The State of the Traded Games Market

posted by on 30th October 2011, at 4:30pm

Recently, I got a brand new computer and had to go through the wonderful process of installing all my games and software again (I like fresh installs better than copy-paste). In the course of doing this, I was going through my game storage box and realized I had multiple copies of some games that had been in my possession for quite some time. “Great” I thought. “What the heck am I going to do with these?” I asked a few online gaming friends of mine about what they knew when it came to trading in games. Some had no idea or had never done it while others offered only guesses as to what places allow trade-ins and a description of what they do whenever they want to get rid of a game. Of course, this didn’t get me anywhere, forcing me to go research a little more and see just what is available when it comes to trading in or getting rid of your old games. With that cool background, I present to you my findings and advice about the trade-in market for video games.


So as I said, I have multiple copies of a few different games. I have kept them all in at least good condition if not better. Only a few of the games are brand new or like new, but most of them are good to very good which is satisfactory to most used game buyers. The games I’m looking at trading in are all PC games which will greatly determine the size of the market, but more on that later. The games I’m looking to get rid of are Age of Empires: Collector’s Edition, Call of Duty 2: Game of the Year, Command and Conquer: The Decade, Counter Strike Source, Halo: Combat Evolved x2, and Rome: Total War: Gold Edition. These are all somewhat old, yet good titles. Now that you know what I am working with, let’s move on to evaluating what to do with them.

Who To Go To

The first thing I looked for was the easiest option: in-store trade-ins. What companies offered to buy back used games (first in my city and secondly online). There are a limited number of places in town that will take used games (such as Gamestop, Hastings, and Trade-A-Game). There are far more online sites out there that say they do, but I chose to pick only the ones I knew and trusted the most. After filtering my searches, I found that Gamestop, Best Buy, and Amazon were among the most notable and trusted of all the sites I could find. I couldn’t find any other major vendors out of my searches that offered the option to buy back or take old games. Again, keep in mind I’m mostly referring to markets for PC games, but each of these vendors has a program for trade-ins for all the modern platforms. The market for PC gaming has gone down quite a bit as modern platforms (360, PS3, and the Wii) are much more popular and are traded more often than PC games.

What to Expect

With Gamestop, you have to go into a store to find out how much the company is willing to give you for your game(s). Sadly, Gamestop was not an option for PC games as they are getting out of the PC gaming market and focusing mostly on the other platforms (or at least the store on my hill which is brand new is doing that). Amazon and Best Buy both give you a price you can trade in your games for online. With Best Buy, they have a trade system where they give you a Best Buy card for the games you trade-in, aka in-store credit. The advantage to this is that if you like Best Buy, you can just use the store credit there for something you want. The disadvantage is that you can’t take that credit elsewhere. Amazon, like Best Buy, will also give you a store credit card for any games you trade-in with them. The nice thing with Amazon is you can use that credit for anything on Amazon’s site as opposed to Best Buy, but it’s still not cash in your hand. Also, trade-ins with Amazon take a long time. You’ll need to ship the game to them and then wait to receive your card. This could take quite a while. Most people just want to trade in their game now and receive cash in hand, not in-store credit. What should be evident is that with all these programs, you are going to lose out on quite a bit of the original value of the game, more so than what you might expect. A game like Halo: Combat Evolved might have cost $20 new, but will only have a trade in value less than $5 worth. These guys are in it to make profit. They aren’t necessarily concerned with giving you the best return for your buck.

Is there anywhere I can go besides those guys?

Well, there is a different option you can pursue, my gaming friends, albeit this next option is just as time consuming and can be just as costly (if not more costly) as the others. The used game market is big enough for people who want to try to sell their item directly to other gamers and get a little more money for their games. Places like Ebay, Half (part of Ebay), Amazon, and Craig’s List make it possible to sell things on your own to earn a greater profit and remove the “middle men” companies from the picture. Of course, you’ll be competing with other people who have the same idea, but you have a better chance of making more money this way than with the other guys. Throw your games up on Ebay or Amazon and see if anyone is willing to buy them. Always make sure first, too, to see if there are any fees are associated with selling on these sites as it may not be worth it to sell these games online. This includes checking shipping charges (which anyone who has experience with trying to sell online knows can take a huge chunk out of your profit). Unfortunately, video games do not fit under the media mail (the cheapest form of shipping) category for the post office. You will probably be paying first class to ship your item which will negate any possible profits you may have gained selling the game on your own. Trying to work in a local market such as Craig’s List will avoid the hassle of shipping charges and probably get you a better profit. On a site like this though, it will be harder to find a buyer depending on where you live and what the market is like on Craig’s List for your games.


It really comes down to the type of person you are. As I mentioned before, if you want to trade-in games online, expect to spend some time doing it. If you also want to try and sell your games online, you might have to wait a bit as well for a buyer willing to pay your price. If you have no patience at all, you’re best off heading to your local Gamestop or game store and trading it in right then and there. Cash or credit in hand will be much quicker than anything you can do online, but with less value to be had for your trade-in. Just know that regardless of what you choose to do, you won’t get the same amount of money you got the game originally for. You are going to lose money on any trade-in. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. On the bright side, those games are still fun to play every once in a while. So even keeping them isn’t a bad way to go.

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