Target, Best Buy begin used-game trade-ins

Big-box retailers launch software buyback programs this week, granting in-store credit for previously owned wares.

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Last week, GameStop reported yet another stellar fiscal quarter, announcing that profits during the May-July period rose 4.2 percent from the year prior to $40.3 million. Used-game sales have traditionally driven GameStop's bottom line, and the specialty retailer's CEO, Paul Raines, commented in a postearnings conference call that the company has "seen no competitive impact" from new businesses in the used-game space, such as Amazon, Toys R Us, and Wal-Mart.

Used games are a big business.
Used games are a big business.

Of course, that isn't preventing said competitors from continuing their efforts, nor preventing others from getting in on the game. This week, big-box retailers Best Buy and Target both announced that their video game trade-in programs are now open for business. Target's announcement signals its entrance into the used-game business, while Best Buy had indicated its renewed interest in the used-game market in June.

Target's entrance into the used-game sector is part of a larger consumer electronics service program that also includes a new product-support helpline and mobile-phone business. As for trading in games, the in-store program is now available in select Northern California shops, and Target plans to roll out the program to approximately 850 stores across the country by year's end.

According to Target, gamers will receive in-store credit for their wares, depending on the title and its condition. An online trade-in program is also available through Target's Web site. The trade-in program extends to iPhones, iPods, and cell phones as well.

As previously announced, Best Buy's trade-in program lets gamers buy and sell used games in some 600 stores nationwide beginning August 29. While some Best Buy stores will have dedicated trade-in desks, most locations will handle game buybacks at the customer service desk. Customers will receive their compensation in the form of a gift card good for anything in the store, and any used games purchased will be covered by the store's return policy.

Best Buy already offers a buyback program through its Web site that allows gamers to look up the trade-in "estimates" of all their games and systems. When the in-store program launches, gamers will be able to use the Web site so they know how much to expect from their titles before they head to the store.

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