GameStop insults employees with garbage raises

A GameStop NFT astronaut tries to grab the two quarters in orbit around the Earth.

Image: GameStop / Kotaku / Andrey Lobachev (Shutterstock)

Last month, GameStop announced new stock premiums for store managers and hourly increases for other employees. It seemed like some relief was finally coming for the staff, who have been through so much in recent years, while watching investors profit unprecedented stock meme hijinks. Over the past week, however, employees have learned that those increases will be meager at best. Only $0.50 per hour in many cases. Even lower in others. Meanwhile, GameStop announced that its CEO earned $16.8 million last year.

It was a difficult few years for GameStop employees. First hit covid. Then store closings. Revenue rose as burnout set in amid a record-breaking meme inventory frenzy coupled with little help for the company’s frontline staff. As local stores reduced their opening hours, executives walked away with golden parachutes. But in August, after the latest series of brutal corporate layoffs, GameStop CEO Matt Furlong announced that the company will make major new investments in its store managers and hourly employees. Managers would receive $21,000 in company stock that would vest over three years. Other employees would receive hourly increases. Maybe some of that stock market gold was finally starting to flow?

Not enough. Five current employees tell Kotaku the standard hourly increase for regular store employees is only $0.50. One said he received even less. “My raise is $0.38 an hour,” they said. Kotaku in an email. “I’ve been there for 10 years; I am insulted. Even with the increase, they say they’re still well below the starting rate of $15 an hour at nearby McDonald’s. (Names of employees are withheld as they were not authorized to speak to the press.)

GameStop did not respond to a request for comment.

The GameStop subreddit is full of similar frustration. “My salary has gone from 1:30 p.m. to 1:85 p.m.”, someone wrote. “It’s a slap in the face considering how much work I do and constantly coming in on my days off or using my car to pick up something from another store to transfer.” wrote another“Quitting because I got a 55 cent raise. I went from $10.50 to $11.05.” This person apparently worked in Florida, where the minimum wage is about to go $11 an hour In any event.

Assistant store managers, meanwhile, will receive an additional $1 per hour. However, it comes at a time when three store managers have said Kotaku that GameStop freeze the hiring of new assistant managers to replace those who leave or are laid off. They say some regions will have one manager for two stores, or one “regional manager” overseeing four. Their raises? Only $1.25 more an hour despite the extra work, stress and headaches, they say.

“Almost everyone I talk to is looking for [for another job]“said a store manager Kotaku in a telephone interview. That’s even with GameStop’s new equity bonuses. They said they would have preferred an extra dollar or a two hour raise. Currently, new stock options don’t start vesting until 2023, and even then the full amount won’t be available until years later. Store managers will have to weather another tough holiday season by doing more work than ever to get some. Plus, the payout is in a meme stash — who knows how much it’ll be worth once employees try to start throwing it away?

“My district manager was trying to be optimistic about it, but there was silence on the call after he walked us through the details,” the current store manager said. Kotaku. They said others in his district felt it was more of an insult than anything.

But GameStop seems focused on grinding one way or another. In addition to the meager compensation of its lowest paid employees, the employees Kotaku spoke with Saying that the pressure is mounting to meet sales targets and secure “wins” in important categories such as Pro subscriptions, pre-orders and warranties. Stores with the lowest number of wins will lose staff and be rolled into the management of higher performers, asking both to do more with less.

What does this look like in practice? If you worked at a GameStop store last week, you were busy getting ready for a stacked Friday. That’s when NBA 2K23 came out alongside Splaton 3 on Switch. Stores were also getting their latest shipments of highly sought-after PS5 bundles. Some stores were worried they wouldn’t have enough stock to cover their existing pre-orders, not to mention people walking down the street to pick up some of the fall season’s biggest releases. Others have had to rely on the lowest paid employees to open and close stores themselves. All the while, requests for online orders were piling up in the back.

If there’s an endgame in sight for GameStop Chairman of the Board Ryan Cohen, employees on the ground Kotaku spoke with can’t see it. The Stock Meme Monkeys encourage Cohen on Reddit see the future of the full-fledged business pivot to crypto. Results on this front are also mixed. On the same day last week that GameStop revealed its latest bad earning streak, it also announced a partnership for sell FTX crypto gift cards in stores. Today, however, GameStops chief blockchain technology officer, Matt Finestone, announced that he was leaving the company after only one year, the last high-ranking employee ride a bike of the struggling retail giant’s current moonshot attempt.

It’s unclear where this all fits into Cohen’s plan, but like everyone at the top of GameStop, he’s making a lot of money in the meantime. Last month, the pet food mogul turned meme investor king managed to offload his entire investment in Bed Bath & Beyond and earning $59 million in the process. The channel’s stock fell 40% the following day. A heap of store closures and layoffs followed.