Microsoft, Sony Pay GameStop To Upsell You Downloadable Add-On Codes

GameStop employees now have more than just pre-orders, strategy guides and loyalty cards to pressure unsuspecting customers into buying. The game dealer has moved into selling downloadable content cards, and revealed it’s getting a cut of the action, given it more incentive to convince players their games aren’t complete without an extra map pack.

Joystiq reports the company’s head chair explained to attendees of the BMO Capital Markets Digital Entertainment Conference:

“I won’t get into the details of the agreements, but obviously we get paid for selling the digital content. We get paid less than what we would get paid for a typical new game [retail game], because we don’t have inventory carrying costs, shipping costs, etc. But needless to say, we believe it will bring operating margins similar to new games.

If you shop at GameStop, what types of pitches have you gotten from employees to buy DLC?

GameStop details a bright (profitable) future with DLC [Joystiq]


Edit Your Comment

  1. skapig says:

    So what? It’s retail. There’s always an upsell.

  2. Dover says:

    We usually just call this profit, or am I missing something?

    • Limewater says:

      Yeah, I think so. Upselling isn’t the built-in profit of an item. It’s the extra crap they try to add in to your purchase at the register. They buy a game for $5, sell it for $30, that’s profit. They make the employees try to talk the person buying the $30 game into also purchasing extended warranties, magazine subscriptions, downloadable content, etc…, and that constitutes an upsell.

  3. c!tizen says:

    Activision really pissed me off with the COD: MW2 packs and upping the price to 1200 MS points each over the traditional 800 that they usually cost. This means I have to buy two 1600 MS point cards for both of the packs instead of just one 1600 point card and the content wasn’t all that great. Then to add insult to injury, one of the big releases was 4 maps from a previous COD that I already paid for. Needless to say I took a big old “no thanks, dicks” to that one.

    • VashTS says:

      I hear you. I am sad to see the current state of gaming. It pisses me off that people would give money still, knowing they remove content and call it, an “ADD-ON.”

    • xjeyne says:

      This situation is what makes GameStop’s DLC selling convenient for you. You just go to the register and ask for the specific map pack you want and the code prints on the receipt. No more extra MS points floating around.

      • c!tizen says:

        Not really. It was convenient for me to buy a 1600 point card (which I could do instantly from Amazon) and pay 800 points for the add-on and then 800 points left over for either a future add-on or an add-on for another game. They hiked up the price by 400 points and then give that cut to the game place for selling the add-on that I can only use for that game? They’re essentially making me pay for a needless middleman while adding no value over the previous add-ons. That’s stupid, and it’s bad business.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        But it still leaves him having to pay more for the two packs. $30 vs $20 (2400 pts vs 1600)

    • HazyCloud says:

      “This means I have to buy two 1600 MS point cards for both of the packs instead of just one 1600 point card and the content wasn’t all that great.”

      Wrong. You can purchase points in increments of 400, 800,1200,1600, 4000 or 6000 on the console. Cards are offered in 1200 (Zune), 1600 (Xbox), 2000 (Zune) and 4000 (Xbox).

      “Then to add insult to injury, one of the big releases was 4 maps from a previous COD that I already paid for.”

      Also wrong. There were 2 map packs and each pack contained only 2 maps from CoD:MW with 3 of the 5 maps being brand new.

      • c!tizen says:

        Zune cards and Xbox cards aren’t marketed the same, in fact if you hadn’t said anything I wouldn’t have known that you can use Zune points with Xbox accounts. If this works, sweet, but it’s not a very well known fact, at least to the gamers I’ve spoken with.

        “Also wrong. There were 2 map packs and each pack contained only 2 maps from CoD:MW with 3 of the 5 maps being brand new.”

        How was I wrong? That’s pretty much what I said here: “This means I have to buy two 1600 MS point cards for both of the packs” That’s 4 maps that I already paid for no matter how you look at it. Even breaking it down that means I paid 400 more points for 2 maps that I already paid for. I paid 800 points for 4 new maps in COD 4, but in MW2 they wanted me pay 1200 points for 3 new maps and 2 maps from an old game. And before I get the “it’s a bonus” bit, it’s not, because I had to pay 400 more points for it. If they gave an option to pay 400 points for the old maps that’s one thing, but it’s all or nothing and that’s crap.

  4. IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

    No sales pitches actually. I know there’s a lot of negative issues regarding GameStop, but I have never had a problem in the ones that I frequent. They don’t try to sell me stuff I don’t want, Edge cards, etc. And when I say no to anything they may offer that I don’t want, they say OK!

    • ShadowFalls says:

      Me either. But then again I would have to go to Gamestop to have the opportunity. Nothing great about them except a rare good used game sale. There is a never a reason to buy new stuff from them as they offer nothing better than any other store.

  5. darcmosch says:

    Since one of my friends works at a Gamestop, I don’t get the treatment (plus I usually use Steam if I REALLY want a game (I’m more of a power user than gamer anyway)

  6. Daverson says:

    Yeah, so what? Who’s forcing anyone to say “yes” to an upsell they don’t want?

  7. Grogey says:

    And people will buy them and they will keep taking things out of games so they can sell them on the side. Making a 60 game actually worth 40 but your still paying 60 and have to pay an additional 20 to get what was actually supposed to be in the game.

    And thus why I am more choosy about what video games I buy now.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      Yeah. The final pack of ink colors in Fable 3 being reserved for DLC has really irritated me. It’s one thing to sketch out DLC ideas while the game is in development, for things that follow onto the main story, it’s another to cut the game short as an extra incentive to buy the DLC.

      If I like the game, I will often buy the DLC. Cutting content means I’m less likely to feel like buying the DLC.

      • LadyTL says:

        What got on my nerves with Fable 3 was that if you didn’t buy everything in the online shop, it would nag you almost every time you came into the menu about it.

  8. NeverLetMeDown says:

    Wait, so you mean that GameStop is selling a PRODUCT, and the creator of that product gets PAID? Seriously? Wow, that’s revolutionary.

    • dark_inchworm says:

      I think the big deal here is that Gamestop, not just the content creators, is getting a slice of the financial pie by participating in this… the kicker being that it’s very easy to acquire this content without giving Gamestop a dime (which is what I plan to continue doing).

      • CoachTabe says:

        Why is that surprising? If Gamestop offers to sell me something, I assume – shockingly enough – that they’re getting a cut of the action on it. Go figure.

  9. jason in boston says:

    Are they pointing a gun to your head while they upsell? If not, then this is simple selling. How is this different from any other business where you sell goods to people for money?

  10. DanRydell says:

    Wow. This is bad even for a Phil article. You’re reporting that a retailer makes a profit on a product they sell.

    • DanRydell says:

      In case I’m the only person who realizes this – the Gamestop rep isn’t talking about upselling. He doesn’t mention upselling. He said they get paid to SELL DLC, just like the get paid to SELL games. He’s referring to the profit margin built into the price of each game (or DLC code). What do you expect, Gamestop is going to sell DLC and not make any money off it?

  11. sirwired says:

    Errr… yes, they get paid to sell something. I hear that happens in stores pretty often.

  12. dolemite says:

    I don’t really do “add-ons”, unless the game is absolutely unbelievably good. I liked Dragon Age, but when I walked up to a quest giver right after the game came out, and he offered me a quest, and that I could pay by Visa, I said “hell no”. Never downloaded any more of the content, and will probably skip Dragonage 2. Also sold my COD MW2 game when they came out with rehashed maps for $15 a pop. I won’t be nickled and dimed to death, especially when a lot of this content is already available when the game releases (for $60), and they sit on it for a month or 2 then release it as an “add-on”. Basically they all simply cut or withhold content at the release, then try and sell you what you should have had in the first place, later on.

    • xjeyne says:

      The reason that extra quest was asking to be paid for on launch is because it was free with the collector’s edition of Dragon Age Origins but since the CE was limited at retailers, the customer could choose to pay for the content they didn’t get.

      • dolemite says:

        I also don’t believe in having different versions of a game. “Buy the $80 collector’s edition, and get another map! Buy it at Gamestop and get the so and so armor! Get it at Amazon and get the so and so sword!” A game is more akin to a work of art than a Camry imo.

      • MSUHitman says:

        It was only free on the Digital Deluxe CE on the PC, not the retail, standard CE on PC, 360, and PS3. (I have the 360 CE.) Reason being was the digital deluxe edition did not have the tin case and cloth map, so they gave that DLC in place of it.

        Still it’s a shame dolemite that you are boycotting such a great game. Originally the game was going to release in summer09, but EA wanted a Bioware RPG for Christmas since Mass Effect 2 went into late January 2010 so Bioware worked on DLC until launch (at least that was their public reasoning.) Maybe you should consider getting the Ultimate Edition of the game on your platform of choice as it has all the DLC they introduced for the game (no more is coming out) for the standard price ($50 on PC, $60 on the consoles.)

  13. VashTS says:

    I think people are missing the point. SAYNO and Microsuck are PAYING Gamestop corporation to up-sell map packs. Not there employees but the corporation to up-sell. Why else would Gamestop agree to go along with “used games that are purchased will have certain content not available unless you pay a $10 dollars extra.”

    I last went to a Gamestop and of course because I did not want to become part of their Gamers reward program he insisted I am a stupid loser for not wanting in the program. I really couldn’t argue with him since I did purchase my game from Gamestop rather than a real place like ebay or or the Amazon Marketplace.

  14. xjeyne says:

    Okay… they’re not UPSELLING them, they’re offering them so the customer doesn’t get home with their new game and realize all their friends are playing on a map pack they don’t have & they either have to enter their CC through their Xbox/PS3 or drive back to the store and buy MSpoints/PSN card. Don’t blame GameStop for this, blame the developers/publishers for continually milking money from game franchises through DLC.

  15. Outrun1986 says:

    I do not buy new games that cost $60 and then require additional purchases to finish the game. No thank you.

    I can buy games on my iPod touch for .99 cents each or better yet get tons of games for free. For me the games are fun enough now that I don’t have to pay a ton of money just to play games. Sure these games have add on’s too, but the price to start off with is very low, so I can almost justify the add on purchases, though I do not buy these add on purchases. I don’t even own an Xbox 360, for exactly this reason.

    If I am shopping in Gamestop I am buying a $3 PS2 game or a DS game which does not require in game purchases to complete it. Its gonna be tough to upsell me when I don’t have the console they are trying to upsell me something on.

    You know what, if a game’s price is low enough I would be ok with the developers charging extra for add on’s, as long as there aren’t a million of these add on’s in the game. It would be fine if they charged $10 for the game, then expected people to purchase what they wanted in game, though again it would be hard for me to do that. Its very hard for me to justify spending real money on virtual goods. That is not what is happening here though, you are still paying full price for the game, and they are charging you more on top of that, for stuff that should have been in the original printing of the game.

  16. dragonfire81 says:

    Ok guys I know it’s fun to rip on Phil for this article, but I think the point he’s making is that the download codes that Gamestop sells cost exactly the same as what you would pay buying through your console and are less convenient since you have to actually go to a store to get them. Gamestop knows digital content is the future of video games and is starting this now so they can adapt when disc based gaming becomes obsolete.

    • MSUHitman says:

      Actually there is an argument to be made both ways on the convenience, especially on the 360. If you don’t want to deal with unused MS points or if you have a lot of credit at the store, buying exactly what you want would be easier. The counter to that is (so far) the DLC is NOT on sale at Gamestop the same time it is for XBL Gold members (example the Scott Pilgrim XBLA game was on sale on the console for 400 points [$5] last week but if you went into Gamestop it would be the standard $10.)

      The point of less convenience is stronger on the PS3, as while you have to add $5 to your wallet anytime you add money, you can put in an exact amount of $9.99, etc. so you don’t have the leftover money factor.

      They it becomes a discussion if you want the free bonuses (you get the flaming Halo helmet for “preordering” the new Halo Reach map pack that comes out in a couple of weeks) that may be added for certain purchases.

  17. FlashFlashCarCrash says:

    It usually goes like this:

    “there’s a map pack for this game. Do you want it?”



  18. sopmodm14 says:

    well, for hardcore gamers, its worth it, but for the casual, not so much

  19. WickedCrispy says:

    Having been an ex Gamestop employee I can tell you it’s miserable. They somehow get away with telling their employees they MUST upsell all this garbage at no commission, other than being supposedly rewarded with more hours on the schedule. For every upsell of a magazine, pre-order, or promotion, the District Manager is the ONLY one who gets any real bonus which comes through marketing deals with 3rd party companies. It’s the most product-biased job I’ve ever had.

    • WickedCrispy says:

      This means that as a shift-manager I was getting four hours a week and was forced to try to outsell certain games and items over other items because of the marketing deals the company had at any given time. Gamestop loves to short sell and create their own supply and demand, telling gamers that some collector’s edition is too rare and you won’t get it unless you pre-order it. I gave up on all of that. I don’t shop at Gamestop anymore and no longer work there. If I need something special I go to Fry’s where any collector’s edition gets a nice fat, fully loaded endcap and no acne ridden trolls yelling about reserves and magazines.

  20. Kid U says:

    So now if I went in to GameStop to buy say, CoD:MW2 new, they would:

    – Ask me if I wanted to get Black Ops as well
    – Ask me if I wanted to sign up for their Powerup Rewards Pro card for $14.99
    – Ask me if I wanted to sign up for a Powerup Rewards card for free
    – Ask me if I wanted to pre-order [insert FPS here]
    – Ask me if I wanted a strategy guide
    – Ask me if I wanted to buy disc protection
    – and now…ask me if It wanted to buy DLC cards for map packs


  21. Outrun1986 says:

    The customers are obviously buying into this, which is why it continues. I will say it again, most shoppers take the warranty when asked, so that is pure profit for the companies. I see almost every shopper buying the warranties however I have never seen a shopper actually try to redeem on the warranty. The shoppers on here and other websites only make up about 1% of the shopping public I would guess. The more the majority of customers fall for the upsell, the more it will continue. Imagine how much profit Sony and Microsoft are going to make from this, they will probably sell 50% more download codes from this and they know it.

    Gamestop is just an immense juggernaut that continues to prey on people’s stupidity. You guys don’t even know how many times I have seen people get ripped off there especially if GS is out of stock of something they want. People just throw their money around, and its not like I live in a wealthy area. I was in GS the other day and these 2 kids were trading in stuff and they didn’t have the Xbox 360 model they wanted in stock so they bought a used one and a used hard drive, which totaled more than the price of the new console!! If I am spending big money on something I am definitely not going to pay more for a lesser product, which is just what these people did. Its truly amazing. Its really not GS’s fault that people are so stupid, but they offer exactly what is needed to prey into people’s stupidity.

  22. Abradax says:

    A company is offering incentives for a retailer to promote their products? The hell you say!

  23. Ishbar says:

    I’m not sure what the “profit” being tossed around here is?

    The DLC costs the same as it would in MS points, only now with TAX. (Remember, you’re not buying something inherently like a gift card or for services, now you’re buying an actual product!)

    I couldn’t fathom GameStop getting those cards for any less than what customers pay out. Perhaps GameStop gets something back, but it’s more or less to drive business into the store for other reasons.

  24. Dyscord says:

    Haven’t had any problems or upsells from Gamestop. The extent of gamestop upselling is usually if you call them when a big release is looming around the corner. At least for me.

    I’ve noticed that some preowned copies of some EA games have a card for online pass, but that’s because of their stupid “no online access if you buy used” thing.