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Plugged In

The best places for selling back unwanted holiday video games

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Did Santa not deliver the games you wanted?

Don’t be too hard on him: he’s not as young as he used to be, and today’s assortment of gaming systems can be confusing for an old-timer. Besides, a myriad of options exist for turning unwanted games into wanted ones -- and we dug around to discover which used games places offer the best deals.

For your convenience, we’ve also rounded up the prices retailers are offering on a sample of recent, top-tier games. Quoted prices are money in your pocket (after any necessary fees or shipping costs), assume used but excellent condition, and will likely vary with the whim of the post-holiday market, so treat them as guide, not gospel.

GameStop

The nation’s largest specialist video games retailer is unbeatable for convenience, but makes much of its profit from the money it makes marking up used games -- and that’s money that could be going into your pocket instead. Even so, if you’re looking to turn your unwanted games into new ones quickly and without hassle, GameStop is the most obvious choice. While its prices aren’t the best in town, watch out for the retailer’s special offers, which come with bonus credit that can turn a mediocre trade into an excellent one.

Halo 4: $22
Assassin’s Creed III: $20
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2: $24
Average: $22

Best Buy

Though it’s not as well-known as GameStop’s, Best Buy’s video game trade-in program is just as convenient and might well offer you a better deal. You can either take your games to your local store or mail them in; shipping is free, but obviously it’ll take a few days longer. We found Best Buy’s trade-in prices were on par or slightly better than GameStop, and you get paid in Best Buy store credit, so you’re not limited to spending it on video games alone. Much like GameStop, Best Buy sometimes runs special offers that can add as much as 50% to your trade-in value.

Halo 4: $24
Assassin’s Creed III: $20
Call of Duty: Black Ops II: $27
Average: $23.67

Amazon (trade-in)

Not content with dominating the online retail world, Amazon is taking a crack at the game trade-in market, too. Pick your games, specify their condition, print the mailing labels (they pay the shipping,) and a few days later you’ll receive Amazon credit for their value. If they think your game is in better shape than you described, they’ll credit you for the higher value -- a nice touch. As for the value, it’s highly variable: anything from woeful to decent, but on balance a local store will probably offer you a better deal.

Halo 4: $15
Assassin’s Creed III: $16 (Xbox 360), $31 (PlayStation 3)
Call of Duty: Black Ops II: $32
Average: $23.50

Amazon Marketplace

Don’t like the look of Amazon’s trade-in program? Try the Marketplace instead, a direct-to-buyer service that operates more like eBay. You choose your listing price, your game shows up in the “More buying choices” of the Amazon site, and naturally Amazon takes a hefty cut for the privilege. You get paid in cash, though, and when you list your game you’ll see exactly how much you’ll net when all’s said and done. Shipping to the buyer is down to you.

Halo 4: $30
Assassin’s Creed III: $31
Call of Duty: Black Ops II: $40
Average: $33.67

eBay

There’s not much to be said about eBay that hasn’t been said countless times in the site’s 17-year history. The world’s biggest garage sale is still a great place to get rid of unwanted video games, but it comes with some caveats: demanding buyers can be a hassle, an auction takes some effort to post, and long-established sellers have a definite advantage. eBay’s fee structure is confusing (and Paypal takes a chunk, too,) but once all’s said and done you can expect to pay about 13% (about $5 on a typical $35-40 sale), making it among the best deals out there.

Halo 4: $30-35
Assassin’s Creed 3: $30
Call of Duty: Black Ops II: $39
Average: $33.50

Glyde

Little-known trading site Glyde specializes in video games and electronics like iPhones and tablets. You pick your selling price, although the site will suggest a starting point based on what similar items have sold for in the past. When a buyer takes the bait, Glyde sends you a pre-paid shipping kit, and you pack up your game and mail it straight to the buyer. Their commission works out to about $6 on a $35 game, so it’s competitive if you can deal with the indefinite wait for a buyer -- and there’s no need to fuss with shipping supplies or printing labels.

Halo 4: $30
Assassin’s Creed III: $21-25
Call of Duty: Black Ops II: $32-35
Average: $28.60

Goozex

Oddball site Goozex is more of a swap-shop than a trade-in store. You tell the site the games you’d like to get rid of, and they’ll match you up with other users who are looking to acquire them. Once you’re matched you send the game directly to the recipient and earn a virtual currency you can spend on buying games from other users.

We love the concept, and it’s worked well in the past, but activity on the site has dropped off, and it’s currently going through a major management upheaval. Until its future is clearer, Goozex is a tough recommendation for new traders, but if you don’t mind the risk and want the absolute best value for your games it may be worth a try.  Expect to be able to swap a recent AAA release for another game of similar caliber, and to pay around $4-5 in shipping and fees in the process.

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