It's been sitting under the tree for a week. Shaped like a DVD case and wrapped in the finest paper the 99-cent section at Target has to offer, this seemingly innocuous gift has been mercilessly taunting you since it first appeared next to the fish tie you bought dad for the third year running. You know it's a video game, but for the life of you have no idea which one it could be.
And then, the moment of truth: you tear it apart, anxious to drop your brand new copy of Uncharted 2 into the Blu-Ray drive and transform into Nathan Drake for a few hours...but before you even scrape the Scotch tape off the bottom of the box, you're greeted with the tell-tale neon green glow of an Xbox 360 game case, guaranteeing you a dreary, post-holiday trip to your local store for yet another holiday exchange. And that means braving the waters of selling back games.
Never fear, however. There are loads of ways to do this, and depending upon what you're looking for, we've got some solutions.
I want cash!
Then you want eBay. If you're hoping to get the most out of your used (or unopened and new) games, the online auction is the way to go. When it comes to cranking up prices, that bidding thing still works like a charm. Expect to get between $30 and $40 back on brand new, unopened copies of big name games, nearly double what you might find at your local retailer. Of course, you'll still have to deal with listing it, waiting for bids, and mailing it out, and that can be a headache.
Pros: Best return on traded games, simple to list
Cons: Requires patience, you have to become the post office
I want easy!
Then you want GameStop. The leading brick-and-mortar video game retailer might seem like the perfect spot for trading back old games, and when it comes to immediate returns, its still reign supreme. But we cannot make this clear enough: their deals stink. You rarely get more than $25 back on any game, which can be maddening when you're returning an unused copy of a game they're selling for $59.99. But what it lacks in value it makes up for in instant gratification. And if you apply your trade-in to a pre-order for an upcoming release, the savings increase significantly. With a crop of huge games lined up for early next year, that might not be a bad plan at all.
Pros: Quick, perfect for pre-orders
Cons: Lousy rates, annoying employees will constantly try to sell you magazines
I want easier!
Like eBay, Craigslist is awesome when it comes to getting decent returns since you can set the prices yourself. Unlike eBay, however, you're only selling to people within about a half-hour of your house -- few will bother burning gallons of gas just to score your barely-discounted copy of Halo 3: ODST. On the flipside, someone might actually find your deal worth it, especially if they live nearby, are too impatient for eBay and don’t want to deal with GameStop's full retail prices. And that means you can sell your game without even having to put on your pants (note: we advise that you do, in fact, wear pants when answering the door).
Pros: Name your own price, no need to leave the house, no mailing hassles
Cons: Narrow customer base means fewer takers, who knows what weirdo might come a knockin'
I want more games!
Sick of getting paltry sums for your sweet used games? Then consider sites that let you trade them instead. Goozex does this by turning your games (or movies) into points and letting you spend them however you see fit, charging a mere $1 for any transaction. If you'd prefer to trade one-to-one, check out Switchgames, a new site that lets you set the value of your games and then swap them straight up with other users.
Pros: Great way to get games you want while getting rid of games you don't
Cons: Requires patience -- might take a while before you find what you’re looking for