Walmart is once again looking to break into the used videogames business and this time, they're not screwing around.
Walmart revealed in mid-2009 that it was dipping its toes into the used games market, looking to carve up a slice of the sweet, sweet moolah pie that GameStop had been keeping all to itself. It hooked up with a company called e-Play that provided kiosks for test stores that rented games and movies for $1 per day and also purchased pre-owned games at fixed rates. It was a fairly predictable bust and by February of this year, the company had pulled the plug on the project.
But it's not ready to walk away from all that profit margin just yet. The retailer confirmed today that it's launched a new initiative in five test stores in conjunction with a new partner called Game Trade. "Walmart is always looking for new ways to help give customers more convenience and savings, and we continually test concepts with new products and businesses in stores and online," the company said in a statement to IndustryGamers. "We are currently working with Game Trade, a start-up services provider, in a lease agreement to test their Game Trade stores in five Walmart locations."
"These locations will offer previously-owned games, movies and entertainment hardware at competitive values," the statement continued. "Game Trade stores will accept trade-ins of media and other entertainment items for Game Trade store credit or cash."
Walmart says it has no plans to roll the program out to other stores until it "understands more about customer response, which [it] will monitor with great interest." Will the company have better luck this time around? Using a "store within a store" concept with real people and real customer support is a big step above and beyond automated kiosks, which sounded like a non-starter from the word go, and the lure of hefty pre-owned profit margins will no doubt keep Walmart in the hunt.
The reaction of major game publishers if it becomes a real pre-owned player will also be interesting to watch. EA, Activision and Ubisoft may be willing to drink GameStop's milkshake with programs like Project Ten Dollar but will they risk alienating a retailer with the muscle and market share of Walmart?