Can GameStop Sell Used Tablets and iOS Devices?

Can GameStop Sell Used Tablets and iOS Devices?

GameStop already has command over retail game distribution, and is particularly interested in the sale and trade of used games. Recently, the chain has made public its plans to offer widespread digitally downloadable games and streaming. Is there any game retail territory left for GameStop to jab its flag into? You bet, and that’s the next stop: GameStop is testing out a trade-in market for Apple iOS devices like iPod Touch digital music players, iPhone handsets and iPad tablets.

Last April, GameStop president Tony Bartel told GamaSutra that GameStop is experimenting with tablet trade-ins in five Dallas-area stores. GameStop has plans to expand the program nationwide sometime later this year. If GameStop does indeed go national with this tablet trade-in program, one has to wonder if the company will acquire a lock on used iOS devices, and if said lock will have the grip of GameStop’s used game trade.

One thing’s for sure, the used iOS trade is a good one to get into. Coupled with GameStop’s drive to set up game streaming services, the chain will be able to pretty much cater to gamers of all types and levels: Core, casual, digital, and the retail-centric.

Though it’s not likely the retail market will fade away, its relevance is certainly changing. In the long run, fewer retail releases means fewer used games to hock, which means GameStop shows decent long-range vision by seeking out a new piece of hard technology to trade. Tablets and iOS devices are expensive, even if you don’t want the 3G support. If GameStop can offer them at a significant discount and maybe even couple the offer with a game streaming membership and/or download service (provided those are in place at the time), it would be a very tempting offer to a gamer who’s otherwise apathetic towards tablet computers and their kin.

That said, GameStop still has a lot of work ahead of it if it wants to market used tablets and iOS machines. Neither tablets nor phones/iPods are celebrated for their durability and long lifespan; Apple is always working on the next installment of the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, and once the newest, shiniest thing hits the shelves, people dump what they have in favor of what’s marketed as better. This is not necessarily GameStop’s gain: Unlike the long-tail tech demonstrated by, say, the Nintendo DS line of game systems, one size does not fit all when it comes to iOS machines. The iPhone 3G isn’t quite three years old, but it already runs modern apps at the speed of molasses–if it can run them at all. A used iOS device carries the stigma of slow, outdated technology, and will prove harder to unload than a used DS Lite.

There’s also the issue of sanitation. Maybe this is simply the rant from a member of a spoiled, tech-saturated society, but is anything as unappealing as inheriting a used iPad that’s all gummed up with streaks, fingerprints, scratches, and chips? GameStop will have to perform some serious refurbishing, which may not prove cost-effective.

Come this summer, we’ll see how GameStop plans to surmount these issues and the dozens of other little troubles that will inevitably come with trying to sell old technology.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

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