The good and the bad of GameStop accepting retro trade-ins


With prices in retro games soaring over the last few years, it’s no surprise that GameStop wants a piece of the action. Last year, the company revealed that it would be taking select trade-ins of many retro systems and games for cash or credit across 250 stores in New York City and Birmingham, Alabama.

There are some things to note about this. The video game chain is only expecting certain games from each system, usually the more sought after titles. GameStop is also strict on condition, so if your cartridge has any label damage, writing on it, or cartridge damage, it won’t accept them. Finally, all trade-ins are sent directly to GameStop HQ and posted online later, meaning you won’t be able to see if any of your local stores got in a copy of a game you’ve been really looking for.

Is this really a good idea? There have been reports of many many flaws with GameStop’s hand in the retro market. Let’s take a look at both the good and the bad.


One of the biggest issues for GameStop is bootleg games. It’s something that has appeared many times, including one particular story of a person buying a copy of Chrono Trigger for the Super Nintendo, which goes for around $120 and up. After trying to play the game, the purchaser found out that it’s not actually Chrono Trigger, but instead a copy of Madden! So the user returns the game to GameStop, gets a full refund, but a month or two later, the same exact problem happens to another consumer. Yes, it was the same copy, and rather than destroying the fake, the bootleg game was just sold to another person.

Simply, GameStop doesn’t test their games properly. This is isn’t the individual store’s fault, as it’s corporate who doesn’t train their stores or employees. They have no retro systems in stock to test out whether any of the games work,and if it is also the correct game. They only look at the cartridge, the label, and base it off that, which is a terrible idea, in my opinion, because they can’t even open up the cartridge to see if the board is legit or a fake. This means just about anyone can go to eBay, or any site that sells bootleg reproductions of expensive games, and sell them for cash to GameStop, which prices will grow exponentially at this point.

As a collector, I come across reproductions/bootlegs many times, and sometimes, without opening it up. It’s impossible to tell.

How can this issue be fixed?

Hiring people who know what to look for, or spend time training workers, would be very useful. I doubt that this would happen anytime soon. The reason why I don’t think this will happen anytime soon is that retro trade-ins aren’t a huge focus for them in the grand scheme of things. Another thing GameStop could do is have a stricter warning/punishment for offenders. Sure, not everyone knows if they actually have a bootleg cartridge in their collection, but you will have people who will try to get away with selling fakes of expensive titles every so often.


Not everything is fixed, however. Another issue many people come across is having systems that either have some kind of issues or aren’t working altogether. I can get into many of these problems, but the main point is, GameStop says they have experts who test and fix systems and games. While it’s not a big percentage, there are people who have gotten systems that don’t start, beyond dirty or even the controller port pins are damaged leading the buyer to have to fix it themselves or return it.

How can this issue be fixed?

With a larger quantity of systems and games coming, GameStop will need to up their quality control by possibly hiring more people.

While I could still list a few more negatives, they aren’t really all that bad as the ones I’ve already talked about. Now let’s take a look at some of the positives:

GameStop has some really good pricing on retro games and accessories.

Many of their games are well below what they go for on eBay and game stores focused solely on retro games. A copy of Chrono Trigger for the SNES is $79.99 on GameStop, and if you are a pro rewards member you can save 10%. While you won’t see a lot of these games available on because people are quickly buying them out (some for resale and others for themselves), it might help lower prices down the line if it does well enough.

How much you get for your trade-ins is another question… especially since it’s not currently listed on either their app or webpage.

Don’t worry. You’re protected.

GameStop has a great return policy, so if it’s fake or not working, you are covered.

Only time will tell how this will turn out. As long as GameStop places a better structure moving forward, it’s something to keep an eye on.

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Chris Del Castillo
Chris Del Castillo 2588 posts

Growing up Chris watched a lot of the original Saturday morning cartoons and developed a love for arts and animation. Growing up he tried his hand at animation and eventually script writing, but even more his love of video games, anime and technology grew.