My experiences with Leaptrade - Gaming Thoughts

Turns out, I play a lot of games. I buy them, I sell them, I trade them. A lot of my classic stuff has been kept over the years (I'm looking at you NES, Sega Genesis and SNES), where as most of my modern games eventually get played, beaten and traded in (except absolute favorites like Mass Effect and Dragon Age). It can be frustrating at times however, because the place that makes it the easiest to do this is probably Gamestop. They take your games in almost any condition. No box? No problem. The issue arises from when you want a bit more than pennies on the dollar, and alternate options such as Ebay, Amazon or other venues that are sometimes less convenient but more profitable have to be considered. Leaptrade attempts to bridge the gap a bit, and for the most part it succeeds, though there are some hiccups along the way.

Leaptrade is both simple and ambitious at the same time. The concept is simple. You list a game on the site as being available, and if someone is interested in it, you are then notified by their system. You can then send it to them using verified mail that their system then tracks. This way each trade is safe and guaranteed. On the flip side, if you see something you want? As long as you have the credits to swing it, you can request a title. If you lack the credits, you can buy them through Leaptrade (hey, they have to make their money off of this somehow). Alternately, there are a couple of systems in place that facilitate conversations between users and allow them to trade directly as well if they can agree on titles to swap.

The pricing structure is probably the most beneficial aspect to the system. It is the same price point whether you are buying or selling. Leaptrade is not making a profit, they just set (and continually reevaluate) prices on the games and letting the community swap back and forth. Where Leaptrade has shown plenty of ambition is in some of their additional efforts to create a sense of community, such as providing a blog and a forum. They are neat ideas, but only time will tell if either one gains or continues to show traction.

However, the meat and the potatoes of the system is in the trading mechanics, and by and large they work - but they are only as good as the users themselves. I posted a title on the site for PlayStation Vita and it was snapped up nice and quick. I went through the steps of confirming the deal, then setting up the shipping information (you do need to pay for the shipping label, which can be done via PayPal or credit card) and then of course, shipping it out. That cost $3.99 and the game arrived with tracking at the user's location within a few days. The system is then largely automated. The user can give feedback and let you know that everything arrived fine and dandy, which then immediately credits your account. There is however, a several day period where the user has a chance to make sure everything is up to snuff and file a complaint if they had concerns. If no such manual action is taken, then at the end of the waiting period, the system will automatically give you positive feedback and then you get your credits. My first sale more or less made me sweat it out, waiting until the day before the automatic period ended, essentially keeping my would-be credits hostage for a few days long than necessary. Maybe not a bad thing - it reduces impulse purchases, but the wait period did feel just a tad long as I had done everything on my end properly and then felt like I was in 'hurry up and wait' mode.

What about on the buying side? This part in some ways is a bit more frustrating at times, because so much of the process is out of your hands. When it works well, the experience is awesome, but this is really where the system is only as good as its participants. The first step is finding what you want. A wide variety of platforms are represented, from Xbox One and 360 to the PlayStation 3 and Vita to even classic consoles such as the NES and Dreamcast. Of course, not are all represented equally. Going to the PS4 page and clicking 'Available Now' returns seventeen results at the time of writing this article. Compare that to the PlayStation 3 and you get nineteen pages of twelve search results each. You of course get a discrepancy in any brick and mortar store as well, but it is more pronounced on this site currently. If you are looking for the latest and greatest, you are probably going to want to jump on a waiting list and hope for the best.

That being said, there is a decent amount of activity taking place. The home page shows popular titles and perhaps more importantly, a 'Recently Listed For Sale' section:

This is nice because shortly after I landed on the site, I was wandering about wide-eyed and looking around in anticipation for what games I might find. Now that I have been to the site a time or fifty, I can really just keep up on the newest arrivals and still get a good feeling for what my options are. However, for those who are looking to scour a particular platform or set of parameters, there is a handy search box at the top that allows you to narrow down your searches and filter out anything you might not want.

All in all this part worked really well for me. The search bar at the top is certainly the way to go if you have a specific title in mind, but it can become somewhat unwieldy. At times there appears to be some inconsistency in how titles are labeled. Look at Naruto Shippuden here, where some of the games use colons, some do not. It is a very exacting search however, so if it for some reason misses a single character, the search results do not show up. In this one below, you'll also see that there is a typo - an extra U in Shippuuden that makes it just about impossible to find.

The other issue for buyers is just how out of their hands the process really is. First you need to find a game that you want. Let's use Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 for example (why did I pick the game with the longest title ever? let's call it "Naruto" from here on out). Once I found it in search (by not using the colon), I saw two options - Xbox 360 and PS3.

As you can see, the PS3 is cheaper and I had played Ninja Storm 2 on PS3, so I figured I would just get it for that system. However, no copies are currently available. This means that I can click buy on the PS3 and wait for someone to post it as available, making me first in line for the game (some games have lines of 5-10 people long. These tend to be the newer titles, like Evolve for the PS4). So, if you are more in favor of immediate gratification - you click on the Xbox 360 copy.

On the next page you see a handful of options. The first is to select the condition. Some games come with everything - some just come with a case with the game but no manuals and others only come with the game and nothing more. I would hope that anyone shipping out 'just game' would make sure it is secured in a case of some sort, just to keep it safe, but there's really nothing expressly saying that you have to. I actually purchased two titles game-only and got great results from both users. One shipped me my PS3 title in a generic black case and even tucked in a small sheet/piece of bubble wrap to help make sure it was secure. The other user had a generic 3DS case and actually took the time to look for and print off the cover so it could be slid under the plastic and make the game look just a bit more authentic. It obviously was not the original case, but it was a nice touch. Both users were quite friendly, the second sharing some messages back and forth with me and even adding me as a friend on the system (another nod to the community aspect). My own game was the original box, game and single slip of paper (really, manuals are not so much a thing anymore with most games). I would quality all of these as good experiences.

So once you pick your packaging of choice (for example, if you are okay with 'Disc Only', that means you can receive the game as soon as it becomes available in any of the 3 categories. If you require a full package, that means others who are alright with Disc + Case or Disc Only will leapfrog you in the queue if a game in that state becomes available), you then move on to the next option to the right.

Here you see the cost and you can see trading for credit, or you can choose to trade for game. Here is where the communication standpoint is clear if people are looking to swap games. Leaptrade is simply facilitating the deal to make sure no one gets the short end of the stick. I did not kick the tires on this part of the process because I had my credits shown above and opted to use that.

When you reach this part of the process, the seller is then contacted, and here is where the otherwise mostly agreeable process grew somewhat frustrating for me. See, that PS3 version of Naruto? I have actually seen it available as one copy available twice now, and both times I have requested it. Ditto Pokemon Platinum. In both instances, both sellers (different sellers, mind you) listed the game twice. The first time I picked it, a confirmation was sent to them and in the case of the Pokemon Platinum game, the seller even 'confirmed' the second time. Each stage, like the seller feedback stage, is time boxed. There are different windows for the different stages as shown in my image above, but if at any point during the purchasing process the seller fails to go through with the step, the game is pulled from the available market, your credits are refunded and the deal is cancelled - leaving you as #1 in the queue for the next time that game becomes available.

The system emails all parties to keep them abreast of things, so as long as you check your email once a day, both participants should be able to keep up on what is happening. In the case of both Pokemon and Naruto, both sellers each let me down twice, tying up my credits for a few days each and then never following through. In the end it is no harm, no foul I suppose, but you are left to wonder for a couple of days if the process is going to go through this time or not, and your credits are unavailable during that time. Of course you cannot just force someone to send you something (if I could, I suspect I would have a much bigger, better gaming collection than the one I am currently sporting), but it does really illustrate how the sellers can really impact the experience. I can happily say the two that have gone through so far were both friendly, fast sellers who sent me games that worked great. The other two did leave me feeling like they were wasting my time somewhat. I have 2 more deals lined up now that I tried to trigger but... it doesn't look promising at this point.

That is the nuts and bolts of the system and how it all works. What ties the package together neatly in my mind is how fast and responsive customer service is as well. It was great having some conversations with other active users, and it feels like most of the participants just enjoy gaming and want a place where they can swap safely and get more value than they would from say, Gamestop. However, the few times I had to reach out to the Customer Service team, they replied very quickly and in a friendly fashion. The first time was in reference to the Vita game I sold - it was not listed in their library at the time but they quickly plugged it in and put a fair price on it - and then it sold about two days later. The other time I noticed that MLB: The Show 15 had a PS4 cover on the PS3 version of the game. A minor thing that could catch someone unprepared if they clicked and bought based on the image instead of reading, but the team had that fixed within a couple of hours of me contacting them, and instead of acting like I had just been a pain in the rear, they thanked me and asked that I reach out to them if I notice anything like that again. Well, I took them up on that offer and reached out to them about that above Naruto typo, and they promptly fixed it that day and even sent me a $5 credit thanking me for helping by reporting things that I found to be amiss. All three were excellent interactions that gave me confidence that the team is genuinely interested in making the Leaptrade experience a good one.

Because Leaptrade is not as established as something such as Amazon or Gamestop, it does not have quite the library of available titles to work with and you cannot just bring in any old stack of games and immediately get credit. Leaptrade is built on a two-way street set of fundamentals that tries to do right by both parties. The early returns are quite positive. The system is easy to use, most members are incredibly friendly as is the staff. It is absolutely worth checking out for gamers looking for a different way to leverage their existing gaming library. The one thing that will either hold Leaptrade back or allow it to soar is the overall gaming community and how willing people are going to be to participate in these proposed deals.

Article by Nick

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