Last night, I was in a bad spot. It was later in the evening and I was all alone. I thought I could resist the urge I was feeling, but I just couldn't. There was a GameStop right there...calling to me. Still reeling from the post-holiday influx of new games, the last thing I needed was another one. Like so many of the other times though, I told myself I would just go in for a look...check out the new releases and see what's on the calendar for 2013. Well, a few of my Game Informer friends heard my plea via Twitter and came to my rescue. They talked me down and I managed to look around and leave, without spending a single dollar on a game or reservation. The unconcerned parent with the obnoxious and unruly child running around the store screaming, "This box is empty too!" helped my early exit strategy.

Some people like GameStop...and some people don't.

I am in the "like" camp.

Now, I don't just like GameStop because they are the parent company of Game Informer...and I don't just like them because they sell video games. I like GameStop because I like watching how they have transformed over the years and adapted to the ever changing complexion of the video game industry. I was there as a customer, so I kind of got to watch it firsthand.

Long before GameStop, we had companies like Babbages, Electronic Boutique, Software ETC, FuncoLand and a few others. And now we mostly just have GameStop (apparently depending on where you live, some of those places still exist - but I haven't seen one in years). Somehow, GameStop came out on top.

Well, GameStop being the clever business that it is saw a market for used games, and no doubt you are familiar with the buy - sell - trade strategy they've offered for the past who knows how many years. With the slow and inevitable migration towards digital distribution, many predicted GameStop would start to feel the pinch as the used game market slowly became extinct. If that's happening or not, it's hard to say...but if it is, some of the other initiatives they are offering will surely aide the company in staying profitable.

The first thing I noticed a while ago was GameStop is in the phone and tablet business now. And why not? More and more people are playing video games on their phones and tablets, so it almost seems like a match made in Heaven. Think about the traffic coming in and out of a GameStop every day that see these advertisements and think, "Hmm. I have an old phone I can trade in and buy a new video game." Seems pretty smart to me. Now, I'm not saying you're likely to find a good deal trying to trade in your broken, water logged, scratched up, iPhone with a cracked screen in for handfuls of in store credit. In fact, looking at price quotes at the GameStop website almost made me spray hot chocolate out my nose when I saw how much they offered for an old iPhone 3G 16 GB...of which I have one in my nightstand. Hmm, well in like new condition they would buy it for $11.00 (I bet they would). Mine is more of in the poor to broken category - which will get me a whopping $1.50. I guess I won't be buying a new game anytime soon. Don't worry though, the newer the phone and the better the condition, you can trade an iPhone 4 32 GB for upwards of $129 of in store credit or $99 cash. That's about what I paid for mine when I upgraded my contract. So, that's fairer (though I still don't know how fair it really is). Regardless of whether you or I think their phone and tablet trade in values and/or refurbished prices are fair or not, it's hard to argue this isn't a pretty clever business strategy.

If you want to spray hot chocolate out of your nose, go check it out here.

(In GameStop's defense though, there are a few websites, like this one, that tell you how much your old electronic equipment is worth, and I was shocked to learn my Wii, which is practically brand new with the original box and cables is only worth $8.86.)

Something else GameStop is doing?

How about embracing the Ouya. Again, why wouldn't they? They carry all of the other consoles. In an interview with Joystiq a few months ago, Paul Raines, GameStop's CEO (aka the big dog) said the following...

"We will be a part of any console launch in the future...there will be games developed for that stuff. So you're going to see more of these open source type products, and we will be right in the middle of all of it."

That's kind of a big deal isn't it? Will the Ouya be available in other places like Wal-Mart or Target? I don't know either. But the fact that GameStop is behind selling it has to make the Ouya developers feel good about getting their product out there and assisting with its sales numbers (profitability).

And then last night...I noticed something rather peculiar.

GameStop now apparently sells what they are calling the Steam Wallet. I'm not sure how new or old this is, but let me get this straight. The Steam Wallet is basically a gift card. You put $20 or $50 bucks on the card and then you log into Steam and redeem the card...and you have that dollar amount in your Steam account where you can buy new games (or if you're like me - new Team Fortress 2 hats).

Okay, since I consider myself somewhat of a Valve and Steam expert, my first reaction was...

"Why in the world would I want to buy this Steam Wallet at GameStop when I can just log into my Steam account and add money locally without the hassle of going to GameStop."

Oh, you silly, simple, narrow minded your eyes and look at the bigger picture.

Ah, I see. Or so I did after I saw the advertisement that said GameStop would give me an extra 30% on my Steam Wallet on my trade ins.

And then it hit me.

As a PC gamer, one of my biggest problems with GameStop's trade in program was it basically excludes PC gamers because of copyright enforcement and copy protection. They simply don't do PC trades.

But with this, you're telling me I can trade in my used Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo games...AND get it on a Steam Wallet card that I can take home and use to buy games for my PC via Steam...AND get an extra 30% in doing so?

Tell me GameStop isn't genius. That is brilliant. And that, my friends and fellow why I say GameStop is clever.

They'll find a way to make money like any good business should, but they also do it by providing their customers with exceptional content and services. At least I think so.