Retail Review: Game Play USA (Westfield, MA)
Back in February, I wrote a retail review for Game Play USA, located in Springfield, MA. The store featured cheaper new releases, gameplay stations to test or play games on, a wide range of new and retro games, and a great atmosphere for fans of video games. I loved it there and was happy to see that the store had been able to hold its own against GameStop to establish its own core of visitors. I’d heard rumblings that a second location may open at some point, and was told to keep an ear out.
The rumblings were true, as a new Game Play USA location opened today in Westfield, MA. I took a trip down to check it out, as it’s closer to my house than the Springfield location is. I walked into a store that smelled like new, but had a comfortable familiarity that made me feel right at home. New games, older games, displays, gameplay stations, and friendly staff all made for another positive experience. The staff worked hard in the days leading up to the new opening to move inventory, stock shelves, post signs, and make the store accessible for consumers and be ready to go for the grand opening this week.
As with the Springfield location, shopping at Game Play USA has a few advantages versus other stores or chains. The first– and perhaps most notable– advantage is that Game Play USA sells new releases for $54.99, instead of the $59.99 MSRP that consumers see at other retail stores. While a $5 difference may not seem like much, it’s still $5 more in your pocket. In addition, trade-in values are very competitive at Game Play USA and can make new games even more affordable. Trade-ins for all platforms are accepted, too, so older games and systems that may be unwanted or no longer played can find a good home and earn some store credit (or even cash) that might come in handy.
This Game Play USA location also features eight gameplay stations that can play PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games. For $7.50 an hour– or $4 for 3o minutes– customers can try out a game to see if it’s worth a purchase or to spend a little leisure time in comfortable gaming chairs in a friendly setting. While it may be cheaper to rent a game from Redbox or GameFly, it’s a nice service to have in-store if you’re unsure of a particular game’s quality. Word from store management is that customers with a membership card ($15 annually, 10% off preowned games, 10% more on trade-ins) may be getting free rental time on a monthly basis, which is a nice perk.
The store’s initial inventory is solid and a stream of new and preowned games will be continuing to flow in as the holiday season approaches. All of the current-generation platforms are represented on the sales floor: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and 3DS games are all easy to find, organized to separate sections and (mostly) alphabetized. Games on older platforms will be increasingly available, but they are currently not represented on the floor… so be sure to ask one of the staff if you’re looking for games for a PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, NES, or any other retro console.
Pricing at the store is comparable to competition. I did notice a few games that were a bit higher than GameStop pricing, but there were others that were lower. It balances out, for the most part. As a collector, I liked that the PlayStation 2 games mostly have original cases (and many have instructions). The Gamecube and Xbox games were generally the same. I bought three games during my visit: Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage (PS3, $18), Battlestar Galactica (PS2, $6), and Chaos Legion (PS2, $5). All three games were complete, and only one of the three discs was in less than great condition. Best of all, the transaction was quick and there was no pressure or upselling. Even though there are membership cards and preorder options, interactions and transactions are customer-focused with quick answers to questions and genuine reactions by staff.
I was impressed by my first visit to the store, with great results even during opening day. If you’re in the Greater Springfield area, I recommend giving the store a look. The store is located in the Westgate Plaza just off of Route 20 in Westfield, MA. Operating hours are 10am-9pm Monday through Saturday and 11am-6pm on Sunday.
Below are a few shots I took inside the store during my visit: