Level 4: Why is the retro market so shady?

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Rant time again: why is the retro market such a shady place compared to other collectables markets?

How often has this happened to you as a collector:
You take a system to a local shop and you walk up to the guy behind the buy counter, and this happens: “well I guess i can offer you $20 for the NES, and say $3 a game..”(all the while their already looking up the games on ebay).

You look around you and see systems for sale for 80+…you inquire about getting more, which is always met with: “I wish we could but our profit margins are so small already”. Are you kidding me? Have you assumed I just don’t understand basic math? Now to be fair, a lot of these places count on people who don’t know what they have or just want to get rid of their stuff for some quick cash.

Obviously it’s in a pawn/2nd hand stores best interest to buy low and sell high, but it’s a deterrent to people to sell to them.
Ok, you say “don’t take your stuff to pawn shops then, go to your local kijiji, game store, or flea market”.

Ok, let’s do that.

Now before I go off, I will say there’s some honest resellers out there who are in it because they love games, but are trying to make a living off it. This is not about those people.

Resellers also benefit off buying as low as possible, but often offer a bit better in trade. This is where things start to enter into the shady side of the world of games. You bring in some good stuff, looked up a fair market price on pricecharting.com, hand your stuff over, and the fun begins.

The dealer has 2 windows open on their laptop, pricecharting in 1, and ebay in the other. Once the highest prices have been determined, the prices on pricecharting are usually halved and offered. So the game you know is selling for $30 all day is garnering an offer of $6, $8 if you’re looking to trade for credit.

Do they think you never look up your own games? Everyone knows how to use ebay, but instead of waiting for it to sell there you’re trying to keep it local, but want to see some credit you can use. Yes I know games are expensive, but we’ve not only allowed the pricing to continue, but all contribute to the market continuing to explode keeping this cycle going.

Another thing that irks me is the vultures: you’ve seen them, their on every auction site, always involved in every post about games, but you never see them bidding. As someone who’s listed game systems online I’ve seen what it’s all about: back door deals. You can almost set your watch as to how long after posting it takes to see this email show up: “hey, if this doesn’t sell I’d be ok with giving you X amount for it” (usually far lower than you were asking, whether your price is fair market or not).

A lot of these guys also have other people enlisted to aide them, sometimes to watch bids, sometimes on the shady side, trolling a sale post to put off others from bidding. The best part is once this is successful you can count on someone pointing out reseller X (who you already know) would probably buy this from you. The interesting part is the people who help the vultures are so varied, and you have to wonder what it benefits them…you see a girl shilling for a reseller, you think ok, maybe its his girlfriend/wife/sibling helping him out, you check their profile: just friends, and their only hobby is instagram and pumpkin spice.

So it gets annoying quick when you realize you have armies of people shilling for maybe 3 resellers and you see things you would use as trade fodder go to people cheap and you’ll see it in their store or posted again at top dollar. Ok, ok I know what you’re thinking: “but auctions are controlled by the sellers and they can do what they like with their stuff”. Fair enough, but don’t put up an auction only to shut it down knocking out real gamers looking to bid on the item.

There’s nothing quite like being around to see a shady transaction going down: Some hapless guy brings in a box with an NES, a stack of games and walks away with $50 thinking they made a killing, only to have the reseller turn around to gloat that they just got a bunch of rare games in that deal. Ok, so you inquire about buying it knowing what they just paid, without missing a heartbeat you’ll hear: “I’d have to look it up”. Dude! I just watched you hose that guy…but that’s how shady goes.

This is why you need to dig in on getting deals: they don’t pay retail, so why should you? Don’t just accept prices, or like I’ve said before: trade with other collectors who are usually more open to face value trades.
Game chasing is fun, but if you’re going to make it a hobby: be ready to get greasy or be ready to pay ebay.

It is what it is and isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Rant over.

#8bitliving

Bonus stage: happy belated birthday NES!

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Somebody’s celebrating a milestone birthday…..The NES turns 30!!

It’s been a long time since that christmas morning that I unwrapped my action set and started my love affair with the Nintendo.
After 30 years the love hasn’t faded one bit.
The Nintendo entertainment system brought the dead video game market back to life in a major way. Nintendo really took a big marketing risk and launched the NES by marketing it as a toy instead of a game system.

By 1985 in North America the video game market had collapsed on itself due to large quantities of cheap, crappy, unplayable games and a multitude of systems. The market finally had enough and crashed in on itself bringing with it giants of the time like Atari. People were done with video games, confidence in developers had vanished much like the garbage games that were now relegated to $1 bins.

Out of Japan comes a company called Nintendo with something different, not a game system, an entertainment system. Oh, and it came with a robot!

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Things started out slow, only being sold in New York and New Jersey, often by salesmen standing around pop up shops trying to pitch what they claimed would be the new “big” thing. Oh, and one thing to remember: yeah it plays video games…but it’s totally not a video game system.

Kids didn’t care, it was like nothing ever seen up until this point, Super Mario Bros didn’t need your imagination, all you had to do was look at the vibrant mushroom kingdom and those plucky Italian plumbers from the Bronx and you were ready to stomp goombas and save the princess.

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Son of a bitch.

The NES was launched everywhere for christmas 1987, and kids everywhere had one on the top of their list to Santa. The system released with a few titles, mostly sports games, a few action games, shooters and best of all…Mario Bros/Duck Hunt.

I remember being blown away by the graphics after my previous experiences being with Atari and the Commodore 64, the NES was like having an arcade in your living room. After the initial black box games the library continued to grow, everyone was getting in on the action and it saw the rise in popularity of companies like Konami, Taito, Sunsoft, etc. These companies brought arcade classics to the system like Galaga, Pac man, and Q Bert home, Nintendo also jumped in the ring with in house classics like Mike Tyson’s punch out! and Super Mario Bros 3.

Many developers like rare and acclaim really cut their teeth creating games for the NES, games came out a steady pace and although not all were gems, devs were trying new things to see what could be done with this new system. Because of this desire to create, the NES has one of the largest and most diverse collection of games covering all genres.

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Oh yeah…they made “games” too.

The system had many peripherals most notably the power glove and power pad, but there were so many more: the fourscore, roll n rocker, aura pack, game genie, the nes max and advantage controllers, and so, so many more…if you can think of it, they probably made one for the NES.

Suddenly Nintendo was everywhere: cartoons, cereals, t shirts, stickers, action figures, magazines, books, etc. Everywhere you looked there was Nintendo merchandise and people had Mario Mania.
Nintendo turned it’s Nintendo fun club newsletter into Nintendo power magazine and it became your main source for tips, tricks, maps, reviews and news about upcoming games. Nintendo had become a marketing juggernaut and wasn’t about to stop rolling.

The road ahead for Nintendo wasn’t always easy…there was competition starting to rise up in the form of the Sega master system, Sega had an advantage in the fact that most of the popular arcade games at the time were Sega properties. However, Nintendo kept pushing forward and has weathered the many competitors who have come and gone and has gone on to stand the test of time.

30 years later the NES has only gained more fans, has the honor of being one of the most sought after retro systems and not only kickstarted the heartbeat of video gaming but without the NES there could have been a very different future for video games. Fortunately though there was the NES…and the rest is history.

Now to save that princess…

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 Again?….son of a bitch!!!

#8bitliving

Boss battle: The collecting/reselling issue: A dual edged sword.

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Retro collecting is an expensive hobby. Prices fluctuate so frequently that some retailers don’t even bother putting prices on the merchandise.

It doesn’t take long to notice the fact that systems, although varied in price by system are usually in the $60+ range, there’s game easily going $5+. You know what you’re paying is a considerable profit in comparison to what the seller has paid for the merchandise in most cases as a majority is stock bought from people bringing in their stuff.

I’ve had conversations with resellers and found a few different routes they take as far as getting stock, the main 3 are:
1.  Buying collections off people for as little as possible, maybe going half value for it.
2.  Offering more in trade but less in cash as trades can save money, as the seller is trading their marked up merchandise and loses less profit on the deal.
3.  Some offer higher deals for buying which can bring in better merchandise and then make up the profit margin on volume.

Unless the person walking through the door isn’t aware of the value of the merchandise, most collectors are not interested in getting half value on a system. This opens up a new can of worms because collectors become resellers to support their collections. It’s easy to fetch a good price on that spare NES you have, so why wouldn’t you?

I don’t personally have an issue with it, while hunting you come across deals on things that maybe you don’t collect for but you can’t pass up. My thing is then how much do you charge? It’s handy to make a few extra dollars, but is it always worth squeezing every cent out of it?

The higher the prices go on these systems, the game prices follow and as more people enter the market, the more scare and thus valuable the items become. I think it’s great that people are showing love to old systems again, but as collectors we’re blowing up the market on ourselves. This is why I refer to it as a dual edged sword, we’d love to see prices come back down but we also actively drive the prices up.

I don’t see this changing too much in the near future as retro gaming is gaining more abd more in popularity.

Level 3: “I knew I had to have it”

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Ok, so these guys need no introduction…well they shouldn’t, but just in case it’s Billy and Jay: The game chasers.
The Game Chasers youtube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/Captain8bit

Ok, moving along…So the reason I’m talking about Billy and Jay is because Billy has a catchphrase that really rings true to me as a collector. If you’ve seen the show you’re familiar with “I knew I had to have it!”.
There’s always that moment as a collector when you see that game or accessory and you just know it needs to be yours. This is when I often find that my wallet knows no bounds, especially when it’s an item I’ve searched out for a long time.
I recently experienced this with the NES Advantage joystick:

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I always wanted one of these as a kid…it was as close to the arcade as you were going to get..plus the adjustable turbo and slow buttons!! Could it possibly get cooler than that? Well I never did end up getting one, but it’s always been one of those things I knew I needed to have, so finally getting one recently was like hitting a jackpot.

I had that moment when I saw it and that alarm goes off in your head and you suddenly become that 10 year old version of yourself and in doing so, lose the ability to say no..

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It’s that magical moment where you feel as though you’ve completed an important quest and now will do anything to put that treasure in your game vault. These are moments that really keep me going as a collector, there’s something really satisfying about ticking one of those must have items off your list that makes the monetary investment worth it.

This reaction is what seems to seperate collectors from the rest of the herd, no matter what it is you collect, be it games, toys, cards, action figures or what have you…you understand the compulsion to collect them all and see that completed collection as not just an investment of time and money, but a showcase of the items you love.

So in the end it comes back around to another Game Chasers catchphrase: “That’s how game chasing go.”
#8bitliving

For some top shelf game chasing action definitely check out the chasers youtube channel!