What we heard: Even on their best days, most gaming message boards are not known as level-headed venues where different ways of thinking are welcome or accepted. So when Cheap Ass Gamer forum-goer "Hack" posted a picture of a GameStop flier over the weekend that said the retailer was requiring the $50 deposit on Wii and PlayStation 3 pre-orders to be paid in game trade-ins (cash or credit not accepted!), there was naturally much ado.
Gamers took the news and ran with it, spreading it around various message boards and getting a bit of coverage from news aggregators as well. However, as the news spread, it seemed certain nuances were lost. The original poster, Hack, updated his post to clarify things as he understood them after a call back to the store where he picked up the flier.
"I will repeat that I never said this was official, or meant this to be an official nationwide announcement," Hack wrote in an update to his post. "As the beginning of this post has always stated (or rather, used to state), I'm not aware if this is a nationwide trend or not (and we have learned that it currently IS NOT). I do live in Hawaii, and therefore this could only be in my region. This is basically a small scale test of this new pre-ordering method. That means that if this test succeeds in Hawaii, it could possibly take effect nationwide."
It seems the GameStop employee who filled Hack in had the facts straight. A spokesman for the retailer told us today that the pre-order stipulation is real, but stressed that it is only a test, and one that the company is conducting only in Hawaii. He also said the test began and ended today, and that the company doesn't have an official nationwide program for pre-orders yet. It's unknown if Hawaiian customers will get another crack at pre-orders in the nationwide program, whatever form it may take.
The test is over, and it will be a little while before we see whether or not GameStop decides to embrace that strategy on a nationwide basis. However, it seems likely that GameStop, and possibly other retailers as well, would do something to improve their bottom line on console launches.
Whereas the profit on new game hardware is traditionally very small, the profit on selling used games is considerably higher. Requiring trade-ins to cover the deposit would be one way for retailers to better their bottom lines without requiring the bundled purchases that have become common from online retailers, including GameStop's own Web store.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus that the plan is nationwide. Not bogus that GameStop was using Hawaii to test consumer reaction to the idea.