GameStop's long anticipated rewards program has gone into beta testing with official details now available.
With online retailers and digital distribution cutting into GameStop's slice of the videogame sales pie, the chain may be looking at new methods to retain loyalty. GameStop is now testing a program called PowerUp Rewards which will give gamers more reason to put up with store employees hassling them about reserving games that don't come out for six months.
Unlike GameStop's Edge Card, which comes with a Game Informer subscription and gets customers 10% off used purchases and 10% extra on trade-ins for $14.99, the PowerUp Card is as free as a piece of advice from that crazy homeless guy on the corner. For every dollar spent on new items, members earn 10 points. For used, 20 points. Trading-in old junk that also earns 20 points per dollar.
The Edge Card will still do what it used to do, but also increases points earned by 10% and provides a few other bonuses. PowerUp points can be spent on a ton of stuff including GameStop gift cards, GameStop merchandise, restaurant or movie bonuses, iTunes gift cards, Netflix or Xbox Live subscriptions, PS3/360/Wii points cards, and even in-game exclusive items such as multiplayer character Shockwave in the upcoming Transformers: War for Cybertron.
Further, GameStop will be awarding the program's members with "Epic Reward" contest entries for each purchase. The first of these contests will be for a trip to the San Diego Comic Con, $500 in spending money, special Capcom team member passes, a custom Street Fighter illustration of your choice (Guile, I choose you), and pictures with "all the Dead Rising 2 props." Pictures with props folks! I'm not on GameStop's payroll or anything, but that trip sounds fun, especially when rewarded with it just for buying games.
GameStop brass has admitted that it could be powerless to stop digital sales from destroying the profits of its physical stores, but rewards programs that are absolutely free could help stem the tide. If PowerUp works out, I would expect most other retailers to mimic it somehow and compete to give videogame consumers rewards. How awesome would that be? Whether you hate GameStop or love GameStop, you can't dislike it for giving away free stuff, even if it is for the evil goal of earning profit to remain in business.