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Walmart Testing “Video Game Buyback” Kiosks
Walmart Testing “Video Game Buyback” Kiosks
May 18, 2009 | By Kris Graft

May 18, 2009 | By Kris Graft
More: Console/PC

Walmart has leased store space to third-party automated kiosk company E-play, which has released 77 “Video Game Buyback” stations at select locations, Walmart corporate told Gamasutra on Monday.

The machines are part of a very limited pilot program for Ohio-based E-play -- the kiosks are only found in 2 percent of Walmart’s 3,656 total U.S. stores.

Walmart corporate spokesperson Melissa O’Brien said in an email that E-play owns the machines, which reside in Walmart stores’ vestibule leased space areas.

She said the Walmart machines also carry movie DVDs and video game discs for Wii, Xbox and PlayStation platforms for $1 per day rentals, on top of accepting game discs that customers want to sell.

E-play marketing VP and business development exec Kristen Fox explained in phone call that customers scan a game’s jewel case at the machines, at which point a buy back price point appears on the unit’s screen. If the customer accepts the buy back price, he or she inserts the game disc into the kiosk, and the case into the attached bin.

After the machine’s technology confirms the authenticity of the inserted game disc, the kiosk requests the customer’s driver’s license and a credit card. Credit is applied to a credit card of the user’s choice within 2-3 business days, depending on the customer’s financial establishment.

The card does not have to be a Walmart store credit card, Fox said. Store credit can range from 50 cents to around $25 for more recent, high-demand titles, she added. For example, she said that E-play machines buy back Madden NFL 09 for Xbox 360 for $14, although E-play reviews trade-in values frequently “to stay competitive.”

Fox would not go into details about the contract between E-play and Walmart, and declined to say whether or not there is some sort of profit-sharing deal between the two companies.

Fox also declined to comment specifically on what E-play does with the used games that it buys, only saying there are a “couple different methods” for resale of the games. It’s possible that some of the inventory is injected into E-play’s game rental inventory.

“I can't see this having tremendous appeal to hardcore gamers, unless the credits are substantially higher than those offered at GameStop,” said Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, who also told us that the system could appeal to cash-strapped customers.

“Even if this takes off, it's not going to make much of a dent in the used market. … I don't see it being a big deal.”

Walmart’s O’Brien added that the retailer would consider expanding the E-play game buy back program if it’s successful.

Prior to the Walmart initiative, E-play had established a base of what it calls “high-tech DVD vending machines” that can hold thousands of discs. The touch-screen operated machines are able to accept discs thanks to playability check technology inside the machines.

While the E-play Walmart program is a third-party initiative, other non-specialty video game retailers have attempted to steal away used game market share from the current used game leader GameStop on an internal basis. Best Buy has attempted to gain traction in the used market by selling used games in select stores, with limited success. Toys ‘R’ Us this year also dipped its toes into used games, as well as online retailer Amazon.

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Fiore Iantosca
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I hate Walmart. But any competition to Gamestop is excellent in my book.

Vicki Greenleaf
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On behalf of e-Play, I want to assure you that the new e-play Video Game Buy Back kiosks in Walmart have been stringently tested and do not, as erroneously stated, have “bugs.” In fact, we are very pleased with the early traffic counts, high number of trade transactions and amount of positive consumer feedback.

You can indeed trade in your PS2, PS3, X-Box, 360 and Wii games with ease and for highly competitive prices (up to $25 credit for in-demand games).

We would be happy to discuss your experience with you via phone (866-602-6014), but we are confident we have identified the user error based upon the writer’s posting. Many retailers place a proprietary UPC sticker over a game’s original UPC code. If you peel back this sticker or open the game and remove the box art, you can easily access the original manufacturer’s UPC code and avoid the issues encountered by the original writer.

There are more than 4,000 games titles in our database, including each of the games you mention in your posting: Final Fantasy XII, Godfather II, Mirror's Edge, Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, and Burnout 3: Takedown.

The following link explains the trade-in process:

Regarding security issues, e-Play DOES verify the authenticity of the discs traded. A valid driver's license is required for all trade-in activity and the kiosk takes a photo of each user. Credit is applied to the customer's credit card within a few business days.

Please take the time to revisit our kiosk and feel free to contact us directly with your feedback ( Customer feedback is always appreciated as it steers us toward improvements that ensure an ideal user experience. Thanks and happy gaming!

Michael Moore
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Wow! Your kiosk software is bug-free, ie perfect?? Whoever codes your kiosk, you need to give them a raise, as even Redbox and other kiosks aren't bug-free. Seriously though, I doubt your system is perfect, are you saying you don't update your kiosks with bug and security fixes? A very bold attitude. But it sounds like an interesting program, wish your website would list what you would pay for a particular game. But I'm sure you'll be making those changes in the future as your venture matures.

Kevin Baba
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To me, this sounds like an easy fence.

Melissa Hayes
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There are so many new DVD rental boxes everywhere you look these days. Most of them are only $1.00 per night rental. Which is a great deal compared to the years of big store DVD rental prices. The only way to beat a $1.00 a night is to get a free rental. So, here are some Free rental codes to get us started.

Here’s a FREE first night rental code for e-play dvd rental boxes – (RAF0329). good until August 11th.

These are codes for Redbox: