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October 2017 Retro Gaming Article


October 30, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

How will GameStop's in-store rental plan, Power Pass, effect new & used game sales?

GameStop's in-store rental plan
I'm interested to see how a Blockbuster-like scenario influences GameStop's existing new and used game sales.
Game Stop has announced an in-store rental service called Power Pass. For $60, and a Power-Up Rewards account, you have unlimited access to used games at any GameStop location. Beginning November 19th, Power Pass will be available as a 6-month subscription at the end of which you get to keep one used game. So, this has similarities Blockbuster's video rental scenario.

GameStop's in-store rental plan But there are some differences that make me wonder about this strategy. GameStop has done a good job of managing a used market alongside their new game sales with out the lower priced used games cannibalizing new game sales. If I can try-before-I-buy as soon as a $60 game hits the used shelf, I may tame my impulses on launch day. Sure, I bought Super Mario Odyssey right away,but how many games are so highly regarded prior to launch? Few.

I Prefer Used Games

To be honest, I prefer used games. By the time a game reaches "used" status on retail shelves there are plenty of reviews and play-through videos to help make the decision. And they're less expensive. So, it seems like Power Pass is right up my alley, but I have two reservations.

GameStop has quality issues with their used games. About 90% of my used purchases from GameStop are scratched - many quite badly - and almost 30% of those used purchases are returned because they won't play at all.

Used/Rental = Damaged Merchandise

Price: eBay will always be less expensive.
Having their used inventory in "rental mode" means more people will treat the game discs poorly. As a rental item, a game disc could change hands dozens of times each month whereas the typical used disc probably won't have had more than a few previous owners.

Which used car do you want to buy... the car with one previous owner or the car with nine previous owners? This is my quandary with a rental scenario at GameStop. I feel the used game quality will further deteriorate with multiple people handling games and those who use them as beer coasters.

As an example I still own the first CD I bought in the late 1980s - Ozzy's Blizzard Of Oz. Not a single scratch or blemish on the disc. We treat our own possessions better than "rental" items, but some treat everything poorly. I've grown tired of badly scratched game discs being sold at the same price as properly cared for games. They make no distinction at trade-in or point of sale, which is a major drawback.

Auction Sites Offer Best Pricing

Quality: rental items are always treated poorly.
Price is the other issue. I can easily return things to GameStop for a variety of reasons, but eBay will always have a better price. Risk comes with that cheaper price, but GameStop will never be the lesser cost. As the pricey option, I don't see how an unlimited rental scenario will benefit either used or new game sales. I see it hindering both.

In an ever shrinking market for physical games, I have to applaud GameStop for continually acknowledging this and making changes to their operation. I'll be interested to see how Power Pass effects their existing sales model.

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