GameStop to sell, offer store credit for iOS devices

by Phil Hornshaw

Got old iPads and iPods lying around your place? Your local video game retail chain store will buy those from you.

GameStop, the video game retailer best known for buying and reselling used games and video game hardware, is reportedly getting into the mobile business as well. A report from 9to5Mac says that GameStop is currently allowing customers to trade in iOS devices at select stores for in-store credit, much as players can currently do with console and PC video games and hardware. The program is reportedly going national sometime later this year, but is currently only available on a limited basis.

The 9to5Mac report also states that GameStop plans to stock iPhones, iPods and iPads for sale as well as accepting trade-ins. The announcement was made to GameStop dealers last week during a trade show in Las Vegas.

It’s interesting that GameStop is expanding in the mobile business, but it’s not exactly surprising. GameStop is attempting to diversify its business model in a lot of different ways, and recently began offering PC game downloads through its Impulse service to compete with other similar online services. That’s a bit of a step out of GameStop’s traditional role of supplying console and (to a lesser extent) computer games.

GameStop makes most of its money through resale of games. About half of its profits are from resale, although a much smaller portion of that is through hardware sales. Still, offering trade-ins for old iOS devices is likely to bring in customers willing to part with their dated iPhones and iPads when it's time to upgrade, which happens about once a year as Apple rolls out new products. That should make it easy for GameStop to get a healthy supply of second-hand iOS devices that it can refurbish and sell. Given the popularity of devices like the iPhone – Apple sold 20.34 million of the devices during the last quarter – GameStop shouldn’t have much trouble finding a resale market for the devices.

It’s good for Apple, as well, which has been opening up new distribution channels for its devices all year, looping in stores such as Best Buy, Target and Walmart. Rumor has it that Apple intends to use this hardware cycle to make a bigger push toward the gaming market in the mobile sphere (gaming was a big selling point when former Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the A5 chip in the iPad 2), so GameStop is a natural choice as a retailer.

According to reports, Apple seems poised to expand its devices to both Sprint and T-Mobile as cellular carriers: in essence, it intends to bring its device to a whole lot more people through a whole lot of new channels. Getting its devices front and center for gamers may help to further legitimize the device as a new gaming platform in the eyes of the traditional video game fanbase.