Best Buy, which began testing used game sales in some of its Canadian stores a year ago, has begun testing the waters in the U.S. by installing kiosks in its Dallas and Austin locations.
"This week, several of our Dallas and Austin stores will test a kiosk-based model that allows customers to insert their used games into a kiosk that will scan it for functionality, and immediately issue a voucher that is instantly redeemable for a Best Buy gift card," Barry Judge, CMO of Best Buy, wrote on his blog.
Judge went on to say that Best Buy will also be testing the sale of used games in those stores, while some of the kiosks will also rent games (and movies).
If any of this sounds familiar, it's because Wal-Mart made a similar announcement just one month ago, launching a limited pilot program of 77 "Video Game Buyback" kiosks in 2 percent of the chain's 3.656 total U.S. stores.
Buying and selling used games has proven ultra-lucrative for Gamestop, who in 2008 revealed sales figures of $8.8 billion. Despite the current global recession, Gamestop expects that number to grow by another billion dollars in 2009. Such sales figures are proving too large to ignore, with Walmart being the latest to test the used game waters.
According to Gamasutra, Walmart has leased store space to Ohio-based E-play, and third-party automated kiosk company. As part of the limited pilot program, "Video Game Buyback" stations have been placed at 77 of Walmart's 3,656 U.S. locations.
The way it works is users looking to sell their used games will scan the UPC code from the game's case. A value will appear on-screen, and if the owner decides to sell, he will then need to enter in his credit card and driver's license information. Once the game is inserted and authenticated, the value is then put on the credit card. Because of the authentication process, buy backs are limited to Xbox, PlayStation, and Wii console games.
"I can't see this having tremendous appeal to hardcore gamers, unless the credits are substantially higher than those offered at GameStop," said Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter." Even if this takes off, it's not going to make much of a dent in the used market. I don't see it being a big deal."
Do you see this going anywhere? Hit the jump and sound off.
As gaming notebooks continue to march into mainstream price points, your lap is becoming the new hot spot (literally) for gaming goodness. That might not be the best thing for your little swimmers, let alone all that high-end hardware cramped into a 15-inch chassis. But it's great for companies putting out notebook coolers, like NZXT has done with its just-announced Cyro S.
"Just like its award-winning big brother, the Cyro LX, this [Cyro S] cools not only the fan vents, but it removes heat from the entire notebook case which is crucial for high performance gaming making the Cyro S best in its class for effective notebook cooling," said Johnny Hou, Chief Designer at NZXT.
The sleek-looking Cyro S comes constructed out of thick, brushed aluminum to help whisk heat away, aided by two adjustable 120mm fans for active cooling duties. A rubber finish elevates the notebook ever-so-slightly to prevent heat from building up and beef up its airflow. You can power the Cyro S via a USB port or with the included AC adapter.
NZXT says the Cyro S will be available later this month for $50 from Newegg.
Several upcoming titles have announced support for Nvidia's hardware PhysX, which could be good news for the GPU maker. However, up until this point, games supporting PhysX have been a mixed bag, perhaps leading to a sense of apathy among gamers. Or at least that's what AnadTech's newest poll seems to suggest.
When asked how important hardware PhysiX acceleration is in buying software, 52 percent of the nearly 9,000 respondents said it was only "Marginal; PhysX is a bonus if a game I like supports it." Thirty-one percent took it a step further calling PhysX 'Not useful,' and 3 percent said it was "Detrimental." Only 13 percent found PhysX 'Useful,' 'Important,' or 'Very Important.'
Things weren't much better (for Nvidia) when the same question was asked about making a hardware buying decision. A slightly less 79 percent of respondents found PhysX to be anywhere from a marginal to detrimental marketing bullet. And the responses weren't overly swayed by ATI videocard owners, either. According to current poll results, 52 percent of respondents own an Nvidia card with support for PhysX.
What a refreshing change of pace to have a major videogame publisher step forward and not only refrain from ringing the death knell for PC gaming, but to annoint the PC as the platform for games moving forward. That's what Electronic Arts (EA) has done, almost in as many words.
"In terms of distribution, the way we look at a lot of what's happening in the future is, we've got probably a billion PCs out there in the world," said Eric Brown, CFO for EA. "Very rapidly the PC is becoming the largest gaming platform in the world, just not in a packaged-good product."
The comments came during a quarterly earnings call in which EA talked about the digital download market. According to Brown, the online portion of EA's business model is seeing growth by as much as 60 percent year over year.
In a time when it's become vogue to diss on the PC as a gaming platform, EA's comments to the contrary almost makes you forget about the whole SecuROM/Spore debacle. We said 'almost.'
Most parts of the country aren't expected to see any more snowfall until next winter, but the relationship between Nvidia and Intel couldn't be any more chilly. At odds with each other over Nehalem licensing, netbook platforms, and other tech related spats, the two sides seem all to happy to take digs at one another when the opportunity arises. For Nvidia, that means calling to question Intel's claim that its Core i7 processor can improve game performance by up to 80 percent.
"I have a copy of Intel’s latest deck that they share with press and customers, and on there they have a slide that is called The Intel Core i7 920 Processor, where they claim that gaming performance goes up by 80 percent when you use a Core i7, said Tom Peterson, Nvidia's technical marketing director. "Now, I was impressed by that claim, and I was trying to figure out how they could possibly say such a thing, and it turns out that Intel is basing that claim on only 3DMark Vantage’s CPU test."
Peterson went on to point out that the synthetic benchmark's CPU test doesn't actually measure game performance, and to say otherwise would be disingenuous. To drive his point home, Peterson showed Nvidia's own benchmarks of a Core 2 Duo E8400 machine outfitted with a GeForce GTS 250 videocard. The PC averaged 41.6 FPS in Nvidia's testing, and only increased to 42.4 FPS after upgrading to a Core i7 965. But after upgrading to a pair of GeForce GTX 260 videocards, that number jumped to 59.4 FPS.
"In real gaming, there's no difference between a Core i7 and a Core 2 Duo," Peterson concluded.
Good news for Digital Rights Management fans, and particularly for those who take masochistic pleasure in filling their machines with SecuROM-protected titles. Electronic Arts, the company who caused an internet uproar over its custom SecuROM implementation on Spore, has released a SecuROM de-authorization tool.
"Certain EA PC games with SecuROM digital rights management technology allow users to concurrently 'authorize' up to five computers at the same time to play the games, EA states. "Users can then play the game on any authorized computer they choose. If your EA PC game was released after May 2008 and has a machine authorization limit, you can now manage your computer authorizations using EA De-Authorization Tools!"
The De-Authorization Management Tool scans your PC to automatically detect games released after May 2008 with machine authorization limits. You can then download the game-specific de-authorization tool(s) to de-authorize your PC and free up a slot. Alternately, you can skip the scanning and jump straight to the appropriate tool if you already know which games are eligible (see list here).
Thoughts on EA's new tool? Hit the jump and sound off.
Both Gamestop and Amazon are making a bid for your used games with tantalizing promotions. For Gamestop's part, the used-game reseller has been running a tiered trade-in offer. Trade in at least 2 games and get 10 percent extra credit. That number doubles to 20 percent if trading in at least 4 games, and doubles once more to 40 percent if trading in at least 6 games. Naturally, the trade-ins must be in full working order and the offer is good towards games only.
Amazon, on the other hand, has begun a tiered offer of its own. Send the company two used titles and receive an additional $10 off select new releases, or send the company four games to receive $20 off. These credits are in addition to the Amazon.com Gift Card sellers receive when trading in used games. See here for a list of eligible new releases, which include titles like Halo Wars Limited, Resident Evil 5, MLB 09, Street Fighter IV, and a whole bunch more.
Amazon launched its trade-in store earlier this month with 1,500 eligible titles. The company foots the shipping bill when you send in your used games, then issues Amazon credit in the form of a Gift Card, which can be used anywhere on Amazon.com. A quick glance of eligible titles reveals slightly better trade-in pricing than Gamestop in many cases.
Zeebo, backed by Qualcomm, announced a new device it's calling the "fourth video game console." But don't worry if you're a console collector, the Zeebo console probably won't ever see the light of day in the U.S. and is instead being targeted at middle-class buyers in emerging markets.
Referring to the middle-class consumers of the so-called BRIC nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, and China -- Zeebo Chief Executive John Rizzo said "A console for these markets has got to be affordable."
To keep costs down and cut back on rampant piracy, the Zeebo will not use a disc or other fixed media, and instead employs a Qualcomm chipset to allow gamers to connect wirelessly to purchase and download games. The onboard flash memory can store about 50 games, Rizzo said.
Other specs include an ARM 11 / QDSP-5 running at 528MHz, 128MB of DDR memory, VGA (640 x 480) output, three USB 2.0 ports, and an SD card slot.
The Zeebo console will first be available in Brazil for $199, with pricing expected to drop to $150 within the year.
Some game developers and publishers are vehemently opposed to used game sales, and for them, Amazon's announcement of a new used-game trade-in program is nothing to jump for joy over. For everyone else, it just might be.
The Good More options is always a good thing, right? The obvious comparison here is to GameStop, and Amazon bursts out of the gates with over 1,500 eligible titles. But the real surprise is how the trade-in values compare. Amazon appears to be offering more than both GameStop and Game Crazy on most titles. For example, Little Big Planet (PS3) fetches $29 at Amazon versus $26.25 at GameStop and $22.73 with Game Crazy. In that same order, Left 4 Dead for the Xbox 360 pulls in $26.50, $24, and $22.73 respectively.