I was visiting my local EBGames up here in Canada and noticed they've got a new deal that I hadn't seen mentioned anywhere online. It turns out this new offer is actually in market testing and my local area just happens to be one of those markets giving it a shot. In a move that is obviously targeting rental shops, almost all of the new games on the shelf that have just been released sported a gold medallion sticker that says you could "rent" this game for $10 dollars a month. I was somewhat perplexed so I talked to the manager about the deal to see how it was supposed to work.
Essentially, you pay full price for your new game and if you trade it in within one month of your purchase, you get the full price of the game minus $10 (and taxes) in store credit for it. So if I were to buy Far Cry Instincts for the Xbox at $59.99 Canadian tomorrow, I could return it anytime before October 28th and get $49.99 store credit for it. So I've basically "rented" the game for $10 bucks. While you don't get your taxes back on the purchase, keep in mind that trade-in credit is NOT taxable (at least, not in Canada) so if I bring Far Cry Instincts back and use the credit to buy another $59.99 dollar game, I'll only get charged tax on the money I actually pay out additional to my credit so it's not a 100% return on the taxes, but it's close.
What does EBGames get out of the deal? Weak willed gamers like myself who are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest will be even more likely to buy more games knowing they are guaranteed an excellent trade-in value, regardless of how good/bad/popular a given game ends up becoming. EBGames turns around and gets more used games to put on the shelf and to eek out even more profit. Of course, the old way of giving someone only 40% of what they paid for and selling with a 100% markup would make them more money on one game but I think they hope the volume will make up for the smaller profits up front.
I've got a Blockbuster about a five minute walk away from my place so why not rent anyways? They don't hit you with late fees (at least, not for a couple weeks) and it's only $8 bucks to rent any given title. The problem is one of selection and timing, especially given that they are pushing for more game sales and trade-ins with a deemphasis on having plenty of games on the shelf for renting. EBGames will always have the latest and greatest on the shelves, I won't have to worry about Blockbuster arbitrarily deciding not to stock certain games for renting like they did with Advent Rising. I could BUY it, but god forbid I wanted to rent instead.
Will it work? For the steady gamer, it's a viable option and a way to keep the gaming budget under control while still getting new titles the day of release. For EBGames it may discourage the purchase of used games since the trade-in value drops like a rock once you buy used, but then used games are the typically domain of casual gamers and consumers who aren't as likely to trade in anyways. For my sake, I hope it works for them.
Please note this deal applies for their console and hand-held titles, I didn't see any PC games with the medallion applied to them.