In what is the coolest jobs I've ever had, I write about toys for a living. All day, nothing but toys. It's amazing. When I'm not writing at work I'm writing at home, either working on my screenplay or my children's novel. When I'm not doing any of that I try to get in some video game time. I'm currently rocking Nintendo only consoles because dammit, I love Nintendo. More than Nintendo, I love platform games. Even though my favorite game isn't a platformer (The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker), it is my favorite genre of games.
Follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/thekillerbees and add me to your 3DS Friends List (1633-4277-3240 and let me know so I can add you to mine.) I'd love to meet some people who want play some Kid Icarus, Resident Evil: Revelations and Mario Kart 7.
It probably all started with Funco Land, the destruction of the video game industry. Thatís the first place I ever remember trading in a game. I canít remember what game it was, but I do remember what I bought with the money: a used copy of Aero the Acrobat. God that game was terrible. Anyway, clearly my actions of trading in a game and buying a used one was the first domino to fall in the inevitable closure of Sunsoft America. I am a monster.
That was almost 20 years ago (holy shit Iím old!!!). Since then, the video game trade-in industry has expanded. Gamestop is the undisputed king of the practice, but its success has attracted competition. RIght now, gamers have a wide variety of avenues to trade-in their games. With my recent drive to shrink my collection of games to ones I actually want/play, Iíve gone out of my way to try each and every service to see which one is better. For years Gamestop got all my business. Now, thanks to the free market, I have options. ToysíRíUs, Best Buy, Target and Amazon.com all have trade-in programs; seeing as most Gamestops are located near at least one of those businesses I donít have to go far to shop around. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but there is one clear winner.
Gamestop has been doing this a while so there is no doubt that they have their shit together. Gamestop is the only retailer where every employee is able to complete a trade-in. Depending on how busy a store is, Gamestop customers can usually get in and out pretty quickly.
Best Buy would be a close second. Only the videogame employees can do the trade ins and they are usually available. If more employees could do a trade in, Best Buy would be an easy choice for the winner in this category (due to the high ratio contrast between Gamestop and Best Buy employees). ToysíRíUs is in the same boat, but its not the videogame employees who do the trade-ins, instead relying on the return center. The process is notably slower at ToysíRíUs compared to Best Buy.
Targetís trade-in system is actually faster than ToysíRíUs, but from my experience the only employees who can do the trade-ins are the cell phone sales people. There isnít always one around, theyíre not scheduled from open to close and everyone else in the videogames department is not only useless, but quite stupid to the entire process.
There is nothing convenient about Amazon.comís process of trading in games. Printing up the form, packing it, going to UPS Store to mail it off and then waiting for the game to process. After arrived at its destination in Kentucky, it took more than two days for the process to finish. Including shipping time, thatís more than a week of waiting for my trade-in to go through. Clearly, itís not a process for anyone in a hurry.
Winners: Best Buy, Target, Amazon.com
These three are the clear winners in this category. Each one will actually tell you how much you will get for your game online. ToysíRíUs used to do this, but it has since ended its partnership with the company that provided its service. This is a breath of fresh air and a far cry from...
Gamestopís ridiculous secrecy regarding its trade-in values. Yes some games are listing on Gamestop.com, but not all of them. Thatís where the other retailers excel.
Winners: Everyone but ToysíRíUs
When it comes to frequency, I donít think any of the other retailers hold as many trade-in deals as Gamestop. It has one nearly every two weeks and theyíre usually worthwhile. However sometimes it requires you to buy a used game with your trade-in instead of a new one. Those deals are unacceptable to me; but I donít wait that long to get another good deal out of Gamestop. Best Buyís deals are few and far inbetween, but they tend to go on a while. Currently, Best Buy is doubling your trade-in value, which it has been doing for the past three weeks. Thatís a long time for this deal to be going on and during this time its had other deals that work well with the trade-in promotion (like last weeks Buy One, Get One 50% off 3DS Game sale). Earlier this year Target had a great deal where every game you traded in, no matter how old or how worthless, nabbed you $20 each...so long as you used the money to buy a game $29.99 or more. I saw a guy trade in old PS2 Madden games and essentially striking it rich. Amazon.com hasnít had the deals the other retailers have had, but Iíve found its given the most money without a trade-in promotion.
Like Amazon.com, I havenít noticed ToysíRíUs putting together any special trade-in promotions. Unlike Amazon.com, ToysíRíUs isnít exactly generous with trade-in values. Roughly about the same as Gamestop, and thanks to a lack of online openness, you don't know how much you're getting until you get there. Also, its games rarely go on sale (with exception to the $20 or less titles) and are rarely marked down compared to other retailers.
So who is the overall winner of the trade-in wars....
Depending on the game, Craigslist is the way to go. Depending on your area, the money can come quite quickly. The best part is you set the price. I recently posted an ad for my Skylanders 3DS set for $30. After a week, I finally got a response from an interested buyer. Unfortunately, I didnít want to wait and ironically sent it off to Amazon.com (who was the only retailer to trade-in the game) before the response came. But think about it...you set your own price. You can check out what the other retailers are selling the used version of your game for and undercut them, while still making more than you would with a trade-in. Plus, itís cash not credit.
Is there a loser?
Yeah, I would pick Target as the loser in the equation. Not because of how it takes the trade-ins, but what it does with them. I actually donít know what it does with the trade-ins, but its certainly not selling them to customers. When trading into Target, I asked the employee what they do with the trade-ins. He said Target doesnít sell used games and they just ďget rid of them.Ē I have the same love affair with games that I do with books in that I never feel there is a justifiable reason to destroy one, which is what I fear Target is doing with those games. I hope not, but until Iím proven wrong I think Iíll avoid trading in any games there.
So what have I learned from all my years of trading in? Patience is a virtue. Wait for a promotion, wait for a buyer or wait for Amazon.com to process your trade-in.