The endless parade of rosy quarterly earnings statements from GameStop seems to have everyone clamoring for a slice of the used-game sales pie. Last week, after word got out that Toys R Us is experimenting with game trade-ins and sales at a couple of stores in New York, gaming blogs reported that both Best Buy and Amazon are dipping their toes in the water.
Best Buy has flirted with the idea before. It’s Amazon I’m most interested in because unlike the Toys R Us and Best Buy experiments occurring at unspecified stores, hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, the Amazon experiment is something I can take part in right now, if I’m so inclined.
Amazon’s used-game experiment essentially works like this: You tell them what games you want to trade in. They provide a postage-paid shipping label. You affix that to a package with your games. Upon receipt of your games (which must be in good condition), they credit your account.
Considering that my neighborhood Game Crazy closed and that the nearest GameStop to my house is the Union Square one in San Francisco, which always looks like it’s been ransacked by rhinos and is frequently out of whatever I’m looking for, this sounds great. Were there not a GameStop mere blocks from The Press Democrat, I might be all over this.
One thing, though: Who decides what’s in good condition? Amazon says all items traded in must include all original packaging. That’s helpful. Presumably, they wan’t games people can actually play, not games that people need to get resurfaced or games that don’t work at all. If your game’s not up to standards, Amazon will send it back within 14 days. On the one hand, it’s cool they’ve got a system in place to give you back your game, but then again, at GameStop they just tell you, “No.” Or, in their words, “We’ll give you 75 cents for this.”
It’ll be interesting to see how this trade-ins-by-mail approach works. I like the opportunity to see ahead of time what Amazon thinks my games are worth, something not available on all titles you can trade in at the brick-and-mortar stores.
As for the value, if you’re getting out of the video games business and want to spend that money on, say, a new vacuum, Amazon might be a great place to trade in games. But if you’re looking to trade games by mail so you can buy more games, you might be better off with Goozex. If you’re the impatient sort, GameStop and Game Crazy are still the best bet.