Wal-Mart Ditches Used Games
FEB. 1, 2010 • Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cancelled its pilot used game program in the 80 locations that had automated kiosks installed in space leased by e-Play LLC. Although the retailer did not discuss its reasons for terminating the program, sales of used games from the machines was thought to be underwhelming during the six months the kiosks were in operation. After Wal-Mart made its announcement, e-Play itself suspended operations.
Impact: A used game program sounds good in theory but as a practical matter it is difficult to implement. It really requires a great deal of hands on work with consumers and is a hard process to automate. Retailers like GameStop stand out because they hire knowledgeable clerks to provide customer service. The main thing to note about a used game business is that it may be a way for brick and mortar retailers to stay in the business as a large portion of the industry shifts to digital distribution. One disadvantage of digital distribution is it makes it hard for consumers to recycle products via trade-ins. GameStop may be able to survive the digital age by appealing to those consumers that are active in trading games.