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I have a dirty little secret. One that takes a little bit of courage to admit to my gaming peers publicly. My secret is that I frequently take advantage of my local Gamestop's buy back policy.

Actually, taking advantage doesn't really describe my actions. It's more like I ravenously pour through all of my games and movies on a weekly basis to find anything that I can part with, and since the purchase of an Xbox 360 this ritual has only gotten worse.

The games got more expensive but my employers didn't come through in raising my pay rate to compensate for it. The result is me finding anything that will cut the bitter taste of a full priced game down to a manageable level. I am constantly evaluating my collection of media and ordering them in my head by potential sell back value. I even have one of their little "More Cards" which adds ten percent to sold items and takes ten percent off used items. At least, that was what was written on the contract for my soul.

The other day I saw that they were having a special for pre-ordering Gears of War and that they'd add an extra twenty percent onto the buy back rate if you traded something in. I managed to bring in enough swag to buy a used copy of G.R.A.W. and almost pay off the new Tony Hawk as a reserve. That means I traded something in, purchased a used game, and reserved a new one all because they were having an advertised sale. All I was missing was a warranty and a strategy guide.

You see, I not only detest the existence of their system that rips me off and sells me overpriced merchandise for their own profit, but I also milk it for everything it's worth. I am the oil that keeps their perverse gears turning and despite knowing I'm part of the problem that faces the gaming public, my guilt hasn't yet reached a level that will cause me to stop my life of trade-ins and used games. That doesn't mean, however, that the guilt isn't still very real and always growing.

Through this emotional rollercoaster of game shame there is one thing that keeps me sane, and therefore keeps me coming back to Gamestop. It's an analogy that has been in my head since the day I sold all of my SNES games over to Toys R Us so that I could get 100 dollars off of a new Playstation. The idea is that the act of buying high and selling low is illustrated in nearly every traditional RPG ever made.

To help me explain picture this: You go out and work hard all day to earn your precious currency. You find a local shop to spend your currency in exchange for items you desire. Soon you get to a point where you realize said items have become inferior to new items sold at the local shop. You then bring your old items into the shop, sell them for what you can, and purchase new shiny items for your inventory.

Was I describing Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger or Breath of Fire? No, I was describing my own actions on a near-monthly basis. In my head the two scenarios have become one. I even picture the interior of the store in 2D, Isometric angles as I walk around and scan my eyes over their wares.

My young gamer-education of fantasy economics has become the ultimate justification for my young-adult denial of real life economics. I'm running on a bartering system developed by a small room of Japanese people almost 20 years ago, which, unfortunately for me, happens to coincide with the business practices of the very companies that sell me my games.

Now, I don't for a second think that the evil druid brains residing in the heads of the mighty gorillas that run Gamestop actually realize the parallels between their system and that of most RPGs. If that were the case I think I could resist it. At that point it would become an evil scheme on their part and I could just give them the finger and walk away, but the justification is coming from within me and my sensibilities and values don't stand a chance.

I walk up to the counter and set my sellables down next to my buyables and involuntarily the smooth blue Formica counter becomes a rich and time worn oak. The racks of games fade to smooth grey and white stones lining the interior of the humble establishment. The clear plastic decals in the windows morph into a stained glass homage to our Mana Tree mother, and the tired clerk behind the register remains part fish, part ox.

I know it's not common for an "adult" to pretend like that while shopping, but in my defense I am in a game store. I've devoted a portion of my life to pretending I'm in a fantasy land and what more appropriate place for the lines to blur than where I purchase my fantasies from?

Another thing I've noticed is that the game store is the only store where this make-believe world clouds my mind. There is no romanticized Walgreen's or Stop 'N Go. That further proves to me that it is a defense mechanism against the mounting shame I feel when conducting business with Gamestop.

I know this is a sign that I should stop being so hard on myself and stop worrying about what will happen if people find out that I am a "trader inner." Not to say I should just stop caring what other people think altogether. Caring what people think is a big part of being human and in some aspects of life it is essential. If my waitress thinks I'm cheap then the service will suffer, if my customers think I'm rude then my business will suffer, and if my readers think I'm a sell out then my credibility will suffer.

It is time for me admit that it is ok that I go into my local Gamestop and give them my old games and movies, because I have other responsibilities in my life that take priority over gaming. I can't decide not to save for the future of my family just because Gears of War is coming out, nor should I feel shame from my peers just because I found a quick and easy way to make Gears of War possible without sacrificing what's important.

I didn't feel guilty about beating up Gato for over an hour to raise enough silver points for a samurai sword, and I'll be damned if I feel guilty about selling Short Circuit back to Gamestop so that I could buy Tony Hawk.

Comments

I agree. Most console games I play and finish (or don't finish) will never be touched again by me. Why should I let it sit in a drawer when I can get a shiny new game for them?

Even before Game stores were out, my brother and I would pawn our Nintendo games so we could rent a Nintendo 64 at Blockbuster.

If you want to take the time, Ebay gets you better returns than taking the game back the Gamestop.

I got $50 back on the new Splinter Cell game, twice as much as the trade-in value.

But, you have to, like, mail the game to someone.

Torches..check.
Pitchforks..check.
Kindling..check.
Stakes..check.

Hey Chiggie, where do you live again?

I do this, but I do it at a local shop chain rather than EB/Gamestop. If you have that option, you might be happier with that. Not only does it support small/medium business, but generally I find I'm dealing with better people.

My local shop thrives on business from their regulars, and they go so far for the regulars like fyedaddy and myself that they actually proactively temporarily put me on their Wii reserve list until they had the chance to ask me if I was planning on picking one up at launch. I'm not anymore (money/time reasons, I'll almost certainly pick one up in the spring), but I appreciated that they did that. I was really impressed. In particular, they generally pick up on their regulars' tastes and don't push stuff on them. Really a class act, and anymore I pretty much only spend my money there for gaming stuff and movies.

Never! They'll never take back my babies! Not even at full price, not even for more! Those evil, evil men will never sully my precious collection with their horrible greasy little hands!

I probably should sell or trade in all my old games, but I look at my video games like a great book. I will never sell my copies of the Lord of the Rings books, so why should I part with all the Final Fantasy stories I "read." Sure I'm a pack rat, and I will probably never load up Neverwinter Nights again, or put int Star Ocean 2, but the option is there. If I get the sudden urge to play Torment, I can load it up. If I want to jump back into the world of Ivalice and level up different jobs for a couple weeks I can. I like having the options.

Or maybe I just need to learn the throw command so I can use all these old weapons on a future boss :).

The pressure being put on the middle class is really starting to show.

Holy carp, Fars, your tale of a game store that actually GETS IT blows my frikkin' mind. That's awesome. AWESOME. Those are the kind of people I'd like to do business with.

I don't trade much in, for a couple reasons:

1) They only seem to pay anything worth receiving for games that are very recent releases, and I don't buy that many new-release games.

2) It takes me forever (or longer) to beat most games, because I get bored, or just attracted to something shinier. For instance, I was in the throes of Oblivion addiction when I decided that I ought to give WoW a shot. Since that time, I haven't really played anything else. Some two-person Guitar hero, that's about it.

And for those who want to know where they can encounter Chiggie in the flesh, he'll be appearing at the Dallas Area Slap and Tickle this Saturday night! Everyone will come! I understand that he'll not only be signing your laptop screen with permanent marker (if it's currently displaying one of his articles), but if you bring your video game collection, he'll estimate its trade-in value and possibly even buy it for 50% of what GameStop would give you, saving you the hassle of going there yourself!

Just what about trading in games at a B&M gives you that you cannot get using (for example) GWJ's trading post? Is it a desire to get the latest stuff right away? As long as I have some patience, I find that usually the games I want will drop in price or be available used from someone "soon enough".

At the risk of being labeled "plant", I also recently signed up (as they recently added PC games) with what looks to be a pretty interesting game trading venue: http://www.goozex.com. With a fixed overhead of $1/trade and "points" accumulated through trading it seems like a pretty slick approach. But, I have yet to actually trade anything, since I currently have no working gaming platform.

But, since they *are* running a promotion for who can "refer up" the most folks (through 20 November) if you're interested enough to sign up, feel free to PM me so that I can refer you.

Alien13z wrote:

The pressure being put on the middle class is really starting to show.

The Forgotten Minority.

Seriously, eBay all the way. It takes all of two minutes to list a game, they even tell you the average sale price based on the UPC code. You put buy-it-now at a couple of bucks less than that, on average my games sell in the first day. I drop it in a dvd mailer and ship it off. And I usually have about twice as much sitting in my paypal account than I would have gotten trading it in. And I have one of those paypal debit cards, so if I want to go purchase a shiny new game that day with the money, I can.

Or keep trading them in, less competition for me on eBay that way.

Seriously, eBay all the way. It takes all of two minutes to list a game, they even tell you the average sale price based on the UPC code.

Or you could always trade it here on GWJ. I haven't partaked in the ritual yet but I getting games to gamers I know will enjoy them is always good.

You're a sick, sick man Chiggie. Ill have to chainsaw you a couple extra times because of this article

That last line of rationalization doesn't make it all better. As others have said, use ebay, your future will be extra secure with the extra money.

zeroKFE wrote:

Never! They'll never take back my babies! Not even at full price, not even for more! Those evil, evil men will never sully my precious collection with their horrible greasy little hands!

We were seperated at birth, clearly. I dont care if my collection in the closet vault causes my house to sag under the sheer weight of cd/dvd cases and oldstyle game boxes..

They are mine... All mine. mine mine mine mine ...... mine.

A few things I'd like to clear up before I am drawn and quartered, then burned and eaten.

This isn't to show you why my acts are justified but just to show you that for those of us that do this there is some real or made up justification within us.

Also, this isn't an article saying that this is the best way to off load games. I'll go ahead and say right now that it is possibly the worst, besides maybe grinding them up and feeding them to infants. It's just that I love buying games but don't buy them so often that I've ever gotten into a routine of selling and buying outside of the convenience of my local shop.

To answer Farscry, no. This is Shreveport. Chains is all we got and chains is all we ever gunna have.

To answer Zero and others, it's hard for me to ever value anything I've bought over dead nothing. It feels like once I've bought it then if I get bored of it it's just useless dead weight. So it doesn't sting so much when the sell back rates are so low because I have no frame of reference.

I think I'm going to start trying some other options mentioned here. Maybe breaking the cycle will show me just how wasteful I'm being.

Oh and where are all the other "seller backers" that were supposed to come out and join with me in this little self intervention? In you holes is where! Shivering like kittens!

The key is to limit your purchases to something you want instead of something thats crap that you'll wind up selling in less than a week. I mean, you bought Short Circuit? *shakes head*

First off, I liked the article. I loved the RPG rationalization applied to real life trading. I just HATE eb/gs for their rip-off policy concerning trade-ins. Oh you took that plastic off? 50% price reduction! Oh that game has been out for a month? I'll give you 20 bucks for it. Then you come in the next time and see your old game retailing for 5-10 dollars less than the MSRP (unless it totally sucked and everyone traded it). The same a-hole that told me Brute Force was gonna be "awesome" (yes, I was a bit naive back then) barely gave me any money back on it the next week when I traded it. I think that may have been the last game I ever traded (barring the crap I dumped to buy the first KOTOR). I came to the conclusion that I would rather my old games gather dust than "the man" make more money off of them.

If you are looking to sell, though, I'll echo that eBay is the best way to get the most $ for your old games"….it does take more effort though.

I could get more via eBay, but it's just not worth the hassle for me. I don't want to deal with that at all.

The awesome local shops used to pay more for trade-in and had a few other great incentives that really made shopping there awesome, but unfortunately enough people thoroughly abused these things to the point where they toned this stuff back to remain more profitable. Overall, they still provide awesome customer service (I'd even say top-notch; they typically don't take returns if a game works fine when they test it in the store, but I've had one that I picked up which wouldn't run on my PS2 properly, and since they know I wouldn't rip them off, they took the return anyway), competitive pricing, and consumer-friendly practices.

[edit]Chig, I didn't see that you live in Shreveport. You have my apologies for your unfortunate location! I don't really miss Louisiana in a lot of ways, though I miss the food a lot!

When I was a kid, my parents wouldn't buy games for me, so I had to use any means possible to acquire them for myself. I sold my NES to buy an SNES. Then, I sold that to buy an N64. A year later though I was old enough to get a real job, and suddenly the fact that I didn't have to scrimpt and save and do sh*tty chores to afford my hobby allowed me to think a bit. And I think I did. I thought about how I would never be able to go back and beat the snot out of Glass Joe one more time. I thought about how I would never be able to introduce another friend to the glory of FF6 or Chrono Trigger. I thought about how little money I have got in return for losing access (perhaps forever) to something that I had enjoyed so much. And I said to myself, I will never sell another game or game system again, and I will endeavor to build a library of software that will allow me both to revisit the past and to share my favorite hobby with others.

And that is why their dirty, unworthy hands will never touch my babies.

Great article Chiggie! I think you're now my most favourite writer on GWJ along with Lobo.

I completely understand what you're saying with the sell/buy-back schemes.... however, ever since i sold my NES and game gear to be able to buy a SNES i have never sold any bit of gaming merchandise that i own. I learnt then that it is best to be able to replay what you already have and wait until you can afford a new system/game than just gorging on the bits and bytes of ever newer and increasingly demanding (at least on PC) games...

It is time for me admit that it is ok that I go into my local Gamestop and give them my old games and movies, because I have other responsibilities in my life that take priority over gaming. I can't decide not to save for the future of my family just because Gears of War is coming out, nor should I feel shame from my peers just because I found a quick and easy way to make Gears of War possible without sacrificing what's important.

This quote says it all really. I'm so lucky that i don't have any dependants... even though i'm having to limit my purchases this year due to lack of money (which sucks) but you have to make your way in the world no matter the obstacles...

Sorry Chiggie, I'd just rather hang you than see you redeemed

I generally only sell games that I've ended up hating for one reason or another or could never see myself playing again, like Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox, game breaking bug), Perfect Dark Zero (SUCKS!), and my PSP+games. Since I'm sorry I ever bought them, I want to get back as close to what I lost, so they'll never see EB again.

Duoae wrote:

Great article Chiggie! I think you're now my most favourite writer on GWJ along with Lobo.

What a coincidence! You just became my very favorite responder!

Don't know about Lobo, though. Don't think he's ever responded to one of my articles.

I kind of want to hang my too Poly. Why, oh God, WHY did I post this before the slap 'n tickle in Dallas?

Eh. I don't play console games.

Ebay baby!!! It's probably faster than going to GAmestop. I do the fixed price listing too. I usually list a bit higher than average to start with and then lower my price gradually until it sells. Fixed price listings let you do this and let you edit everything up to the 12 hours remaining mark in your listing. So you can later throw in a picture if you want or add some key words or change your title, etc.

And if you get mailers and use Paypal it's really not a hassle. You can print USPS/UPS mailing labels right from Paypal. Put your game in the mailer, tape the label on the mailer and then drop the game in your mailbox.

I don't feel guilty about selling games. They are commodities. If I really want to play a game again I'll go buy it again. I guess I feel too that they are dead weight and just take up space and clutter things up and once they start to pile up I'm never going to play half of them again anyway so out they go. (Lack of time and all.) I do hang onto a few games tho.

Maybe I would hang onto some of the more epic games that I enjoyed if developers let me go back and instantly play any part of the game after I finished it. Usually tho when I attempt to play a big epic game again I never get too far. Something about starting again on what you know is going to once again be a long journey. And that journey is never quite as awe inspiring as the first time. Also one only needs to complete 4 or 5 30 hour games in a year or two and then do the math (combined with new games coming out) to see that you'll never play those epics again.

The games I need to keep around more are casual type games. The easier to get into ones. Sports games. Multiplayer games. Party games. They are the ones that may not get a lot of time at first, but are the ones I'm most likely to pull out of the pile again.

polypusher wrote:

Sorry Chiggie, I'd just rather hang you than see you redeemed

I generally only sell games that I've ended up hating for one reason or another or could never see myself playing again, like Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox, game breaking bug), Perfect Dark Zero (SUCKS!), and my PSP+games. Since I'm sorry I ever bought them, I want to get back as close to what I lost, so they'll never see EB again.

LOL, i can't do that. I wouldn't want to unleash the suckiness on some unsuspecting dupe of the game retailers!

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

What a coincidence! You just became my very favorite responder!

Yeah, i really like the way you don't just have one string to your writing bow...
Favorite responder? Does that mean there's a ranking system?

Uh, sure. You're number 1.

Asz wrote:

The key is to limit your purchases to something you want instead of something thats crap that you'll wind up selling in less than a week. I mean, you bought Short Circuit? *shakes head*

Oh, don't think I haven't been shaking my head in person and tsking. Not so much lately, though, as my negativity has been proven futile time and time again. It gets worse, too. Some of these games have been bought more than once, and maybe even sold more than once.

In Chiggie's defense he is a very "living in the moment" kind of guy, a mindset that has its advantages. This just isn't one of them.

Games that come into my house never leave. You'd be amazed what will come back off the shelf with a new lease on life during that dry summer doldrum. Besides, I can't remember what was a review copy and what it was I bought anymore and I feel all squicky about selling those. I still have Brittney's Dance Beat, for crying out loud.

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:

Oh and where are all the other "seller backers" that were supposed to come out and join with me in this little self intervention? In you holes is where! Shivering like kittens!

I got your back. If you don't play it, don't keep it. I'm not ten anymore - I have more money, far less time, and a mile long list of games I'd like to play. If it's not multiplayer or really fantastic, it's only gonna get one play through, and I stopped kidding myself I'd play the same thing twice a long time ago.

Games that come into my house never leave. You'd be amazed what will come back off the shelf with a new lease on life during that dry summer doldrum.

So very true. Plus my SO is a bit of a hoarder and she gets really pissed if I try and trade anything.