If you’re like me you probably frequent your local kijiji, Facebook sale groups, game shops, 2nd hand store, Craigslist, yard sales, etc, and chances are in the last while you’ve also noticed a trend, things are sitting around much longer than ever before. There was a time when ads for retro items would come and go quickly as people snapped up whatever items came up, but I’m not only seeing items being posted for longer but also the same items being put out there over and over as they haven’t sold.
I’ll see items bounce from kijiji to facebook to the auction sites and back again as the sellers try to flip their items. I’ve also noticed sellers having to drop prices in order to see the item sell, things like consoles that once went for $100 have started dropping to $80 and below to generate interest. I see the same ads listing the same NES games consistently and with the sellers trying to max out top end prices the stock never seems to change.
Twice recently I’ve managed to grab up some boxed items that have been posted on Facebook several days after their original post and after contacting the seller I’ve been interested to find out I’m the only person who’s shown interest aside from the local sellers who have offered their usual generous 1/8th of the original value. I remember in the not too distant past where if you missed these posts when they originally came up they would be sold within an hour or two..
So what happened?
The retro game craze is still going, I still know plenty of collectors who are curating very nice collections, but something has changed. The change is something I saw coming for a while and have touched on before, the market is saturated with sellers but there’s more stock than buyers are looking for. Like I said I see the same games over and over, and at 400 cartridges they’re ones I’ve already got and fir the most part ones that my collector friends have also, same with systems, most collectors have rounded up the systems they want by this point in time and unless you’re a casual collector you probably also have the accessories you most want.
The prices are a major deterant as well, in my area sellers for the most part haven’t adjusted their prices on their inventories so the $250 they’ve been asking for that Action 52 has off put casual buyers who don’t care about its status and keeps collectors like myself away as it’s something I know enough about that i’ll wait until the craze is over to find one when the price falls again. Now because most of these buyers have invested hundreds in purchasing these collections they want to profit from them, but when price and selection aren’t changing, the stock sits unpurchased.
There are some things that always sell well such as 1st party franchises like Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Final Fantasy, Kirby, etc but the stagnation has already set in as far as the common and even uncommon market goes. As people have rounded up many if these common titles it’s become more and more unlikely that people are searching them out, more likely that they’re the games that people are putting back into the market as they get bored of them or leave the hobby and it’s leading to multiple sellers have 4-5 copies of that Seicross or Ice hockey that just isn’t selling for the $10-15 they’re asking for it.
I’ve noticed even game stores are starting to not only get picky about what they’ll take for retro games but also more wary about offering what they did for them even 6 months to a year ago because once these items come in they’re finding themselves having to sell at a lower price to move them, tend to have them purchased by local sellers who put the price back up and sell it to someone who trades it back in again starting a vicious circle where the same games keep rotating around.
The odd item pops up that peaks my interest but it’s usually a harder to find boxed accessory or a system box I can use but even then, I find those easier to get than a they were a year ago because sellers will have them sit unsold because they’ve asked what they’ve seen them sell for in the past or just went for the highest ebay price they saw so after a week or two will usually take a reasonable offer because they aren’t seeing any interest in their item.
Many of the serious collectors I know have the same opinions, and as people are starting to get out of the hobby we’re just going to wait until the market adjusts as it floods with more stock and prices fall to bother rounding up those last sought after bigger name carts. Also it’s worth waiting as the price of those common fillers are already starting to drop to a point where it’s worth buying them agaim as many are only needed to fill in gaps and round out the collection.
So for the next while there’s going to be a bit of chaos as sellers grasp to squeeze that last but of profit out of their stock but the point of no return has been past in retro gaming and it’s only a matter of time until the gravy train I’ve touched on before will roll back into town but this time in favor of the collectors.