Friday, April 22, 2011
Video Game Trade-Ins: Amazon vs Best Buy vs GameStop
It all started back at the start of this month, when I decided to back up my save data on my PS3. As I was backing up each file, I noticed that in many cases they hadn't been touched in months. With some games it was easy to see the flurry of activity within a couple weeks of buying the game just by looking at the span of when the first save file was created (usually a settings file) to when the last one was saved.
Now, I've never been much of a trade-in person when it comes to video games. There was a period back in 2004 when I used a stack of Xbox games to get a PSP, then the time a few years later when I used the PSP and its games to get a Nintendo DS Lite. But aside from that (and my straight-up sale of my Nintendo Wii a couple years ago) I pretty much had all my Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2 and PS3 games since I first got those systems.
Now, there was nothing I could do about the original Xbox and PS2 games, since they're pretty much worthless at this point, even via trade-in, but I had way too many Xbox 360 and PS3 games that I just wasn't playing anymore and was never going to play again. So I hit up all three major trade-in services to see what I could get, and I actually found benefits to each one.
First, I started with Amazon's service, which was surprisingly easy to use, and in most cases provided the best value. I ended up trading in nearly two dozen games -- some of which were years old EA Sports games that brought less than a dollar each in value from any of the three services -- and getting back close to $150 in Amazon.com credit. I stuffed all the games in one box, slapped the pre-paid shipping label on it and dropped it off at the UPS Store, and less than a week later I had the credit in my Amazon.com account. The huge benefit to using Amazon over either of the other two is the variety of products on which I can use my credit. At GameStop, I'm pretty much limited to getting more video games, and while there's more I can use a Best Buy credit for, it's still not the same as having money to spend on Amazon.
Now, one of the other reasons I took some stuff to Best Buy instead of just mailing everything to Amazon was that I wanted to trade in my Nintendo DS Lite, which I'd barely used in the last two years. Most online reviews of Amazon's service said if you didn't have the original box (which I don't), Amazon wouldn't accept your system trade in. However, as it turns out, Best Buy won't do system trade-ins in store either, so you have to use their mail-in service for that. I did, and we'll see how that goes. (UPDATE: yeah, that didn't go so well.)
I considered just brining the DS to GameStop, but the Best Buy offer was a good $25 more than the current GameStop trade-in value for a DS Lite. However, GameStop does still have its place for trade-ins in this new competitive world, mostly if you're looking to also BUY a used game. That was the case today, when I decided I wanted to dive into the world of Dragon Age, starting with Dragon Age: Origins. GameStop had the "Ultimate" edition of the game with both the original game and the expansion pack, used for $44.99. So, I grabbed my last stack of "games I finished and didn't have any intention of revisiting anytime in the near future" and trundled off to the store. While the value of the trade-ins themselves was less than I could have gotten from Amazon, it was enhanced by a current "trade-in special", where any trade-in of three or more games got a $10 trade-in bonus. While it's not always easy to compare GameStop's trade-in values to Amazon and Best Buy, since they don't offer an online lookup tool, it's worth checking out what offers they're running, since that can enhance the overall value of your trade. As it was, I traded in four games and ended up only having to pay $6 for the game I was buying today, while not dipping into my Amazon or Best Buy credits at all.
After all that, my "next-gen" video game collection has been drastically reduced. I'm down to eight PS3 games, including the just-picked-up DA:O and a trio of NBA games (2K11, Jam and Ballers, which I bought used for $7 mostly as a joke). As for my 360, I literally only own two games for it now: Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. In fact, once the Mass Effect trilogy is complete (and when I say complete, I mean all DLC too) I'll probably end up ditching the 360 entirely. The only reason I haven't done so yet is I've put way too much time into my Mass Effect save file -- carrying over a level 50 character from the first game into the second, where she became a level 30 character with all crewmembers surviving -- to switch to playing that franchise on the PS3.