NEW YORK – Wal-Mart plans to start buying used video games from shoppers at stores in a move that goes after the bread-and-butter business of GameStop.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to expand its current online trade-in program by allowing customers to trade their used video games at 3,100 Wal-Mart stores in exchange for credit toward the purchase of other items.
The world's largest retailer is taking aim at the $2 billion used video-game market. It's a business that's dominated by GameStop Corp., the world's biggest dedicated seller of video games with the largest and most-established video game trade-in program.
Retailers from Amazon to Best Buy also offer used video game trade-in programs. But Wal-Mart's new program is the biggest threat to GameStop, which for the past three years has drawn roughly half of its profits from buying and selling used video games.
Starting next week, Wal-Mart customers can trade in video games for credit that can be used in both Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores. The value for each trade-in will vary by the title, console and age of the game, ranging from just a few dollars for older games to $35 or more for newer ones.
In an apparent flight on GameStop's program, Wal-Mart made a point on Tuesday of saying that the credit it will offer shoppers can be used on anything from groceries to a new bike, rather than just other video games.
"When we disrupt markets and compete, our customer wins," said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer of its U.S. stores. "They'll save money on video games and have the flexibility to spend it however they want."
GameStop did not respond to a request for comment.