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By Tucker Cummings, dealnews contributor
It's an exciting time for gamers. Sony gave the world a glimpse of the PlayStation 4 a few months ago; Microsoft is set to divulge some details about its Xbox 720 console; and E3 — the Electronic Entertainment Expo, in which everything is expected to concretely debut, with purchasing details — is just around the corner on June 11.
But with all this shiny new hardware and titles on the horizon, comes a caveat; every console, video game, and accessory you currently own is about to become extremely outdated. Because, while actual, firm details about price, release date, and system specs for the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles will likely remain rumors until E3, it's almost certain that both consoles will not be backwards compatible. In other words, you probably won't be able to play PS3 games on your PS4, or Xbox 360 games on your Xbox 720. If such is the case, it could negatively impact the trade-in value of old games.
As it stands right now, PS3 game values seem to be holding steady. "Sony has already indicated that the PS4 will not be backward compatible," says Matt Hodges, Vice President of Public and Investor Relations at GameStop. "[However], that announcement did not materially impact the price of current PS3 titles." That being said, Hodges adds that trade-in values are prone to fluctuation at any time. "The sale and trade-in price will be based on consumer demand," he explains. And unless there's still a strong consumer desire for the older consoles — which should see some significant price cuts after the next-gen versions are available — then it's reasonable to expect the associated games will eventually degrade in trade-in value. (Although one day, they may become "retro," and then all bets are off.)
According to Matthew Reardon, a member of the marketing team at Glyde (an online marketplace where people can buy and sell video games and other tech goodies), video games tend to have a steady depreciation curve. Most games lose 70% of their initial value after they've been out for a year, if not more. "[But] for sports games like Madden and MLB: The Show, the curve is steeper, [with games] losing about 80% of their value by the time the new version is launched a year later," Reardon explains.
But while casual gamers may be slow to adopt a new console, more passionate video game fans will likely jump on a new Xbox or Playstation console as it's released. When those new consoles launch, the resale value of current-gen games are certain to dip. "We expect to see a 10% to 15% shock to that normal pricing curve around the launch of the new consoles, especially for franchises that will be updated right away with the release of the new console," Reardon predicts.
If you're looking to sell your old games directly to another person via Glyde, eBay, or a similar peer-to-peer marketplace, it's in your best interest to keep an eye on the announcements coming out of E3 in June; if the PS4 and new Xbox are getting an updated version of a game franchise you currently have in your collection, Reardon recommends that you list your old games for sale in late October or early November. That way, you'll be selling before the consoles hit the market, while also attracting holiday shoppers and avoiding that 10% to 15% depreciation.
But in the case of some games, you might not want to wait until that pre-Black Friday sweet spot to sell. Some studies suggest that selling off low-rated games quickly will maximize the trade-in value. PriceCharting crunched the numbers, and found that low-rated games lose their value faster than critically acclaimed titles. PriceCharting's JJ Hendricks explains that "based upon the data, a game with a review score of 90 points would be predicted to drop in price 0.19% per day, while a game with a 50 review score would drop 0.24% per day." And while this might not seem like a huge difference, "after a year, the great game would sell for $16.70 and the bad game would sell for $7.38."
All in all, cleaning house of unwanted PS3 and Xbox 360 games before E3 might be a good way to beat out the crowds of other gamers who might wait until the holidays to offload old games. If you have low-rated games or sports franchise games in your collection, selling them early could net you more cash than waiting until after E3 or the launch of the new consoles. And if you're hoping to sell off some of your old games to get some cash to put towards a next-gen console, maximizing your trade-in value is of the utmost importance.