Monday, December 2, 2019
Video Game Collecting: Part Two - How To Cheaply Start Collecting Video Games
In my last article on this subject, I wrote about why I started collecting physical video games again. In this installment, I’ll be focusing on how I acquired 100 physical games and 11 systems in under a year without breaking the bank. With video game collecting being the equivalent of comic book collecting in this day and age, how did I do this?
Now, I wouldn’t rely on just retro video game stores. They usually want to make a profit, and their prices often reflect that. You can sometimes find good or fair enough deals in them, and I do believe that it is important to support them as they provide a valuable resource, but you’re not going to find everything or always get the best deals there. I would also check out local flea markets, thrift stores, and even Facebook Marketplace (but please use caution when meeting strangers from FaceBook and making deals with them. They may try to scam you or you could end up in a dangerous situation.)
My area doesn’t have a ton of games at Goodwill, but I’ve heard that it’s different throughout the country. I’ve had much better luck at flea markets and my area has a handful of them. In my experience, pawn shops don’t have the best deals. They want to make as big of a profit on their inventory as possible, but your mileage may vary.
Before you head out, it’s important to have a list of all the games and systems you’re looking for and check the fair prices on those items. I use an Android app called Gameye to keep a wishlist as well as keep track of all the games and systems that I already own (and accidentally buying duplicates is a thing that happens; trust me.) I also use a site called PriceCharting to make sure that I’m not overpaying too much for a game.
Never be afraid to buy a game or system that looks dirty or has something internally wrong with it, as long as it’s at a fair price. Many games and systems are decades old and it’s unfair to think that you’re going to find something in pristine condition all the time. Cleaning and fixing games and systems is actually not a bad way to get in to a new and fun hobby and could end up saving you a ton of money. For instance, you could find a Sega Dreamcast that doesn’t play discs, and the person selling it is offering it for $5. You could get a disc drive assembly online for around $15 and open it up and replace it. Now you have a Sega Dreamcast for $20 when they’re going for upwards of $60 or more. There are plenty of YoutTube videos and tutorials out there on how to clean and fix games and systems. If you’re new to it, I would take your time, take pictures as you go, and keep track of all the screws. Also, when screwing things back together, turn counter clockwise first until the threads slip in properly. Most of the plastic on old games and systems are old and brittle and are prone to strip or break.
In conclusion, it’s not enough to do any of the above if you’re just going to go crazy and buy everything you see. Be strict on yourself. I only allow myself to go game hunting once per payday. Keep a budget in mind as much as possible and try to avoid temptation. That’s easier said than done sometimes, but we’re adults now and we should be able to maintain a budget. Finally, collect what you enjoy. I would never recommend going out and buying something just because it’s valuable. Sure, if you find a copy of a rare and expensive game for $5, grab that, but don’t go out of your way for it. I personally only collect what I have nostalgia for or what I want to play. After all, that’s what it’s all about.