There's no doubt the used game market can be lucrative, it's tapping into it that's challenging. Just ask mega retail chain Walmart, which previously tried cashing in on used games by renting out space for E-play, a third-party automated kiosk company.
That didn't quite work out the way Walmart had hoped, so this time around the chain is partnering with a new start-up called Game Trade, which will lease space in select Walmart locations. To start off with, the new used game venture get a test run in five stores, with a national rollout to follow if all goes well.
Word on the Web is that customers will be able to buy, sell, and trade games for both store credit and cash, and that gaming might not be the only media to change hands. Moves might make their way into Game Trade's section, and so too might gaming hardware. In other words, pretty much everything you can find at your local Gamestop.
I'm willing to bet than not to many of the Maximum PC readership make regular use of the Geek Squad, but at the very least, they help take some of the burden off us from "friends who are our friends simply because we know how to fix computers". With little in the way of competition, the Geek Squad has been making a killing setting up routers and HDTV's, but Wal-Mart is stepping in, and they are looking for a piece of the action.
Very little is known about the Wal-Mart branded tech team, but we do know that it is being offered in partnership with N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, and should be starting up sometime before the holiday. The service plans will be sold on prepaid cards ranging from $99 to $399, and each installation will include a consultation and tutorial.
Wal-Mart's non technical audience might make this initiative a hit, but then again, Wal-Mart customers can also be known for being a bit on the thrifty side. Do they have what it takes to compete with Best Buy?
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.
The re-launched music store will offer top-25 tracks for $0.74 each, less than the standard 94 cents per track. They’re also offering a free track every week from lesser-known artists and albums. Every physical or digital CD sold by Walmart will include a waver for a free digital track of the customer’s choice. Additionally, the retail giant is offering exclusive “Soundcheck” content, including performances by acts like Nickelback and Beyonce.
Walmart is also touting integration with social networking sites, and a reworked music search engine. With 3 million tracks available right now and growing, it seems like Walmart is looking to take back its title as the nation’s biggest music-seller.
What are your thoughts on the Walmart online music store? How does it measure up to the iTunes store? Let us know after the jump.
The next time you're out shopping for toilet paper, kitty treats, motor oil, and a gigantic jar of pickles, you can add a G1 Android-powered smartphone to your list and save money on that too, all without ever having to leave the store. That is, provided you're shopping at Wal-Mart.
Starting Wednesday, the mega-chain will begin selling the G1 phone to both new and existing T-Mobile customers in 550 of its stores, but there's more reason to buy the phone at Wal-Mart than just convenience. According to Wal-mart spokeswoman Melissa O'Brien, the G1 will run $149 for new customers, or $31 less than what you'd pay T-Mobile, who's selling the same phone for $180.
For those of you just coming out of a coma, the G1 is the first Google Android-powered smartphone on the market. Demand for the phone with an open-source OS has been high, with an estimated 1.5 million units already sold through pre-order sales.
Plan on picking one up? Hit the jump and sound off.
Intense customer backlash has forced the online music arm of Wal-Mart to reverse its position on its controversial plan to deactivate all DRM authentication servers on October 9th. The move would have left countless customers with music files that could never be re-authenticated should they wish to play them on a new PC. Deactivating DRM server’s isn’t a new trend, but the announcement differed from other vendors simply because of the sheer lack of notice customers were given to backup music. The first notice only went out on September 28th giving a mere two weeks warning. For those who aren’t sure if they are affected, the DRM servers are only necessary for authenticating tracks purchased prior to February 2008. In February the retailer made the popular shift from DRM-ed WMA’s to unprotected MP3’s.
Even though the servers are safe for now, the vaguely worded email from Wal-Mart continues to urge customers to make backups of their music by burning them on CD. Music burned to an audio CD can be copied back to your hard drive DRM free using many free applications such as iTunes, but unfortunately not without an unavoidable loss of quality. No new dates are given for the server deactivation but the email doesn’t suggest the retailer’s commitment to the DRM servers will be long term. With the industry shift to copy protection free music well underway, this and other similar announcements are a lesson to us all. No authentication server (Apple included) is likely to be around forever. Now is as good a time as any to backup your tunes.
If you bought music from Walmart.com before February 2008 (when Walmart.com started selling MP3 music), your ability to move music files from PC to PC has a very short shelf life. How short? Try October 9, 2008. That's the date that Walmart.com will shut down the DRM servers that control your ability to play non-MP3 music purchased from Walmart.com.
After 10/9/2008, you won't be able to move your music to another computer or access the songs on your system if you upgrade to another operating system or reinstall your current OS after a crash or to refresh its bits and bytes.
Fortunately, there's a bit of good news. While there's no way to extend the shelf life of that half-gallon of milk you lost a month ago in the back of your refridgerator, Walmart "strongly recommend[s] that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you will be able to access them from any personal computer."
It's almost enough to make you agree with BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow, who posted Walmart.com's message (excerpted above) and added this rejoinder:
Boy, the entertainment industry sure makes a good case for ripping them off, huh? Buy your media and risk having it confiscated by a DRM-server shutdown. Take it for free and keep it forever.
My answer? I buy CDs and rip them myself. What's yours? Hit the jump for your chance to sound off.
Say what you will about Best Buy's Geek Squad and Circuit City's Firedog computer repair centers, but no matter what amount of ridicule each one might receive in tech circles, those without access to a next-of-kin techspert find themselves using the oft overpriced (and sometimes overzealous) services offered by each. Now Wal-Mart wants a piece of the fix-my-PC pie too.
According to the mega-chain, Dell is testing a repair and installation service for electronics in up to 15 of its stores in the Dallas area. The "Solution Stations" will not only offer PC repair, but HDTV and home theater installation, wireless support, and other electronic services.
"For Wal-Mart, the program provides an opportunity for us to understand more about what our customers need and expect in home installation and technology services, within a specific market," the company said in a statement on its website. Wal-Mart also indicated that the program is a small pilot and that there are currently no plans to expand outside of Dallas beyond the 15 select stores.
And what about pricing? According to the Dallas Morning News, memory installation will run $29 in-store, or $99 if making a house-call. To install a wall-mounted TV, connect cables, and integrate three video components, it is charging $289.
So it's official; you can now get everything and the kitchen sink at Wal-Mart, and that includes PC repair. But would you want to?
The days of tax-free purchases for online shoppers are numbered, feel
many experts. A new law in New York has made sales tax mandatory on
internet purchases. This has widened the grin on the faces of offline
store managers in the state, who expect some internet shoppers to turn
their attention and wallets towards them. New York might have just
shown the way to other states that are deliberating upon ways to tax
Read on to see why this is happening, and whether you'll be affected.