Minneapolis - Best Buy will launch a video game trade-in program in all stores this summer.
The program, modeled after GameStop's envied used-game strategy, joins an existing online exchange offer and follows several years of trials that included a vending machine pilot.
Under the new plan, customers can purchase pre-owned titles backed by the company's return policy, and also exchange their own games for gift cards that can be used throughout the store.
Select stores will have dedicated trade-in desks within the gaming department, while the balance of locations will accept and sell pre-played titles at the customer service desk.
During an earnings call, Americas co-president Mike Vitelli said Best Buy had worked on a video game exchange model for several years to help offset traffic declines as demand for packaged media, its traditional driver, has waned. The chain will reallocate real estate and possibly staff from the CD and DVD areas to support the program, he said.
CEO Brian Dunn added that the timing of the rollout coincides with a number of gaming innovations slated for the second half that will invigorate the category, including gesture-based motion control and 3D firmware upgrades for PS3.
Best Buy will also support the gaming category with new interactive touchscreens that will allow customers to preview and pre-order games in stores, and recently launched its own specialty gaming magazine called @Gamer. The company has also developed mobile gaming apps for the iPhone and Android platforms that provide special offers, discounts and unique content, and will add a gaming app for BlackBerry this summer.
In a statement, Chris Homeister, home entertainment group senior VP and general manager, said, "Our commitment to creating an improved gaming experience begins with giving customers easy and exciting ways to connect with the games they love. We know how important game trade-in is in that mix. Combined with the anticipated arrival of new interactive gaming experiences later this year and strategic investments into our future digital capabilities that will enable consumers to buy digital content and downloads, we will provide gamers innovative ways to connect with current and future gaming titles."