Interview with Gamestaq

The used-game market for videogamers is still alive and well. Gamers who choose to purchase the latest titles a little later than day-one buyers can often save themselves a decent chunk of change as a result. We recently had an interview with Guillaume Molter, the CEO of Gamestaq, and he answered the burning questions one may find themselves asking if interested in using the service.

Gamestaq operates by providing P2P game transactions. A person puts a game on sale for a determined fair market value price and then if there’s a buyer interested in it purchasing it, he can buy it directly for a much cheaper price than you might expect from a retail chain like GameStop.

The seller receives a box in the mail to ship it to the buyer and that’s that. Gamestaq receives a small amount of money from the transaction, but nothing as extravagant as say, paying $54.99 for a used game. Check out our interview for more and make your own decision if Gamestaq is the future of used game retailers.

Game Rant: Was there a reason for starting the company other than providing a different platform for gamers to purchase used games for a fairer price? It’s easy to infer that a company like GameStop marks used games up to in order to generate a profit and your company does so as well, but with a far cheaper manner of taking a “middle man” fee of a few dollars. It is definitely an interesting business model for an industry that does see a lot of used game sales.

Guillaume Molter: That really was the main reason right there. To provide a better way to buy and sell games that uses a set fair price that benefits both buyers and sellers. We also had a sense of “sticking it to The Man” in terms of breaking up the old way of buying and selling games.

Besides our personal passion for video games, the used game market is a great market for our unique business model. There is such a large volume of games bought and sold, and the actual product is standardized across gaming platforms; everything comes in a plastic case with box art, manual and disc. Compared to a brick and mortar used game store, we simply don’t have the overhead costs, allowing us to take only small transaction fee while giving gamers the opportunity to buy and sell their games at great prices that get set by our aggregating algorithm.

GR: Any online transaction is bound to bring up the subject of security. You enable the use of PayPal as a medium or your own website if a user chooses to use the site to purchase through the service as well.  On the site’s FAQ, you talk about the inclusion of direct deposit into bank accounts. What steps are you taking to ensure security against things like hacked bank accounts?

GM: User account security is a huge priority for us. Gamestaq utilizes several security measures to prevent hacked accounts and other similar payment issues. We use Authorize.net for our credit card processes, the number one gateway in the country that is well known for bulletproof security. We also have SSL enabled on every single page of our site, not just the checkout pages. Not many companies provide this level of security to their entire site.

In regards to PayPal, we of course follow their recommended best practices to ensure customer data is kept confidential.

GR: Another issue that would be brought up is the feedback and ensuring buyers will get the product they are paying for. How will you manage fraudulent sales?

GM: We have a 2 step process for fraud.

The first is to try and prevent fraud from ever happening on our site. And in the rate cases that fraud does occur, to make sure we have the tools in place to remedy the situation.

Sellers have two options when posting games for sale:

1. The standard choice is for the seller to post a game, and then their funds are “in escrow” until the buyer acknowledges receipt of a working game, box art and manual.
2. Sellers can also become “verified” where they verify their credit card information before a sale, and as soon as the game ships, Gamestaq releases their funds. This allows us to reward our more serious sellers by releasing their payments early, and it also gives us the tools to remedy any issues if we receive complaint from the buyer.

Every seller confirms their game is in “good” or better condition when they offer it for sale on Gamestaq. This means that all games must be free of major scratches and be playable from beginning to end. We require games to be in their original box with the manual. While fraud is very rare on our site, we do keep track of people that have shipped non-working games, and if they are repeat offenders we will take steps to ban their accounts.

GR: How do you plan to appeal to gamers who are already so accustomed to going to a store to purchase their used games or using eBay/GameStop/craigslist to sell their games or using GameFly to rent their games?

GM: We are currently courting the core gaming audience, so the way we appeal to them is to clearly showcase the value of using Gamestaq instead of simply selling games on their own. Our model is customized to video games. With sites such as eBay and craigslist, they by nature have to work for any type of goods or service and are certainly not game-centric. By eliminating the auction element and the pitfalls of dealing directly with a buyer, we give our sellers the same confidence they would have entering a brick and mortar store. However, our competitive benefit is of course a fairer price.

We have not considered Gamestaq as a competitor to rental sites such as GameFly, but we do hear several users state they can use Gamestaq to effectively “rent” games for free. Since we provide fair pricing, some gamers can purchase a Gamestaq game and then resell it a few weeks late for often the same price, minus our small processing fees.

GR: A lot of companies are offering a rewards program to their customers to ensure loyalty, will Gamestaq be considering a similar program in the future or are you just focused on establishing a good base model for the company?

GM: At the moment, we are focusing on building a base of customers and a robust community. We do have many ideas for loyalty programs, which will be rolled out in the near future.

GR: Is the issue of having only as many games as people are willing to sell be a problem for your library?

GM: This is really the biggest challenge for any beginning marketplace, to have enough sellers to satisfy the buyers, and vice versa. We are working out this fundamental issue internally and have some innovative ideas to solve the problem.

We have already launched promotions that have brought on board thousands of sellers, helping to fuel the buyer’s demands for more and more titles. As the community grows, it will quickly reach a critical mass where it takes care of itself and we have a self-supporting level.

GR: If Gamestaq turns into a successful program, what kind of plans do you have for expansion?

GM: In the short time since re-launch, we already consider Gamestaq to be successful in terms of users and customer feedback. We are certainly looking to expand, for example we will be offering game accessories in the short term, and further down the line offering consoles for sale. We also see the opportunity to offer Gamestaq as a platform for other sites, using our model to power their commerce engines.

GR: Is there anything about the service you would like to add, personally?

GM: The idea for Gamestaq simply came out of personal frustration with how to buy and sell used games and not suffer from unfair pricing. It was founded by a team of gamers, and the entire site is customized for people that simply love video games. So come check out Gamestaq, we think you’ll feel right at home!

Gamestaq is a business model that’s putting a new spin on an old service. Gamers have inevitably found themselves in a position where they could just sell a game they own to a friend or a friend’s friend for an amount that would be fair to both parties and Gamestaq is just bringing it to the online realm. Whether or not they will be successful will be dependent on the number of people who use the service. Judging from Molter’s comments, Gamestaq is steadily growing and seeing more use as days go on.

Admiration has to be seen for Molter’s cavalier attitude of wanting to “stick it to the man.” but will Gamestaq be a success? Only time will tell, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re big into buying used games and want to look for a cheaper alternative than journeying to your local game retail chain.

More information on Gamestaq can be found on their home page and they do retail most major products for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

tags: PS3

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