Ugh! This blog is nearly two weeks into its existence and it is abundantly clear I still have no clue what I’m doing. Whining aside, I’m going to switch up the focus a bit and cover video game collecting. Although I’ve been a gamer most of my life, it wasn’t until recently that I became serious about video game collecting. I’ve taken a few lumps here and there in my endeavor, and I’m going to share with you all some tips to follow that might be helpful should you decide to get into the action. For many, this is probably the basic math, but some of the rookies might find it generally helpful. Let’s get to it!
1. Do Your Research
Research is a collector’s best friend. Before purchasing anything, learn all you can about the product(s): what it’s worth, how rare it is, where can you find it, and who has it. Knowing the value of a game can be tricky at times, since there really isn’t a standard guide for it. However, web sites like videogamevalue.com and videogames.pricecharting.com can be good sources. Both sites have an extensive selection of games, and include some pricing trends. For prices of old arcade cabinets, www.arcade-classics.com can help. If possible, always check the vendor’s history, not just the seller ratings (i.e. the approval percentage). Although seller ratings are helpful, they don’t tell everything, so make a habit of checking the vendor’s customer/seller comments. Look for anything that might be suspicious; remember, this is your money and your time. The best person to ensure you get the most for your efforts is you, so be thorough and investigate.
2. Ask Questions
Take the word “assume”, put “never” in front of it, and you’re good. It’s never safe to assume anything in business, so if there is something you don’t know or unsure about, ask. Here’s an example. I was looking for a brand new N64 on ebay, and I came across one with a gold controller. After reading the item description a few times, I became suspicious and contacted the seller. Turned out the system itself was not actually new and had been played several times. The only thing new about the system was the gold controller itself, which had never been used. Fortunately, I hadn’t bid on the item, so I thanked the seller for the info and moved on.
3. Know Your Item Conditions
To segue from the post above, be familiar with the definitions of item conditions on any website or at any store you deal with. If you’re looking to buy new items, this step is especially important because you need to be sure what you’re buying is actually a new product, not something resealed or “like new”. Actually, it’s quite common to see resealed games sold as new. To prevent being tricked, familiarize yourself with the official seams that games are sealed with. Always inspect the pictures thoroughly, and if there are no pictures immediately available, request some from the seller. When at a store, definitely inspect the game from top to bottom. If possible, try to test the game before purchasing it to make sure it works well.
4. Be Patient
Sometimes it pays to just hold fast. I say this realizing there will be times that you find a rare (and legit) item you want, but have limited time to get it either for a good price or just at all. Remember, make sure that what you’re trying to get is exactly what you want. Here’s another tale. Last year on ebay, I was looking for a new copy of an old out of print wrestling game. I came across the title on a listing that included six other supposedly new games. I ordered the full set, only to later (much later) discover that only one of the games was not resealed. Unfortunately, that game was not the wrestling game I was seeking. Thus began my education on what “new” can actually mean online.
Earlier this year, I found the title again on ebay. This time, the game was actually new, as indicated by the official seam its plastic covering was sealed with. The title was listed at a very low starting bid, about an eighth of the highest cost I’d ever seen it sell for. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the scratch for the game and of course, hardly anyone saw the listing and it sold for peanuts. Hindsight is king here, since there was obviously no way I could’ve known I’d see that game again, nor know the price and condition it sold for. However, if I had just displayed a little restraint, I might have positioned myself to get a better deal than before.
5. Keep Records
Game collecting is business, so always keep a written record of what’s happening to your time and money. This is especially important if you are using an online payment service; you never know when the thieves will hit. If you ever suspect that something is amiss, having your own records can allow you to check anything that might be suspicious. Additionally, written records can provide a starker visual of how you’re spending you money, which could prevent you from having those surprising “Did I really spend that??” bills.
Beyond finance, written records can be useful for tracking things such as seller conversations, item pictures, tracking numbers, and the like. All of the above and then some were needed when I had trouble returning an item to a seller last year. I purchased a video game console online, but decided that I needed the money more so I contacted the seller about a possible return. I didn’t get an immediate response, but since I had only one day left on my policy, I sent the item back. Unfortunately, the seller told me she never received the item. It took several phone calls, two aspirins a day, and a whole lot of paperwork before I was finally compensated for the item. If I hadn’t had all my records handy, I definitely wouldn’t have gotten anything but a migraine.
6. Have Fun!
Really, isn’t life better when you have a smile on your face? Not to be homiletic or stupidly obvious, but doing something you enjoy just makes it easier to do. Why choose a pastime that feels like jail time? There will probably be moments when you will be frustrated, fed up, and frankly just won’t want to see another game when collecting. Then you’ll take a deep breath, regroup, and get back with it. If that doesn’t work, there’s always spelunking.
There you have it! A few tips to get started in the wonderful world of game collecting. In the future, I’ll probably write some more game collecting related articles, Until next time.
Peace & Pixels