With the recent revelation that GAME had been buying up Tesco stock of the new Nintendo 3DS hand-helds, and then selling it themselves as pre-owned stock, at the same price as a brand new 3DS, I take a look at how waiting and buying pre-owned games could save us a pretty penny
I recently had a discussion with one of our members about game release dates, and where the best places to buy new games were. Besides the obvious benefit of sites like play.com for pre-ordering games to get them a little earlier or at discount, and the supermarkets for they’re periodic special 20% off deals, we also talked about pre-owned consoles and games too. This raised a few questions on the assumed poor quality of 2nd-hand-plus games, and how reliable they were.
Now, hat’s off the people who are able to comfortably buy new games on release, even more so to people who have the readies to pick up extra titles when the mood takes them. Sadly we aren’t all in that position, and many of us have to wait a bit longer to play the games our friends have had for a few weeks, while we have to sell the cat and trade a kidney in exchange for the next ‘big-thing’. Yes, it can be an expensive hobby this whole gaming malarky, but does it need to be limited to buying something brand new? Of course not.
With stores like GAME and GAMESTATION (who are essentially the same company now) having the motto “We won’t be beaten on trade-ins”, and Blockbuster Video boasting something similar, there is a market-place open for us to get games we missed the first time around. The great and obvious appeal here is the price, and for the most part the games are alot cheaper, and often available in special offers like buy 2 or 3 for £’xyz’. People trading in their unwanted games, either for cash or money off something newer and better, creates a wonderful opportunity for us to expand our game collection at a price that’s more manageable. Occationally you do get to see a new release game that has been bought and sent back or traded in very quickly, so you won’t necessarily save anything other than a pound or so, but it all helps doesn’t it? Even a few pounds off a new game can’t be sneazed at.
So what about the quality concerns? My friend did raise a valid point here, and rightly so. You don’t want to part with your hard earned cash for something unplayable, do you? Even the condition of the box is a big hint at what lays inside as it shows the kind of care the previous owners game collection had. That’s not to say that you should expect every pre-owned game to be in poor condition. Quite the contrary, and if that were the case then these shops couldn’t make sales. There has to be a recognisable standard before it can be resold to the pubic again, and generally it makes sure that the disks aren’t scratched or have obvious damage, and the game manuals enclosed are at least usable. You do get some manuals and inserts that are a bit chewed or marked, but staff will check the contents over before boxing it ready for you at the checkout. So for the mostpart, you can at least be assured your ‘new’ game has been looked over for damage before being sold to you.
Over the last few months I’ve been keeping my eye out for reduced and pre-owned games, with a view to trying a more casual gaming approach around my work and family committments. My thoughts are that if I struggle to get online during the week, then I’d be better trying to fit in more solo game-play and trying my hand at campaigns, rather than push for a multiplayer experience. I already run a dedicated Friday night social game session called “Chook’s Challenge“, based on my gamertag being ‘LaChook’, which is often a night of online battles into the wee small hours; so as long as I can at least get to play with people there I’m happy. Any other gaming time is a bonus, so hence my thoughts on playing on my own when I can fit it in as well, and it helps me boost my gamerscore too. My recent pre-owned purchases included Halo:Reach, which was a great opportunity for me to catch up with a group of members I didn’t have many games in common with, bridging the gap a little. This I bought pre-owned for £19.99 from Blockbuster, and what swayed me initially was the great condition of the box and game inserts. Shortly after this I was able to get Battlefield Bad Company 2, and then Need for Speed:Hot Pursuit, both for around the same price, and very entertaining games indeed. ‘Hot Pursuit’ is a relatively new game, so I was pretty chuffed to get a good saving on it.
Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t for one minute begrudge paying for a full price game, and this isn’t about being too tight-fisted to pay that little bit extra. On the contrary, I’ve bought plenty of new releases, some even being special box-sets too. However, thinking back over the years, I realised that I’d bought quite a significant amount of pre-owned games, played and kept or traded them in again, and they range from Oblivion:Elder Scrolls, Star Wars:Battlefronts II, Guitar Hero 2 & 3 Legends of Rock, to name some. I believe having the ability to buy pre-owned games has allowed me to expand my gaming styles and experiences, and has in turn helped me to build up a collection I can draw from to trade-in towards newer games as well.
I’m about to trade in Homefront against buying new release Operation Flashpoint:Red River, and hope to get a pretty decent price for it. Homefront is still a good game, but for me it’s been a stop-gap until ‘Op Flash’ comes out, but here we see the whole pre-owned system coming full-circle now. When I trade-in my copy, even though it’s only been out a month or two, it’ll end up back on the shelves again at a slightly reduced price. This is perfect for anyone wanting to get it for a few pound cheaper, and still be assured that someone looked after the game well and didn’t abuse it or throw it about the house. In some respects, I take a pride in knowing someone else will be able to benefit from it this way.
The appeal and benefits
The greatest attraction is the dramatic drop in price, and you may also benefit from a bundle deal. You may see this as a special offer such as a 2 or 3 games for £20 for example, or perhaps even as part of a console bundle offer. There are plenty of pre-owned games out there, so you won’t be stuck for choice, and there’s something for everyone. If you missed a new release first time around, keep an eye out for it a few months later once people have had a chance to play through the missions and get bored of the multiplayer, etc. There will always be one somewhere. However for new game releases it’s unlikely you will save more than a few pounds at most. Here you would be better off considering a trade in with other games to further reduce the price if you can. If you’re careful though, buying pre-owned games can really boost your game collection quickly. It’s also a great way to learn new styles of gameplay and meet a whole new bunch of people online too, so it opens up to more social play as well. This has allowed me to explore the driving game genre in addition to my love for First Person Shooters for example.
Obviously the quality of the disk, manuals, and game box is the biggest concern, but as long as you get to give the product a good look over and you’re happy with it, then there shouldnt be anything to worry about. Check for scratches and dirt on disks before you leave the shop, if possible asking to see it yourself when they check the disk. I once had a copy of the horror/shocker Condemned which I bought from a pre-owned bargin bin, and to all extents and purposes it looked okay and played well. That is until I got to 5th section of the game and I found out there was some damage to the sectors on the disk and the game didn’t display properly. Thankfully I still had my receipt and took it back to get a direct swap for another copy. If I hadn’t still had my receipt I would have been stung a bit there, so the moral of the story is…. keep the paperwork.
A final comment on trading-in…
If you do decide to trade in some of your lovingly aquired game collection for either money back or a discount against another purchase, remember that times have changed. You no longer get the superb deals we got a few years back, and you very rarely get your money’s worth these days. When I traded in Lost Planet a while ago, I quickly found out that it’s a buyers opportunity, not a sellers market. It took a lot of convincing myself to get rid of it in favour of something else newer, but I was horrified to be only offered a few pounds for it at most. Later that week I traced the box with the tiny sticker I’d cunningly added the edge of the box, and found it for sale for around £16. It doesn’t seem fair does it? The stores still manage to take their pound of flesh…
So I have my eye on a few guilty pleasures coming up soom with Operation Flashpoint:Red River on Friday, and possibly next on the (red) cards is Fifa 11, and maybe even Dead Space 2 if I can find the time… Happy gaming everyone!