Following a long-term pilot program started in 2009 but not expanded until today's announcement, Walmart has decided there is enough demand for a video game trade-in program in its stores. However, unlike the typical video game trade-in program, Walmart is hoping to leverage its general product selection as a key advantage against GameStop, despite the world's largest retailer never referencing the specialty chain by name.
Beginning on March 26th, Walmart will expand its game trade-in program to 3100 locations across the country, while used game sales are expected to begin later this Summer both in-store and online.
The expansion will also bring a new "certified pre-owned" section to the stores and online for game trade-ins. Ironically, the program goes live today for all Walmart employees before the official public launch, while Walmart will be able to pad out their used game inventory ahead of time.
The program relies on games from all current platforms and Walmart is boasting to the media that its average credit payout per game will be at least $35, significantly more than GameStop offers for games. Of course, the kicker is that while GameStop's program is limited to buying game-related products in its stores and online portal, Walmart wants the program to drive store and online sales with gift cards loaded with store credit in exchange for games. Oddly, the program currently excludes trade-ins of consoles.
On one hand, GameStop has to sit up and pay attention to this because it could get enough traction to cut into its trade-in volume, if marketed in the right way. On the other hand, limiting the trade-in program to games with original packaging means that GameStop still has some sort of advantage for older games.
One thing I'm curious to see is how people will game the trade-in program. Would you trade in your games at Walmart over GameStop or Amazon, or do you use other methods to get rid of games you don't play anymore? Below, the first TV ad announcing the program.