How to Start Collecting Retro Video Games
If you're wondering whether it's worth it to get into retro video games — of course it is! There's a reason (besides gaming nostalgia) that retro consoles have stood the test of time and are still played today.
In olden times, games were created from passion and, more importantly, desperation. That is, a game had better be good, or its creators went bankrupt. (fun fact: this is the actual reason why Final Fantasy was named Final Fantasy.)
Today, though, if Nintendo's 371st Mario game is a pile of garbage, Nintendo will survive just fine. And by "survive," we mean that the game will probably still make billions, anyway. Even if it doesn't, Shigeru Miyamoto can use all his other billions to wipe away his tears (from laughing so hard about all the billions he has).
The real question is, how best to build your retro video game collection? You'll find the answers below. Learn all you need to know about retro video game collecting from this guide.
1. Choose Your Budget
Retro video game collecting is not a free hobby. It costs money. In fact, depending on how you go about it, it can get very expensive.
More importantly, it's addictive. If you aren't careful, it will quickly drain your bank account dry.
You'll need to come up with a plan for how you will fund this hobby. Pick a certain amount per month that you are comfortable spending on classic games, gaming consoles, and peripherals.
If a game you want is more expensive than your monthly budget, don't break your own budgeting rules. Instead, save your monthly gaming allowance for as many months as it takes until you have enough.
2. Buy Carefully
Besides budgeting, you need to be careful where you spend your money. For instance, buying games from a garage sale or Craigslist means that you can't return your games if they don't work.
Buy from a Legitimate Used Video Game Store
It's better to buy from a shop that has a good return policy, especially if you can't test the games beforehand. And it's even better to buy from a seller who tests games before selling them.
Don't be afraid to ask questions, it isn't always easy when dealing with older games. Luckily, there are plenty of forums online dedicated to helping people out.
Next, research the lowest price before you buy so that you don't get high balled. The best place to search game prices is eBay. Most retro video game sellers use average eBay values to price their own gaming inventory.
Search high and low
And that doesn’t just mean scouring the furthest reaches of cyberspace. Sure, there’s plenty of good used video game trading sites out there, and there are some passionate folks running legit online businesses that enable you shop for used games. But it’s important to get out of the house too. There are treasures to be found in local flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores across the country, in almost every city and town. Those who do their retro game collecting buying online are ignoring a valuable resource.
The Inconvenience of the Online Marketplaces
Another thing to consider when buying is convenience. While eBay is great for valuating games and has a decent return policy, eBay sellers are not always reliable.
A lot of eBay sellers don't fully test their games. Also, games sold on eBay are often counterfeit copies, especially popular titles like the Pokemon series.
Thus, you might end up returning and rebuying a lot of the games you buy from there. You'll save a lot of time if you find a reliable seller and buy primarily from them.
Why are retro video games So Expensive
If there's a rare vide game you're after, your preferred seller mightn't have it in stock. In fact, it can be difficult to find anyone who's selling it.
We must warn you, though. The old adage, "Beggars can't be choosers," does not apply in this situation. If anything, you should be even more shrewd when shopping for rare titles.
Hard-to-find items give scammers a golden opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. Case in point, rare game sales are an easy setup for peddling counterfeit or non-functioning games.
Scammers might also use a bait-and-switch scheme. That is, they relabel a common game cartridge to look like a rare game. By the time you find out you've been duped, it's too late.
So, before buying rare vintage games, always make sure there's a way to get your money back, just in case.
3. How do you Choose the Right Retro Console
In the world of today, the idea of physical video games is all but an antiquated notion. Retro collectors need to be aware of the physical properties of cartridges, discs and accessories. A PlayStation 2 game with cracks or scratches on it will be all but worthless on the open market; a Nintendo cartridge with missing or damaged pins won’t play. And the earliest photodiode gaming accessories, such as the NES Zapper, were designed for use with cathode ray tube televisions and won’t work on modern flat-screen or plasma TVs.
Those who are agonizing over a scratched game disc can perform the fingernail test to see if that game is salvageable.
You need to decide which console(s) to start with. Some have very modern features, like online gaming, downloadable content, and HD hookups. The PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch are good examples of a modern console.
However, the online features of some online-capable systems have been discontinued. The original Xbox and the Nintendo Wii fall into this category. Furthermore, most classic consoles have none of the features listed above.
Your budget is another important factor when choosing a system. Certain systems have an enormous library of extremely cheap video games. Conversely, other systems offer a more limited—and therefore, more expensive—game library.
Cheap Video Games
PlayStation 2 is a great option for cheap, retro gaming. As PlayStation 2 consoles are backwards compatible and play both PS1 and PS2 games.
The games for both of these platforms are very cheap because they're exceedingly easy to find. You'll find loads of great Original PlayStation One and PS2 games priced under $5. The original Xbox has cheap video games as well.
Are retro video games a good investment
Most cartridge-based gaming systems (Sega Genesis, SNES, N64) tend to have more expensive games. Most decent games on these systems will cost about $20.
Popular titles, like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Metroid, Mario Kart, Donkey Kong will cost a bit more. Then you have some rarer titles, like Chrono Trigger on the Super Nintendo that, cost over $300.
You must be wondering, then, is it worth it to pay such a steep price for these games? Technically, it is.
That's why people are still willing to pay it. Remember, retro game prices are based on demand as well as supply.
4. Get the Right Hookups
Most retro gaming consoles were designed for a different type of TV than the kind we use today. As such, you need to make sure that you have a TV that is compatible with the consoles you choose.
For example, older consoles use AV/coaxial cables to connect to a TV. But some TVs with modern hardware don't have ports to accept these cables.
And even if the retro game console connects and has an HDMI connection, it might not display correctly. Often, newer TVs can't properly interpret the signal coming from an outdated original hardware. Additionally, certain peripherals, like the NES Zapper, only work with tube TV screens.
Ultimately, you should consider obtaining an old, tube TV when playing your retro classic games. And do it sooner rather than later because these are becoming rare, too.
Cords, Controllers, and More
Lastly, when buying a retro video game console, make sure you have all the necessary cords to hook them up. Most consoles do not use universal hookups. Which is so damn annoying if you ask me, but double check that you have everything.
You need to buy the cords that are specifically intended for each console. And don't forget a classic controller, av output plug, memory cards, and the list goes on.
Buy in bulk; consolidate shipping costs
Retro video game collectors looking to resell face ever-shrinking profit margins. This comes in the form of such things as bidding and payment-processing fees. Excess shipping and insurance costs can further reduce potential profits. The solution to this is to buy in bulk whenever possible. Not only will you save on shipping, but the merchandise costs are sure to go down when placing larger orders. And whenever possible, try and deal with sellers directly. eBay is an invaluable site for game collectors, but it is also a middleman, and anytime you can eliminate the middleman you are saving yourself cash.
Start Your Retro Video Game Collection Now
Carefully consider the tips on this list before you spend your money. Once you've done that, you're ready to start building your vintage retro gaming collection.
And we can help with that. Go here to browse our incredible collection of retro video games for sale.