Retro gaming has enjoyed a huge resurgence in recent years as adults who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s look back wistfully on their pre-smartphone, pre-social media childhoods. In those days Facebook and the iPhone were a long ways from defining an era, but what you can bet on is that most kids had some kind of video game console sitting on top of their tube TV. And while retro video games are all the rage on the second-hand market the consoles themselves often fetch a pretty on bidding sites too.
The better the condition, the more you’ll earn
We all know the general rules for getting the most for your used goods on the second-hand market: make sure the product is as close to new as possible. That means it’s clean, untarnished and complete with its original packaging. But we can’t stress enough just how crucial it is to keep video consoles in the same pristine state if you want to fetch the highest bids on sites like eBay.
For example, browse eBay at any given time and you’ll find thousands upon thousands of retro video game consoles listed. Most of the Super Nintendo consoles, for example, are priced somewhere around $30, and that’s about the most they fetch on these bidding sites. That’s because these consoles often look their age—they’re dinged up and they’re lacking the original box and/or instructions/accessories. But those diligent gamers who kept their SNES, or Sega system, or Atari console in pristine conditions, with all the original packaging, can net well over $1,00. So maintain those old systems!
Tip: make sure to add high quality photographs of your auction product to the bidding site. Show it from every angle; highlight its good condition, and you’ll whet bidders’ appetites for the product.
Nostalgia is a major factor
The simple truth is that, most of the time; you’re going to get less money for your Sega and other systems than you will for your Nintendo gaming consoles. That’s because the NES wasn’t just a game system; it was a global phenomenon. And if you think the intervening decades have dulled that fervor, think again. When re-released a mini-NES throwback (completed with 30 built-in retro games) in 2017 to help promote the Switch, the marketing tool became the star. High demand led to certain gaming websites crashing, and global buyers quickly snatched up the 1.5 million units so fast that Nintendo had to apologize for the shortage and quickly produce more.
The reality couldn’t be any clearer: people still love their NES; they still love Mario and the gang. It reminds many people of childhood, and that is why certain Super Nintendo consoles have fetched over $2,000 on eBay. It’s also what helped the modern Nintendo Switch become the best-selling console in the company’s history: the Nintendo brand never dies.
Tip: If you are going the eBay route, make sure that your keywords are in order. When bidders enter a search on the site, eBay picks up on certain keywords in the title only. Therefore sellers will want to craft their title in such a way that it appeals directly to the typical bidder. Use keywords that appeal to the retro gamer, like “vintage” and “old.”
Rarity does count
may fetch the most cash overall, but that isn’t to say other consoles are being left in the dust. The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, for example, regularly fetches over 100 bucks on eBay as well. Then there are the more esoteric consoles out there, such as the Atari Jaguar (the last console Atari put out), and others, like the Neo Geo. If you’ve kept consoles such as these in great condition, they might just surpass the Nintendo machines on the open market.
How can you figure how much your particular console is worth? Simple: check out the competition. If you’re curious to find out how much that Xbox One, or Nintendo Gamecube, or PS3 might be worth on the secondhand market, consult a game retailer. Because while bidding sites are a nice resource, brick-and-mortar and online games traders are great options as well. The proprietors of these businesses often have years of buying and selling experience, and are willing to pay topdollar for systems in good condition. The Old School Game Vault is one good option to consult when considering where to sell that used system. Find out how much they’re selling for. Highlight any features on your machine that others are lacking. Maybe yours is in better condition, of you have more of the original packaging.
Tip: To glean an even deeper understanding of eBay search metrics, you can use the free tool Goofbid, which identifies the most popular search terms found on the bidding site.
One more time: Nintendo reigns supreme
While retro is all the rage, older systems aren’t the only ones fetching high prices on eBay. If you have a Nintendo Switch lying around, and you’d like to get rid of it, you might just be able to fetch upwards of a $1,000 for it on bidding sites. That’s not too shabby considering that, today, the Switch retails for just $350 or so. Of course you’re going to want to make sure it’s in pristine condition and boxed up.