Experience the excitement of CeX: tips for making the most of £10 at the used game superstore.
Feel free to pronounce Ikea (ee-kay-uh) and Lidl (lee-dal) however you like. However, there is no debate about the pronunciation of CeX – the well-known secondhand technology store found in most UK town centers, usually located near McDonald’s, Primark, and/or Poundland. While it may stand for Complete Entertainment eXchange, it should not be said as “C-E-X” like a letter-by-letter abbreviation. Officially, CeX is pronounced as “sex.” The irony of it is quite amusing – these stores, with their industrial shelves and worn-out carpets, are far from being erotic. Yet, they hold a special place in the hearts of budget-conscious entertainment seekers.
I frequently visit CeX, as there are five locations within a three-mile distance from my home, making them very convenient. The excitement lies in the unpredictability of what one may come across. The Guardian provided me with a budget of £10 to uncover any great deals for this article.
Before we dive into the topic, let’s take a brief look at its history. CeX (let’s keep it professional) was established in 1992 by a team that surprisingly included writer and broadcaster Charlie Brooker, who at the time was a games journalist for PC Zone magazine. The initial store was located near Tottenham Court Road, but now there are 390 stores in the UK and an additional 230 worldwide. And just to answer any inquiries, yes, there is even a CeX store on the Canary Islands – just in case you happen to be on vacation and suddenly find yourself in need of a copy of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for the Nintendo Switch.
However, there has always been an underlying suspicion about CeX. Some individuals believe that the store is stocked with stolen electronics such as laptops and phones. However, this is not the case as CeX verifies all items against a database of stolen goods. So, do not attempt to commit any theft.
In addition to physical store locations, you have the option to purchase items from a vast online database of 390 UK shops. Prices for phones and laptops are determined by their condition, graded on a scale from A (mint) to F (non-functioning). Consoles are available in boxed, unboxed, or discounted options, all at a standard price. However, it should be noted that purchasing from CeX may be more expensive than buying from a private seller. For instance, a 1TB PlayStation 5 Slim Console with a £480 recommended retail price is priced at £390 in CeX, whereas it could be found for around £300 on eBay or Gumtree. The trade-off for the higher cost at CeX is the inclusion of a free 24-month warranty for all items sold.
In addition to new games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for £50 on the PS5 and Super Mario Bros: Wonders on the Switch for £45, this store also offers old consoles. For instance, a 1992 Super Nintendo can be found online for £65, a 2009 500GB PS3 Slim for £85, and a 2013 500GB Xbox One for £105. There are also shelves filled with games for outdated consoles such as the PS3 and DS, priced as low as £1. However, be aware that these games may not be compatible with newer consoles such as the PS4 or PS5. Additionally, there are DVDs and Blu-rays available for under £1 due to the decline of physical media in favor of streaming. These can still be played on PS4 and PS5 consoles.
According to the anonymous CeX employee, the availability of a product greatly impacts its price. The more popular a game is, the more likely it is to be in stock and therefore sold at a lower price. For example, many Call of Duty and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare PS3 games are currently on sale for only £1. Games that are part of a series, such as Pro Evolution Soccer, also tend to be priced lower. This is due to the high number of customers who come in to sell their used games, forcing CeX to price them competitively between £50 and 50p. Additionally, certain games hold their value well, especially among avid collectors. Franchises like Pokémon, Final Fantasy, and Resident Evil can range in price from £20 to £100, while rare titles on older consoles can be even more expensive. For example, a pristine copy of Vib Ribbon on the PSOne, which involves moving your character to the beat of your own CDs, will set you back £120. For hardcore gamers, a mint copy of Snatcher for the Mega CD by Hideo Kojima will cost an eye-watering £625. And for those seeking truly obscure titles, a PAL copy of Snowboard Kids 2 for the N64 could potentially cost a whopping £1000.
During our conversation, I use the opportunity to inquire about certain store regulations from Mr CeX. One question I have is regarding the restrictions of the 24-month warranty. He responds by stating that it does not cover any damage caused by the customer. I then ask what would happen if an item was stolen and not yet recorded in any stolen databases. He explains that in that case, they would purchase the item without any knowledge of it being stolen. However, if it is reported stolen afterwards, he says that this scenario rarely occurs.
What is the most unusual item someone has attempted to sell? According to him, it was “a pair of shoes.” He explains that people often mistake the store for a pawn shop and try to sell anything, including hair straighteners, which the store actually purchases. He offers a pair for £45, but I am unable to buy them as it would exceed my budget. I consider purchasing an extra PS3 controller, but the cheapest option, the Dual Shock 3, is priced at £25. He mentions that the store was sold out of controllers during Christmas despite their high cost. However, I am able to afford the PS3 Eye Camera and microphone for only £1 each, so I decide to purchase them.
Upon returning home, I am quite satisfied with my collection. Let’s analyze it:
1. The original Call 0f Duty Modern Warfare 3 (PS3) – a steal at £1.
EyePet for PS3 allows me to experience the fun of having a virtual pet in my own living room using augmented Eye Camera technology, all for just £1.
Sing along to classic Take That hits like “Never Forget” and “Back for Good” with all four members, Howard, Gary, Jason, and Mark, on the PS3 game SingStar Take That for just £1.
4. Invest a Pound on Mel B’s Workout (for PS3) – a worthwhile purchase, but wouldn’t Sporty Spice be more fitting?
5. PES 2009 (PS3) – just 50p and only 15 years out of date.
Each PS3 Eye Camera and microphone for only £1.
After deducting £3.50 from my budget, I purchased Dumb & Dumber To on DVD for £1.50 and Rise of the Planet of the Apes on Blu-ray for a discounted price of 75p, in order to fulfill my objective and stay within the agreed budget. Additionally, I spent £1.20 on a sausage roll from Greggs, leaving me with 5p left from my £10 budget. What a great deal.
Although these shops may occasionally appear worn out, I have no complaints as I leave with a satisfied appetite and a few hours of nostalgic entertainment. To sum it up, I am a customer at CeX.