One of the newer frontiers in the world of collectibles is retro gaming. The generations that grew up playing video games haven’t been established as adults all that long – a kid whose first system was the Sega Genesis is in their thirties today. Are their old video games worth money? Yes and no. Let’s get into it!
What Makes Old Video Games Rare
Video games, like many other kinds of physical media, are both collectibles and tech. They’re meant to be collected, with the average gamer accumulating a whole library of games within a console’s lifetime. However, they’re also a piece of home entertainment technology. They will eventually be rendered obsolete by the next generation of consoles and games.
It takes time for nostalgia to build. The people who grew up on something must be pining for the childhood to seek it out, which usually takes 20ish years. In the period between the release of the next generation tech and the first pangs of nostalgia, technological collectibles are just out-of-date and unwanted. It is during this phase that many of them are recycled, resold, or otherwise removed from circulation. The fact that people didn’t traditionally hold on to their video game consoles any more than they held on to their Betamax players helps create value in that space. Like most any class of collectible that makes headlines, that likely won’t be as true going forward.
What Collectors Look For
In the cartridge era of gaming, video game packaging wasn’t necessarily something that most people held on to. They were usually made of cheap cardboard and the cartridge inside was bulky enough on its own. A lot of folks playing video games as kids in this era put the packaging out with the recycling. Cartridges were easily separated from their instruction manuals once the box was gone. Games up through the Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 are easiest to find loose and without instruction manual. As such, the games can be worth nice money loose but even less desirable titles that have everything they originally came with are generally worth significantly more.
The switch to CDs, however, necessitated that players keep the cases they came in. That made it easier for them to keep things like the instruction booklet around and looking nice. So the older a video game is, the less likely it is to be complete. Fifth generation (PlayStation, Sega Saturn, et al) and later games are more likely to be complete. As such, they’ll basically NEED to be complete to be worth any money worth mentioning. Their equivalent of “loose, but still valuable” is the broken case. 90s era hard plastic jewel cases broke, typically at the hinges, if you looked at them funny. A broken case is not as desirable, but it’s not a deal breaker.
Sealed and Graded Copies Are What Set Records
If you want to reach the record setting, multi-million-dollar heights you’ve read about in the news, then you need to have a pristine sealed copy and send it in for grading. In fact, CGC – the leading name in collectibles grading – won’t grade loose video games. The bar for getting something graded is therefore that much higher.
As with any collectible, it wouldn’t make sense to ship your entire collection off to CGC. It takes an objective and studied eye to see where the value lies, and it can be hard to be objective about your own collection. Back to the Past’s raison d’etre is providing those knowledgeable, objective eyes to help YOU get the best value for your collection of pop culture treasures, whatever they may be. When the time comes to sell your collection, give us a call –we pay better than GameStop!
If you have questions about this or any other collectibles topic, comment below or hit us up on social media @b2pcollect!