It’s no secret that we at WASDuk love retro gaming. One only has to glance through our Twitter feed to see that the earliest games hold a special place in our heart and of course fanta has had her Pokemon cartridges turned into wall art! So we are thrilled to present a guide to collecting retro games courtesy of guest writer Phil Cocking.
Hey, my name’s Phil and I love finding a nice mint copy of something old to slot into its destined position on my shelf, but more than that I love to get an absolute bargain. Anyone with enough cash and an eBay account can buy a copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga for £200, but I cannot afford to do that with a young family and bills to pay. So I have prepared a guide to retro game collecting for people on a budget.
Ok, get all of your tight Yorkshireman jokes out of the way now and join me in my hatred / jealousy for all those who live with their mum and can spend their wages on whatever they want. Right, now that’s out of the way we shall crack on. The first thing you need to do before you start buying anything is set some goals and standards. For example, I want to collect every Sega Saturn game released in the PAL region and I want all my games to be boxed with manuals with the quality at a decent standard. You will find that your goals and standards shift somewhat depending on budget and availability but it’s good to have a starting point. Next let’s find us some games.
Let’s concentrate on real world, physical game hunting where you can see, touch and smell the quality of your games. Buying games online is sometimes the only way forward, but there is nothing better than going out there and getting your hands dirty. It saves you the hassle of returning an item on eBay because its manual has pages missing or the disc is scratched to hell.
In my opinion, charity shops are the best places to go if you want a bargain, although lately, since retro gaming has really kicked off big time, good finds have become rarer. I still come across the odd treasure trove though. My best find was a stack of Playstation 1 games at 50p each; in the stack were GTA London special mission pack, Digimon World and Digimon Rumble Arena, all in mint condition. I’ve seen Digimon World go for over £30 on eBay, so I’ve saved a lot of cash. Mostly you will be faced with PS2 FIFA titles and the odd racing game, but with a bit of patience and a lot of persistence you’ll get a good deal, so keep grinding those charity dungeons for XP. I’m starting to notice the odd PS3 title coming through since the recent next gen consoles have come out, so it’s a good time to grab some titles for your future retro collection (I’ll cover this another time.)
Markets / Car Boots
So, you’ve trawled all the Oxfams and Scopes and have come away empty handed, don’t give up yet there’s still loads to explore. Check out your local market, I know my local market in Barnsley, depending on the day, can be a decent source. There is an independent trader who is open Monday to Saturday who has a lot of cool stuff, but his prices are at the top end because he knows what things are worth. This is a great way to pick up the odd piece you’ve really been after, but not so healthy on the wallet. However, on a Sunday they have a Car Boot Style market, where you can find boxes full of games for a pound each or people who have cleared out their loft and found an old spectrum. Be careful here, you can’t go back and get a refund at these events as they might only be there that one time. I bought a boxed Xbox which turns on but doesn’t read discs. Learn from my mistakes. Make sure you are checking the discs for scratches. Look at the state of the stall and the people; are they likely to have looked after it? And always, ALWAYS try and barter them down, the less you pay the better, especially if it’s faulty.
You know what I mean, CEX, Cash Convertors etc. They clued themselves up these days and do label most stuff up at eBay level prices, however if you know what to look for you are in for a treat. CEX is probably the most knowledgeable, but still make mistakes. They pretty much always charge the same for the limited edition of a game as the normal version, which is a good tip for more modern games. If they can’t find it on eBay they guess, so my tip would be if you see something that you’ve never heard of or seen before and it’s cheap, snap it up. The other day I picked up a PS2 game called Gungriffon Blaze for 25p from CEX and it has been selling for up to £4.00 on eBay.
Cash Convertors and Cash Generator are a bit less formal in their approach and more likely to be holding an amazing deal. Recently I’ve seen £1 PS1 games, irrelevant of title, a boxed Sega Pico, some spectrum and commodore big boxes and a Dreamcast bundle I bought for £40 which had a copy of Aqua GT which is currently selling for over £30 on eBay by itself. So keep your eyes peeled and keep checking.
Specialist Retro Shops
If you’re lucky enough to have a Retro Shop in your local town (shout out to Tony in Wakefield) then make these people your best friends. They can be willing to do trades, bundle deals and just generally have better then eBay prices. However, there are also the ones that charge you top whack prices even when it’s not complete or the disc is in poor condition because that’s how much someone has a ‘buy it now’ for on eBay (Entertainment World, Sheldon and Electric Town, Castleford/Ripon.) Now don’t get me wrong, these people are usually really nice and their shops are packed with amazing goodies which will take you hours to scour, but if you want to charge top dollar for every game, you better make sure that every game is mint. One shop offered me a 10% discount because I had travelled quite a way to go see them, which I appreciate they didn’t have to do, but then because I was taking my time checking discs and saying I’d rather not pay that much for things in that condition, he said I could no longer have the 10% off! Rant over. Don’t forget to check out the online variety of these, however I have always found them to be fairly pricey.
Collector Fairs / Markets
Earlier this month saw the return of Retrocollect.com’s Video Game Market at Leeds Town Hall, which was an amazing event packed full of awesome people, rare games and boxed consoles. It also had its share of extortionate prices. There was lots to root through, lots of sellers giving out the contact details and lots of like minded people to reminisce with. In summary, great fun, but prepare to queue and spend, and try not to strangle the person in front who just bought what you wanted.
Prepare to enter the seedy world of the t’interwebz. Let’s tackle the big one first, eBay. I’m guessing you’ve heard of this before so I’ll do a quick top tip section.
eBay Top Tips
- Do some research and set a top limit you are willing to spend, if it goes over that, forget it. Another one will come around.
- Never bid on a lot without an actual photo which tells you it’s in the condition you want it, because you can hold it till it gets to you.
- The best deals are bundles, especially local pick up ones. Just make sure you know exactly what’s in it.
- If there’s a bundle with only one or two games you want, don’t discount it, look at the resale value of the rest.
- Always choose the ‘to be signed for’ postage option, there are some dodgy people out there who will try to say they sent it and it never turns up.
There are groups on Facebook dedicated to retro gaming as you would expect, but some groups like Game Traders or GGG (Game Gear Group) take this to another level. They allow you place a free ad for an item, you can bid in auctions and you can ask questions about value. They are very active and can be hard to keep up with, but many bargains have been had here.
Also on Facebook they are usually local selling groups, for example,’ Items for sale in Barnsley’, where you can post what you want to sell and how much you want for it. You can also do what I’ve done and post an appeal for people’s old video game stuff from their attics. You’ll be surprised how many replies you get. A friend of mine did this and bought someone’s whole collection off him for £800, kept all the stuff he wanted and sold the rest for £1200, so this can be extremely worthwhile.
That pretty much sums it up, there are other methods of acquiring games but these are the most efficient / legal / non-satanic ways to do so. Next time I’ll talk about the tips I’ve learned about storing all those games you’ve bought. Until then, Happy Hunting!
Follow Phil on Twitter for (amongst other things) all things retro related