Walmart put out a press release to announce that they will soon be taking used video games in for store credit and refurbishing those games to make them “available for purchase in like-new condition at a great low price.”
This is no doubt a blow to those who like to frame the used game market as the moral equivalent to software piracy. And it was always easy to vilify GameStop and its stereotyped raging gamer clientele in that argument, casting them as parasites and thieves respectively.
And while other companies, including Amazon, have dabbled in the use game market, when the largest retailer in the world steps up to the plate on used games… well… things get a bit ugly.
Not that it isn’t easy to vilify Walmart. They were a customer at a past company I worked for, and they are every bit as difficult to deal with as they have been painted… though often in surprisingly stupid, shoot themselves in the foot sorts of ways. But when their mind is set, they will get their way. And if you think somebody is going to be able to pressure them to share a cut of used sales with game studios… something that was being suggested with GameStop… well, good luck with that.
Meanwhile, some companies, including EA, have grudgingly acknowledged in the past that the ability to trade in used games for store credit may, in fact, be propping up the sales of new games.
So one might wonder if this move by Walmart will prove a boon for the gaming companies, despite their grumbling.
Of course, this won’t be any sort of boon for GameStop, which lives in a tight little niche that depends heavily on being the only place close by to take your used games. But now the big box on the edge of town, where your mom probably shops already, will take them as well.
Anyway, starting on March 26th you will be able to take used games to your local Walmart for store credit. At some future, as yet unspecified date, Walmart will begin offering “Certified Pre-Owned” video games for sale, with the promise of them being refurbished to “like new” condition.