There’s a war going on right now, a war for your money. Video game publishers have drawn a line in the sand between themselves and GameStop, who recently reported $9.55 billion dollars in sales for the 2011 fiscal year. Chris Avellone, Denis Dyack and other noteworthy individuals have railed against the company because they don’t see a dime from used game sales and go as far to suggest that GameStop is ruining video games. Since they are not getting a piece of GameStop’s pie, publishers have instituted all sorts of options to discourage people from trading in games (rather than lowering prices), such as Online Passes, tying a game to one specific account and considering the installation of a “Nuclear Option” in future consoles that will make them unable to play used games.
As both sides continue to bicker and argue about the merits and problems associated with the used game market, online retailer EKGaming has come up with a novel solution: for every pre-owned game it sells, the company will give 10% of its profits to the publisher of that game.
“EKG is the first retailer to take into consideration the current used game retail market is damaging video game publishers and ultimatley [sic] gaming consumers. To correct this problem we are sharing 10% of the “used” game revenue with the game publishers. So all used games purchased on EKG will also help out the creators of these games. How cool is that?”
CEO Mike Kennedy’s plan for success is to create a low overhead, “to give gamers higher trade-in credit while also sharing used game revenue with video game publishers. EKG plans on guaranteeing gamers 20-30% more for their trade-ins while sharing 10% of the used game selling prices with all publishers.” Trading in games is as easy as shipping your item(s) through the mail and waiting for a coupon to be sent via email. To make things as simple as possible, EKG is following a straightforward trade-in value formula:
“Simply locate the “New” game here in our marketplace and we will give you $20 less than the “New” game price. So, for example if we are seling [sic] a game NEW for $59.99 we will give you $40 for your used copy. Basically, we are giving you $20 off new retail for your used game, just in case you don’t see the game(s) you have to trade here for sale on EKG.”
The process of sending in games is a bit cumbersome and EKG does offer to refund some of the shipping costs you’ll incur, but one would hope that if this service takes off, things will be a bit more streamlined. In fact, I would hope that they expedite the process because what makes GameStop such an attractive option is a) they are everywhere and b) instant gratification. If you have older games, EKG kindly suggests you go through their sister site GameGavel as they only accept Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Vita, and 3DS games.
As the site continues to build, so does its business plan. Kennedy envisions his company creating partnerships with big-box retailers to “help facilitate local game trade-ins where gamers can drop off their games and have immediate access to new games, while the used games are funneled through their online marketplace.” A unique idea, sure, but it is too early to speculate on whether or not EKG’s solution will catch on.
Currently in the beta phase, EKG needs to quickly add more games to its catalog in order to compete with the other retailers out there. It would also help if they offered more than just the newest and most popular titles. The nice thing about GameStop and Amazon is that I can buy PlayStation 2 games for dirt cheap or some of the more obscure titles that most retailers won’t carry. Time will tell on this one, folks, but I intend to keep an eye on them.