Let’s have a talk. This won’t be comfortable, and it might hurt, but you need to hear this: GameStop is not ripping you off.
Here is a case study on SSX Blur, a rather forgettable entry in the EA Big series for the Wii. This weekend, I paid less than the $2.69 because of a Buy Two, Get One Free promotion on Wii Games. Under that price sticker lies a piece of that game’s history: A $27 asking price.
At one time, GameStop took in that copy of SSX Blur. Assuming the $27 was the price at the time of trade-in, GameStop offered someone $12-$15 for that copy, a price someone may have been fuming over. It never sold, so into the bargain bin it went to be sold for less than $2. GameStop took a loss.
The reality of game pricing is that it fluctuates, sometimes wildly, in a short amount of time. When they took in Blur, they took a risk. They took a chance that they would sell it for more than $15 dollars before the SSX Blur market bottomed out, and the retailer lost.
Contrary to popular belief, most of GameStop’s inventory is comprised of games under $20. Another subset is under $10. It is not a store comprised of industry-killing $55 new releases they paid $30 for.
People expect a lot for their games when they trade them in. That is, of course, fair. They likely paid a lot originally, but in the process of trading something in, you are relieved of the risk. You are taking a loss at the hands of GameStop in exchange for their (possible) future profit margins.
You only get what you put into something. In the case of GameStop, it is a quick sale, a matter of walking into the store and handing it to a clerk. On the internet, your avenues of resale are exceptional, but require some work plus a bit of chance. Sites like eBay can grant you near retail price (if not more if you bundle with some high-demand, exclusive DLC), but you can be cheated by a buyer. Craigslist can lead to a quick sell, but you need to deal directly with random strangers, and in that case, you never know what might happen.
Suddenly, GameStop seems like a safe and sure thing, doesn’t it?