GameStop will start selling Cricket phones and plans in 2,800 stores

Game retailer GameStop is diving deeper into the mobile business, announcing a deal with AT&T on Monday to resell its Cricket Wireless service in 2,800 stores in the U.S.

[company]GameStop[/company] isn’t new to wireless: It sells refurbished smartphones in its GameStop-branded stores and operates its own mobile retail stores under the name Spring Mobile (which also happen to resell [company]AT&T[/company] service). The new deal, however, will put the [company]Cricket[/company] prepaid brand front and center at GameStop locations.

According to Cricket president Jennifer van Buskirk, Cricket will have its own displays in GameStop stores. Instead of refurbished phones, GameStop will carry Cricket’s line of new devices, and GameStop employees will be trained to sell Cricket mobile plans. The two are an ideal fit, van Buskirk said: the same consumers who look to save money by buying or trading in second-hand games are drawn to an inexpensive mobile carrier like Cricket.

The companies are kicking off the partnership at the CTIA Wireless conference this week with a virtual reality 3D “game” that will walk customers through Cricket’s planned footprint at GameStop stores. It doesn’t sound quite as exciting as Call of Duty, but if interested, conference attendees can find it Cricket’s booth in the Sands Expo Center.

The new Cricket is the combination of Leap Wireless’s Cricket Communications service — which AT&T bought in March — and AT&T’s former prepaid brand Aio Wireless. Since the Leap deal’s closure, AT&T has been trying to move Cricket’s CDMA customers over to its GSM, HSPA and LTE networks, which offer the benefits of faster speeds and nationwide coverage, but require customers to get new phones.

The first quarter after the acquisition was a dismal one for the new Cricket, though, as about a tenth of Leap’s former subscriber base left the network. AT&T has said that it expected a tough transition period right after the merger and that its customer retention rates are already improving as it convinces older customers to try out its new network.

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