Any retro video game collector who’s browsing the internet daily, goes to a flea market each weekend or visits every retro video game convention there is, knows that you can spend all your money in the blink of an eye. If there’s 10 things you want right now, go to EBay and pay whatever the sellers asking, you’ll find yourself in money trouble faster than you would expect. With the booming retro video gaming business resellers are popping up globally and with the availability of some gems getting scarcer every day, prices are very much on the rise.
That’s why I created a handy guide which keeps your budget under control and brings that one gem within your grasp.
Get to know the market price
Do your research! There’s no point in buying video games when you don’t know the current market prices, you’ll end up paying way too much. An option that has been described in a lot of blogs is the ‘Completed Listings’ checkbox on EBay. When browsing the site you have search options on the left side pane of the website. Tick the ‘Completed Listing’ checkbox and see for what prices an object has been sold lately. You’ll see a lot of ‘Buy Now’ prices which didn’t get a new owner, but you got to search for the auctions. It gives you a good insight on how many people are interested in a game and how far they are willing to go to get it. Always be aware of the state an object is in, a sealed copy will always be multiple times the market value of a used version of a game.
Now that you know the price range of your game, print this in mind: “Don’t pay the normal going price”. Retro gaming is about the hunt and you will almost always come across that game sooner or later.
The explosion of the retro video gaming market is still fresh and it’s going to stay here for at least a couple of years. Enough attics are full with retro video games waiting to be coming your way. NES and SNES consoles are popping up every day, and if that’s the case in a small country like Belgium, I cannot imagine how many good stuff is coming online in the rest of the world every day. It’s understandable that you want some games or consoles sooner than later, but eventually it will smash some deep holes in your wallet.
The third bullet point, but we still haven’t bought any game… There’s one final thing I would suggest you do: set up a monthly budget and keep yourself to it. This depends on your current lifestyle and everyone should decide an amount that fits his/hers. Collecting isn’t that expensive if you know what you’re doing, don’t let the high prices draw you away from it and don’t come into the scene to make some fast cash.
Buy in lots
This is the same for any collector, if it’s stamps, shoes, coca cola bottles or anything else, if you buy piece per piece you’re spending a lot of money that you could’ve saved by buying a lot of games/consoles. It’s true that you probably won’t need everything you find in the lot, but you can resell these at fair prices to gain some money that you can invest again in your collection. I want to make it clear to everyone that I detest those resellers who resell their goods at outrageous prices, but I have no problem to buy from another collector who, I know, is financing his own collection. And if you get to know fellow honest collectors, why not form a pact and start…
This is another way buying lots pays off, you get trading material that you can use to bundle up and get those gems. There’s so much fun in having a partner in crime that can be on the lookout for you. For example Vulturius and myself, if I see a big box game he wants for a good price, why would I charge him extra for that, and the other way around he will do the same for me. If you sell stuff to each other give each other a bro price and make both parties happy. Be warned, don’t trust people too soon if you met them through the internet, you don’t want to sell off some big money games cheap to see them end up on the internet a month later by your so called fellow collector. Lately I’ve been using Facebook groups and I’m happy to be part of a pretty exclusive group where you can find games from any platform for good and fair prices. EBay prices aren’t tolerated and everything’s checked very closely by the moderators, resellers are banned from the page. It’s not a bad idea to start one in your own country, who knows what might come to the surface.
Find the balance
Going on a hunt is the most fun there is, well, it is for me and I love to do it every time of the day. But browsing the internet or going to every store that has some kind of games, will eventually turn out in a collection that has tons of stuff you don’t really want. And selling off some of these common games, can turn out to be a pain in the ass, as everybody has them in their little online shop. From time to time, take a look at your collection, turn your heart to stone, and ask yourself: “Why do you have that game in your collection?” It will turn out that you bought stuff over time that you don’t really need and that you can sell off to buy better gear.
And the most important part of this, keep some time to hang out with your family and friends. They support you, I honestly hope they do, but they deserve some attention too. There’s more to life than retro video gaming.
From October 2012 ‘till March 2013 I kept an Excel with everything I bought and sold during that time range, those were the best days for my collection and my wallet. I’m very proud to say that I spend 340 euro in 6 months, but my collection had expanded more than 1000 euro in value. During that period I was even ripped off for 100 euro and spend 150 euro on the very limited collector’s edition of the PS3 exclusive Ni No Kuni. If you take those away, the chart would even look better.
Of course, Excel isn’t the holy grail and can be complicated for some, so find your own way. Do it on paper if that works for you, but only by taking notes you will keep control over the budget. I haven’t done it since March and you would be surprised at how fast you’re money vanishes.
Extra – Conventions
The most deadly times for your wallet and maybe for your eyes too, with all the pretty girls cosplaying. Whether you’re a fanatic or enjoy walking surrounded by the most beautiful stuff in the world, conventions bring together all kind of people. Which means there are a lot of people who don’t have a clue of the ongoing prices and buy whatever they desire the most. It’s devastating when you see a game that’s at the top of your want list and realizing that the price is way too high, sometimes double or triple the online prices. The answer is simple, just say no! Drool over the game all you want but know up front that you’re not buying it today.
If you want to make good deals at a convention, wait for the last hour. A lot of sellers don’t want to load everything back in the truck and you would be surprised at what discounts they would sell their stuff. But they are still not selling their top games for cheap, bummer.
Conventions are also a good way to meet your fellow retro video game collectors and make trades on the floor. Most conventions allow you to bring in your personal stuff, so make use of it and save on shipment costs.
There’s a lot of things you can do to control the budget, but you got to devote yourself again from time to time. Don’t get yourself in trouble because of a nice video game collection. Be patient and don’t go for the biggest video game collection in the shortest period of time. Spread out your investments, play your games and find that rare gem at the most unexpected times. And exactly at that moment, you realize why you’re doing this, for the thrill of the hunt!