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Swap out old 360 games for new Xbox One titles with trade-in offers

Retailers like Best Buy, GameStop, and Amazon have begun offering special trade-in programs to help gamers transition from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One.
Retailers like Best Buy, GameStop, and Amazon have begun offering special trade-in programs to help gamers transition from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One.

If you're looking forward to this holiday season's line-up of video games but you still haven't gotten around to pre-ordering a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you may be in trouble. But fear not: at least for the Xbox owners among us, retailers Best Buy, Amazon, and GameStop are offering trade-in deals that will allow gamers to "upgrade" their Xbox 360 games to Xbox One version once they finally get their hands on the newly-minted gadget.

Best Buy announced Wednesday a new trade-in program that will allow Xbox 360 owners to trade in one of five popular games — "Battlefield 4," "Call of Duty: Ghosts," "Fifa 14," "Watch Dogs," and "Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag" — for their Xbox One counterparts by the end of the year for $9.99.

Both Amazon and GameStop have offered almost identical deals in recent weeks, the main difference being just how bureaucratic a process redeeming the various coupons and store credits becomes. So far, Best Buy seems to have the most convoluted process — it gives you a $10 coupon along with the original 360 game that then has to be activated upon trading the game in to receive an additional $40 coupon, while GameStop and Amazon simply guarantee a minimum $50 credit for at least one game.

The key detail in the fine print is that all of these offers expire at the end of the year, which gives a narrow window for the discount to actually work in one's benefit. For gamers who can't stand to wait the extra month to get the next-gen version of "Battlefield 4" when it arrives on Nov. 22 (the current-gen version arrives on Oct. 25), this is a good deal. But for those of us who are less desperate to start shooting our bros in "Call of Duty: Ghosts," it might not be as helpful seeing as it only supports a discounted next-gen purchase until the end of the year (December 31, 2013, to be exact). 

Given that Microsoft just warned of possible console shortages during the Xbox One's launch window, there's no telling if these customers will even be able to get their hands on the Xbox One in time to make this offer worthwhile — that is, unless they're willing to wait to be able to play their discounted game until they finally get an Xbox One. But if you're that patient, why would you buy two different versions of the same game? 

Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: Yannick.LeJacq@nbcuni.com.