The market for retro games has steadily grown for the last few years, prices on many titles have gone way up but almost all games have seen at least a small increase in their prices.
One of the justifications for prices continually rising: rarity. As a finite supply of games dwindles, some games are rarer than others…some because of limited runs, lack of popularity at the time and the fact that over time some of these carts do get lost to time.
Everyone knows the top 10-20 rarest NES games by now, and the price tag on many of these titles is well above the $100 mark. Just recently though a collector has come forward through a friend on the Nintendoage forum with a shocking revelation: A sealed shipping box with 6 CIB Bandai stadium events!
So what does this mean for the retro market? Well right now nothing, but this revelation must have some speculators needing a change of drawers ha ha! The collector who owns them is reported to have several rare games complete in shipping boxes, and if released into the market would cause prices to plummet.
So like I said, bad for the speculators who are thinking they’re going to retire off selling their collections but could be good news for collectors who have been waiting for prices to start coming back down after the bubble the last few years.
There are a lot of collectors out there who are not necessarily part of the active online retro community who have tons of hidden gems all depending on when they started collecting. Another variable is that there’s possible other hidden finds that could be sitting in warehouses, storage units, etc. There was a time when the Caltron 6 in 1 was a high price game, that was until a bunch turned up in a warehouse and crushed the price.
I suppose if I had invested tens of thousands of dollars into boxed stadium events I’d be concerned about the possibility of these games being put into the market as the more that go into circulation, the quicker the value drops and if your collection is based on it’s value then you’ve lost serious money. Fortunately I haven’t mostly because the price tag is ridiculous to me for a game that just isn’t that good to begin with. I’ve built a collection that does have rarities, but I don’t see my collection as an investment beyond being an investment in nostalgia and gaming.
On that note, as a collector I would enjoy seeing prices start coming back down as some of these older collectors eventually start selling off or downsizing collections as I’ve put off buying things like contra because the price has risen to a ridiculous $40-45CAD here in Canada when it’s a super common game…everyone had contra as a kid, it’s no more rare than super mario bros 3. So prices starting to fall will just allow me to beef up my collection more as the common games will come way back down,) and the rarer titles will at least start becoming more affordable.
Every trend tends to go on a bell curve: you have your early adopters, then the rise of the hobby, the entry of the profiteers, and it’s inevitable decline as people lose interest and a glut of stuff comes back to the market. I hear you thinking:”But retro games are so hot, the market just keeps going up!” It has been and continues to, but ask those sports memorabilia collectors from the 80s-90s how that investment has worked out…Most of the guys I knew who spent a lot on rare and old cards are still working jobs so I’m guessing those Wayne Gretzky and Ken Dryden rookie cards didn’t keep their value as much as they had hoped.
The same will eventually occur to the retro game market for a few reasons, but also like the sports memorabilia the market will never vanish, it will just go back to collectors buying and selling. One big factor to the market right now is that things like Nintendo and Sega are in demand because guys my age played it as a kid but as time goes on the next nostalgia wave will be amongst guys and gals who grew up with a 64 as their first system or a Gamecube, eventually reaching into wii, playstation and Xbox.
So as the older guys lose interest in the hobby, more games and systems will find their way back onto the market and if the demand has shifted to newer retro systems being more in demand, there’s going to be a lot to get rid of and at discounted prices. These games/systems are only valuable as long as there’s high demand, once the newer generation of gamers come along we may no longer see the demand for the older retro stuff, the atari 2600 went through a similar cycle.
A lot of guys my age had dad’s who had left over Colecovisions, Atari’s, and Intelliviosions that you played on until Nintendo came around with the NES and blew the old game systems out of the water. A lot of people hunted these systems down because everything retro was a license to print money and discovered that wasn’t completely the case. There’s tons of games for things like the Atari 2600 and most are garbage and worth nothing, the ones that are popular are dead common because everyone had them so the Atari boom eventually went back to being the hardcore Atari fans and the same will happen for NES and Sega.
So go the time being collecting is going to keep being a pricey game, but every bubble has to burst eventually as history has taught us with other things that have become fads. So until the salad days return, I’ll see you out there at the junk shops and yard sales hunting for the last of the wild deals.
Now on instagram! @ Retro_redneck
I post a lot of stuff from my collection and finds, feel free to check it out! Cheers!