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Monetizing Nostalgia And The Paradox Of Collecting

As certain things age, they become collectable and valuable, some retro games if not most retro games fit well into this category.

Retro gaming has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years which has been hiking up the prices of the games and consoles that fit into that category. A niche clientèle will spend over the odds to get their hands on something that they class as invaluable to them, most famous example recently was an old copy of ET for the Atari 2600 that sold for $2,298 (£1,541). Another example of this is when the rare NES game, Stadium Events, sold for $41,300 (£27,705) and proved that the right item can make some extreme cash.

While the sale of those games are the big stories, the abnormal standouts, you can make a good bit of change if you know what to look for. Having recently delved into this world, I myself have made a somewhat healthy earning from selling my used retro collection (which has been a personal difficulty but a necessary one). I have recently sold a Playstation 2, a Gamecube, and a Super Nintendo with a collection of games. When wall was said and done, my entire collection was worth about $299 (£200).

Selling my retro collection has not been an easy thing to do, given my professed and passionate love of nostalgic games. Due to certain life circumstances, parting with my beloved collection was a necessary evil. I had a lot of commitments at home that inhibited my work schedule. I needed a boost in my monthly income, and it helped make ends meet. I never really used the items I had to sell, but it was still hard to see them go. Parting with my old Nintendo 64 was heartbreaking, like parting with an old childhood friend.

If you can get past the emotional hurdles and want to get rid of clutter while making some money, you have options. Obviously, not everyone who has retro games and consoles would ever consider going down this route– no matter what their financial situation is. Just know, there are specific places where this line of retail makes more money than others. A lot of people go to eBay to reach a wider audience and make more sales in a shorter amount of time. Even with the modern age we live in, not everyone has access to the internet. The eBay option might be out of the question for some. These people should search for that most rare beast: an independent game shop.

From personal experience, not many local game shops will take retro off your hands because they want to focus on what’s new and shiny. That doesn’t mean you’ll have to resort to cashing out for the internet and a fancy computer to get rid of your unwanted (or otherwise must-go) possessions! There are some boutique video game outlets still out there that will take these items off your hands for a reasonable price. Going to a small, independent store is important, because they know the industry and understand the products you bring in. I have such a shop in my local area who I know for a fact sells not only retro video games, but rare retro video games. Some are worth at least three figures when sold.

This shop, called Gamer, is in the town of Blackburn in the good old United Kingdom. Gamer has a special place in my heart because of the kind of business they deal in. The guys at the store charge honest prices for the games and consoles they sell. They don’t inflate their prices, either, something novel in this age of rampant commercialism. Most people you see selling retro games online for instance tend to hike the price because they think they know better than the people wanting to buy the products.

Lewis is the guy who runs Gamer. He’s a decent, down to earth kind of fellow that you can talk gaming with for hours. Lewis doesn’t talk down to anyone, whether you know nothing about the industry or have just written your third book. He’s always happy to tell you about things you don’t know, and he’s never pushy. Gamestop and other retailers catch a lot of flak for their mercilessly pushy sales tactics. That just isn’t Lewis’ style.

I got in touch with Lewis via e-mail and he had this to say about the quirks of the modern industry:

I think the current generation of gaming will mark the end of collectable gaming as we know it. Broken releases with day one patches. Consoles that require authentication via online servers. In years to come, a day-one model of the Xbox One still sealed will never be able to be used due to this. Unlike a day-one Atari 2600, NES, Mega Drive, Neo Geo and so on. Digital re-releases affect demand and sale prices…I have seen it on a small scale with the digital releases of the Final Fantasy games. The games once demanded pretty high prices until they were re-released to download on PSN, Steam…

We all have our complaints about some of the truly vile practices of modern game publishers and developers. The previous generations were a simpler time, where friends could sit on a couch and frag each other without having to worry about on-disc DLC or always-online complications. Lewis has that same nostalgic views as I do, but brings a smart economic sensibility to his collecting:

The reasons I collect is for nostalgia, and the potential investment of putting my money into something that can go up in price down the line. If I was to purchase a new release today, I can spent up to £60 ($65.90) on it, and I know that in 12 months time I can probably get that title for about a tenner [ten pounds, or about $14.91- Ed.]…Safe bets are PAL RPGs released towards the end of a generation for example…if you pick up any RPG released on the PS3 over the past 12 months that is would have been distributed in limited numbers, and will be worth big bucks down the line. It’s an interesting market, and can be very unpredictable and fun to be active in.

His view of the way retro collecting will decrease over the coming years, due to the increase in downloadable content from sites such as steam is one I hadn’t considered but he makes an interesting point.

In conclusion, I don’t wish to encourage you all to take your beloved game and console collection down to your local cash converters or cash generator because you think you can make a pretty penny on them. What I’m saying is far from that. Should a time come when you find yourself with a bunch of games that you no longer play, don’t disregard them as rubbish! Stop and think that, someone somewhere will take those off your hands and cherish them as you once did.

That’s the thing about retro gaming and collecting as a general hobby– the two go hand in hand. What seems so valueless one minute in your life can creep up on you the next as something very valuable to the right person. I’ve said it before that retro gaming isn’t just a sub-genre of an age gone by, or even a side aspect to what changes over the years. Retro gaming has many a different meaning to everyone of any age. It’s highly subjective, and that’s what makes the feeling so special and powerful. Nostalgia can be anything to anyone.



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