A hobby is great and all, but I found that you can’t spend all your money on games. There’s things like rent, food, insurance, and retirement that I have to think about. So if you’re like me you need a couple ways to find games on the cheap or just better ways to manage your collection.
Know Your Prices & What to Look For
Getting into retro video games can be exciting and overwhelming if you’re unsure what you want to focus your collection on. Start by using Estate Sales. You can view estate sales within your area that are occurring in the next week and view pictures of what’s for sale. This will definitely save you time and money so you’re not driving from place to place hoping to find something. Just be aware that most of these will be filled with resellers if a good picture is there. A good tip is to don’t be afraid to contact the owner of the estate sale and make an offer before the sale goes live. A lot of time they’ll be accommodating as long as you drive to them.
Recruit Your Family and Friends
Be sure to tell your friends and relatives that you collect old video games. You never know who might be getting rid of their games. Whether it’s someone at their job or a neighbor across the street, it helps to have a couple of ears out there. With that said, it really helps if your family is a little bit tech savvy and not anti-video game. Just remember that if they do find something for you that you take them out to dinner, do their yard work, something to show them that you appreciate them looking out for you.
This helped when a tree fell on my neighbor’s shed. Believe me it was a great way to meet your neighbor for the first time. Since it was our tree that fell onto his shed we happily agreed to take care of it right away. We got to talking and I said I collected old video games. He said that he was cleaning out his shed and that if he found any he’d drop them off at my house. About a month later there was a trash bag on my front door filled with about 30 original XBOX games. They weren’t in the best condition since they’ve been left in a hot Florida shed for who knows how long but with a lot of rubbing alcohol and cotton balls, I was able to get all of the dirt and grim off of them.
Work With a Friend
Partner up with friends who collect or join video game clubs in your area. Let them know what you’re looking for and vice versa. That way you can share in the deals or trade if duplicates are involved. If you do settle on a cash price, be fair but don’t expect full market value. Don’t have friend that collects video games like I do? Find a friend that collects anything that’s somewhat knowledgeable about video games. By knowledgeable I mean that they know the what video games look like for different systems. I’ve partnered up with a couple friends who will look out for me when they’re out at sales and in turn I’ll look out for them. That way you can cover more ground if you can’t go out every weekend.
Offer Up & Letgo App
I recently discovered these apps and I like them lot. Similar to Facebook groups and Craigslist, Offer Up and Letgo lets you view and search for items in your area. Like what you see? Then contact the seller. It’s better to go with broad, general searches like “SNES” or “video games.” Being specific by searching for specific games will most likely return with zero results.
Collecting for the Last Generation
If you’re a general collector like I am, I like collecting for consoles of all generations. I still look out for some of my favorite retro systems that I enjoy collecting for, but there seems to be a bubble that makes some of those more desirable titles more expensive. People who started playing on the Super Nintendo like myself are starting to get back into their hobby. Now we have better paying jobs with disposable income, and before you know it we’re buying games we never had as kids before we have our own kids that want the latest games. That’s why I recommend collecting for the last couple generations as you can get a lot of great games at a cheaper price.
In fact sometimes it’s best to start early than to wait for a system to become retro before you start collecting for it. That doesn’t mean to go out and purchase games at retail. Even just waiting for a couple of years can result in huge savings. Gamestop recently had a 4 for $10 sale on some of their used PS3, 360, and Wii games and I was able to pick up some titles that were on my want list. IT was a great way to save some money, but with that said I did find a nice collector’s edition of The Last Story that wasn’t part of the sale. This meant that I ended up doubling my spending budget. “It’s okay,” I told myself, “my video game budget was actually that much anyways.”
If you do go the sale route, be sure to look for current generation Nintendo games. They tend to hold their value over time and rarely go sale even years after release. This is due to Nintendo’s idea of making money since they can’t support a decent 3rd party, but that’s a complaint for a different time.
If you’ve been in this hobby long enough you should have a feeling of what will be harder to find later on down the line. Just make sure you enjoy playing these games rather than to just to get them for your shelf. I found that Atlus games, JRPGs, small print runs, horror, and some niche genre games will be typically harder to find later down the line when YouTubers start making hidden gem videos.
Keep Track of Your Collection
I always keep track of my want list using Google Docs and Price Charting. There have been times when I’ve about to pick up a game only to find out I have it on a different system or I can get it a lot cheaper on eBay. It’s also helpful to track how you’re your games are currently worth. I love using Price Charter for this reason and I suggest you do as well. I also like to pick up a game or two when I’m on vacation. Some people collect shot glasses or spoons, I collect video games as memories of trips I’ve been on. Just remember to keep the receipt in the box as a helpful reminder.
Speaking of pictures, be sure to take lots of them and submit them to your insurance company along with your spreadsheet before an incident occurs. It’s tough to prove you own certain games when you pick them up at a flea market without a receipt.
I also keep a Google doc of games that I’m currently on the lookout for and what their fair market value is. Within this spreadsheet I make a “top 20 buy next list.” It helps me stay current with what game I want next, as well as, if it’s the fair market value of what it’s worth. It’s definitely stopped me from picking up a couple games when I see that their prices are $10 higher than eBay.
I hope these tips help you in your quest for finding those games on your want list. I’d love to hear your game collecting stories and any collector’s tips of your own so I can add them to the list.
How do you save money when you collect video games? I want to hear your tips. Please leave a comment below.
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