Can Video-Game Swapping Really Work?

Despite the misgivings of bloggers like Mike Arrington of TechCrunch, online swapping/trading services simply refuse to roll over and die. Mike argues that the barter system does not work.

Personally, I find this kind of interesting since I’ve been happily watching lots of new members sign up to Swopster every day. Successful game swaps are taking place all the time. In fact, all around, new swapping services seem to be springing up. Most recently, SwapTree went live and looks to be doing well.

So, can these swapping systems really work? What’s wrong with cash-based services for buying, selling and trading-in games?

Well, obviously, buying games at their retail price is just plain crazy when there are numerous online shops like Amazon offering substantial discounts on just about everything. But even Amazon prices look high if you’re willing to buy a pre-owned game from your local video-games shop or eBay. There, you’re likely to chop a half or even two-thirds off the original retail price. This is digital entertainment – it doesn’t need to be in pristine condition. It just needs to play.

All well and good. But that’s still a significant amount of money for something that doesn’t have a terribly long shelf-life. If I buy a music CD/MP3, I’ll keep it for decades and listen to it fairly regularly – a long, slow burn. Video-games, on the other hand, burn very brightly and fade quickly. I’ll play a game for weeks on end and then lose interest. They just gather dust on the shelf.

That’s where swapping services like Swopster can come in. You’ve bought the game, played the game…and got bored with the game. Instead of trading it in for peanuts (seriously, you will be amazed at how little you get back by trading games in at a video store), you can simply swap it for next to no cost.

If you want to play lots of different games, or you’re disappointed in a game you’ve bought, swapping is an idea way to get the maximum benefit from your games collection.

But, while there are lots of swapping services out there, Swopster is carving a nice little niche for itself in providing:

A Free Service
Some swapping services charge you each time you swap. Some charge subscriptions. But our aim is for you to try as many games as possible for the lowest possible cost. So our service is free.

Direct Swapping (no building up points)
A major problem with points-based swapping services is when members flood the system with their unwanted low-value games to accumulate points, hoping to use them to trade for a high-value game. If the majority of members do this, very few popular games end up making it into the system.

Swopster provides a more immediate way to swap, in which all games are equal. Of course, you’ll need to find someone who can fulfil your swap, but our matching process does this for you instantly.

Games Only
Video games are high-priced items that generally wouldn’t be swapped for other entertainment media like audio CDs, movie DVDs or books. So, rather than complicating everything, we’ve taken the simple approach – swap a game for another game.

By only swapping video-games, we’ve found we can concentrate fully on your likes and dislikes. Tell us the consoles you have and the types of games you like, and we can save you a lot of time by filtering out all the stuff you don’t want to look at.

Safe, Community-Based Swapping
Swapping with strangers can never be 100% safe – just look at some of the tales of woe on eBay. That’s why you can create your very own private swapping communities on Swopster. Invite your friends, colleagues, or forum buddies into your community and swap with complete confidence.

So, can swapping really work? I guess only time will tell, but Swopster is signing up new members every day. And with each new member the circle of swappers, and the choice in the game swapping pool, gets a little bigger.


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