically pushes it from the pile. “This is basically junk. They have absolutely no resell value.” I have to laugh to myself. I knew that and so did he – of course he did – but whatever website he used to determine prices just half a year ago clearly didn’t. I find it a bit suspect. Every single game he types seems to be worth even less, $1.90 here, $1.50, .90 cents, until he reaches Syphon Filter.
And just like purchasing games, I also understand that I’m not going to get full price for store credit with games as well. These are my doubles, I am a collector. I don’t mind not getting full value for my games that he could turn around and sell for full value at his shop. It’s supposed to be a symbiotic relationship. I don’t want this game anymore. You can make money off it. But at the very least, if it has resell value, give me enough money to keep me shopping in the store. His offer for the game was $1.80
I chuckled at this. Without looking up from his phone he rebutted, “That’s just what the market value is, bro.” I wondered what kind of market values Madden 2005 at $17 and this game at $1.80. As I stood at the counter, I realized I was getting tired of standing in this place, making up my mind way before I have a chance to finalize any interaction. After he went through the “market prices” of all twelve games he offered me the staggering store credit of $8.25. Having my family there, I politely declined and after being asked if I was going to purchase, Bully, I declined that as well.
Normally, that’d be it. I just wouldn’t go there again and I wouldn’t waste yours or mine time bitching about just another swindler, gatekeeping and pay walling a hobby I’ve cherished most of my life. Taking advantage of enthusiasts while also acting as if he is a patron saint of the community. But it wasn’t long after my failed negotiations with this store owner before my best friend shared this over-the-top Facebook post from the owner.
Now I am not assuming this is or was directed towards me and if it was than that is really silly. Chances are, it wasn’t. But, if that’s the case then as an owner of a business he should probably be taking a hard, objective look in the mirror. Why does this seem to be coming up more and more for him? Owning a business is about constantly adopting, adapting and pivoting for your market.
Right now as it stands, with an uncompromising attitude and criminal prices, I have no problem waiting in the wings for this business to inevitably go under and I’ll be there to gobble up the inventory for a much fairer price at that point in time. But realistically, on a more compassionate, human level I wish him the self awareness to shed the ego and make the appropriate changes to keep his business and lifestyle intact.
What are your worst experiences with video game shops? Do you have certain stores you love? Share your comments, below!