How GameLock is Shaking Up the Used Game Market

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

How GameLock is Shaking Up the Used Game Market

Used games are a wonderful thing; they give budget-minded gamers a chance to enjoy the good stuff at a substantially reduced cost, though sometimes it can take a bit of patience to get hands on just that right title as it might take a few months for a used title to hit the shelves. For the longest time, the used game market—particularly in the brick-and-mortar sense—was simple enough; sell a game to a store (often at a laughably low price) and said store would then slap a fresh price tag on said game that represented a major markdown off full brand-new retail. But GameLock, a new startup, is looking to change the way that that business is run, and it's posing a change that should disturb bigger names like GameStop and beyond.

The big thing to remember about GameLock, however, is that it's not for everyone. It is, however, for those who go through a lot of used games. What GameLock is looking to do is nothing short of staggering: it means to offer a definite price for a used game, and stick to it. For instance, under the listing for “Hyrule Warriors” for the Wii U there are two prices. There's a $60 price tag, and a $22.32 price tag. Buying the game from GameLock puts a $60 hold on your credit card—or probably debit card as well—and you're shipped a copy. If you then trade in “Hyrule Warriors” within 30 days of the purchase date on a new game, the $60 hold is taken off and your card is charged $22.32. You're supplied with a pre-paid envelope to return the game, and you do so, now able to buy a new game. But if you decide you want to keep the game, the $60 hold converts to a credit after 30 days, and you've just permanently bought a game. There are other tiers able to activate as well, including an option to resell in 60 days and one to resell in 90 days.

In a certain light, it's almost like a long-term rental with an option to buy. But what's particularly noteworthy about this is that it's always clear. Trade in the game at this date, it's worth this price, and so on depending on the date in question. The trade-in value is essentially front-loaded into the purchase price.

This actually has an added effect that should make companies like EA sit up and take notice; since the games are being sold essentially new, that gives the primary market extra help. Additionally, GameLock is willing to talk to publishers on an individual basis about offering a percentage deal on titles sold, thus encouraging those primary sales. The gamer gets a better value on trades, knowing in advance what will be offered, and even the publishers get a cut of secondary sales, a development that will likely prove welcome to often cash-strapped studios that could use a secondary revenue stream.

All of this combines together rather nicely to give GameStop a serious problem, and potentially, even Amazon would have tough going here. After all, these firms depend on the flow of used games to power the industry—Amazon, admittedly, much less so than GameStop—and with more games staying in the essentially closed system of GameLock, that's fewer games entering either of those spheres.

It's going to be interesting to see if GameLock can get the word out sufficiently and get the gamers interested, but it's certainly got a noteworthy proposition. With a good quantity of marketing to let the gamers know this even exists in the first place, it may well have just the mix it needs to make it a major player in the used gaming field.

Featured Events