Buying and Selling Video Games (Flipping Video Games Guide)

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by Erin Schollaert

Updated

Video games are one of the top forms of entertainment in the modern world. Not only are new games fun: but older games are powerful for their nostalgic value.

Over 67% of adults in America play video games: so buying and selling video games can feel like a great way to make extra income.

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If you’re unsure how to resell video games and want to get into this industry with some knowledge in your corner: this is everything you need to know.

Can You Resell Video Games for Profit?

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Reselling video games may seem like a risky investment: but some people have made millions going into this business.

Though the market trended downward before 2020, it rebounded wildly, and these two sellers are signs that it’s back to stay.

Case Study 1

Max Hayden, a 16-year-old from New Jersey, made over $1.7 million from reselling video games and items he could buy early and cheaply.

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Although these aren’t the classic used games that many of us will resell, he could get his hands on items like the PS5 quickly so that he could resell them at a high profit when they sold out.

Many have compared this to scalping or drop shipping, but it’s a high-risk game with high rewards.

Case Study 2

Beau Crabill is another young entrepreneur who resells video games. He spent a lot of his business’ start putting effort into creating good connections with companies and suppliers.

After enough work was put into this, he can now purchase used video games at cost, allowing him to sell them for massive profits.

In 2019, when the market was looking its worst, he still gained hundreds of thousands of dollars in a year from reselling.

There’s demand for video games; sellers just have to be ready with the supply needed.

Current Video Game Reselling Industry at a Glance

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In the middle of 2019, there were predictions that video game reselling was going to die out. Companies noted that sales of preowned games were dropping rapidly through the previous three to four years.

Many blamed this on customers using mostly digital products, while others said that customers were doing too many trade-ins instead of sales, so companies were the ones gaining the profits.

Then 2020 hit. A massive shortage of everything from gaming systems to games themselves hit, and suddenly there was a desperation for older games.

People had time on their hands and wanted to spend it doing things they loved. When the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 were released in 2020, people started scrambling for new games and older Xbox games to relive the nostalgia.

Well into 2021, this industry is still going strong! The gaming industry is forecasted to continue to grow over the next three to four years, and there’s no slowing in sight.

Although the demand isn’t as large as it was in peak 2020, people are still desperate to get their hands on many specific games.

What Video Games Should You Flip?

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Many games are wildly successful and are selling out almost as quickly as they become available. In fact, video games are easily one of the best items to resell online.

For instance, Animal Crossing New Horizons, a Nintendo game released in 2020, is making a resurgence in popularity because of the number of people interested in it after Nintendo Direct announced that there are plenty of new items and interactions being added to the game’s digital downloads.

Other games that are extremely popular this year, and should be resold if you can get them inexpensively, are Call of Duty: Black Ops: Cold War, the newest Madden NFL game, and Resident Evil: Village.

Most of these are newer games, so you must stay on top of the sites that you purchase your games on.

Good timing and a keen eye could allow you to buy one of these popular items cheaply and resell for high profit.

Where Do You Buy Video Games to Flip?

Where you purchase used video games matters more than almost anything else. If you can buy at a low enough price, you’re guaranteed profits.

Inversely, if you pay too much for items, you’ll quickly realize that it’s a struggle to make this money back.

The top places to purchase video games from are:

  • eBay
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Craigslist
  • Game Trades
  • Thrift Stores
  • Garage Sales

Do your research before sealing the deal, and read listings carefully, so you don’t accidentally buy broken or scratched discs or cartridges.

Best Places to Resell Video Games

Of course, you must gather your video games at as cheap of a price as possible: you should also aim to sell as high as possible.

This train of thought means you shouldn’t even consider selling back to stores like GameStop or BestBuy because their main job will be to buy from you at rock bottom prices.

Instead, these are the three best options for any seller who wants flexibility in their listings.

eBay

eBay is the most obvious option, but that can have its drawbacks. When listing items for sale on eBay, you’ll be facing off against thousands of other listings extremely similar to yours from all over the world.

You have freedom of shipping however you want, and you can set your listing to look however you want.

But there are plenty of sellers who have been on eBay for over twenty years, so there’s stiff competition if you don’t know the right way how to get started on eBay.

Amazon

Amazon is an awesome option for anyone who wants to get their video game listings out to as many people as possible.

Luckily, Amazon’s referral fees are smaller than eBay’s final value fees when it comes to electronics and video games, so this site can be more cost-effective if you’re selling a lot of video games.

Also, much like eBay, this site is lucky enough to have a lot of options for you to gain reviews, which can help you garner more business.

OfferUp

OfferUp isn’t an option many immediately think of, but it’s a great place to sell your second-hand games.

The great thing is there are no listing fees, you can sell locally or nationally, and most games are priced so that it’s not a race to the bottom.

Unfortunately, the drawback with OfferUp is that many buyers go in with a haggling attitude from the beginning.

Although it can be nice to get a lot of traction on your listings, having to talk to hagglers through a purchase can take up a lot of time and energy.

Tactics for Success:

  • When starting, try more than one site. Avoid listing the same item on multiple sites since this could lead to issues removing or editing listings of things you sold on other sites. Still, you should sell different video games on two or three various sites to find what works best for you.
  • Consider what form of payment you prefer! eBay recently ran into some issues with their Paypal payments, and other sites may not have a payment option you want.
  • Create a brand for yourself. Even if you only plan on selling five to six video games a week, creating a recognizable icon and brand for yourself may help buyers recognize you and learn to seek you out when shopping.

How to Make Your Listing Stand Out

Whether you are selling stuff on Mercari, eBay, or Amazon, there are thousands of video game listings that go up on these sites every day.

Although you may be working hard to compete, it can be hard to gain footing when there are so many options out there.

Therefore, it’s important to make your listing stand apart from others so that people will choose it.

Generally, every video game listing should include:

  • Photos of the actual product, not stock images. It may be tempting to use stock and official pictures because they’re immediately professional-looking: but this may make buyers assume that the listing is a scam or false advertising. You can clean the video game and its packaging with dry microfiber wipes to make them look good and dust-free: a bad but honest picture is better than official images.
  • Clear information about the product
  • Honesty about its functionality. If you know a CD is slightly scratched, but when tested it functions well, make sure the listing notes this.
  • Links to your main store. On eBay or other large listing sites, you can include a link with text similar to “if you like this, you can find more at: (insert link).”
  • Shipping and handling timelines to set expectations. If someone doesn’t know how long something will take to get to them, they may not want to risk waiting.
  • Contact information for questions. Some sites have this potion available automatically; otherwise, ensure that you include it.

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Flipping Video Games

Although video games are fun: selling them can’t be taken lightly. There are some mistakes that everyone can make, especially when they’re starting.

These boil down to just a couple of things. Your wording and your images.

Nail the Listing Title

In your wording, make sure to avoid being flowery or telling your life story.

Make it clear what the product is, maybe include some ratings or helpful reviews it’s received online, and possibly the description the company has put out about it.

Detail the condition of the game, and then leave it at that. Avoid lying, being mean about the game, or putting too much of your personality into the listing.

Take Excellent Photos to Accelerate Sales

Your images need to be clear and understandable and show the condition of the game and possibly a photo of it with the console it works in.

Although this isn’t necessarily needed, it can reduce how many returns you get from someone buying a game for a friend or loved one without realizing they’re buying for the wrong console.

Tactics for Success:

  • Communication matters above all! This means answering any questions buyers may have about the product and its condition.
  • Make the most out of tags if the site you’re listing on allows for tags. You can also use keywords in the description, like ‘2021 Featured Game of the Year’, because this may draw more attention to it.
  • Be honest with everything you do. If you lie or stretch the truth, it will cost you customers and ratings.

How to Ship Video Games?

Shipping orders can seem simple since many sites you sell through allow you to click and print shipping labels and drop them off, but you have to pay attention to more than just the shipping labels.

When packaging your video games, you can go with a simple bubble mailer, but you must add some tissue or paper padding around the video game’s box itself.

If you purchase used games that are only discs, make sure to buy plenty of empty cases so that you can ship these more safely.

There are plenty of ways to ship your video games, but in the USA, there are currently four that reign supreme.

The top shipping companies for video games are:

  • USPS54% of online stores use USPS. It’s often affordable, tracking is easy, and people are more likely to trust it for shipping because it’s a government entity.
  • UPS – if you’re shipping small items like video games only, UPS prices may be steep, but if you branch out to selling consoles as well, you can often get a better price through UPS.
  • FedEx – another shipping service that’s better for medium-sized items, can be affordable in some situations, but shouldn’t be the only type of shipping you offer.
  • DHL – if you plan on shipping internationally, DHL is a fantastic option! Because they’re not going through a government entity like the USPS, you can offer precise tracking regardless of location.

The best way to please your customers is to offer more than one option.

Since they’ll be paying to ship, either way, offering options ensure that you can cater more to their wants and needs.

Tracking is vital, so ensure you can get a copy of this tracking whenever possible for your safety and the happiness of your customers.

Wrapping Up

Making money while researching and working in a field you care about can be an awesome opportunity.

Do your research, stay focused on the importance of profits, and you can turn your passion into a lucrative income.

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About the Author

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Erin is a business teacher and mother of three. When she’s not in the classroom or fulfilling her obligations as an A+ hockey and lacrosse mom, she’s working on her latest article.