The “secondary” market for used video games is such a brilliant idea. While I will indulge in a brand new $60 game from time to time, it usually makes a lot more sense for me to sell or trade my old games to get new (to me) titles. The problem with many of the retailers that offer trade-in programs is that their trade-in values have gotten progressively worse over the years. I remember buying a $60 game and trying to trade it in about six months later, only to have the retailer tell me they’d give me a whopping $5 store credit for it. Meanwhile, they were happily selling used copies of that same game for $35.
A New Way to Play
Fighting against this unfair practice is a relatively new service called LeapTrade. The idea here is that you can effectively trade video games with your peers and actually get some decent value in return. Basically what they’ve done is taken the age-old barter system and updated it to the context of 21st century gaming. While I have tried to do some trades locally through sites like Craigslist, LeapTrade lets you trade with people across the country. As far as I can tell, it is currently restricted to US addresses though.
Basic and Instant Trades
In terms of how it works, there are two main systems with LeapTrade. First, they have what they call a “basic” trade.
This is where you ship your game to LeapTrade directly (see updates below) and they’ll give you “points” in exchange. These points can then be spent on other games that other members have traded in. It’s important to note here that there are no listing fees and no additional charges. That’s one advantage that you’d have over trying something like eBay.
If you don’t have any games of your own that you would like to trade in, LeapTrade also gives you the opportunity to purchase points that you can then spend in the marketplace. According to the FAQ page, each point is effectively equivalent to 10 cents, but you do have to buy them in increments of 50 points. So, 100 points will cost you $10 US. If you buy 500 points, you get a 10% discount, bringing your cost down to $45.
Game Selection and Value
LeapTrade is still in beta, so the selection isn’t quite as vast as it could be. Looking through what is currently available for the Xbox 360, for example, there are just 31 games listed as of the time I wrote this review. I wanted to pick up a couple games for my Nintendo 3DS, but while the system is listed on the site, there are actually zero games available for it right now.
That being said, the “pricing” for the games is quite fair for all parties involved. The 125 point price for Soulcalibur V, for instance, is generally cheaper than how much it would cost you to buy a used copy in stores, but it is also higher than the trade-in value you might receive at Best Buy or Gamestop.
The registration process was effectively instantaneous; all you have to do is verify your e-mail address and enter your shipping address. I did find the dashboard to be a little crowded, but there is a lot of information that you may need to process. Remember that you can list your own offered games, track your game requests, maintain a watch list, buy more points, add friends, send messages and more. And yes, you can have peace of mind with LeapTrade’s trade protection guarantee too.
Sharing Is Caring
In a growing peer-to-peer “sharing” economy, pushed on by other services like AirBNB and eBay, LeapTrade looks like it could be a great option for gamers who want to play more games without necessarily spending more money. It would have been nice to see the service extended beyond the United States, but given the potentially expensive cross-border shipping costs, I understand why they’d keep it with the US to start.
If you want to give LeapTrade a try for yourself, every new registration gets started with a free 100 point bonus. That’s enough for at least one game!
UPDATE: I received a clarification from LeapTrade about the basic trade. You do not ship the game to them. Trading is always person to person. You don’t actually ship the game until someone requests it and then points are transferred once the recipient leaves feedback. If the user doesn’t leave feedback or simply forgets, then the system automatically leaves feedback and transfers the points. They are also working on implementing a system where points are transferred once the game is shipped. Users with a certain feedback score will be able to receive that benefit.
In terms of the revenue model for LeapTrade, they earn through advertising, purchased points and shipping. Members don’t go out to USPS to pay for shipping on their own. Instead, they must purchase shipping from LeapTrade for a flat fee of $3.49 (hence the US-only nature at the moment). The idea here is that LeapTrade users can track their games at all times through the site and it helps to minimize fraud too.