In a move that ought to surprise no one, Nintendo has started selling refurbished versions of its handheld game systems online, specifically the 3DS and DSi XL. It’s a strategy at least as old as computer retail: Dell was offering refurbished desktops and laptops back in the 1990s (and still does, apparently). Apple’s had a certified refurbished store for ages.
So what’s interesting here isn’t that Nintendo would jump into the refurbished market, it’s that the company is underselling GameStop — presently the go-to retailer for used anything games-related — by fairly significant margins. Take the standalone 3DS: Nintendo’s selling it for $130, while GameStop’s selling it for $160. (Note that a new 3DS goes for $170; GameStop’s long been criticized for selling used goods at fractionally less-than-new prices.) Or take the DSi XL: Nintendo sells it for $100, while GameStop’s selling it for $110.
According to Nintendo’s store info page, these are “authentic” products that Nintendo’s had “cleaned, tested, and inspected to meet Nintendo’s high standards.” Pick one up and you get a one-year warranty, the same as Nintendo offers on brand new versions. The company guarantees these products’ full functionality, but notes that they may have “minor cosmetic blemishes.”
Will Nintendo eventually add its Wii and Wii U game consoles to the store? Could rivals Microsoft and Sony follow suit (Microsoft already has a refurbished PC-related program in place, and Sony seems to sell everything but used PlayStation systems through its refurbished store page)? Who knows, but imagine the damage it could do to a retailer like GameStop, especially as the software side transitions to direct download, day one availability.