BENTONVILLE, ARK. - Walmart has opened video game trade-in stores within five of its Supercenter locations.
The leased shops, dubbed Game Trade, buy and sell used video games, handhelds and consoles for all major platforms, along with a smaller number of new titles and products.
Inventory is provided by a distributor called Game Factory, and the stores' operators plan to add repair services - and additional locations - in the near future.
The stores are located along the inside front wall of the stores, across from the checkout counters, where Walmart also maintains vision centers, health clinics, hair salons and other specialty shops.
The pilot program is Walmart's second stab at the video game trade-in business, following last year's aborted test of automated kiosks in New England.
Best Buy is still testing the trade-in venders, supplied by Columbus, Ohio-based E-Play, which scan games for functionality and issue store vouchers in exchange.
In contrast, RadioShack and Toys "R" Us developed their own in-store exchange programs, and Amazon.com began accepting mail-in trade-ins last year.
Walmart has also extended its online CE trade-in program, through Gazelle, to include used video games and consoles. As with other electronics, consumers can determine the trade-in value of their gaming products at
ship the items using prepaid packing labels and cartons; and receive payment via Walmart prepaid Visa cards.
All of the retailers are emulating the model developed by gaming specialty chains Trade N Play and GameStop, which have generated increased traffic, revenue and profits through the hardware and software exchange.
Elsewhere, Walmart's gaming efforts also extended to the Web, where it launched a new online gaming center last month that it described as a one-stop destination for enthusiasts and families.
The micro site, called Gamecenter (
), provides previews, exclusive footage, content, special offers, promotional incentives for pre-orders, and 97-cent shipping (per game) for all titles.
"Walmart Gamecenter combines incredible savings with exclusive gaming content all in a compelling and interactive experience online," said Kelly Thompson, merchandising VP for Walmart.com. "Gaming enthusiasts will be drawn in by the exclusive content and developer interviews, while moms will appreciate the special savings."
Indeed, Walmart offered shoppers a $50 e-gift card with pre-orders of at least three select titles to help promote the launch of Gamecenter, and will provide gift cards and other special offers each month on a new selection of soon-to-be-released games.