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GameStop stock story won't have a happy ending | This Week in Business

We can't say exactly how or when this saga ends, but we're pretty sure who will be left holding the bag

I've seen GameStop's recent stock surge explained a number of ways this week.

It's like David and Goliath. It's like Occupy Wall Street. It's like MAGA. It's a group of hopelessly online meme lords causing chaos for the fun of it. It's Main Street America taking its revenge on the Wall Street crowd that tanked the economy and walked away without the slightest of consequences. It's a bunch of Joe Averages proving they're actually smarter than the self-proclaimed smartest people in the room.

Whatever element of truth there is in those comparisons, I think it stems from the fact that those are compelling stories. They're a big part of the reason why so many people have been paying such close attention to what's going on with the stock, learning about trading terms, apps, and stock market manipulation laws they would have been bored by before.

And as everyone heard the story of what's happening with GameStop, some percentage of people found it so compelling that they literally bought into it, joining in on the fun, becoming part of some larger cross-cultural story and pushing the stock to ever-more-absurd heights.

But whatever version of the story people tell themselves about this, the end is going to be largely the same. The stock price will return to earth, and a lot of the individual investors who helped inflate this bubble are still going to be there when it bursts.

As much as this rollercoaster ride has been bizarre and even entertaining, it hasn't been enjoyable knowing the people who will be most hurt by it are almost certainly going to include the ones who can least afford it.

QUOTE | "Analysts suggest the recent surge in GameStop's stock price is the result of a massive short squeeze bubble that will pop eventually." - Ars Technica's Kyle Orland, 10 days ago, in one of the early reports about GameStop's soaring stock.

STAT | Under $45 - The price of GameStop shares when Orland wrote that, already about 16 times the $2.80 low it sold for nine months earlier.

STAT | $483 - The peak trading price of GameStop Thursday morning, just before commission-free trading app Robinhood blocked users from purchasing GameStop stock, but continued to let them sell it.

QUOTE | "It clearly has nothing to do with the fundamentals of GameStop itself any more, and much more to do with pop psychology of who's going to be left holding the bag." - CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin, while reporting that Melvin Capital had closed out its short position on GameStop at "a huge loss" that came close to putting the hedge fund out of business.

QUOTE | "Gamestonk!!" - Richest person on earth Elon Musk, helping drive GameStop share prices higher with a tweet where he linked the WallStreetBets subreddit.

QUOTE | "Certain elements in your assessments are false, somewhat blown out of proportion or lacking important pieces." - A representative of Scavengers Studio, providing comment for in advance of our report in which current and former employees accused creative director Simon Darveau of screaming at and groping employees, enabled by the protection of CEO Amélie Lamarche.

QUOTE | "Following the toxic workplace allegations brought forward in the media, Scavengers Studio wishes to apologize for the harm caused." - Lamarche, two days after the publication of that report, posting a public statement to Scavengers' website in which she explained that Darveau is indefinitely suspended and she would be temporarily stepping down while a third-party audit of the studio's culture is conducted.

QUOTE | "Your anti-piracy measures should be designed exactly and only to bring the least harm to you, your business, and your paying players. Anti-piracy measures should not about the pirates." - Butterscotch Shenanigans' Adam Coster talks about the studio's less-contentious approach to piracy.

STAT | 7.27 million - The average number of copies given away of each game in Epic Games Store's weekly free games promotion last year.

QUOTE | "It is frequently held that television programs can be harmful to the child in that they stimulate the child's psychic energy to highly intense emotional levels, which energy the child cannot effectively discharge because of lack of any acceptable effective means of expression and release such as are available to the adult." - A 1958 patent for a television dart gun game makes some arguments that will be very familiar to anyone who has followed the violent video game debate.

STAT | More than $5 billion - Microsoft's record gaming revenues for the holiday quarter that saw the Xbox Series X|S launch.

QUOTE | "While the Company has implemented a Rooney Rule policy as envisioned [for director and CEO nominees], implementing a policy that would extend such an approach to all hiring decisions amounts to an unworkable encroachment on the Company's ability to run its business and compete for talent in a highly competitive, fast-moving market." - Activision Blizzard, asking the SEC to exempt it from a shareholder proposal to require interviewing diverse candidates for every position it wants to fill.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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