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Cash in those old video games

Not to be outdone by Toys R Us or Best Buy, Amazon earlier this month launched a new service that lets you trade in your old video games for Gift Cards that can be used to purchase millions of items at Amazon.com.

Amazon has also done a great job keeping things simple. Just go to www.amazon.com/tradeingames and find the games that you want to trade among the hundreds of listed titles. Once you’ve found your game, print off a pre-paid shipping label (no cost to you), drop it in the mail, and you’re done! Once the games are received and verified as to their condition, a Gift Card will be deposited in your Amazon.com account.

The really big game-changer here (pun intended) is that Amazon is, for the most part, offering higher prices than companies like GameStop and Game Crazy that have been in the trade-in business for more than a decade. And, instead of using that cash as in-store credit to buy more games, Amazon's credit can be used on anything it sells. Oh, did I mention that GameStop and Game Crazy make you physically visit the store to trade in your video games?

Game Crazy does have a $9.99-a-year "MVP" program that boosts its prices ever so slightly – in some cases closer to Amazon's offering. However, for comparison's sake, the prices above were taken from non-MVP trade-in rates. (Toys R Us and Best Buy were not included in the comparison since their services are not yet available nationwide.)

Between this trade-in initiative and the casual games download service it launched in early February, it's clear that Amazon is trying to get a little deeper into an industry that appears to be recession-resistant if not completely recession proof. (GameStop expects its sales to grow 10-12% in the current fiscal year.)

One thing still missing, however, is a dedicated storefront for selling used games back to buyers. Presumably Amazon will either be re-selling the trade-ins to other retailers or further extending the used alternatives it currently offers alongside new games.

The new program is still in beta, but it is open and ready to use. Amazon says it will continue to evolve over time and it is asking for customer feedback about making improvements. At launch, Amazon has over 1,500 titles on the trade-in site that it will accept provided they are in good condition and shipped with the original packaging and manual.

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