Understanding Game Trade Values and How to Get the Most out of Them

Today we are going to be talking about one of the most hated and loved parts of gaming. This part would be the trade-in system. A lot of people have differing opinions when it comes to trading their games in. Many people even think that they are being “robbed” by giving up their new games to retailers. This article is here to explain the trade system a little better as well as teach you how to get the most value out of your games. Games have a unique life cycle to them that most other media doesn’t and it’s our job as gamers to understand what happens with our favorite games.

Unique Cycle

Games are pretty unique in the way we buy and sell them. While there are used books and music stores around the country there are usually set prices for a hardcover book or paperback book they will give you. With games, each separate title holds its own separate value and demand. This means that the titles inflate in price depending on the day, month, hour, and year. This has even lead to extremely low-rated games grossly inflating in price because of their poor sales. With things like movies, it’s going straight into the bargain bin and never climbing its way above the \$5 mark again.

With games, they may not sell well due to poor pre-orders or advertisement. Game companies have a lot less money to throw around then movie companies meaning they will limit game production if the product doesn’t look successful in the market. That’s why you see a lot of niche Japanese games hold their price for years or become incredibly expensive. Whether the game is a masterpiece or not, there’s very few in existence and that doesn’t include the copies that have already been ruined. This gets even worse when a poorly selling game becomes a cult hit meaning everyone is going to be after it and the supply may have already been cut by the company, skyrocketing the price.

Digital releases generally help the market by allowing popular games to become more readily available. We have however seen a lot of issues pop up with legal issues attached. This means that games used products or music they had agreements for way back in the day. These agreements have run out and now they have to either redo parts of the game or pay out more money if it’s even applicable. For a lot of niche games, this simply isn’t worth the trouble meaning they don’t have a high chance of appearing in the stores for purchase. When companies are transparent with their fans about these issues, it can make game re-sellers up the price of the titles even more.


Now, we are going to take a look at the flip side of the coin which is the oversaturation of the market. This usually happens with almost any triple-A title, but other circumstances can affect the game’s value even more. The cycle of overstock games goes a little different than more limited titles and causes these games values to fall quickly with very few exceptions to the rule. These are usually the games that you purchase for high prices then trade in months later for maybe a quarter of the value coming back to you.

The first cause for quickly dropping value is yearly releases of the titles. This especially hits sports game hard since the games are just now getting campaign modes and are generally just updated reskins every year. While there’s nothing wrong with updating the roster to give sports fan up-to-date teams, this causes last year’s game to be obsolete. The closer you get to the launch of the updated game, the more the price will drop for even new copies of the previous year’s title. This forces stores who give out trade-in credit to reduce their the price as they accumulate more and more games that they may or may not sell. A lot of the times by even offering any amount for these games, the company could be taking a loss if they can’t sell them.

The next culprit is an oversaturation of game store shelves. When a big title is coming out, a lot of fans go out and pre-order it. Pre-orders directly influence how many copies outside of the reserved copies will be sent to store and how many prints the game will run. Not only will some people not pick up their games but now the stores back stock is full of these titles. This may not be a problem in the first few weeks to a month of release but as time goes on the stores get stuck with an extra stock of games just floating there until they can run a sale to remove the product quickly.

The last culprit is digital sales. Digital sales always have games available and will put them on sale way after most people have forgotten about them. This causes these games to flow out into the market even more, making real world stock harder to move. While digital sales may be a turnoff for some gamers who don’t like to be stuck with games, some sales are too good to resist and certain editions sell out in physical while still being available online which causes people to change their minds last minute and not pick up their basic physical copy of the game.

How to Play The Market

There are various different ways to get the most value out of the games you’re tired of. To do this you simply have to understand the cycle a game goes through. Also, always look out of trade promotions and keep track of the various deals going on around you. There are always good and bad times to go and cash in your stash of games. Also, remember that most places give you credit that doesn’t expire, meaning if you can figure out when the store will hold their sell your used games will go a lot further than you thought they could.

The first rule, watch for trade promotions. A lot of times stores will offer you incentive to trade your games towards an upcoming title. This will come in the form of bonus trade credit. The deal with this is that you only have to put down the minimum due to pre-ordering a game which is generally \$5 at most places. If you’re trading in a huge stack of games and it’s a 50% extra credit trade promotion, that means your profits will be doubled minus the \$5 it would take to pre-order the title. Most places won’t lock you in for the pre-order so you can put it on a game and move it to another later if you just did it for the credit.

Another lesser-known trick you can try is trading in games that recently got a sequel or are backward compatible. These games’ demand will go up meaning the store will want to take in a bigger stock to get in on the sales. This can even mean some of the lowest games can jump up in value since now everyone will be clamoring to play them again. This also can apply to games that begin to be played by gaming celebrities that gaming stores track trends and will adjust prices and payout to reflect the public’s newest interests.

Problems With Ebay

While eBay and places that you can sell a game online may seem like a good alternative there are a few things to keep in mind. First, most sites have sellers fees that will take a chunk out of your prices. Next, you will have to transfer the money into Paypal to then move it your bank making it have a long turnaround time. This doesn’t include the almost two-week hold Ebay will put on your money. You also will have to compete with several people selling the exact same product that you are making you have to be competitive with prices and wait for the product to move.

Jessica has been working with the gaming industry for about two years now. She enjoys playing quirky Japanese games and learning about the newest trivia in the industry. When not working with games you may find her chilling with her naked cat Prince Noko... he's pretty cool we guess.