Video game companies are pushing back hard against gamers being able to trade and sell their legally purchased titles. With the launch of new consoles over the holiday season, this fight boiled over as gamers complained loudly about next gen systems having anti-copy protection built in that prevents them from playing used games on the systems unless a license was purchased. I recently interviewed LeapTrade founder Tony Caputo about this and other issues related to the current state of gaming. LeapTrade is a website that allows gamers to trade games and sell games directly to each other.
Can you start by telling us a bit about your background and what your day-to-day duties are at LeapTrade?
Hi, my name is Tony Caputo, and I’m the President of LeapTrade. I run the day-to-day operations, making sure things are running smoothly and everyone is happy. I’ve been a gamer since I was little, and can still remember going over to my friend’s house just to play The Legend of Zelda all day. I only had a Sega at home, so of course I had to find someone with an NES, couldn’t miss out on that.
What exactly is LeapTrade?
LeapTrade is a used-game trading site that allows players to trade games with other players in a secure environment. Trades are only $3.49 for shipping when sending a game, and it’s always free shipping when receiving a game, with all trades guaranteed. We are the only site that allows you the flexibility to trade for LeapTrade credit, straight game for game, or trade directly with your friends. LeapTrade is the single most cost-effective way to get a used game while still having a company backing the trade.
Game trading is a crowded field. What separates LeapTrade from Gamestop, Best Buy, Amazon.com, etc?
While all of these guys are competitors with each other, they are not LeapTrade’s competitors. They give you a little bit of money for your used title, a fraction of what it’s really worth. They all have two prices for each game, the price they sell it to you for, and a much lower price for your trade-in. LeapTrade is different: We give you the full value of your used title when you trade in. On LeapTrade there is one price for your game. LeapTrade lets you trade directly with your fellow gamers, and all trades are backed by the LeapTrade guarantee that protects you the whole way.
With the other retailers, you are lucky to get $25 for a game that’s worth $60, and with LeapTrade you get the full value towards a new game. That money really starts to add up, with the typical gamer saving over $300 a year. That’s almost an entire new console, or half a console if you want a Kinect.
Can you talk a little bit about the game industry’s attitude towards reselling games?
I think the game industry is going through a new set of growing pains. We’ve seen the recent DRM fiasco with the next gen consoles, and the subsequent backlash from the gaming community. We’ve also seen this year Electronic Arts getting rid of their Online Pass, which forced used game buyers to pay an extra fee if they wanted online multiplayer on EA games. I know I’m not alone in thinking that when I shell out $60 for a game I should be able to lend it out, trade it to a friend, or trade it in towards another game. It seems like such a waste to leave a perfectly good game on the shelf after I’m done playing it.
That’s why we created LeapTrade. To let players trade in the games they are done with so they can get games that are new to them, without having to spend $60 on each game. There are a lot of great games out there that deserve to be shared with someone else, they are too valuable to be stuck sitting on a shelf collecting dust.
It strikes me as odd that game companies are the only industry that seems to think they should get a piece of the pie every time one of their products is resold…
Agreed, you don’t see car manufacturers trying to lock each car sold to its owner and that’s the only person who could ever drive it. I’m trying to imagine a world like that and it would be ridiculous. What’s next, are controllers going to be locked to one person too? Where we can’t bring them to a friend’s house to play some co-op? It’s like with iTunes where we no longer own the music we bought. Why do we put up with this? None of this is for our benefit, it’s like we let it happen to us little by little and turn a blind eye to how unfair it is to all of us.
Just like I mentioned in the last answer, when we buy something, whether it is a car, music track, or a game, almost all of us believe that we own it, so we shouldn’t accept anything less.
We should all stand up for our rights and not tolerate the current situation where we are “licensing” the products we pay for. That is my hope for the future, that we all remember what “fair use” means, and we stand up for it. I’ve seen some encouraging signs recently, and we all need to keep up the pressure, pushing companies to do the right thing.
While both Sony and MS have backed off the strict DRM schemes in their next generation consoles, it doesn’t mean that the technology has been completely removed, just deactivated. How do you think this is going to impact the used game market in the future?
MS learned a valuable lesson this year, and Sony took full advantage of that. If they didn’t activate that DRM scheme at console launch, it’s pretty safe to say that they won’t be activating it for the life of the console. Neither of those companies will forget what that backlash from players looked like.
The other great thing is that we still have the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U going strong for years to come. With the catalog of titles that are already out, there are lots of fantastic games that are still new to so many people.
LeapTrade makes getting games so easy and affordable that you can revisit any great games you missed and give them a play-through, and then trade them back in to another gamer on LeapTrade for them to enjoy. Gaming can be a very social activity, where we talk about the games we love, and we trade them so others can experience them too. LeapTrade is all about building that community and keeping gaming social.
What are your five favorite games and why?
This is a tough one, although I’m sure everyone says that. I better be careful not to date myself too much.
- Team Fortress 2 – I’ve always been a big FPS guy, especially on the PC, and this game is just so well done. You have real differentiation in the classes, crazy characters, and all of that adds up to creating a very team oriented experience, even if you are playing with a group of strangers.
- Master of Orion 2 – Civilization was an amazing game, and when you take the 4X formula into space it takes on a whole other quality. Nothing quite like building an empire to rule the galaxy… cue maniacal laughter. MOO2 got a lot of things right, so much so that even its successors haven’t yet matched it. There are a few Kickstarter projects that look promising that should be coming out this year, so we’ll see if we can get a true successor.
- Forza Horizon – This is just pure racing fun. I really like the regular Forza games and of course Gran Turismo, but being able to have an open-world racer with circuit racing built in makes for an excellent pick-me-up type game.
- Final Fantasy VII – I almost say that apologetically, because I feel like it’s a bit of a cliché. I really enjoyed Final Fantasy X as well. However, VII was the first to break into the 3D realm for the series, and it had a fantastic story.
- Borderlands 2 – Similar to Team Fortress 2, this game doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a lot of fun because of it. The Co-op is great, nothing like kicking butt and taking names with a friend. And it’s available now on LeapTrade, so what’s not to love?
From a personal standpoint, what is your console of choice? And you are not allowed to be diplomatic.
Ah, you got me, I can’t say I love them all equally? In that case, I’d have to say Xbox 360, soon to be replaced by the Xbox One, once its catalog fills out a little more. The Xbox 360 had some great exclusives, and there is no denying that the 360 controller was one of the best game controllers of all time, the PS3 controller just couldn’t compare.
I also love the PC, does that count? That’s not to say I’m a Sony hater; after all, they did twist the knife into the self-inflicted wound that was Xbox One DRM… I mean, “Helped Microsoft see the light of why you should always put gamers first.”
What kind of marketing and promotions are you doing to make LeapTrade successful? [Editor’s note: This interview took place prior to the Holidays]
We are running an amazing promotion called “Alpha Strike.” To celebrate our launch, we are going out and buying brand new copies of the best next gen games on both the PS4 and Xbox One, so people can trade directly with us and get the newest games for the holidays. To get in on this, just sign up on LeapTrade.com, trade in your games for top value, request the next gen games you want, and get your new games in the mail. It’s really that simple.
We also just ended a huge contest, giving away an Xbox One with every game for six months and the same thing for your best friend.