Best Buy Expands Used Video Game Service

Gearing up for the coming season of hot new video game titles, Best Buy says it is expanding its video game trade-in service. The program -- first announced back in June -- is rolling out to 600 Best Buy stores this week, with additional stores to soon follow. It is offering a $20 video game gift card as an incentive. Eventually, the Minneapolis-based chain says, it will also offer pre-owned games for sale.

The company says the rollout is timed to coincide with some highly anticipated new-product launches, with gamers around the world salivating over such products as Microsoft's "Halo: Reach for Xbox 360," currently Amazon's No. 1 most-craved product, out within weeks.

"The fall will be an incredibly exciting time for gaming," Dave Benson, Best Buy's merchant director for gaming, tells Marketing Daily. "Besides 'Halo,' fans are eagerly awaiting 'Call of Duty: Black Ops,' 'Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II,' 'Medal of Honor,' 'Fallout New Vegas' and 'Donkey Kong Country Returns.' We expect the new releases to drive trade-in volume as customers will use their old games as currency toward the new ones they want."

He says the company will promote trade-in across all of its marketing channels, including online advertising, the Best Buy insert, and its loyalty program, Reward Zone Club for Gamers.

It has been offering a similar program online at BestBuy.com, which allows customers to get estimates, mail them in for free and receive a Best Buy gift card in the mail. Trade-in prices in-store will match the prices shown online.

The used-game market was pioneered by GameStop, a retailer based in Grapevine, Tex., and has become an increasingly important factor in game sales. In its second fiscal quarter, just announced a few weeks ago, GameStop says sales of used video games accounted for $565.5 million, or 31.4%; in the same period a year ago, used games comprised 32.3% of sales.

BestBuy's trade-in program is the latest in its efforts to increase its gaming edge. Its magazine, @Gamer, is already sold in all Best Buy stores and by subscription, and offers discounts; it also offers the Best Buy gaming app for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. It also offers product discounts.

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