EB and PC: A new low

So I wandered into a couple of EB’s the other day (there’s a mall nearby where there is one inside and one outside) and was shocked at what I saw in one of them. There was the usual single gondola of PC games on the floor, with only a few titles. As my eyes wandered I noticed a sign high on the wall in the back of the small store. There weren’t PC games below it, so I looked above. Well above the reach of any customer were more PC games, neatly organized. At first I thought it was just overstock, that the gondola had one or two of each and the rest were above. Well, either the store was doing a poor job of bringing stuff down to the gondola or they really viewed the inaccessible overstock area as a sales zone because there were tons of games up there that weren’t on the gondola.

Is EB getting even further out of the PC business or what?

There was a time… a glorious time… when EB was called Electronics Boutique! And you could find the latest Ultima for a mere $60 in a big glossy oversized box that was heavy to carry because it was stacked with cloth maps and coins and ankhs and moonstones and fourteen different manuals printed on heavy-stock paper. A time when just across the mall you could find Babbage’s, which displayed the hot new Commodore 64 games on monitors for all to see.

There was a time…

Ehhh… EB’s shelves are usually so horribly stocked (and not even in alphabetical order in most of the places I’ve been), console or PC, that I got in to the habit long ago of just going to the counter and asking. If they say something like “Let me check” and start to walk over to the shelves or back room? Just say “Please use the computer, or I’ll go somewhere else.”

Given the way they handle their console sales, I say good riddance.

God damn right…Fucking loved those days.

Best Buy seems to be the greatest remaining bastion of PC games these days.

I picked up Earth 2160 there yesterday for $20. I can’t believe there was a price drop that quickly!

EB is still good for used PC game sales. Actually they’re the only brick-&-mortar retail outlet I can think of that sells them.

They don’t carry used PC games anymore. What’s in the store now will be the end of that. Once they’re sold, they’re gone. No more trade-ins.

One thing to consider is that at this time of the year, the EBs are always at their lowest inventory levels to prepare for physical inventory. It always looks worse than it is when you go to an EB in January/February.

If they have one in your area, Fry’s rocks hard for PC games. Ginormous selection and they routinely slash prices to get rid of stock.

I went to Best Buy the other day and they were low on a lot of titles. At times they have what I need, at times they are overpriced.

We have one Fry’s here in Seattle and that is the best place that I’ve been lately having the latest, and many older titles.

I remember some of the small local non-franchise stores I used to go to years ago with shelf after shelf of PC gaming goodness…I’d spend oodles of time looking over all these wonderous new games and because there wasn’t a mainstream internet back then and really only Computer Gaming World for coverage, the games were fresh and new and not over-hyped, over-analyzed, over-critisized. I love the amount of information we have at our disposal but sometimes, way back when, just seeing a new game, knowing nothing about it, bringing it home and playing it for the first time without any preconceptions, that was kind of magical.

Best Buy is also in their physical inventory pattern. Once again, that affects the number of titles on the shelf. Games just don’t sell at this time of year so there’s no need to do any restocking and the inventory is easier and faster with less product to count on the racks.

Word. Fry’s rocks when it comes to PC games although the one near me is like stepping into a portal that plants you into a 3rd world nation. As long as you don’t need to ask someone for help you’ll be ok.

Fry’s is the place to go these days. Back in the day it was Egghead (for PC’s, anyway, until that upstart EB came along).

When I started at EB, the biggest shelf in the place (the back wall) was dedicated solely to PC games, with a small piece of the shelf next to it for new releases. By the time I left, it was a single gondola and when I went into the store last week to look for games it was even less. But honestly PC games just werent bringing the coin of console games… and with more consoles coming out it just became the redheaded stepsister. Their prices on PC games arent that great either, Ive found that Best Buy has much better prices.

The countdown to the internet download only future of PC games begins NOW!

My EB has a tiny little PC section, too, but the section for any given console is only larger if you don’t count all the used games. EB probably looks as bleak to console publishers as it does to PC publishers, since none of them see a red cent from used game sales. EB has become more of a pawn shop than a retail store.

I’ve decided that I like the service at Fry’s. (Fry’s’s service?)

They want to sell me stuff. I want to buy stuff. They pile stuff up on shelves for me to buy. They aren’t trying to sell me a lifestyle, just stuff. There’s no real pretense that they’re going to help me, or that anyone there knows more about the stuff that they’re selling than I do.

In contrast, Best Buy wants to be my best buddy. They want me to know that they’re there for me. Can we help you buy something? Would you like an extended warrantee with that? Here, have a rebate coupon that you’ll never send in and will never get a response from if you do. And all the while, they keep the lights turned way down low so you can’t get a good look at the overpriced stuff on the shelves. There isn’t much of it there compared to Fry’s, either. In the morning, they’re gone and you’re left alone with your self-disgust and a suspicious rash.

Well, until Amazon.ca let’s me down (well, more than having my shipment go missing once, I suppose), I’m going to stick with them. I was so tired of the crappy EB service over the years I’ve finally given up on trying to buy games from local retailers. We don’t have that many stores that sell new PC games anyway, and I refuse to step into a Future Shop (owned by Best Buy, I believe) because of incredibly poor service the few times I shopped there. So, I’ll keep trying out the online shopping and see how it goes. The only reason I moved to online is to avoid the service locally, otherwise you’d never have seen me online either. I’m getting the idea that no one really cares about service anymore, let alone carrying the products you actually want to buy.

My next choice is to stop spending money. Where’s the fun in that?

Whew, thank God… I walked into EB yesterday and strolled around for 15 minutes looking at everything. Couldn’t find jack shit that interested me in the slightest - and I tried hard. Walked out thinking my will to game had died.

I feel better now, knowing that the store is just crap and it’s not me.*

*Perhaps it’s that there hasn’t been a compelling PC title released since…

…Civ 4.

  • Alan