Of GameStop and Shrink Wrap

Staff writer Michael Gray had a weird experience at GameStop recently.

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gamestopI had to go to GameStop to trade in some old games recently. The woman at the counter, after telling the other employee to run some old games through the shrink wrap machine they have in the back, took my stack of games and started scanning them to see how much they were worth.

She stopped when she got to a copy of James Pond: Robocod (DS) that I got as a gift, but never got around to playing.

“We can’t accept this,” she said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“We don’t accept any games that are shrink-wrapped,” she explained.

“Why not?” I asked again.

The lady gave me a very serious look, like she somehow suspected me of robbing the local Best Buy and trying to fence my stolen goods for 53 cents of trade-in credit at GameStop. “It’s company policy,” she said. “We can’t tell if a game is new or not, just based off the shrink wrap. We’ve had incidents in the past where people ran a used game through shrink wrap, and they tried to sell it to us as a new game, so they could get more credit for it.”

“But…you have a shrink wrap machine here in the store,” I said. “You just told that guy to run some games through it.”

“So?” she asked.

“…Isn’t that the same thing?” I asked. “You’re running old games through shrink wrap to make them look new.”

She blinked, not understanding my point. “Right, company policy dictates that we can’t accept trade-ins on shrink-wrapped games. Sorry.”

“OK,” I said.

There was a pause.

“Hey, wait a second!” I said, smiling. “I just remembered that I have a second copy of this game!  One that’s not shrink-wrapped! Let me go get it.”

I took the offensive, shrink-wrapped James Pond game behind a shelf where the lady couldn’t see me rip off the shrink wrap. Twenty seconds later, I emerged with a non-offensive, not shrink-wrapped copy of the game. She accepted it right away and gave me my precious 53 cents of trade-in credit.

After I had traded in all my old games and purchased a new DSi, I started to leave the store. Then I turned around and looked at the lady.

“By the way, I noticed that there’s some shrink wrap on the floor behind that shelf there,” I said, pointing. “You might want to clean that up.”

“I’ll get Josh on it right after he finishes with the new Madden games,” she said.

“Great,” I smiled.


The above story is about 80% true; I changed the ending to make it funnier. In reality, she acted like she was doing me the biggest favor in the world by accepting the game as trade-in credit. But still. GameStop, your company policies about shrink-wrapping games are completely bogus.

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About the Contributor

From 2007 to 2016

Michael Gray is a staff writer for GameCola, who focuses on adventure games, videos and writing videogame walkthroughs.


  1. The last time I visited a GameStop, I was told the same exact thing, plus I was told that “I couldn’t walk out of the store, remove the shrink wrap, and attempt to sell it.”

    I suspect that the boxes on the shelves are empty anyway – plus, one could easily tell whether a game was new or not by attempting to walk out of the store with it.

  2. you guys are dumb. thats not what the policies are and thats not what the shrink wrap machine is for. We shrink wrap games in stack of 5 in the back room for easier storage, we dont shrinkwrap used games and call them new and sell them. the games on the floor dont have games in them because of loss prevention issues and if the new game is gutted all of it is kept behind the counter or in the back room so people dont steal the disc or in the case of a PC game the cd key. We don’t take in shrink wrapped games because they may be stolen and it is our policy to not allow you to just walk outside and open it, that would be stupid.

    i dont even like gamestop but it seems when people complain they complain about things that dont matter, and things they dont understand. so many other things that gamestop does do that you could complain about but instead you go on about bogus claims of gamestop shrink wrapping used games and selling them new and that your mad they wouldn’t accept your shrink wrapped game. and if an employee told you that they wouldn’t accept it because it was shrink wrapped becaue they believe you shrink wrapped it at home, which i doubt they said, then they are wrong. we don’t accept it because it is probably stolen and gamestop’s official policy is we only accept games in trade that are used, as in if the game is shrink wrapped it obviousy isnt used.. the game being shrink wrapped doesnt affect how much credlit you would get so why would anyone take a used game and shrink wrap it and then try and sell it to gamestop?

  3. Dear Sean, Matt rants-a-lot lance-a-lot Jonas is here to ramble for five minutes about nothing very important.

    I don’t agree with Michael most of the time (you know, the whole work-rivals thing) but he made me honorary Prime Minister, so I’m gonna take his side this time.

    But I’ll be honest – I understand the policy and I understand why it works this way. GameStation and GAME in the UK work in exactly the same way.

    So, shrink-wrapping, huh? If it doesn’t affect the credit you get for trading it in, why does a game being shrink-wrapped or not really matter? Sure, a ‘used game’ would have to have been opened to be used (of course), but if I were to trade in any of the games I’ve never played, most of them are still in their shrink-wrap, so I’d have to remove the shrink wrap and make a couple of scuffs on the case before you’d let me trade it in (hypothetically speaking).

    As a gamer, there’s nothing I’d want more than my used game in top-top condition, though. Keep in mind the consumer.

    This policy plays the “Better Safe Than Sorry” card. If someone’s trading a shrink-wrapped game, it has to be stolen (No, they might not have played it because it was an unwanted gift or they already own a few copies of the game already).

    This policy is entirely for company safety, and I can understand why it has to be done this way. But it over-complicates things to the point where they need surgery for a graze.

    I don’t think we’re asking GameStop to change their policy – that would be like telling Hitler to love Jews. All the time you have shrink-wrapping machine and traded games, someone’s going to make that connection. I doubt the humble little HMS GameCola is packing enough heat to make a whole state boycott GameStop, so you’ve got nothing to worry about if one site runs off at the mouth.

    If you really don’t like GameStop, then why go out of your way to defend them? Is it in your job description?

    One last thing – Shrink-wrapping games for storage? Hahaha, sure. Shrink-wrapping doesn’t make things smaller, you know.

  4. The policy is of course for safety of the company.

    Im going out of my way to comment, not defend them, because I am going to school for graphic design and I needed a picture of the shrink wrapping process for class and this site came up and I read the article decided to comment because thats what pretty much everyone does on the internet, comment on stupid things like they matter in real life when they don’t. So mostly out of boredom.

    I just believe that the other side should be read, I mean the employees don’t have any grudge against you when you come into the store, its a policy game stop set and we have to follow and I don’t think its fair to pin it on the employees, because I have actual customers come in, rude as hell, and start talking about all this game stop rant trash on a daily basis of stuff they read on the internet.

    Now I agree that game stop is a shitty company but if you’re going to rant at least rant about things they do that are actually shady, such as its a well known fact that employees can check out games to play at home for free for a span of 4 days at a time, its not a well known fact that employees can check out new sealed copies of games and play them and bring them back and sell them new. Game stop recently changed their labeling to “pre-owned” in order to get out of lawsuits. In short they don’t sell used and new games, because all of their games may have been “used” but instead they sell “pre-owned” (games previously owned) and new (games not previously owned.)

    or you could comment on the fact that some areas when a game stop takes your license for a trade in they must copy your driver license number, your full name, you age, your height, your weight, your address,the DL expiration date, the state its from, your hair color, your eye color, and your ethnicity. (for the record I mostly type in that everyone in the world is a 5’5″ brown hair brown eye black guy, because most of these are scroll down menus and thats what you get as the first option.) From a marketing standpoint this is super useful information for game stop and it makes sense they would want all of this info, from anywhere else this is a huge invasion of personal information.

    Im more of a play n trade fan myself. doubt you have any of them near you but i like them as a game company much more since each store is individually owned and so does not have to follow stupid corporate policies.

    in closing game stop, like most other fortune 2-300 companies commits some shady acts to be where they are and I don’t think that the monopoly they are gaining on video game sales is ethical or many of their practices, but I also don’t agree with blaming the employees or giving the employees a hard time for policies out of their control.

  5. Now that you mention it, Sean, I have run into the practice of gamestop selling me a game with no original box as “new”. Normally I would have raised a stink but I was buying lumines for psp so I could exploit it and play downloaded games so I felt I didn’t really have the moral high ground and just went home. Definitely a legit shady practice.

  6. Sean, at first I thought you were an asshole, but you’ve made a lot of good points and I’m starting to respect you quite a bit for being truthfully honest – these things you’ve pointed out are definitely much more worth creating a stink over.

    You have a very good point – it isn’t really the fault of the employees and for implying that I feel like I should apologize.

    Absolutely smashing good finding GameCola on Google, through a search for shrink-wrapping! Quick, let’s make articles on tonnes of different everyday stuff to rack up some hits!

  7. Matt,
    Shrink-wrapping games for storage makes perfect sense. If you have 30 books and you put them in one box, then you only have to carry one box. Same with the games, you can move all the copies of a particular game at once, but identify and retrieve individual copies as necessary.

  8. I can solve this. Take the shrink wrap off before you bring it in. I worked for gamestop for a few months and believe it or not a lot of kids steal games that work at other stores before the barcodes are put on and try to trade them it. The shrink wrap machines are only for display purposes. The actual games have never been inserted into a console, but are taken out of the box for security purposes.

  9. But they’re trading them in for store credit at a video game store. Not that I condone it either way, but why didn’t they just steal the game they wanted in the first place?

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