Posted on January 14, 2008
Trading Games The Easy Way : Goozex + Scotch Size 0, + APC
If you are like me (and Lord help you if you are) you have been buying and playing video games for the past 25 years and have amassed quite a collection of , PC, PS1, PS2, GBA, DS, Wii, etc titles that you no longer play. In your personal phantasie (sic) world, you would be able to keep these games forever in the hopes that one day you will dust off an old console, load the old game, and enjoy it like the halcyon days when it was a significant part of your life. In this dream world you would pull out a game, show it to your friends, and either bask in the glow of it’s significance to your life (“Hey, remember when we stayed up all night the day before we left for college and beat Duke Nuke’em on cooperative mode…I love you man”) or share a sophisticated guffaw of ironic indifference over how lame the game seems in modern times (“Ho ho, Charles, do you recall the days when when words Wipeout XL meant something ?!?, By the way, have you seen my my monocle?”). Maybe you hold onto the games so you can share them with your kids when they are old enough, hoping to see that same spark in their eyes that you had when you first played them (“yes honey there are only 4 buttons, and you have to plug the controller into the console to make it work. Waving it in the air will not make Rayman do anything. Sorry”). Either way, you’d hate to miss those moments if they ever occur, and so you never get rid of any old games. They fill drawers, boxes, closets, space in the garage, and most significantly, are never played, ever, and probably never will be. Deep-down, you know you can’t keep them forever.
At some point you may finally realize that you have simply run out of space. Your wife complains about them constantly, and you can no longer hide your game collection from the conservative parents of your kids’ friends when they come to visit (“So Steve, what does that plastic guitar with the Kiss ‘God Of Thunder’ face-plate actually do again?”). Furthermore, the expenses of being an adult (mortgage, loans, kids’s activities, memberships, etc.) have forced you to buy games only on rare occasions, or possible, not at all. You still want to play new and different games, it’s just that reality has blunted your ability to actually acquire them. Some people would say: “Grow up, stop playing games, and face the world like a man!”. I say, “yeah sure, do those things,but also start trading your video games away and have the best of both worlds!”.
Let me explain. When I first decided that I had to get rid of my old games, I looked at both eBay and GameStop, as they seemed to be my only options. However, for a lazy programmer like myself, eBay is just too much of a hassle. Each listing has to be specially crafted, requiring prices to be set, and photos added, plus you need use PayPal, and then you actually have to mail the stuff out. It just seemed like too much work. GameStop on the other hand, is very easy. You just take your pile of games there, let them give you $1 each for them, realize you have not done the game industry any favors , come back the next day to see your games on the shelf for $14.99 each, and then feel raped. Plus, GameStop now does not trade in PSX games, so the wealth of unwanted games people have for that system would be useless.
There had to be another answer. I recalled a year or so back, someone mention Goozex over at gamerdad.com. At the time they were offering some kind of free-trade deal or something, but I did not pay too much attention. At that point I was not interested in trading games via mail with weird strangers. I had tried that once, with Atari ST games in 1990, and it was a disaster. The hardest part was finding someone who wanted games on your list, who also had games you wanted from their list. This proved nearly impossible. I finally settled with a ‘professional’ who would only settle for a lopsided trade. He gladly took my $500 worth of brilliant games and sent me $90.00 worth of crap. However, in 2007, with my options exhausted from known sources, I checked Goozex.com out and their offering looked fairly interesting.
First of all, you do not have to deal personally with any traders at all. All you have to do is create a list of games you want to banish from your life (“My Library”), and list of games you want magically appear at your door (“My Requests”). Each game has a point value associated with it based on several factors. Newer games, and games that are in heavy demand have a higher point value (200-1000), older games, and games that are not in demand have a lower point value (100-150). When you add a game to your “My Library”, it will be automatically matched with someone (if they exist) who has added it to their “My Requests” list. If a match happens, and you agree to send the game to matched person, you get the amount of points the game is worth added to your Goozex points. You can then use those points to request other games and have them sent to you. That is basically all there is to it. You receive the actual value of your games (in Goozex terms), but don’t have to find an exact trader with which to swap them.
It all sounded very good, so I started the process of finding games that I wanted to trade. With a new interest and dedication to trying Goozex.com, I dug out my container of old games, started sifting through them. I picked up each old game, looked at its cover, turned it over read the back, looked at the pictures and asked myself “will I ever want to play this game again?” It was an honest question, and if any part of me whimpered even a slight “no”, I put the game back in storage. I wanted no regrets. When I was finished I had a pile of about 40 games, including Final Fantasy VII, for the PSX worth a whopping 1000 points (the most I’ve seen) on Goozex.com. With most older games going for 100 points, I could conceivably score 10 games for one trade. Of course, this would defeat the purpose of getting rid of my dusty stores of ancient gaming memories, but the option was still there.
My next step was to enter the games into My Library on goozex.com. This a fairly simply task. You search for the game in their system, and then click the [Add To My Library] button to make it available for trade. To add a game to your requests, you do the same thing but click the [Add To My Requests] button. After that, you choose the “condition” of the game you have to trade (or want to receive). The options are “Disc Only”, “Disc And Manual”, “Full Package”. They all trade for the same number of points, but it is usually faster to trade away games that are “Full Package” (the greedy masses tend to want everything) and to receive games that are “Disc Only” (the careless masses can’t seem to take care of anything).
Almost immediately after I added the 40+ games to [My Library] I received 3 emails saying I had been matched with people who wanted: Final Fantasy VII PSX (1000 points), Vandal Hearts PSX (200 points), Activsion Classics PSX (100 points). Since I was a new member, 3 trades was my maximum at any one time. I returned to Goozex.com and accepted all three trades. I was given the option to promise to send the games “Within 1 Day” or “Within 3 Days” (as well as other options that would result in no trade at all).
I chose “within 3 days”, since actually packaging and mailing things is not one of my favorite things to do. I was also given the option to print out a mailing label and package insert for the trade. This proved invaluable. Goozex.com says on their site that they have worked with the US Postal Service to develop this label, and I have no reason to doubt them.
One of my greatest fears with snail mail is that I will spell the name of a city wrong, or miss digit in an address or zip code, and send a package into oblivion. By having Goozex create the label and insert for me, all I had to do was cut the page in two, and find a mailing envelope in which to stuff the insert, and to which I could tape the label. I did not have any mailers on hand, so I went to Target and looked in their “office” section for something suitable to send a PSX or PS2 game. After searching for a bit, I discovered that the Scotch (3M) Size “0” Bubble Mailer is the perfect size.
I bought a 10-pack ($6.49), plus some mailing tape ($1.49) and returned home to get the games ready to ship. With the mailing labels already printed, it only took about 5 minutes to prepare the 3 packages. I put the packages in my car and planned to go the post office the next day at lunch time. My plan was thwarted by work however, and I did not make it to the post office until just after the 6:00 PM closing time. I went in anyway, just to see if they might be open later for the holidays. They were not, but on my way out I spotted this machine:
The “Automated Postal Center” is a machine that was introduced in 2007 by the US Postal Service to allow savvy consumers a way to “self service” their own mailing needs. This is not just a stamp machine, or mail box, but a nearly full service post office available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Among other things, it allows you weigh and buy postage and other services for packages all with your credit card. After an initial “learning curve”, I was able to buy postage ($1.60-$2.50 each) and Delivery Confirmation ($.75 each and recommended by Goozex.com) for each package in about 8 minutes, and send them off forever.
After about a week, all three packages had arrived at their intended recipients, and my feedback score at Goozex.com was raised to the next level (5 trades at one time). I continued this trading process until I had amassed over 4000 points. In that time I noticed that not many people were using the APC at the post office. In fact, even on really busy days around Christmas, while there were long lines for the actual postal employees, the APC sat lonely and unused to the side like well… like myself at any Junior High dance I attended in the 80’s. For someone like me with such an aversion to mailing things, it was a God-send. The APC might be the greatest invention the U.S. Postal Service has ever produced. It’s certainly my favorite machine of any type currently in existence.
Anyway at that point, I decided it was my turn to start searching for games to add to [My Requests]. One thing you need to know about Goozex.com, is that while you can send trade away as many games as you like for “free” (besides the postal costs), you have to pay to receive games. This is how they make their money, and I have no problem with it. The cost is a flat $1.00 per trade, no matter how many points the game is worth, which is a wise decision on their part. You receive a free trade for signing-up, and can buy more at your leisure. Since I had promised my wife that I was trading away games “so I could get good, new ones in exchange that we could play with the kids”, I added some Wii and GameCube games to my list, as well as some very hard to find GBA games. You need to be warned though, that as soon as you add games to your list, they go into the system and matches are made. If someone has the game available in your chosen condition, it could be instantaneous (depending on your place in in the queue of requests) and your points are debited.. Before I knew it Star Wars Rebel Strike (Game Cube), Legend Of Zelda Wind Waker (Game Cube), SSX Blur (Wii) and Harry Potter Order Of The Phoenix (Wii) were matched-up and sent out to me. All were games that I wanted to play, but never had the time to get to the store and buy. Now I would never have to make the effort.
I received all the games within a week, and all were in fine and playable condition. Since that time, I have traded about a dozen more games and received several others. It almost feels like an “embarrassment of riches” because I can request any game I like, and eventually it will be sent to me. It has also made me re-think some of those games that I initially rejected for trading, since they now offer an opportunity for new and fairly easy to acquire gaming experiences, and not just memories of old ones. Since I have so many old games that I don’t play, I could probably use the system for years before I “cut to the bone” with games that I actually might want to keep. Even if you don’t have old games to trade, the system can still be useful. You can buy Goozex points at a rate of 100 for $5.00 (with discounts for bulk purchases), and you can receive trade credits for referring friends (full disclosure: if you click any link to Goozex.com in this blog post an sign-up, I will get credit for it…thanks!).While there are costs associated with it (about $3.50 per game sent, and $1.00 per game received), the benefits appear to out weigh them for anyone interested in trading away old games but not comfortable with other, albeit inferior , trading options.
And there you have it. Goozex.com plus 3M/Scotch Size “0” Bubble Mailers, plus the U.S. Postal Service Automated Postal Center equal the perfect collection of technologies and products for people like myself (inert and unmotivated pack rats who hate to part with anything) to finally enter the world of online video game bartering.
Below is my Goozex.com Profile, just in case you you want to see what one looks like: