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Where to Sell Back Your Unwanted Games

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People returning unwanted video games

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We all get dud gifts for the holidays. And while you might appreciate the fact that Uncle Ernie tried his hardest to give you something special, that copy of The Voice: I Want You probably wasn’t exactly what you were hoping for.

If you’re lucky, Uncle Ernie knew he was out of his depth and included a gift receipt with the present. But even if he didn’t, you have options. Mercifully. Here’s what to do with games you’re not planning on keeping:

Take it to GameStop
The most popular — and in most cases, quickest — choice is to head to your local GameStop. The retailer is easy to find, and it’ll take back pretty much any game.

GameStop will let you swap games for either cash or store credit, though youre a sucker if you take the cash. The company puts a much higher value on trades, and unless you’re giving up the habit entirely, chances are you’ll want a new game sooner or later.

If youre trading in several games or plan to trade in more through the course of the year, its worth signing up for the PowerUp Rewards program. There’s a $15 annual fee, but that increases the value of your trades, up to a couple of bucks per title. That can pay off in the long run if you’re a big gamer.

Dont just trade games whenever the mood strikes you, though. Several times per year, the company offers promotions that put a bonus on trade-ins, which can boost their value by anywhere from 30 to 90 percent. The best way to keep up with that is by checking GameStop’s flyers, its website, or the forums of sites like CheapAssGamer.

Head to Walmart
GameStop got some competition this year, though, as Walmart jumped into the trade-in business and came to play. In late October, the retailer launched its certified preowned program in 1,700 stores nationwide.

Walmart’s trade program accepts games for all existing console systems, but unlike GameStop, the retailer does not accept game hardware. CE Exchange maintains the database determining the value of the titles. That eases the burden on Walmart associates, who only have to scan the game’s UPC code (after first checking the disc for scratches and cracks) to determine how much credit to give the customer.

This isn’t the first time Walmart has explored the used game business, but it’s by far the largest expansion of the program. In 2009, the retailer launched a pilot program using kiosks but never expanded on it. This time, it’s a bit more serious.

Why choose Walmart over GameStop? It really boils down to the game. Before you head to either retailer, consider price shopping online. GameStop’s site will give you an idea of how much it’s paying for recent titles. Walmart has a similar option as well. And both Best Buy and Target list their prices for all games online. You can get an extra 10 percent on your trades at Best Buy if you’re a member of its Unlocked Gamers Club, though at $99 for a two-year membership, it’s a bit pricey.

Stay home and head online
Of course, if you’d just as soon have the cash, there’s always eBay, though you’ll be competing against a lot of people doing the same thing. Unless you’re selling a limited edition or otherwise special copy of the game, the prices might not be so hot.

Alternate bidding site Glyde.com will also get you some cash. It’s not as robustly populated as eBay, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on the game.

Interestingly, Amazon is now a big player in the used game space. Here’s how it works: Enter the games you want to dispose of on the site and you’ll see their trade value. Assuming that’s acceptable to you, you print out a free shipping label, box them up, and drop them off at the nearest UPS location. A week or so later, your Amazon account will receive a credit in that amount, which can be used on games or anything else the site carries. Bad games for a new iPad? Not a bad trade.

Follow Chris Morris on Twitter.