GameStop Meme Stock Forum Founder Sues Reddit

In early 2021, the subreddit WallStreetBets became famous for jumpstarting the meme stock craze that saw companies like GameStop balloon in value despite shrinking revenues. Now its founder, Jaime Rogozinski, is suing Reddit for kicking him out of the community just prior to its explosion in popularity over allegations he was using the online forum to try and enrich himself. It’s a fitting twist for one of the most absurd internet sagas in recent history.

“By early 2020, WallStreetBets had grown to more than 1 million subscribers, earning recognition from the financial press. This is what winning looks like,” states Rogozinski’s trademark infringement lawsuit, filed on February 15 in the Northern District Court of California, states. It goes on to allege that Reddit banned him from the platform for trying to “monetize the community” only after he filed trademark protection for the WallStreetBets brand.

WallStreetBets, whose slogan is “Like 4chan found a Bloomberg terminal,” has grown to over 10 million users since some of its users, like Keith “deepfuckingvalue” Gill, made millions off of hyping up the case for investing in dying companies like GameStop. The video game retailer’s stock went from a few bucks to over $100, some big hedge funds lost tons of money, and the subreddit leading the charge grew to be ranked 25 among all of Reddits forums.

A screenshot shows a WallStreetBets Reddit post about buying a Time Square billboard for GameStop meme stock.

Rogozinski was excommunicated from WallStreetBets the year before all that happened, and despite apparent movie deals is now trying to re-enter the picture through the courts. A spokesperson for Reddit called Rogozinski’s lawsuit “frivolous” in a statement to Reuters. “Jamie was removed as a moderator of r/WallStreetBets by Reddit and banned by the community moderators for attempting to enrich himself,” they said. “This lawsuit is another transparent attempt to enrich himself.”

Rogozinski sees things differently. Here’s an excerpt from Rogozinski’s lawsuit, hackneyed ‘80s film references and all:

On Reddit, just about everyone, to include aspiring pornographers and scam artists, can find a place, everyone that is except Mr. Rogozinski. Mr. Rogzinski’s true offense was trying to control the brand he created in the first place, a famous brand that helped Reddit ride to a $10 billion valuation. Reddit filed several applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register WALLSTREETBETS as its mark, and aggressively opposed Mr. Rogozinski’s application.

“If you build it, they will come,” entrepreneurs tell themselves, drawing inspiration from the protagonist-farmer’s walk through an Iowa cornfield in the 1989 film Field of Dreams. Reddit’s dreams, however, turned out to be Mr. Rogozinski’s nightmare as the company insists, “if you build it, we will take it from you.” While other social media platforms endeavor to compensate their content creators, Reddit works to capture, take credit for, and monetize other people’s creations. Reddit says it is all-in on social justice while at the same time engaging in systematic, calculated exploitation by asserting trademark rights over brands innovators built on the platform, and then using those trademarks to secure financing. Mr. Rogozinski is just the latest victim of Reddit’s unfair and deceptive practices.

Mr. Rogozinski never asked to be treated like this.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal today, Rogozinski said he created WallStreetBets to have a place to talk about investing more like gambling, and that it grew in popularity thanks to stock brokerages marketing zero-commission trading to regular people. He claims the only monetizing he ever did was occasionally plug his book titled WallStreetBets and promote a live trading competition sponsored by True Trading Group.

Whether technically a violation of Reddit’s rules against “agreements with third parties on behalf of a subreddit” or not, it was a clear mismatch for the increasingly internet-pilled vibe of the subreddit, and it’s not looking for him to come back anytime soon. A moderator told The Wall Street Journal, “WallStreetBets has become incredibly vibrant and more intelligent since [Rogozinski] left.”

               

GameStop Offers $5,000 Reward To Stop PS5 Crime Spree

The good thing about the PlayStation 5 shortage being over now is that people who want the consoles can finally buy them. The bad news is that it’s also apparently led to an uptick in GameStop robberies as thieves target the pricey and easy-to-flip consoles. GameStop’s answer? A $5,000 reward for catching thieves, even as company cutbacks leave many employees to fend for themselves.

Kotaku recently reported on a Northeastern Pennsylvania store where thieves made off with 10 PS5s at $500 each, but it’s far from the only recent incident. Polygon points out that nearly 30 GameStops were robbed in the last months according to local news reports. While that’s only one percent of all of the stores in the U.S., it’s a potentially troubling trend for employees increasingly tasked with being the sole person on shift due to cutbacks in hours, layoffs, and issues with attrition.

Many of the recent GameStop robberies were part of a spree of PS5 thefts in Los Angeles County’s San Fernando Valley where police told the local Fox affiliate they believed the same group, allegedly responsible for over 12 store robberies, was involved. Head of GameStop loss prevention, Alan Fagergren, told the TV news station many of the incidents involved the suspects posing as customers before claiming to be armed and going into the storage room where the PS5s are kept.

Read More: ‘GameStop Daycare’ Is A Thing And Employees Are Tired Of Babysitting Other People’s Kids

While Fagergren is offering $5,000 on behalf of the company for any tips that lead to arrests in the investigation (it doesn’t sound like anyone’s been caught yet), that’s a paltry amount when compared against the cutback in resources many stores are facing at the moment. Many current and former employees Kotaku has spoken with said that while having additional staff on shift would not prevent an armed robbery, it could discourage attempts in the first place, as well as provide more peace of mind among the other employees.

As consolidation and cutbacks in scheduling hours have left employees stretched, many complain about not having time to eat lunch or use the bathroom, let alone hit their sales goals on a given day. One new metric even requires loading PS5 buyers up with at least two to three extra games and controllers before they leave the store. Digital game sales might be taking over the market, but people still need to get the hardware to play it on, something GameStop has wanted to capitalize on since the new consoles launched.

“It’s worth some money,” Fagergren told Fox 11 Los Angeles when describing why thieves are after PS5s. “Like I said, they’re not cheap. Anyone who plays it loves it. We’re a target at the moment, yeah.”

Resident Evil 4 CE Pre-Orders Axed IRL, GameStop Workers Freak

Resident Evil 4 Remake is just a couple weeks away, and while many players will buy the game digitally, the most hardcore fans have probably reserved their $250 collector’s editions that come complete with a statue of Leon holding a shotgun and looking tired as hell. The collector’s editions were GameStop exclusives, however, and on Tuesday the company announced all in-store pre-orders had been canceled. Now employees are as exhausted as Leon at the prospect of having to call their most loyal customers and deliver the bad news.

“If you pre-ordered Resident Evil 4 Collector’s Edition IN-STORE at GameStop – they just issued a memo stating the CE won’t arrive in stores and will not be fulfilled/arriving,” pre-order king Wario64 posted on Twitter last night. “Does not mention anything about online orders, so I assume online orders are not affected.”

The news was confirmed over on the GameStop subreddit where employees proceeded to melt down over the latest low-key fiasco at the meme stock company. It’s not clear why GameStop canceled the in-store pre-orders–whether because of insufficient stock or software issues on the backend–but it won’t matter to fans who thought they already had the hard-to-find collectors editions on lock.

“One of the preorders is for my regulars who are huge resident evil fans and they got fucked over by preorders from the SAP conversion pretty bad,” wrote one apparent employee on the subreddit. “They were hesitant to preorder anything for a while because of it. Now this? Ugh.”

GameStop, which has been battling declining revenues and stretching employees thinner and thinner even as its stock price has soared to historic heights, suffered a major inventory system glitch last fall. As Kotaku reported at the time, a system-wide software conversion completely borked most stores’ pre-order records, leading to tons of cancellations and shipping issues throughout the season.

Major blockbusters were affected like NBA 2K23, but it was even worse for hard copies of niche releases like The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero. Even as most players have switched to buying games digitally, diehard fans and collectors still covet physical copies, especially for more obscure games, beloved indie releases, or limited collector’s editions. It’s a possible sweet spot that GameStop, as the only brick and mortar gaming chain still standing, could cater to. Instead, pre-orders are more unpredictable than ever, and the consequences fall on underpaid and understaffed stores.

“We take hours cuts and now they expect us to make phone calls to people who were super excited about this game–who are 100% going to turn around and be angry or extremely upset over this,” wrote one person on the GameStop subreddit. Wrote another, “it’s like ‘holy crap, are they actively trying to kill the stores?’ Like they push trying to sell preorders and at the same time “oh yeah, if you preorder in store those are the first to get canceled if there’s supply issues.”

Update 3/8/23 8:15 p.m. ET: Some customers pre-ordering the collector’s edition online are now also having their orders canceled. Here’s an email we received earlier this evening:

Image for article titled GameStop Employees Freak Out As All Resident Evil 4 CE Store Pre-Orders Get Canceled [Update]

Update 3/9/23 2:25 p.m. ET: GameStop confirms in an internal email reviewed by Kotaku that a “significant number” of Collector’s Editions pre-orders have been canceled. “We apologize for the impact this has on our Customers and Associates,” it reads.

The email goes on to blames the pre-order debacle on the inventory software conversion from last fall, stating, “This situation was one of the last major issues presented by the SAP implementation last year.”

The email also states that GameStop will be offering customers who lost their pre-orders a $10 discount on standard copies of Resident Evil 4 Remake, though the company hasn’t yet officially confirmed this policy.

Store employees have been dealing with the brunt of customers’ anger and frustration, and at least two reportedly used it as an excuse to quit on the spot and walk out of a store somewhere in Kansas.

                 

GameStop Meme Stock Hollywood Adaptation Dumb Money Out Soon

Two traders on the stock exchange floor wear Mario and Luigi hats.

Photo: Spencer Platt / Kotaku (Getty Images)

GameStop’s Hollywood moment is finally coming this October. Sony announced its dramatization of the video game retailer’s meme stock explosion will hit theaters in October, starring Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Pete Davidson and more. It’s called Dumb Money. I hope it lives up to it.

It’s adapted from author Ben Mezrich’s book The Antisocial Network, which details how the commission-less trading platform Robinhood paved the way for the gamification of day trading and, ultimately, a GameStop meme stock bubble that entertained Reddit and short-squeezed hedge funds for billions. Nick Offerman (The Last of Us), Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil), and Shailene Woodley (Divergent) are also on the cast list, while Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Cruella) is directing.

Mezrich sold the rights to his book before it had even been written, and Dumb Money follows previous Hollywood adaptations of his work, most notably Bringing Down the House which became 21, and The Accidental Billionaires, which became The Social Network. Those two films are of dramatically different quality, and who knows which bucket Dumb Money will fall into. Maybe it’ll be The Big Short for Reddit, or maybe it’ll be more like HBO’s stilted Too Big to Fail.

There have been a lot of documentaries already about the GameStop frenzy, and while some have offered intriguing and intimate windows into the lives of ordinary people coming into giant windfalls thanks to the meme stock lottery, many have also oversold the David and Goliath narrative around Redditors steeped in 4chan-speak fleecing the suits on Wall Street in an attempt to democratize the stock market.

It was certainly an accurate representation of a lot of the rhetoric being thrown around at the time, but it’s clear in hindsight that lots of large institutional investors made out in the meme stock bonanza as well. That said, there’s no shortage of batshit moments peppered throughout the whole saga. Even now, GameStop’s biggest superstonkers remain in the throes of some wild conspiracy theories.

                        

GameStop Profitable For First Time In Years Despite Mess

GameStop shocked investors, and anyone else who’s been paying attention to the meme stock video game retailer, when earlier this week it reported its first profitable quarter in over two years. It’s all the more surprising considering that everything else about the business, from botched pre-orders to employees just walking out of stores and never coming back, paints a completely different picture.

“GameStop is a much healthier business today than it was at the start of 2021,” CEO Brad Furlong said on a quarterly earnings call on Tuesday. The company announced $48.2 million in profits for the fourth quarter, a dramatic shift from $147.5 million in losses the year prior. Its meme stock jumped a whopping 50 percent overnight as a result.

Furlong pointed to increased collectibles sales (read: Star Wars Funkos, Dragon Ball Z statues, and Transformers helmets) and promoted the company’s recent overhaul of shipping tools and the website. But the real key seemed to be mounting “cost cutting initiatives and headcount reductions” throughout 2022. GameStop has been squeezing store employees more than ever, leading some to quit in protest. Furlong promised to “aggressively cut costs” even more in the year to come.

How did GameStop start making money again?

Despite all this, holiday sales were actually down year-over-year. GameStop sold over $230 million worth of its inventory compared to 2022, possibly linked to employees being asked to sell all kinds of random junk they’d never seen before in recent months. What likely made up the difference was a dramatic fall in operating expenses, which fell $85 million from a year ago, no doubt driven by layoffs, closures, and consolidation.

“Cost cuts of this magnitude are unlikely sustainable longer-term,” wrote Yahoo! Finance editor Brian Sozzi. “At some point GameStop will have to figure out a way to grow sales if it wants to drive consistent profits.”

Read More: ‘GameStop Daycare’ Is A Thing And Employees Are Tired Of Babysitting Other People’s Kids

Furlong, who made $16.8 million in 2021, started Tuesday’s earnings call by thanking employees for their hard work and dedication, but they are precisely the ones scratching their heads at how the company can continue burning through staff morale and customer goodwill for short-term savings.

Bad pay and pre-order woes

Many store managers are now in charge of two stores, rather than the previously standard one, without seeing any significant pay raise. Lower-level employees are working single-coverage shifts, struggling to find time to use the bathroom or eat meals, let alone deal with fears of being robbed or harassed by weird customers. And bungled pre-orders for hard-to-find games or limited edition collectibles have led to all sorts of headaches after a glitchy software overhaul last fall.

Most recently, some employees joked about putting in their two weeks notice rather than call dozens of loyal customers to explain why their Resident Evil 4 Remake Collector’s Editions were suddenly canceled just weeks before release with no explanation. At the same time, new sales metrics for 2023 are more aggressive than ever, including tracking how many customers enter a store and leave without buying anything.

Early on in GameStop’s meme stock mania, there was the belief that it could pivot to a primarily-online sales model. After all, new board chairman Ryan Cohen did precisely that for pet food with Chewy and made billions in the process. But the lifeblood of GameStop has always been in-person cash trade-ins, making those Amazon-ificaton efforts more complicated than they might have first seemed. A crypto pivot appears to have fizzled out as well, with a marketplace for NFTs never taking off and a wallet launch hampered by the historic implosion of business partner FTX.

One sure fire way to make an extra buck though? Slash payrolls and make employees do more with less.

     

GameStop Blames Its Lower Sales On Lack Of Games

GameStop may have made a profit in 2022, but sales are still below expectations, particularly in North America. In the company’s full year financial report for 2022, meant for investors but funny to read regardless of who you are, it outlined what it believes to be a significant hurdle: there aren’t as many good games right now and there’s a growing trend toward platform exclusivity.

Read More: GameStop Profitable For First Time In Years Even As Everything Seems On Fire

With unprecedented stock activity from retail investors, growing employee frustrations , and regular store closures, GameStop reaching profitability is a technical victory, but one that exists alongside poorer sales across the board. In its full year financial report, GameStop said that sales were down by 1.4% in 2022, compared to 2021. The same report discusses the cyclical nature of the industry as the context, but laments that this time around, games are taking longer to come out. Platform exclusivity, meanwhile, may pose a future threat, GameStop muses.

GameStop points fingers at publishers

“We depend on manufacturers and publishers to deliver video game hardware, software and consumer electronics in quantities sufficient to meet customer demand” GameStop said in regards to its concern over slower release schedules. The report continues: “The number of new software titles available for sale has decreased in recent years. Any material delay in the introduction or delivery, or limited allocations of hardware platforms for software titles could result in reduced sales.” You would think the slower pace would allow GameStop to not have as many pre-ordering messes as they have of late, where buyers often can’t find what they want or are surprised with sudden cancellations, but no.

The report adds that recent acquisitions in the console space could also play a role on sales. “Some publishers that have historically published games compatible with multiple gaming platforms” the report said, “have recently been acquired by console manufacturers. This consolidation could lead to a further reduction in the number of new software titles available for sale in the future. Presumably, GameStop is talking about things like Starfield being tied to Microsoft platforms when in the past Bethesda would have released a big budget game like that on everything.

GameStop might have reached profitability, but still sank in overall sales

GameStop’s issue with slower release schedules and publisher acquisition is called out directly in its assessment of global sales, which have generally decreased across the board. The report highlights “fewer significant title launches in fiscal 2022” as a driving factor in lower sales, as well as other economic factors such as the value of the American dollar.

The decrease in consolidated net sales in fiscal 2022 compared to fiscal 2021 was primarily attributable to the translation impact of a stronger U.S. dollar, a decline in sales from new software releases as a result of fewer significant title launches in fiscal 2022, and a decline in sales of video game accessories, partially offset by an increase in sales of new gaming hardware and an increase in sales of toys and collectibles.

Regular store closures and repeat issues with employee morale make it a wonder that GameStop is able to hang in there these days, not to mention the prevalence of digital games purchased through online store fronts. Its move to selling more toys and collectibles in recent years (if not outright junk) has been one of the more beneficial boosts to its bottom line, but with Microsoft’s hope to purchase Activision looking more optimistic, the publisher consolidation issue isn’t going away anytime soon.

GameStop Employee Fired After Zelda Edition Switch Leaked

In March, an employee at a Massachusetts GameStop leaked on Reddit that Nintendo was probably about to reveal its long rumored special edition Zelda Switch at an upcoming mini-Direct for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Special editions such as these are highly coveted collector’s items, and news of one for the sequel to a best-selling game would be huge for fans looking to buy a new system. This week, GameStop fired the employee who leaked the news, and the employee claims he was told Nintendo helped make it happen.

Back in March, Mike, who requested Kotaku only use his first name, posted a photo of a GameStop computer screen showing the inventory database had been updated with a secret new Switch model on the Tears of the Kingdom subreddit. It was the day before Nintendo’s big extended gameplay reveal for Tears of the Kingdom, and the employee speculated in the post that a special edition Zelda Switch which had already leaked back in December, would be announced during the stream. Mike says he got fired on April 11, about two weeks later.

An image of a GameStop inventory screen hinting at the special edition Switch appeared on Reddit.

In a phone interview with Kotaku, Mike said he made the leak because he was a big fan of the franchise and wanted to give others a heads up in case pre-orders went live that day. GameStop in particular has seen issues for buyers when it comes to preorders in the past, though this wasn’t a reason cited by Mike for the leak. On March 28, Nintendo did reveal a special edition Switch, and the following day pre-orders went live at GameStop and other retailers.

At the time, the Reddit post didn’t garner a ton of upvotes, and the now former employee said he didn’t think of it as a big deal since he didn’t technically leak any images or special details about the console itself, and the post itself was mostly speculative. Nintendo also tends to release special consoles such as this one for most of its major releases, such as Pokémon.

Collector’s Editions Are A Big Deal At GameStop

But on April 5, a week later, Mike said the company traced the leak back to them. Coming in for his afternoon shift after watching the new Super Mario Bros. Movie on release day, he said his district manager called him into the backroom for a meeting. Joined by another GameStop supervisor via video conference, the employee said he was asked if he made the post and whether he knew it violated company policy.

Mike said he immediately confessed, but maintained he wasn’t aware it went against the company’s social media policies. The district manager took their keys and placed them on suspension, saying the final punishment could vary between a first-offense write up and termination. It ended up being the latter. And the now former employee thinks Nintendo is to blame.

When their store manager called on April 11 to deliver the bad news, he said the supervisor told them “off the record” that Nintendo had forced the company’s hand, demanding the employee be terminated over the leak. Mike shared the allegation on the Tears of the Kingdom subreddit shortly afterwards writing, “Hopefully all of you were able to get your switch pre-orders in as now I will not be able to get mine.”

GameStop and Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Zelda special edition Switch sits in front of a green background.

Image: Nintendo

Another employee at the store corroborated Mike’s account to Kotaku, and said they were told by the same store manager in a separate conversation that Nintendo was the catalyst. “He was an amazing worker,” they said of Mike, adding that he was one of the top performers in the area when it came to achieving GameStop’s aggressive sales goals.

Whoever ultimately made the decision to fire them, the leaker would have been easy to discover. Their social media accounts, including Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch, were linked in various ways to their Reddit account, and included several references to their general geographic location, as well as selfies. “I wasn’t really trying to cover my tracks because I didn’t know it would lead to this,” Mike told Kotaku.

As a large-scale retailer staffed mostly by entry-level workers paid terrible hourly rates, GameStop has historically been a hotbed for big gaming leaks, from Assassin’s Creed to Call of Duty. But it’s rare to hear that someone was actually fired in connection with one of the leaks. It’s perhaps less surprising that this one happens to have been in connection with a big Nintendo reveal, however. The Mario maker has been on the warpath against leaks for years, most recently attempting to subpoena Discord for the private data of someone who shared images from the Tears of the Kingdom collector’s edition artbook.

When asked if the former GameStop employee ultimately managed to secure a Zelda Switch pre-order, Mike confirmed he had. “But sadly I won’t be able to afford it anymore due to lack of a job,” he said. Mike added that when his manager had to deliver the bad news over the phone they pointed out what a shame it was: “This is your favorite company and now they hate you.”

               

GameStop Is Already Selling Tears Of The Kingdom For $20, Sorta

Link faces an enemy in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

Image: Nintendo

GameStop will happily sell Nintendo’s $70 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel, Tears of the Kingdom, to you for only $20, as long as you complete the sacrifice: trade-in two of your favorite games.

The offer is available today, May 12, ToTK’s release date, through May 20, and the trade-in for $50 of store credit must be made while purchasing ToTK.

According to the offer’s fine print on the GameStop website, though, “trades [are] subject to manager approval,” and so games in poor condition could net you less than the full $50 off, and others could net you more. In the latter case, you will still not be able to put more than $50 toward your ToTK purchase; you’ll have to hold onto the in-store credit until some other GameStop offer catches your eye.

There are over 100 titles eligible for trade-in, many of them games released within the last year, and so you bought them for well over $25 each. Some of them include:

  • Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp (for Switch)
  • Bayonetta Origins Cereza and the Lost Demon (Switch)
  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare II (for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X)
  • Dead Space (PS5, Xbox Series X)
  • Elden Ring (PS4)
  • Evil West (PS5, Xbox Series X)
  • Fire Emblem Engage (Switch)
  • God of War Ragnarök (PS5)
  • Gotham Knights (PS5)
  • Minecraft Legends Deluxe (PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox Series X)
  • Resident Evil 4 (PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X)

But there are also a few older eligible titles, like Yoshi’s Crafted World (for Switch) and Metroid Samus Returns (for 3DS) which both came out, um, also within the last six years.

You might get a better deal selling your blood platelets, or you can look out for other discounts. NintendoLife is offering U.S. players a 5 percent discount on $70 Nintendo eShop cards, and IGN has a $10-off promo code for what it assures you is “a legitimate site.” Hm, thanks for the offers, but I’ll pass. I really need to get some of these platelets off my hands.

 

Entire GameStop Store Quits On Tears Of The Kingdom Release Day

Nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear of entire GameStop stores quitting en masse as working conditions at the video game retailer continue to deteriorate. It’s rarer to hear of employees resigning the day the biggest game of the year launches. But that’s apparently what happened at a store in Michigan the day The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom came out.

“Unfortunately due to poor working conditions, the staff of the Brighton GameStop have decided to resign, effective immediately,” a note reportedly posted outside the store read. “Management overworks, under pays, and under-appreciates its frontline workers, sets unrealistic expectations and constantly threatens termination for any employee that cannot exceed them.”

A photo of the note was posted on Facebook by a customer named Chris Cannaert and subsequently reported on by local media after a tweet by gaming deals account Nintendeal went viral. Cannaert told Kotaku he was visiting the store on May 12, the day Tears of the Kingdom launched, to hunt for some collectibles. “I got there right before they opened and saw the sign,” he said. “While I was there, five people l stopped by to pick up the pre-order of Zelda.”

GameStop did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tears of the Kingdom’s launch was a huge day for the ailing retailer turned meme stock phenomenon. There were lines around the block at some places, and several current employees told Kotaku they were inundated with in-store purchases and online orders. “I will say this is the biggest launch for a game that I’ve seen in years; not even recent Pokémon games have been this huge for us,” one current employee said. Some stores had hundreds of copies and still had to turn customers away who didn’t pre-order the game.

Many stores held midnight launches, and Cannaert said he heard from other customers that the Brighton location was one of them, with diehard fans able to get their copies of the game the night before release. It’s not clear if the staff was planning to quit the next day ahead of time, or the midnight launch was something that put them over the edge. A new employee at the Brighton location declined to comment about the situation, but told Kotaku that the store eventually re-opened on Tears of the Kingdom launch day within three hours of the resignations.

Despite its meme stock continuing to defy all logic and its first profitable quarter in years, GameStop employees have continued to report high turnover, lack of meaningful pay raises, and more intense pressure than ever to hit unrealistic sales metrics. As a result, even some longtime staff have gotten too fed up to continue working there, and occasionally entire stores have been forced to temporarily shut down amid the staffing shortages.

“To all of our loyal guests, we are terribly sorry for this inconvenience,” the Brighton store’s note read. “We appreciate every one of you and your continued business, but I literally cannot pay my rent.”

GameStop Fires CEO As Meme Stock Plummets

An astronaut reaches out from inside the house-on-fire, everything's fine meme.

Image: K.C. Green / GameStop / Kotaku

GameStop has terminated CEO Matt Furlong and announced that meme stock investor and SuperStonk cult-hero, Ryan Cohen, will take over as Executive Chairman. The famous brick-and-mortar gaming retailer’s stock price proceeded to drop over 15 percent in after-hours trading.

The news comes as the company reported a disappointing first quarter for its 2023 fiscal year. Despite being profitable for the first time in years back in March, GameStop is back in the red with a net loss of $50.5 million for the period and canceled its planned call with analysts to discuss the results. That’s just a third of what the losses were this time last year, but still pours cold water on hopes that the company would quickly and radically transform itself into something other than a business that sells physical games in a marketplace where players are increasingly pivoting to digital downloads.

Furlong was the fifth CEO in as many years, and hailed from Amazon. His arrival signaled to some that GameStop would try to move the company toward more of an online delivery model, but that never really panned out. Two senior sources who served under the now-former CEO told Kotaku that while he was the ostensible boss, marching orders often seemed to come directly from Cohen, sometimes causing confusion and conflicts within the company. Cohen joked about Furlong’s termination on Twitter.

Read More: GameStop’s Meme Stock Is Back With A Vengeance

The Chewy founder who sold his home delivery pet food business for billions is a hero among meme stock investors on subreddits like WallStreetBets and SuperStonk. The most die-hard fans treat him more like a prophet than a rich guy who sold his one good idea, hanging onto his every social media post and business move hoping to discover clues to the master plan that will make their GameStop stock even more ridiculously overpriced.

At the same time, GameStop workers in the stores themselves continue to suffer. Cost cutting measures and ramped-up sales goals have increased pressure on store managers and hourly employees, leading to high turnover and entire teams at some locations randomly deciding to quit on the spot. Meanwhile, players themselves, never exactly huge fans of GameStop’s aggressive sales tactics and terrible trade-in deals, have had to put up with botched pre-orders and disappearing collector’s editions.

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