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Plugged In

The best places for trading back holiday games

Plugged In

Your relatives know you like to play video games. But they don't necessarily know what kind of video games. And while they always mean well, they don't always get it quite right.

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Maybe it's for the wrong platform. Maybe you already have it. Maybe it's Duke Nukem Forever. Whatever the reason, if the holiday season has left you with games you don't want, there's a myriad of ways to turn them into games you do. Some are better value, and some are worse, depending on the game.

Below you'll find a basic rundown of the most popular options as well as real-world pricing examples for outstanding RPG The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, hit shooter Gears of War 3, and the dismal Duke Nukem Forever.

GameStop

Fast, efficient, and ubiquitous, GameStop is the go-to destination for instant gaming gratification. Walk in with old games; walk out with new ones. Nothing could be easier...but there's a price to pay for that simplicity.

Specifically, GameStop tends to give you a lot less than your games are really worth, and then resell them with a huge markup to net $10-20 in pure profit. If you're cool with that, go nuts -- but in some cases your games could be fetching more than twice as much elsewhere.

Case study: Thanks to a special promotion that's running until early January, Skyrim is guaranteed to fetch you $30 worth of in-store credit, and that ain't bad at all. Gears of War 3 owners aren't so fortunate: current trade-in value on that is a Scrooge-worthy $11. And when we asked about Duke Nukem Forever, they hung up on us.

(We called back, and while the game may have taken 15 years to make, it's only taken six months for it to go from a $60 purchase to a don't-even-bother $2 trade-in. Ouch.)

Amazon

A comparatively new player in the used video games market, Amazon's simple process has earned it a good number of fans. Just find the games you want to sell back, rate their condition, and mail them off. A few days later you'll be credited with their value, and Amazon picks up the shipping, too. Trade-in prices are usually higher than Gamestop's, and you get paid in Amazon gift cards, which are more useful than Gamestop credit -- but you will have to wait as much as a week for mailing and processing.

Case study: Your copy of Skyrim, if in what Amazon calls "Good" condition, will net $34.50 in Amazon credit. Gears of War 3 more than doubles Gamestop's price at $26.95. And the Duke? Again, Amazon outdoes Gamestop, although at just $4.45 it's still barely worth your while.

eBay

Ah, eBay.

Almost as old as the Internet -- almost as old as Yahoo!, even -- this virtual garage sale has been going for some 16 years or thereabouts. So chances are you know the deal: for a new, unopened game, expect to get about 15-20% less than the in-store price, to be paid a few days to a week after you list your game, and to have eBay, Paypal, and the USPS all take a bite out of your profits. Ship delivery-confirmed, be communicative and up-front with your buyers, and there's little real risk -- but if you're not already an eBay pro it might be easier to go with one of the other options.

Case study: A used copy of Skyrim sells for around $45 before shipping, which'll net you about $38-39 after eBay and Paypal fees. As for Gears of War 3, that'll fetch in the region of $22.50 by the time all's said and done. Duke Nukem Forever, however, will do well to sell at all. Expect $5 or so, although one "lucky" eBayer was able to snag a lot of 10 for just $20.

Glyde

Think of Glyde as the anti-eBay.

With clean design, a low-hassle approach, and fixed prices, it makes selling an unwanted game "as easy as throwing it away," or so Glyde puts it. While that's an exaggeration, it's not a particularly big one: listing an unwanted item on the site is a ten-second task, and shipping's made easier with Glyde's Netflix-style pre-stamped mailers. The site only deals in video games, DVDs, and tech gadgets like iPads, and the fees are comparable to eBay's, but they'll pay you in real money without any Paypal hassles.

Case study: A used Xbox 360 copy of Skyrim, in excellent condition, sells for $45, of which you'll get $38.25 assuming you opt for the direct bank transfer payment option. Gears of War 3 will net you $24.75, and DNF fetches just $2.45. Or perhaps that should be "would fetch" -- you'd still have to find someone daft enough to buy it.

Goozex

Silly name, smart concept.

Goozex lets you trade in your games direct to other gamers. You mail your game direct to its lucky recipient, and once it arrives safely you're then credited with points to spend on games for yourself. It's not free -- Goozex charges a couple of bucks for each game you receive, plus reckon on about $3 in postage for each game you send out -- and it's not quick, as popular games have wait times of several months. It's easily the most cost-effective way of turning unwanted games into wanted ones, assuming you're not in a hurry.

Case study: Skyrim nets 1000 "Goozex points," enough credit for any new game, or two or three older ones. You'll pay a total of about $5.25 out-of-pocket by the time your incoming and outgoing trades are complete. For Gears of War 3, the story's exactly the same: 1000 points, and about a fiver in fees.

Even white-elephant gift Duke Nukem Forever has a chance of making itself useful, fetching a surprisingly worthwhile 400 points -- enough to pick up an oldie-but-goodie like Mass Effect 2. If you're looking to offload that bad boy, Goozex is the winner.

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