Gamestop Trading Customers Prints to the Police

If you follow any amount of gaming news, you’ve no doubt noticed a trend when it comes to Gamestop.  It seems like the retailer is always on the losing side.  Retailers claim they have to butcher their content among retailers (like Gamestop, Best Buy & Amazon).  Gamers claim they engage in price gouging & hassle them for pre-orders.  But the company is in the new again.  Or rather the chains in Philadelphia are.  Because apparently these stores have begun taking thumbprints from customers who trade in games & upload them to a law enforcement database.

Their reason for doing this is to help crack down on thefts and break-ins.  Because obviously there’s no way to know if the person trading a game in is really the one who owns it.  By fingerprinting trade ins, police can run prints found at a burglary scene through this system to see if the same person has traded games & systems back in & hopefully track the thief down, thus returning the stolen items to their rightful owner & serving justice on the criminal.

But in spite of this noble goal, this recent news has had some people in the gaming community in an uproar; giving them further ammunition to bash Gamestop with & screaming claims about taking their rights away & all the usual claims that typically come with increases in security procedures.  However, I’m not sure what to think about it.  I can see the issue from both sides, & both have valid points.

On the one hand, I can see things from a law enforcement perspective.  Firstly, what Gamestop is doing isn’t anything really new.  Pawn shops used to (& still do if they’re trying to be a legitimate business) write up tickets for every item they bought with the seller’s information to pass on to the police.  The police then check the tickets to see if the items that have been bought match any stolen reports they have.  Any time you deal in used goods, there’s always the danger of getting something stolen.  Because I work in law enforcement/emergency management, I’m one of the people who enters stolen items into the national database, so I know how often consoles get stolen.  And usually when they do, games are stolen as well.  And because the only place to quickly sale games & used systems is Gamestop, they’re probably a prime place to receive these stolen goods.

Also, as someone who has been burglarized in the past, I can sympathize with victims wanting to have their stuff back & catch the thieves.

Secondly, as others have pointed out, this is neither a policy required by law or Gamestop as a whole.  Just because the ones in Phily are doing it doesn’t mean every branch will adopt this policy.  Apparently this is already a thing in Florida & Georgia.  They’re simply being proactive in helping the police.  I don’t personally see this as becoming a company wide policy due to cost restraints.  Just think about the costs of sending every print from a trade in every day.  Short of finding data that this procedure dramatically reduces thefts, I only really see this being adopted by stores in large counties with high crime rates.

But I can also see things from gamers’ point of view.  It does seem a bit unnecessary when you consider that you don’t get cash for trade ins.  You only get in-store credit.  So it seems unlikely that Gamestop would be the first choice to foist stolen goods if all you were after was cash.

I can also understand not wanting to have to go through a long procedure just to trade in a few games.  I can see this hurting Gamestop’s sales on a larger scale if they’re not careful.  After all, they aren’t the only place to sell games back to.  If the procedure is too cumbersome, people will stop selling to Gamestop, & hence stop buying from them.  Let’s not forget that the used game market does make up a sizable chunk of Gamestop’s revenue.

So yeah, I have mixed feelings about it.  I think that, at the end of the day, it won’t really make a huge difference.  I don’t foresee this becoming a major policy for Gamestop.  Nor do I see droves of people leaving Gamestop because of it.  Not only do you not have a lot of people who just don’t care either way, but a lot of people won’t give up the convenience of trading to Gamestop.  Yeah, there are other options like Amazon or Craigslist.  But not everyone’s comfortable dealing with total strangers like that.  And besides, there are alternatives if you really don’t like it.

– GamerDame

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