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Posted on Wednesday, January 6 2010 @ 14:50:24 Eastern

A return to Bartertown

Like a trip through a big city or replaying a new game, a second look often reveals more than first meets the eye. So it is with Blake Morse's "The Great Trade-In". It's a good start, but for the keen eye or the interested bargain shopper, there's more to explore as I'll show on my own recent trade-in adventure.
 
The games I brought on this adventure was a big box o' games (yes, THAT big box I won years ago from our very own G-R; great prize, but lots of duds I'd rather not have taking up space in a cramped apartment), three Nintendo DS games (Tetris, Mario Kart, & Meteos), and three Gameboy Advance games (Mario Kart, Super Mario 3, and Golden Sun). So I offer the caveat that this are not recent games nor are they for any of the big three consoles, but they do offer a glimpse at another side of game pawning and what's out there beyond what Morse mentioned.
 
The Do-It-Yourself (DIY): GameTZ/Craigslist
 
My adventure, like most of my game trading or selling, began at GameTZ. I've traded/sold games there for over 10 years now, and it is second in online trading, according to EGM. It is a DIY site with the obvious catch, as Morse mentions, that "it requires some patience to really get what you want." There aren't many stores that will accept trade-ins of PC games and my big box o' games was largely PC games. Unfortunately few at GameTZ bit on the PC games. However, I did manage a trade of Tetris DS for Mario Kart: Double Dash but later canceled on account of finding a better deal for Tetris elsewhere (see Amazon below). Likewise, Mario Kart DS and Meteos DS attracted little attention at GameTZ, so I turned to, of all places, Craigslist. Although I didn't get any result out of GameTZ, it is still a bustling hub of game swapping that I've often found fruitful that you might have luck with.
 
Perhaps the stories of scammers and murderers festering on Craigslist frighten you away from this Internet grab bag. Don't be scared. Craigslist can perhaps be one of your best outlets if you a) keep it local and b) aren't trying to score a real-life relationship in addition to pawning off a game. Within a day of listing my big box o' games on Craigslist it was gone for $20. Just like that I cleared up apartment space for that Sega Saturn I hardly use and sold games that didn't fetch a price anywhere else. Even better, no shipping cost. The buyer came, picked them up, and hauled them off. In addition, I listed all three DS games. I sold only Mario Kart for $24+—$6 better than the nearest competitor, Amazon
 
(Note: Use outlets such as Craigslist to your advantage. For example, I listed my games around the holiday season at the end of November. Although I  sold only Mario Kart DS to an interested holiday shopper, I had more offers from mothers eager to get their children games for Christmas. You might be able to swing a few extra dollars your way.)
 
The Good: GameTZ has long since left beta form and has been refined for over a decade. Its community is vast, as well as the games and consoles and other stuff available for swapping. The site offers member reviews and ratings much like eBay, as well as bad trader reports to help keep you from being cheated. I'll leave the description there as it has much to explore. Craigslist is a local alternative where you can sell games you might not be able to elsewhere. Both sites also allow you to haggle and essentially tweak the trade to your liking.
 
The Bad: Requires patience and more work on your part. Also might require you to build up some e-cred that you're a trustworthy gamer to send money/games to.
 
The Retailer: Amazon
 
My experience with Amazon began in the 11th hour of my aforementioned trade of Tetris DS for Mario Kart: Double Dash. My fellow trader and I had agreed to both ship our games the next day. Suddenly I discovered Amazon would give $22 in credit for Tetris DS, $6 more than the nearest competitor (eBay) and factoring possible turn-around deals (e.g., selling Mario Kart: DD to Amazon/eBay/re-trading on GameTZ). I generously asked my trading partner if I could cancel and he graciously accepted. Here's a point of emphasis: Do not be afraid to cancel or haggle in a swap. You could end up losing out on a better opportunity. Now, a $6 turnaround isn't that big, but hey, it's, say, a new game on Steam's holiday sale (hello, Bioshock), or more when combined with the $6 more I finagled on Mario Kart.
 
The Good: I know Morse's column mentioned Amazon but I included Amazon because I believe he overlooked something important: Amazon offers free UPS shipping. Do enough game swapping and it adds up. If you've got a UPS box in walking distance, even better. Lose only the cost of printing out a shipping label instead of driving to a UPS location. I also included Amazon to tell this story and make the point that, like shopping for a new TV or washing machine (or Zhu Zhu Pet), it sometimes pays to shop around before fully committing.
 
The Bad: Amazon is not always the best route for selling games (see Gamers below).
 
The Dedicated Game Store: Gamers
 
Every neighborhood seems to have one: the dedicated niche game store popular enough to stay in business but not mega-popular a-la GameStop. In my neighborhood that store is Gamers, which has nearly everything from the NES to the PS3. (Because no matter how niche of a game store it is, no one still wants Atari Jaguars enough to give their huge controllers their own wall in the store.)
 
Gamers is where my adventure ended with the sales of Meteos DS and the three GBA games. Originally I attempted to sell Meteos on Craigslist at $15, then $10. No one jumped in the end. Amazon offers $4 currently, and I've never amounted much of an interesting trade on GameTZ. In addition, no GBA game went much over $3 on Amazon. Enter Gamers, where the lowest trade-in credit for any of the four games was $4. Meteos went for $8, twice the nearest price, as did Super Mario Brothers 3. The other two GBA games weren't considerably better than Amazon, but they were better, and it was easy enough just selling them with the others. I did lose a potential $1 on one of the games because I waited a day before selling them. The trade-in prices fluctuate day-to-day based on other people trading in the same games, so you want to monitor prices and play them accordingly if possible.
 
I should add that Gamers' prices were for store credit. Actual cash in return cut the values in half.
 
The Good: Prices can fluctuate in your favor, netting you considerably more value than you could elsewhere. Can receive cash in return instead of store credit.
 
The Bad: Prices can fluctuate out of your favor if you're not aware of them; trade-in credit expires after 99 days. Cash-in-return halves trade-in value.
 
So a few things to keep in mind when trying to get more bang for your gaming: Shop around, haggle, and time your swaps accordingly. If you want the best deal, chances are that you're more than likely going to have to work for it.
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