On Thursday, Amazon announced a new program for customers to trade in used video game titles in return for credit at Amazon.com. The program is launching with around 1,500 titles, all of which can be filtered and searched by platform. Once users have picked out the games they own and would like to exchange for credit, Amazon provides a pre-paid label that covers the cost of shipping. Then, after Amazon confirms that the right games were sent (and not scratched to oblivion), it credits the user's account.
As part of its introduction, Amazon is offering those who trade in their games for credit a 10 percent markdown on games or video game accessories in the next two weeks.
What's a really big game-changer here (no pun intended) is that Amazon is, for the most part, offering higher trade-in prices than companies that have been in this business for more than a decade. And, instead of using that cash as in-store credit to buy more games, Amazon's credit can be used on anything else it sells.
Here are some examples of Amazon's pricing on popular titles from various game consoles compared to two of the largest video game retailers (highest trade-in price is highlighted in bold):
These are just a few of the titles I could find prices for across all three companies, but you can see the trend. One thing worth noting is that Game Crazy has a $9.99-a-year "MVP" program that boosts up its prices ever so slightly, and in some cases a little closer to Amazon's offering. However, for comparison's sake, the prices above were taken from non-MVP trade-in rates. Also, Toys R' Us, which has begun a limited rollout of its own games trade-in service, was not included since it's not yet a national program.
Between this and the casual games download service Amazon launched in early February, it's clear the company is trying to get its foot a little deeper into an industry that appears to be recession-proof. Last year, GameStop pulled in close to $2 billion in sales during Q2, which is due in large part to its trade-in business. With people looking to liquidate assets to pay off debt, or come up with spare cash, it could one of this year's big growth industries.
One thing still missing, however, is a storefront for selling used games back to buyers. Presumably Amazon will either be re-selling these to other used retailers, or building in its own stock of used games into its used items sale option.
Update: Corrected mix-up in sales and profits in regard to numbers from GameStop's Q2 earnings last year