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Soon, GameStop stores will be able to answer the phone and say, "Yes, we have Battletoads. The gaming retailer says it will roll out a pilot program that will see stores in New York City and Birmingham, Alabama begin accepting old-school games and hardware at the trade-in counter.
But, at least for now, you won't find copies of Contra at your local store: GameStop told IGN it would send every game it takes in to its refurbishment center in Grapevine, Texas, then offer them for sale through its website. If you walk in to a GameStop location, they'll help you order classic games—drop your dough in the store and GameStop will ship the game to your door. As a game collector, I had some questions about how this will work. I spoke with GameStop's Jon Haes, who is running the program.
What will GameStop buy back? Haes says GameStop will take in any game, console, and first-party accessories for the platforms listed above.
If you've got a Nintendo-brand spare controller, they'll take it. They aren't interested in your third-party aftermarket stuff. Once the games reach Grapevine, Haes says GameStop will "do thorough evaluations—testing, repair if necessary. You want to be able to save your game in The Legend of Zelda , after all.
If a battery needs replacing, they'll do it there before it's offered for sale. If something is "beyond repair," it'll get junked. Condition is everything in a collectible market. How will that come into play? For the pilot program, Haes says that stores will have a single SKU in their point-of-sale systems for each game. That means GameStop will offer one flat price, whether you've got a loose game cartridge or one with its original box and manual.
Beyond the pilot, what happens next will be determined by what ends up walking through the doors. But if GameStop ends up with lots of games that still have their original box and instructions, it might create two listings per game—one that's cartridge only, and one that's complete. In that case, Haes says, he hopes to "pass that additional value on to consumers on the front end, if we know it's worth more on the back end to the ultimate buyer"—in other words, you might get more for your trade-ins if you bring in complete games.
How do you stop fakes? It's pretty easy to buy a fake label and pass your worthless crap off as a a rare Nintendo game, especially if the GameStop employees are only doing a visual inspection of the cartridge. But Haes says GameStop is providing the test stores with a guide to spotting fakes. What if you're unsatisfied? If you're spending big bucks on rare collectible games, you want to know you're getting quality.
Haes says the games, like any pre-owned product in GameStop's inventory, can be returned for any reason within seven days. There's also a day guarantee against defects, so if something breaks in that period, send it back. When can we start trading? The stores in the pilot program will begin taking games Saturday, and it'll take about eight weeks before we start to see games appear for sale online, Haes says.
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