Guest Blog by Carl B @ Carl's Blog
Building a retro gaming collection is a hugely satisfying hobby, but unless you know where to look, it can be an expensive and frustrating challenge. So where exactly should you be searching as you compile your set? Here are the six main avenues you should consider heading down. Thanks to the internet there are lots of video games stores that you can buy used video games online from.
Like it or loathe it, the fact is that your best chance of getting what you want is eBay. You’ll find the condition and completeness varies to suit all budgets, from sticky, yellowed carts with most of the label missing to super-rare unopened consoles.
Buyers on eBay enjoy excellent protection, so you can bid and order in confidence that you’ll be able to return the item and get your money back if you’re scammed.
In the early stages of collecting, look out for bundles that will help you tick plenty of items off your list while being much cheaper than buying individually. The problem with this is that you’ll inevitably end up with multiple copies of common games that you may struggle to store or sell on.
You can set up alerts so you’ll be notified if a certain item comes up for sale, but it’s still worth doing a search a couple of times a day. You’d also be surprised at the number of listings with mis-spellings in the title, so it’s worth searching for ‘nintedo’ or ‘seag’ every now and then, as posts containing these errors will get very few views and you could find a low bid snaffles a serious bargain.
As the clock ticks down on a desirable item, it’s easy to get carried away and exceed your budget. So for everything you’re looking to bid on or buy, do your research and look at what the same item in similar condition has gone for recently. Then settle on the maximum you’re willing to pay and stick to it. While you may be desperate to own that big box Super Metroid, once you’ve received it and the initial excitement wears off, you won’t feel great about paying twice its real value.
If you’re tempted by an item but not convinced about its condition, don’t be afraid to message the seller to ask for more photos. If they’re serious about selling the item, they’ll be happy to oblige. Be very wary of listings featuring stock photos, and it may be wise to avoid buying from overseas due to the hassle you’ll have returning the item if you’re not happy with it.
Gumtree and Shpock
While these ‘boot sale apps’ can be a frustrating, fruitless place to sell (ridiculous low-ball offers, requests to deliver for free), as a buyer you may have some joy.
If you have access to transport, it’s a good idea to widen your search well beyond your local area as the chances of someone on the other side of town having what you want is quiet slim.
When you spot an interesting listing, be sure to check out the rest of the seller’s adverts, as they may be listing an entire collection individually and have some other treasures for you.
Do look out for resellers, though. You’ll notice users with posts asking to buy games, consoles and accessories, with the same person also advertising dozens of items for sale. They’re simply trying to buy cheap and move items on for an often extortionate profit. Even if you’ve got money to burn, are these really the kind of people you want to buy from?
This tends to be more the domain of the trader/reseller looking to pick up bargains in order to move them on at an inflated price, so if you’re after a specific range of games or consoles, your chances at the local booty may be quite slim.
However, if you do fancy going down this route, you’ll want to be there early to give yourself the best chance of snapping up any bargains. Many boot fairs start at dawn, so you’ll know your collecting is becoming an obsession when you’re getting up at 4.30am on a Sunday on the off-chance someone is selling a Neo Geo.
These large-scale organised events, such as the Retro Games Fair in Leeds, offer games, consoles and accessories across all formats and from multiple regions. The mix of professional and private sellers means there’s something for every budget, plus by buying face-to-face you should be able to haggle down the price.
You’ll also be among fellow collectors, so get chatting to people around the stalls and make yourself some contacts. A collecting network can be invaluable when it comes to finding those elusive items, as you and your friends can alert each other if you spot something you think one of the others would like.
There are plenty of Facebook groups focussing on retro games, where you can make requests for missing pieces of your collection as well as view sales posts. The beauty of these communities is that sellers can vouch for each other and you’ll get a better price than on eBay due to the lack of fees. Along with fixed-price listings, some sellers will put items up for auction, with members bidding it out within a certain timeframe.
One key rule to remember, however – avoid ‘back dooring’. This means messaging a seller privately about an item in order to do a deal behind the scenes. Most groups forbid this and you’ll face a ban for your efforts, so keep it all on the main page.
Although some of the larger charity shop chains are getting wise to the interest in retro games and hiking their prices up, among the seemingly infinite £1 copies of FIFA 07 you may just strike gold.
If you’re walking past a charity shop, it won’t take a minute to dive in and scan their gaming items, plus with every purchase you know you’re doing a good turn.
It’s also an idea to get chatting to staff and let them know what you’re interested in as they may be able to put items aside for you.
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