Rest in Peace, Gamers Club Unlocked — Best Buy Ends Their Discount Program, Effective Immediately.

When it comes to buying literal “new” games (as in, still in the wrapper – not recent releases) I only shop at Best Buy. Why? Simple! Their Gamers Club Unlocked subscription offers 20% off the purchase of any game still in the shrinkwrap. It didn’t matter if it came out in 2013 or 2018; if it was still in the wrapper, it was 20% off. At $30 USD for a two-year membership, it paid for itself rather quickly.

However, Best Buy sent out a memo to its employees today that confirms they are no longer enrolling new subscribers, effective immediately. The image below comes by way of Wario64 and confirms the death of the once-beloved promotion. As of today, store clerks are no longer allowed to enroll new members and all mention of GCU has disappeared from the retailer’s website.

GCU

If you’re currently a subscriber, though, fear not! You’ll still receive your full membership benefits until your current subscription runs out, but you can no longer extend it. As a result, GCU discounts will no longer appear on the website until a game is added to your cart. Previously, the GCU price would show on the store page ($47.99 instead of $59.99, for example).

Luckily, I just paid to extend mine at the end of last year, so I’m good until the end of November in 2019. That’s still a way off, so hopefully a competitor will offer something similar. GCU is the only reason I still shop at Best Buy and has become a huge selling point when deciding to buy new games on launch day instead of waiting for price drops. When Amazon changed their similarly structured Prime discount to only offer 20% off of pre-orders, I happily stuck with Best Buy. That’ll all be changing at the end of 2019.

What a bummer.

14 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Gamers Club Unlocked — Best Buy Ends Their Discount Program, Effective Immediately.

        1. I don’t really pre-order anything and don’t use Amazon for much else, so Best Buy’s GCU at $30 was far more reasonably priced for what I wanted it to do. Such a bummer it’s gone, but at least I renewed last November and have about a year and a half left. After that, I’ll probably go the Amazon route. Not sure I’m ready to go full-on digital yet.

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            1. They used to offer the same 20% off on new games, but their version of “new” meant any game that released in the last two weeks. Once those two weeks were over, it was no longer eligible for discounts. Now, IIRC, they only offer 20% off if you pre-order games and it no longer works for anything other than the standard versions (so no more saving $40 on a $120 collector’s edition — which you can through Best Buy).

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  1. I’m honestly surprised it lasted as long as it did. Bottom line is NOTHING Best Buy sells has any profit margin. Buy a TV at full price? They break even. Buy a PC at full price? They make, MAYBE, $10. Buy a video game at MSRP? Break even. So basically, they lost a TON of money every time somebody took advantage of the program. This is also why when you go into a Best Buy, or a Staples, or any store that has electronics you’re hounded to buy insurance, and set up services. They’re pretty much the only profitable items in the store. Amazon gets a lot of credit for putting these guys in a precarious position, but even if Amazon wasn’t a giant, the result would be the same. e-tailers have much less overhead. They can afford to take a loss on a game because they’re shipping out so many other things they make hand over fist on.

    In the realm of games, I think it’s also nearing the end for most physical releases for new consoles. Even if you buy a physical game, the first thing it needs to do is look online for updates, and patches. If it can’t communicate with a server to know if there is one or not, you can’t run the software. It almost makes more sense to buy new releases digitally. I don’t, I still get the physical Switch games because I like the tangible aspect of the boxes on my shelves. But for the average person, it’s more convenient to just type in the credit card, and download the game. If consoles allowed for an open market like on PC, there would be far more digital deals too. Store X could put the Halo series on sale, and Microsoft would have to follow suit.

    But now I’ve begun to ramble. Point is, Best Buy couldn’t afford to keep using games as a loss leader. Nobody was buying insurance, and setups with their 20% off savings, and even if they had, it still probably wouldn’t have made much difference. Sucks for those who might have wanted in on it, but it is what it is.

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    1. Yeah, I remember a friend of mine working at Best Buy in high school and I was stoked when he told me I could use his employee discount (which let him buy whatever at warehouse prices). I took a $50 new (at the time) game to the register and was surprised his discount only dropped it to $47. I had no idea they mad such little money off of games, and it wasn’t until I worked at a game store myself that I understood why GameStop (in addition to Funcoland and the local mom & pop shop I worked at) focused so strongly on pre-owned stuff. Buy at $47 and sell at $50, or buy it from a customer at $20 and sell it at $42? It’s a no-brainer.

      I think he said they make most of their money off of appliances and stuff, which have a pretty significant markup. And I don’t know anybody who buys games *and* the protection plan stuff, so yeah, it was only a matter of time before this faded away. I just kept hoping they’d make enough back selling appliances or through stuff like Geek Squad repairs/home installations to keep the promotion going — after all, their gaming section is routinely in the back of the store, so if I go in-store to buy something I have to walk through the appliances, laptops, etc., and the average consumer would probably consider Best Buy if they need one of those items in the future. Granted, the average consumer probably doesn’t buy games physically or even subscribe to GCU for the discount.

      TL;DR – Not surprised, just bummed.

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