Are Collectible Video Games worth their Steep Sales Price?

Panzer Dragoon Saga

You probably wouldn’t think that the retro gaming market pulls in over $200 million per year. That figure seems more apt for vintage collectables or niche artwork. But, technically, vintage video games are old collectables and niche artwork.

Plus, their limited supply is constantly shrinking because they’re out of print. As such, many of these games are rare collectables—and getting rarer and more valuable all the time. For these reasons, collectable video games are especially valuable if they’re authentic and still in the original box.

To illustrate, consider how this industry made over $3.5 million in less than a month with only 2 game sales. In case you’re wondering, the two games were Super Mario Bros on NES and Super Mario 64 on N64. Both the Super Mario games were factory-sealed, and rare first prints of the games.  Each game was then authenticated by Wata games and was sold on Heritage auctions.  Heritage auctions is what's called an auction house, and they auction off many classic titles on their platform.

Because of examples like these, many gamers question whether “mint condition copies” and “rarity” truly justify such astronomical price tags. Is it really worth it to spend millions of dollars on a hunk of plastic that cost pennies to produce? For a complete and detailed answer to this question, keep reading.

How Collectable Video Games Become Expensive: The Sega Saturn Saga

most expensive retro gamesShort-lived consoles, like the Sega Saturn, can fetch upwards of $150. The most expensive Sega Saturn games, such as Panzer Dragoon Saga, are being sold for roughly 5 times more than the consoles.

Specifically, loose copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga, in working condition, the average price is a whopping $750. When CIB (Complete In Box), the sale price is over $1,000. Such consoles—those that were short-lived and unsuccessful in their time—are great examples of how collectable games get so expensive.

Why Are Sega Saturn Games So Expensive?

Actually, for the most part, they’re not. There are several you can buy CIB games for less than $30.  Go here to browse our games for sale by console and enter your desired search parameters to find exactly what you want.

So why are extreme examples like Panzer Dragoon Saga so expensive? It starts with popularity.

The Most Expensive Sega Saturn Games

When Panzer Dragoon Saga appeared on the Sega Saturn in the late ‘90s, it quickly became a cult hit. The game’s 3D modelling was revolutionary for its time. And the on-rail gameplay featuring a boy and his dragon was an exceptionally unique gaming experience.

Another good example from the Saturn library is Shining Force III. It’s the excellent RPG follow-up to Sega’s internationally popular Shining Force series.

The fact both of these hits only appeared on the ill-fated Sega Saturn certainly added to their mythic status. That is, the games’ popularity continued to grow long after the Sega Saturn fell by the wayside.

At this point, there’s still a strong demand for these titles, but the games are getting harder and harder to find. Most importantly, these titles are still unavailable for play on any other system to this day.

They have never been ported to other systems or offered for download on Steam or online consoles. The only legitimate way to play these games is on the original console.

Collecting vs Playing

Granted, our Sega Saturn example only explains the economics of retro gaming from a gamer’s point of view. But there’s another side to the retro gaming market.

Namely, those who buy the most expensive retro video games are usually collectors, not gamers. That is, they’re purchasing games for display purposes/bragging rights, not for playing.

In this way, the quality of the game is irrelevant—aside from impacting the game’s popularity. For that matter, it’s always difficult to determine what causes the value of collectibles to rise and fall.

Take this list of the most expensive collectables worldwide. Predictably, comics and vinyl albums make the cut, but $60,000 for a pair of Levis? Even free-market politics can’t explain that one away.

Still, the truth seems to be that if you’re a deep-pocketed Gollum searching for your ring, you’ll likely pay any price in order to get it.

Investing vs Collecting

Furthermore, many of these buyers are actually investors, not collectors. Specifically, they’re buying an expensive video game purely to sell them at a higher price once their value goes up.

As it turns out, there are actually investment platforms that sell collectable video games to groups of investors rather than individual buyers. This type of retro game market is similar to stock trading. When a game is resold for a profit, each investor receives a portion ofSnatcher Sega CDthe profit based on the amount they invested.

The Verdict

So, are collectable retro games worth their exorbitant price tags? Truly, it depends solely on the individual and what they hope to gain.

In other words, a game is worth any listing price as long as that price makes sense to the buyer. If the buyer feels like dropping $1,500 bucks for Panzer Dragoon Saga or Snatcher, then who are we to argue?

In this respect, vintage games are like diamonds. After all, does it really make sense to drop three months’ salary on something that doesn’t have any intrinsic value other than being sparkly? To the buyer it does.

What Price Would You Pay for Collectable Video Games?

Are you in the market for some collectable video games? Which games do you have in mind, and what’s your budget?

No matter what you’re looking for, we’re sure you can find it at The Old School Game Vault.  If you have questions about a certain title or anything else, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Monday, 03 October 2022