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Will Your Video Game Collection Appreciate Over Time?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the mine-has-nowhere-to-go-but-up dept.

Software 127

An anonymous reader writes "Pundits tell us that the world of console video gaming is in dire straits, but recent collections of console video games have sold on eBay for tens of thousands of dollars. There are still a lot of video game disks and cartridges out there, but is it worth your effort to try to complete your collection and sell it on eBay? If you're a potential buyer for a massive collection of video games, are they likely to appreciate over time, or is this a really bad investment? Market research company Terapeak runs some numbers and suggests that it depends on your goals, the size and quality of your collection, and the console you're focused on." There's a film crew hoping to bypass the uncertain hoarding phase, though, and just mine a landfill in New Mexico for the legendary hoard of dumped Atari inventory.

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No, because (3, Informative)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43885843)

No because in a few years the hardware will be horribly outdated.
Only a few will want to play the games.
And a lot of the games these days depend on being popular with a lot of people. What's the point of playing a massive multiplayer game with 3 people.

Re:No, because (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885857)

No because in a few years the hardware will be horribly outdated.
Only a few will want to play the games.
And a lot of the games these days depend on being popular with a lot of people. What's the point of playing a massive multiplayer game with 3 people.

Most games from the 80s-90s are not multiplayer.

Re:No, because (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885895)

Most games from the 80s-90s are not multiplayer.

But man, how much time did we waste playing Mazewars back then? It's like it would never stop until we finally ran out of pot. Sigh....

Re:No, because (4, Informative)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43886027)

Emulators are already advanced enough for anything done with windows 3.1 or dos back on pentium ones. As we move forward you will get better virtualization and emulation of that hardware. It's worth it to keep the original game data.

There are also projects like Exult. Or Ioquake that keep that data viable long past its shelf life. People still mod retro game engines, like the infinity engine. There's occasionaly a new mod or a patch to old mods from time to time for BGII and BGI. People do stuff like BGTutu.

This is a few examples. There might be others that I don't know about. Everquest I will still be around probably long after the SoE servers shut down in some form or fashion. At least the code for good server emulators exists. Hopefully it will get released to the public when the time is right.

People still do occasionally even play Diablo II over lan play using IP tunneling and an IPX protocol hack or Icewind dale ii. As well. Same goes for the original Warcraft II games. It's fun if you've never played them before. If I had a child I wanted to teach about gaming technology I would involve them by doing that with them. Or teaching them how to mod engines like infinity engine.

I could see a future museum were you can play obscure games like "Outcast". [] because they were interesting milestones in game development. Outcast being a particularly interesting voxel game engine somewhat ahead of it's time.

Re:No, because (2)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43886043)

Oh and additionally with some of the most loved franchises you don't even need emulators or virtualization. They are being lovingly adapted to modern times. [] enhanced edition.

Some will always be popular like classic books.

Re:No, because (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#43887057)

To be realistic? Baldurs Gate worked fine before they tried milking it for an "enhanced edition" which was horribly broken. And most people used Tutu [] (be kind /. they can't always handle the load) to make it a bit more stable and of course add kit classes.

Re:No, because (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43887167)

I have not tried the other version since I have a really personalized install of BG and Tutu. Though I read other good reviews on the official bg forums about the enhanced edition so thought it worth mentioning. Thanks for the alternative viewpoint though. And don't get me wrong I don't think BG or BGII are the pinnacle of gaming. I just can't think of any more prominent examples off the top of my head of well loved and extremely long lived games.

Re:No, because (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a year ago | (#43887067)

Fantastic analogy. I have an Atari 2600 for Pitfall even though I have about 80 games (Football = terrible game).

Playing it occasionally is like a good book. And I read good books multiple times, as I play the Atari system.

Wish I still had my original Ms Pac-Man stand up machine. Expensive when it required maintenance, but a party unto itself when company was over.

Re:No, because (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43887407)

Emulators are already advanced enough for anything done with windows 3.1 or dos back on pentium ones. As we move forward you will get better virtualization and emulation of that hardware. It's worth it to keep the original game data.

Not really. For the old games, you need a cycle-accurate emulator because a lot of games relied on precise timing of instructions and the busses in order to function correctly.

It's only the recent games made for super-powerful consoles (like say, a dreamcast, PS2 or Xbox era forward) that this is no longer the case as most games don't use such cycle timings. Previous generation games like the PSX would still need such techniques.

Re:No, because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43889493)

I would in general disagree due to some familairity with the emulators. For PC games on the 8086 at least. Dos box you has a hotkey to toggle the cycles speed at which the game operates. As well as there being wrapper executables that limit cycles. That problem has been worked around. Maybe not for every game though. Mechwarrior comes to mind. It pretty much was released with such an exe.

Emulators works for early computer games. Not so sure about consoles prior to Nintendo. In that case you may be right. Though i think they have been pretty well perfected in Nintendos case.

You may also be correct in the majority of arcade games that were never ported from their specific platforms. Which are all unique to some degree.

I would argue you are generally wrong though. Xbox and PS2 era games are still more popular to run on original hardware. Most people don't have the computers or the games from those generations don't run really well on modern hardware still. I don't know of any good PC graphics emulation for PS2. Those consoles and games are fairly cheap second hand. And I even have a bin of PS2 games laying around.

There are quite a few specifically targeted games, like Street Fighter. Where people even make customized peripherals. And they have been ported all over the place, or made to run in various environments. Even versions that were for arcades.

Re:No, because (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43889565)

Oh and don't forget about the Amiga emulator for Eye of Beholder... []

If were talking PC architecture or similar there are plenty good emulators or hacks to make the games work. Maybe not all of them. But an uncountable number.

Re:No, because (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43889623)

Also the Thief series, PlaneScape:Torment and many others have dll overrides which replace functionality from directx to work on modern video cards for games that still work native but have hardware issues.

Re:No, because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43888049)

I guess you could split the "old games" into a few categories, owned copy and owned machine, play it as it was meant to. Then there are the emulators, which basically try to fake the machine. And last, but not least are the rebirths of the games. Like Open Transport Tycoon and Open Xcom just to name a few. Completely rebuilt, from the ground up, they use the sound and graphic resources of the originals, that can be replaced by copyright free resources later on.
Basically, you get to have your cake and eat it too. If you're a gamer and actually want to play those games.
But most people only want to make a quick buck off, so, I guess buying discount games now, would be a good idea.

Re:No, because (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886081)

Perhaps a car analogy...

Re:No, because (3, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43886447)

Perhaps a car analogy...

GP is trying to say that only sports cars are popular, because they're fastest. No one will ever value a VW Bug because it's not fastest. Buses and Vans won't stay popular if your friends only want to ride in faster better vans. Newer faster cars will mean all the old hot-rods will be considered SHIT. Which is bullshit. It's like saying the Mona Lisa is crap because Digital Art has more bits per pixel. Some folks like classic cars. Some folks love classic games. The tech level of the hardware the game runs on is the artistic medium -- Watercolors are still valuable even though oil on canvas reproduces more vibrant color; Not all cars are great or worth anything to a collector, but the interesting ones are. Same with games.

An MMO dies because the server dies, not always because of lack of players. City of Heroes was making money, but that it was still successful while new games flopped caused embarrassment to the studio, so they killed it. If you collect a car but leave out the transmission and part of the engine, then it's not worth hardly anything. The client is not the whole game, it needs a server to be called the whole game, and thus be collectible. For this reason I don't play online games that don't have a private server community. Leasing a car is not the same as owning it.

Sorry, I got a bit of paint on that car analogy...

Re:No, because (-1, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43886665)

GP is trying to say that only sports cars are popular, because they're fastest. No one will ever value a VW Bug because it's not fastest.

False. Rust-free VW bugs are regularly sold for fairly significant money. You could literally buy a Miata with great paint and some nice rubber on it for less than a VW vert in mediocre condition.

Not all cars are great or worth anything to a collector, but the interesting ones are.

Bugs are interesting now because modern cars are rolling supercomputers (well, by the standards of 20 years ago) and the VWs of yesteryear are about as complex as a riding mower.

Re:No, because (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887601)

Boy you're an idiot.

Re:No, because (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43888001)

Boy you're an idiot.

Slashdotters try to make car analogies and fail because they know fuck-all about cars, and I'm the idiot? Once upon a time, slashdot valued corrections. Guess that's over.

Re:No, because (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43887653)

Not really,

I'm saying we don't have lots of races with 1967 formula one racing cars any more.

And in my parent post I was referring to console games more than PC games.
However, I don't know many folks that play the original team fortress any more, the original quake in multiplayer mode, etc. And those copies of those games are not particularly valuable.

If they set up a city of heroes game (as they have for everquest and wow), then a couple thousand people may play it- but not a million people.

Re:No, because (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43886203)

And a lot of the games these days depend on being popular with a lot of people. What's the point of playing a massive multiplayer game with 3 people.

I don't know about "a lot." Most games don't seem to be MMO. The highest rated games of this generation seem to be predominantly single player mode. None of the top 100 games for the 360 on metacritic are primarily multiplayer. [] Left 4 dead (and its sequel) may be the closest thing to it. I'll grant you that a lot of the shooters, most people playing it seem to be playing multiplayer most of the time, but the single player games will still work.

Re:No, because (1)

n30na (1525807) | about a year ago | (#43887345)

There are call of duty games on that list...

Re:No, because (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43886591)

Wait, didn't an Apple one just go for over $600K recently? IMO a 2600 may bring some bucks but I have to think that it would need to be pristine with enough cartridges for example to make it worth while. There's lots of folks who collect things from their childhood/teenage years as they get older and if you don't believe me try and find and old Pre-WWII Lionel train set, or for that matter one still made of metal built after WWII.

So, maybe they won't be "usable" but they'll still probably wind up on somebody's shelf as a momento.

Re:No, because (1)

narcc (412956) | about a year ago | (#43887451)

2600's are really inexpensive as they're ridiculously common. You can snag one with a bunch of games in good condition for $50 easily. A quick check on eBay shows a heavy sixer in beautiful shape, with pristine looking box and 20 games (also in near-perfect boxes) going for just over $100 bucks

A Nelsonic Pac-Man watch (LCD game) in okay shape will easily set you back more than that!

Even my Odyssey only cost me $200 bucks, and it included the original shipping box, chips still wrapped in plastic, etc. Even they're not rare enough to fetch a good price. (To be fair, I would have paid more had I found it on eBay and not at a flea market.)

The Apple I is a special case due to its extreme rarity, history, and Apple's current popularity. Even Apple II's have shot up in price recently, though you can still put together a complete system for $400-$500.

Contrast the Apple I with the Kenback-1 (which is much older and similarly rare). On the rare occasion they appear, they'll only set you back 10-15k -- Apparently they won't go up to $30k, even with all the interesting extras in Robert Nielson's rather compelling auction.

The point? "Old" and "interesting" alone aren't enough to get collectors to shell out big bucks.

Re:No, because (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43887655)

But the apple that went for that much was one of less than 200 ever made.

And I don't see copies of "Pest Patrol" or Superscribe going for tons of money.
If they do, it will be the media in good condition (not just a copy of the game).

Re:No, because (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43889481)

What we're both saying is the collectible value may be there if it's Mint In Box for example.

Anybody remember metal ice cube trays? They were around until the late 1960s and then they came out with
plastic bendable ice trays and then refrigerators started having ice makers. Now they're $20. Yes it took 50 years to get there but those aren't in such demand. In 50 years who knows what things we take for granted will be valuable?

Re:No, because (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#43886617)

Yes and No.
Good games are still good games.
Being software they can be infinitely copied (the no part)...yet, some of the older stuff is still very hard to find (the yes part), and hard to get working (the only part of the hardware statement that matters).

No, but... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#43886987)

... my collection of vintage wines will appreciate over time.

Re:No, because (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43887589)

No because in a few years the hardware will be horribly outdated.
Only a few will want to play the games.
And a lot of the games these days depend on being popular with a lot of people. What's the point of playing a massive multiplayer game with 3 people.

..that's why you need to buy 15 year old games.

they will appreciate in value. not necessarely for playing.

Re:No, because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887623)

I don't know, the console systems were somehow able to smoothly run games that barely run on modern PCs since they were re-implemented in javascript or flash.

Re:No, because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887871)

No.. because thanks to Microsoft/Sony/Trusted Computing/Online passes... your video game collection is yours. You can't sell it as it will not work with anyone else. It's tied to you and your particular console.

Re:No, because (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | about a year ago | (#43887931)

OTOH for precisely this reason current gen collections of games may be worth hanging on to! N.

Re:No, because (2)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43888319)

There are plenty of people interested in playing old games. Hell, that is what is all about -- and people handily give them money for twenty-five year old games.

The primary problem is the hardware, though. People consider themselves lucky if their XBOX 360 makes it through the rest of this generation without dying -- it sure as hell isn't going to keep running in 2023 or 2033, the way other consoles do and have. Even the PS3 is iffy, about that.

An additional problem is the advent of online multiplayer. Plenty of games no longer accessible as the servers that facilitate them are gone. Then, DLC and season passes. Whole chunks of content that simply will never be accessible in a collection, years from now.

The final problem, coming after this generation, will be digital. When all your games are downloaded and all your games are tied directly to your account (through a serial that has to be registered to you, personally, online -- or some sort of authentication system that locks it down to you in a way that you can't simply just give someone the CD key along with the game anymore), there *is no collection*.

As someone who has many hundreds of games on physical media and thousands of games digitally, I have resigned myself to this. The days of games being something you can collect and enjoy long term are over, despite their high price (imagine paying $60 for a book and knowing it'll be useless and unreadable in a decade). Games are nothing but a commodity, now. Your rights to utilize them and maintain and preserve them long into the future have been taken from you and the people who can make the choice to preserve and maintain these games so that people can buy and enjoy them into the future don't give two shits. They'll rarely release older titles, when they do it'll be for a ridiculously high price, it'll be on formats (PSN or XBLA, for example) that expire at the end of the generation of hardware and require you to purchase yet again some day, and the majority of titles, they'll simply let languish, because they have no interest in them and they'd rather sit on copyrighted content that never sees the light of day again than do anything with it.

Frankly, I don't want my collection to be worth anything other than the joy of playing the games for myself and other people. What I really want is for every game ever made on any platform to be easily accessible (even if it requires a small REASONABLE cost) to everyone, everywhere, any time, easily and in a way that is very playable with modern peripherals (which is difficult to do with many arcade games and NES titles on PC emulators, for example).

Rerelease it on other platforms (4, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43885861)

iOS is getting a lot of rereleases. Knights of the old republic just came out too.

With all the consoles supporting downloadable games its cheaper to buy a few older games like this than an old collection. As the retro fad keeps going watch for more old crap to be released again

Just like music. In that biz it's called catalog sales

Re:Rerelease it on other platforms (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43886555)

Though I agree with your analogy to a point, I have one word for us to consider in its context: Vinyl

Re:Rerelease it on other platforms (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#43886847)

Square Enix has released a lot of games for iOS. Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy, you name it. Sega too. They sell both Sonic the Hedgehog and Phantasy Star II.

The 3rd generation of AppleTV includes a single core Apple A5 (ARM Cortex-A9) CPU and dual-core SGX543MP2 graphics chip. Basically the same as an iPad2. There's technically nothing preventing Apple from turning the AppleTV into a console for iOS gaming. All you really need is a game pad to relive the nostalgia of the 16bit era.

Give it a few generation. Nintendo will be the one that publishes games to an AppleTV 5 or 6 (Apple Pippin redo). ;-)

No, ROMs and emulators (5, Insightful)

randomErr (172078) | about a year ago | (#43885863)

You can download emulators and ROM's for little to no money. The only time a game is going to be worth anything more then scrap value is if the cart is physically rare like baseball cards. There will only ever be a handful that will meet that kind of rarity.

Re:No, ROMs and emulators (4, Insightful)

Lisias (447563) | about a year ago | (#43885947)

Classic videogame gadgets are valuable for a decrescent amount of collectors.

Everybody will die someday, including the ones that, now, are willing to spend some serious money on buying their childhood back.

Re:No, ROMs and emulators (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886359)

A shame on the children today won't be able to get their childhood back even if they purchase a full library of 360 or PS3 games.

But regardless, so long as there's someone interested in buying the original hardware, there will always be collectors willing to pay that little bit more. Of course true collectors learn to figure out the value of what they want and tend to be pretty picky about buying shit that's being overpriced. But at the same time with a true rarity they'll know what it's worth and pay accordingly.

And that's what it's about for collectors. They want the hardware and the physical discs/cartridges/etc. To those people they could already have emulators and full libraries of roms installed on their computers. They'll still buy the physical copies.

Hopefully they'll remember how bug ridden and feature-lost the physical products are thanks to frequent dependancy on bug patching and DLC most games are this gen. :D Odds are they'll factor that into their buying price, so sellers beware. :P

Re:No, ROMs and emulators (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#43886527)

But with a decreasing pool of collectors and a relatively large supply of working cats and consoles that's exactly his point! Supply and demand, and most vintage consoles are still fairly supply heavy...

Personally - wanting a real Intellivision and some games vs the emulated versions (love those overlays!) I went on eBay, and discovered while there is a healthy market they are for the most part still less expensive in absolute dollars form their cost in the 80's, let alone their adjusted value; i.e. it would have been a bad long term investment.

Re:No, ROMs and emulators (1)

VocationalZero (1306233) | about a year ago | (#43887335)

Everything becomes rare over time, you just have to wait long enough. Of course, if cryo-freezing yourself doesn't work out, maybe that ET cart will net your grand-kids at least $5. Or whatever the steel bottle-cap equivalent is.

Never (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885875)

Each generation is fodder for the next. Unless you have first editions, unopened, you're wasting time and money. Plus you'll need a good two decades gap to ensure typical /. faggots have thrown out their collections.

No (1)

dbc (135354) | about a year ago | (#43885885)


Maybe (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43885909)

I bought everything used. I bought mostly super-great games. I've made repairs. Stuff could appreciate over time. The real question is, will you keep your video game collection long enough for it to appreciate? The answer is almost always no.

Somebody's will, but yours won't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885911)

Just like someone will win the Lottery. Just accept it and move on.

No, because comics. (3, Insightful)

Bieeanda (961632) | about a year ago | (#43885953)

Yes, comics, because their value is based on the same principle of rarity and condition. A '38 Superman comic is valuable for the same reason that a new-in-box copy of Radiant Silvergun is: there weren't a lot of copies made, many have physically deteriorated (so your well-loved copy of Super Mario: My Uncle Who Works For Nintendo edition is worth squat too) and many more have simply ceased to exist.

Compare that with an industry that's gone on to consider sales in less than the millions of copies to be failures. Rarity simply isn't an issue, whether it's console games or comics since the early Nineties-- going back to the Superman example, there may only be a few hundred copies of the one that made the news earlier, but they overprinted the Death of Superman (polybagged at the factory, packed with a black mourner's armband) by a massive degree for the sheer number of idiots who thought they'd make a killing on speculation when it eventually became rare.

Re:No, because comics. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43887613)

Yes, comics, because their value is based on the same principle of rarity and condition. A '38 Superman comic is valuable for the same reason that a new-in-box copy of Radiant Silvergun is: there weren't a lot of copies made, many have physically deteriorated (so your well-loved copy of Super Mario: My Uncle Who Works For Nintendo edition is worth squat too) and many more have simply ceased to exist.

Compare that with an industry that's gone on to consider sales in less than the millions of copies to be failures. Rarity simply isn't an issue, whether it's console games or comics since the early Nineties-- going back to the Superman example, there may only be a few hundred copies of the one that made the news earlier, but they overprinted the Death of Superman (polybagged at the factory, packed with a black mourner's armband) by a massive degree for the sheer number of idiots who thought they'd make a killing on speculation when it eventually became rare.

uh that's a really bad analogy for this case. it just means that halo4 won't be worth that much in a while. super mario bros+duckhunt carts might be a dollar a piece but not all of them are.

some games are rare and appreciate in value.. some don't. rarity is an issue and over time it comes an issue. try to find 3do version of star control 2.. well, you might find it, but that's just an example because I would like to have a copy and a working 3do. it's just not rarity driving the price, it's also nostalgy demand - and that affects the seller/buyer market.

buying everything as they are published as new, then on average you will lose out by a lot. but that's just common sense, a buy everything customer ends up buying lots of shit. the key would be to buying 8-20 year old games cheap-o-cheap.. and keep them for another ten to twenty - and somehow guess which games people really want a physical copy for a collection.

Only in my own mind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885969)

I'll keep my collections going because I enjoy them. if I'm rich enough down the road, I may be your buyer lol

No. (5, Interesting)

mofomojo (810520) | about a year ago | (#43886057)

Honestly, $25,000 for a complete collection of SNES games isn't that much considering how many SNES games were made. There were aprox 784 Super Nintendo games, which, if you do the math, is only $31 per game. This is considerably less than what many of those games retailed for. []

It's going to take some time, and will certainly depend on the tastes of the collector. This being said, there is a growing second hand market, which I don't think will really overtake any modern game industry, but will certainly persist for a long time. Classics will remain classics, and there will be a few rare picks, but more than anything, I think the prices are pretty much going to stay level for a long time, at least until they become antiques because these things are still pretty easy to get your hands on and until they become super rare, nobody is really going to take an interest, and even by that time the games will be so dated that only the truly esoteric collectors will care so even so, with such a small after market, the prices will still remain low.

So no, most vintage or old video games aren't going to become more valuable over time and they certainly won't remain super-rare for a long while. They'll just remain just a little farther than arms reach at most, but not much farther than that, just gathering dust on the shelf because you have more important things to do.

Re:No. (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#43886273)

$31 a game is huge. particularly considering I can get all of those games and more and play them on an emulator for free.
It obviously only got that high because of hype, you can by 99% of SNES games (including the ones actually worth money) for less than that.

Re:No. (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about a year ago | (#43886895)

I guess the "profit" for that sale really depends on the amount of time put into it(and how valuable you consider your time). While the games did retail for $50-$80 a pop, most snes games nowadays can be found at garage sales/flea markets/online auctions for less than $10. If you use that as your yardstick, the person is probably "making" at least $5k(while your Super Mario Worlds go for $10, the rare games are worth many times what the original asking price was, so you have to factor that in). However there is a considerable time investment necessary to find each game, ascertain it is working, catalog it etc. We are talking a couple hundred hours easily. You spend 200 hours plus tie up a lot of your money to make $5k, it doesn't seem so profitable anymore.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887183)

I can see a world were a hermetically sealed and possibly working used Nintendo Zelda cartridge is a curiosity. Not for a long time though. Probably towards the end of my lifespan at the earliest. If Nintendo does not destroy their good name.

Re:No. (1)

ultrasawblade (2105922) | about a year ago | (#43888811)

Especially if it includes the bootleg 1,000,000 in 1 pirate carts and prototypes.

Not really. (5, Insightful)

ameoba (173803) | about a year ago | (#43886101)

Let's look at the typical life-cycle of a collectible using baseball cards.

When they first came out in the early 1900s, nobody really cared about them. Through the 70s and 80, they were mostly seen as kids stuff and abused, lost & thrown away. Supplies of cards up through this time are fairly limited. Around 1990, news hit of a baseball card selling for half a million dollars [] . Things changed overnight - every kid was treating their cards like treasure. People have held on to them in pristine condition. These days, you can buy unopened, complete sets of cards from the mid-90s for less than their original retail value. They have become so un-collectible that their value hasn't even kept up with inflation.

Video game collecting has passed this point. Sure, you might still see big deals on used NES collections but anything much newer was sold in large enough numbers and preserved well enough that unless you have sealed boxes, it's just used junk. There's always going to be exceptions but, for the most part, I wouldn't plan my retirement on keeping my XBox clean.

Re:Not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886831)

Yep. People are greedy sheep. It's why we constantly experience bubbles in stocks, housing, collecting of some item, etc. Everyone envisions this get-rich-quick scheme at the expense of others.

For most people, no ... (4, Informative)

MacTO (1161105) | about a year ago | (#43886121)

There are a few factors which affect collecting. The big one is that you have to be collecting the right thing at the right time. Things like toys and comic books seem to gain value when their target audience reached maturity and had enough disposable income to purchase nostalgia items. Once those people have the items in their hands, grow out of their collecting/nostalgia phase, or simply die off, those items tend to lose their value.

The other factor is supply and demand. We are talking about mass produced products. In many cases, the glut of unwanted items outweighs the demand for them so prices will remain low until most of the supply is destroyed. Hoarding doesn't really help here because every time a copy fetches a high price, a large enough number of hoarders will release their wares on the market and that will drive prices back down. So you'll probably find yourself holding onto the stuff for decades, and having to maintain it during those decades, just to fetch those high prices (unless you're lucky, of course).

Re:For most people, no ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887147)

Another factor is the space required to hold your collection. Collectable stuff takes up space that is otherwise not available for other things. If you want your mint-condition collectables to retain their value then you have to keep them climate controlled and away from moths and ants and mold. This kind of storage is not free even in your own house.

Perhaps. (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year ago | (#43886129)

As far as I understand it, the ones that make the real money are hideously rare, like the Nintendo World Championship gold cartridge for the NES.

A full collection makes money because it contains a lot of rare games in among the big sellers. Old console games are inherently collectable as well which helps.

The way to make money out of it would be to identify which games may become collectors items and start buying them up before a real collectors scene for the console starts to appear. The risky bit is they might not rise in value at all - it all depends on how strong the collector market is 10 years in the future.

Does it even matter? (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about a year ago | (#43886161)

I don't buy games because they might be worth more someday; I buy games to play, to have a good time, and even to appreciate them as a kind of art. I buy games that matter to me.

Re:Does it even matter? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43886603)

I don't buy games because they might be worth more someday; I buy games to play, to have a good time, and even to appreciate them as a kind of art. I buy games that matter to me.

I do this too. It's also why I don't buy games with DRM. In the past I only bought games with DRM I could crack. Now I'm not so sure future emulators will work with the cracks -- Some of my old games require NO-CD cracks that don't work in my emulator... I alternate between games in my backlog and games I really liked to play in my library. Recently played the old X-Com again, good thing I still have the manual for the codes it requires, it's getting old and faded though, but there are digitized versions... I would hate not to be able to share a game with my kids that I loved and remember and talk about with them... "Sounds cool pops! Can we play it?" No. DRM killed it. Better not to get attached to games that have death sentences installed at the factory.

Patches are a Problem. (4, Insightful)

MnemonicMan (2596371) | about a year ago | (#43886455)

Take a 360. You put in the disc which may contain horrible game-breaking bugs and the first thing it does is connect to Xbox Live and get the newest patch for that game. Now, twenty years out.. What will perform the Xbox Live function so that you aren't left with a collection of buggy games?

Re:Patches are a Problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886563)

For a few treasured games, Steam is picking them up and rebundling and selling them quite cheap. Not Xbox stuff, though, due to massive Microsoft DRM and massive failure to ever document their own tools.

Re:Patches are a Problem. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43886679)

You could download Xbox (as opposed to Xbox One) DLC and sideload it, I'm sure there's some way to do that with the 360 as well. Or, there could be, and probably will be by the time it's an issue.

Re:Patches are a Problem. (1)

MnemonicMan (2596371) | about a year ago | (#43886759)

Oh, but where would you get the "DLC"? Right now Microsoft is the exclusive distributor and they aren't sharing their database of patches.

Re:Patches are a Problem. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43888051)

Oh, but where would you get the "DLC"?

Same place I got the Xbox DLC, torrents

A very few games, yes. (1)

mrbrown1602 (536940) | about a year ago | (#43886481)

When I was a poor college student, I sold my copy of "Star Fox Weekend Competition Edition" for beaucoup bucks... like close to $500. I also sold my copy of EarthBound for a considerable amount of money (I want to say like $200).

I recently wanted to purchase Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Wii, but found out I can't, because it's like $300 for a used copy. I can't do a pirated copy using an ISO image on the Wii because the game is apparently a dual layer disc and the Wii freaks out over that.

So, yes, some games will be (and are) worth money.

Re:A very few games, yes. (1)

chromas (1085949) | about a year ago | (#43887035)

Now you can [] .

Most Cases, No Because It Is Software (1)

EXTomar (78739) | about a year ago | (#43886507)

In most cases software doesn't become more valuable. Technology in hardware and software changes. Features become superceeded by new or improved ones. I have a copy of VisiCalc for the Apple IIe and I'm pretty sure that no one is looking for VisiCalc as much as a working floppy drive let alone an Apple IIe.

There maybe occations where a game generates some nostaliga but that isn't "appreciation" in the economic sense. Maybe if such a game only had a few copies left in the world that could increase in value but with the advent of emulation of entire platforms in current hardware which means an copying is limitless this doesn't seem feasible either. The only thing that would appreciate would be the physical parts: the plastic, paper and metal that went into the crafting of that item but the game itself can go on and on and on.

In the end it would seem like "a video game collection" is only meaningful if it is complete or near complete because any specific piece of software isn't particularlly valuable no matter how many cat helmets or figurines they throw in.

Re:Most Cases, No Because It Is Software (3, Funny)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43886605)

I don't know, I'd still like to find a new copy of "Custer's Revenge" [] in the original package.

Re:Most Cases, No Because It Is Software (2)

narcc (412956) | about a year ago | (#43887489)

Here you go []

It's even better than what you asked for -- It's factory sealed!

Re:Most Cases, No Because It Is Software (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43889503)

eSnipe set...

value != price (1)

Cederic (9623) | about a year ago | (#43886671)

I had a clearout in April. 50 C64 games, a dozen Atari ST games, around 100 PC games, some xbox and wii games, various bits of hardware including the c64, the ST, the xbox and the wii.

Sold the lot for £140 to a local shop.

The shop will have made a decent profit. Great - I want small local shops to stay in business. If I'd sold them individually on ebay I'd have made nearer £250, but it would've cost me 1-2 days effort.

More to the point.. fuck the money. Almost everything I sold is impossible to replace these days. I'd far rather it go to someone that wants it than to landfill.

Shit, I'm giving away something else from that clearout: An 80s Scalextric collection, including limited edition vehicles worth £380 in mint condition. Mine were toys; they've been played with. They're not mint. They're going to someone whose kids will play with them some more.

If you want something that'll appreciate in value, buy lego kits and never open them. Buy limited edition swiss watches. Just don't bank on selling off your Steam account for more than a fraction of how much it cost to populate it.

Too optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886691)

I think people here are being a bit too optimistic about how well emulators can replicate the original consoles in question. BSNES just recently reached a milestone in which it was the first emulator that could do 100% accurate emulation, and that's with a powerful desktop machine. This is an exception, as there are few emulators that are that good, and I doubt there will be enough people out there to improve accuracy of all these consoles. It will be quite a long time before we see the original Xbox emulated to any acceptable accuracy.

Re:Too optimistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886859)

100% accurate emulation is typically unnecessary. SNES emulation has been good enough for millions of people for over a decade now. You have to be some kind of obsessive compulsive to care about some odd graphic glitch that's SUPPOSED to appear on level 14 of shitty obscure game #28, but isn't showing up in the mainstream emus, OMG!

Re:Too optimistic (1)

ultrasawblade (2105922) | about a year ago | (#43888885)

The problem with emulating the original Xbox is that there really isn't much to emulate.

It's basically a non-ACPI non-BIOS based PC with a well-known Nvidia GPU and chipset. It has all the standard idiosyncracies of a standard PC chipset like APIC registers, the PIT, etc. There's a custom PIC that handles power and the front LED light, that's been reversed engineered.

The games are compiled against Microsoft's XDK. If you look into the Cxbx project (don't know it's current status) the plan was to create a sort of "loader" that would merely load the code from the game. link it into DirectX, and play it directly.

I think there is just not much interest in emulating this system. Sort of like how N64 emulation has stagnated.

But it certainly is possible. Hell, for the NES they've even gone so far as to reverse engineer the protection chip in the cartridge, finding out how the custom microcontroller works and everything. With no documentation and an electron microscope image of the IC. And after reading how the Xbox's firmware was dumped and reversed, and how eventually they "gained entry" into the Xbox 360 and PS3, I think with enough time and resources anything is possible. It's just that the less popular a system is, the less possibility of hackers wanting to create an emulator for it. Also we are living in an ever rabidly post-DMCA litigious society which also affects resources and what people have the time to do.

Probably not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886751)

Probably not. I mean it's well organized and all RELOADED releases, but they're still all available where I got them. :p

Never collect for profit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886781)

Collecting video games for profit is a fools errand.

If you sell your collection 20 years later you could make 500 bucks. Sure it may sell for 2500 dollars but what about the initial investment in buying those games new where you probably spent 2000 dollars getting them all.

If you have a collection people are only going to be buying them for maybe 10% of your collection because most games only go down in value, some much more greatly than others.

So is all that collecting just for the sake of selling it in 20 years really worth making a profit of 500 or maybe 2000 dollars? Hardly at all, that's the worst investment ever.

A lot of people get caught up in this stupid wow factor of "WOW that guy sold his entire collection for 10,000 dollars!" but no one ever considers how much he had to pay out of pocket over the years to get that collection.

You people think a collection is for using... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886795)

This is discussing the investment value of games, not the replay value. So all you people saying, "but i can get all that with an emulator for free...", you missed the point.

To that end, video game collections they are a terrible investment because they are made of plastic. Plastic degrades over time. Just look at some of the original Barbies.

Re:You people think a collection is for using... (0)

chromas (1085949) | about a year ago | (#43887089)

This is discussing the investment value of games, not the replay value. So all you people saying, "but i can get all that with an emulator for free...", you missed the point.

To whom are you going to sell your investment if everyone already runs the games for free on emulators?

ET (2)

Dwedit (232252) | about a year ago | (#43886807)

The buried copies of ET were pulverized before being buried in the landfill. You won't find any intact cartridges in there.

Collectibles (1)

Jiro (131519) | about a year ago | (#43886869)

Things such as stamps, coins, and baseball cards are collected mainly because people want to own them.

Video games have functionality, and a lot of the market for video games is to people who want them mainly to play. While there are people who want the games as collectible items, similar to stamps or coins, this just isn't true of everyone who wants to get an old video game. Emulators, either legal or otherwise, will handle the needs of most people who want to play old games until you get to the era that is impossible to emulate well (PS2/Gamecube/Dreamcast/Xbox emulation is marginal and we're probably never going to be able to emulate anything past that, not counting handhelds.

The market for specifically original copies of old, rare games just isn't all that big, and the market for people who want to play old games is *not* the market for people who want to buy original copies of old games.

Depends when you started the collection (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#43886879)

If we are talking older generations of stuff, the problem is usually only a few titles are really worth alot and most of worth nothing. So if you bought everything new at the time of release, you'd have a few titles worth big money, and most of the stuff loses it's value. Now if you were smart enough to figure out which games you don't need to buy (sports games, etc) and just bought the games that should go up in price, then waited to pick up the other stuff at bottom prices, maybe.

But collectors are a special breed. Like recently, I had some C64 software boxes & manuals (no disks) that a person wanted for his collection, and paid me decent for them. You have a collection, that has it's boxes & manuals also, you will get probably a decent sum for it.

Xbox 360, PS3 collections be worth anything? No idea. The Xbox One will NOT be a collectors item, and won't have collections selling in 20 years for lots of money. Why? Because no one will be able to play it's games.

Re:Depends when you started the collection (1)

eWarz (610883) | about a year ago | (#43887277)

I don't consider myself a collector but to own an unopened copy of The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros 3...Yeah i'd pay a decent amount for those games. Hell, as a kid I happened to receive dragon warrior as part of a nintendo power promotion, complete with a comprehensive strategy guide....yeah i'd pay a bit of money for that. Even if these games are opened they are worth something. The box art...instruction booklets...maps... etc...they don't make them like that anymore. Nowadays a video game is a franchise. Back then it was a kit. Anyone remember the ultima games shipping with a cloth map?

appreciate what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887103)

I appreciate my video game collection. I'm not sure what my video game collection appreciates. lol I still have some gameboy cartridges with a grey case. My friends are grateful when I let them play my old games.

Maybe - but probably not (4, Informative)

nystul555 (579614) | about a year ago | (#43887155)

This is what I do for a living, my company is the largest retailer and distributor of classic video games in North America (and most likely the world). Over the years we've built up a database with hundreds of millions of price points and sales transactions for tens of thousands of games. The overall trends haven't changed much, and with most games it's fairly easy to tell if the value is going to increase or decrease.

First, if you are talking about a new game - if you open it then it is highly unlikely the game will become worth more than you paid for it any time soon. If you don't open it and it is a limited edition or collector's edition, and actually contains figures, books, artwork, etc, it may increase in value. If it ends up being a popular game it can skyrocket in value, especially if no one expected it to be a huge success when it first came out. We bought several copies of the original Mass Effect Limited Edition in 2007, never opened them, kept the receipts, paid 69.95 for each and sold them all for over 1k each last year. During its peak unopened copies of the original World of Warcraft were going for several thousand dollars. But those are the exceptions. RPGs tend to do far better than other genres, most other games will lose value even if unopened.

Now if you are talking about older games, its a completely different story. For the last 8 years prices for classic video games have been going up at a steady, rapid rate. There are a few main factors. 1) - People get older, get better jobs, have money, and want to either replay the games they loved as a kid, get the games they couldn't afford when they were young, or show the games to their own children. 2) - International buyers are buying a HUGE number of classic video games - many of them were never released in their country and they only way they can legal play the game is to import it from the US. 3) - These games aren't made anymore. The supply is only decreasing. A decreasing supply combined with a rapidly increasing demand means price increases.

As long as people continue to enjoy collecting games, and as long as they continue to enjoy playing classic games on the original systems, prices are likely to increase, although more slowly than in the past. Virtual Console, PSN, and other re-releases usually result in a small increase in demand for the original games (unless they were already way too expensive). Roms have been around for far longer than we've been doing this and the demand for the originals, and the prices, are still increasing. But keep in mind that unless you are talking about unopened games, then the prices are increasing relative to their value a few years ago. A good, new NES game for bought for $60 in 1988 may only be worth $20 today. But in 2010 you could have bought it for $6. In 2008, $3.

If you have a bunch of old video games and need some cash, I'd sell them. Don't count on them to skyrocket in value. But if you don't need the cash and if you still enjoy playing them, it's fine to hold on. They should continue to increase in value. If they are new games - sell them as quick as you can! But not to GameStop. Sell them on Ebay or Craigslist. Places like GameStop will rip you off and give you half what you could have gotten selling it yourself.

The Source Code is Probably Valuable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887177)

With the source code whatever game it is can be redeployed on contemporary hardware.

Re:The Source Code is Probably Valuable. (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43887191)

yea and your going to get that when something was written on paper in machine language for something that no one understands anymore

Re:The Source Code is Probably Valuable. (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43888437)

when something was written on paper

OCR. If anything, defeating CAPTCHA is driving OCR research.

in machine language

That didn't stop Doppelganger from disassembling and commenting Suepr Mario Bros.

for something that no one understands anymore

CPUs and graphics chips are becoming documented, both through black box testing (the old method) and more completely through decap and delayer (the Visual 6502 method). Quietust and others have been working toward a transistor-level simulation of the Nintendo Entertainment System as a reference implementation against which efficient emulators and FPGA clones can be tested.

Re:The Source Code is Probably Valuable. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43887635)

With the source code whatever game it is can be redeployed on contemporary hardware.

you don't need that even.

technically what you need is to own the legal right for it.

Which landfill is worth more? (1)

CODiNE (27417) | about a year ago | (#43887181)

One full of old Atari games, or a truckload of LISAs? A LISA is worth about $10,000.

Current generation (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about a year ago | (#43887409)

I'd say the consoles and games to keep an eye on for the longer term are, curiously, the ones from the current hardware generation. I'm not including the Wii here, which is a) not really current generation any more and b) easily to emulate using the excellent Dolphin.

The PS3 and 360, however... while it might take a long time, certain models of the hardware and certain games may have value in the longer run. The next generation is going to be a very stark break in terms of back-compatibility. Sony are talking about some kind of cloud-based software emulation for PS3 games on the PS4, but precedent would suggest first that this will involve paying again for games that you already bought once and second that it will probably only be available for a limited range of games. Microsoft have made it clear that they don't give a damn about back-compatibility.

And frankly, neither platform seems to be within years of having an emulator capable of running commercial titles. With both machines having slightly awkward architectures (the PS3 in particular), I wouldn't be surprised if it were many years until we saw such a thing - if indeed we ever do.

On that basis, I have a bit of a niggling worry that current-gen console games could become a bit of a "lost generation" in terms of preservation for the future, as existing hardware either fails or just gets thrown in the trash as the next gen hits. Sony's cloud plans probably mean that major commercially-successful PS3 titles will remain available for the immediate future. And towards the end of this cycle, the PC market became important enough that almost everything was ported to that. But other than that? Might be worth holding onto some of those more niche games (at least the high quality ones) for both consoles; the likes of Valkyria Chronicles, Demon's Souls, the Forza series and so on.

Plus if emulation never does happen, there'll still be a need for original hardware to run those games. I used to think that the first-gen PS3s, with their full hardware PS2/PS2 back-compatibility) would be the ones to hang onto, but the fact that almost all PS2 titles can now be run emulated on a PC might detract from that. On the other hand, if you have a non-firmware-updated early PS3 that can still be used for a Linux install, that might have some novelty value down the line.

And then there's the Wii-U, which really does seem to be flatlining, with monthly sales now down into the tens of thousands. If the console does go on to be an epic flop (which we'll probably know for certain after Christmas 2013), then on the current trend it looks set to have substantial rarity value going forward if you keep it in good condition, with the potential for a lower number of units shipped than the Dreamcast.

In short: no. (1)

YukariHirai (2674609) | about a year ago | (#43887419)

At the best of times, buying things because it/the collection will be worth a fortune down the track is dumb. The cases where something does get valuable decades down the line involve a combination of scarcity and desirability. And it's nigh on impossible to predict what will be that combination. In general, if anyone cares enough to buy it in the first place when it's new, they do so in sufficient quantity that it never gets that scarce. If not many get sold to begin with, it's usually because not many people want it, so it's unlikely that enough people will want it enough years down the line to get into bidding wars over it. So in short, buy a thing because you want the thing for its own sake, not because you want money down the line. Buy shares in a company if you want that.

They will peak, eventually becoming worthless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887507)

The nostalgia lasts as long as the people who originally played them do. There will always be some demand for collectibles and antiques, but the value of them will peak and fall as the generation that knew them eventually dies. In a hundred years, the physical copies will still be collectibles but very few people will pay top dollar for them (if museums ever want them).

For fifth generation console (i.e. playstation) games, the peak of their value will be in less than seventy years but most will be decayed before then. For the third and fourth generation consoles, because they used cartridges, it'll be about the same.

After a couple decades game discs decay to an unplayable state, and they'll be relics that people can only look at. Cartridges on the other hand will probably outlast us all, and I guess they'll still be readable after a couple centuries (until background radiation destroys too many of their bits). The smaller the nanometer fabrication process used to make the cartridge ROM, the more prone they are to decay. (I tried looking up the feature size of old cartridge ROMs and got nowhere, but I believe it has decreased significantly over time.)

These aren't comic books. Not as many people find old games interesting, and not as many people were exposed to them as kids. For example, will anybody want (or remember) Marathon in another fifty years? How many people today remember that game (aside from me)?

Continued relevance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887981)

Yeah Marathon was pretty cool. I'd like to think it would qualify as a potential collector's piece. It would tend to be rare as an apple game when no one used apple and rare as a PC game as I think everyone was playing the Dooms by the time it was ported. It has heritage of being a first and of Bungie. But it won't because it didn't become a franchise name later. Too bad they didn't call Halo, Marathon Sumthinsumthin. Then it'd be worth having.

On the collectability on PC games in general (I'm including all the early PC architectures here), I'd think good floppies of Might and Magic, Castle Wolfenstein (2D), or other games that have that franchise cache that keeps the name current might be worth something, because the name is still somewhat relevant.

Superman #1 wouldn't be worth dick, if the comic had been cancelled 70 years ago. Golden Age comics are to Modern comics as 80's video games are to today's.
What matters is continuity of the name and the current popularity of the name.

Not likely (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#43887755)

Cartridge based games don't have moving parts and will be playable forever and their from the beginning if gaming. They'll probably hold some value but no one will care about your halo collection.

A cartridge slot's pins bend (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43888573)

Cartridge based games don't have moving parts

How exactly? A cartridge slot's pins bend every time a cartridge is inserted. This goes double for the front-loading NES with its funky ZIF connector.

Re:A cartridge slot's pins bend (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#43889399)

I'm not sure what cartridges you're using but they don't bend at all. They're on a standard board like your video card. Try bending your video card in half. The NES is the only cart based system with moveable parts but they're still working and to be on the safe side I bought the top loading version too so I'm not too bothered about that.

You Bet, Provided They're Not Disabled By DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887777)

I've got a still-in-shrinkwrap copy of the original GT Interactive Quake that I bought in 1996. 20 years from now, I'll crack the seal, put on a pair of headphones, and listen to that soundtrack while drinking a fine Belgian tripel. Or maybe I'll fire up a machine and treat my grandson to some gaming history.

The point is that I'll actually be able to do either. What I probably won't be able to do is show him Sim City or Diablo III or any game from Rockstar or Ubisoft or anything for an Xbox One or PS4, so I certainly wouldn't buy vintage copies of them. Games that won't run will have no value.

Hmm (1)

blackicye (760472) | about a year ago | (#43888011)

This will be even more irrelevant as more software eventually become single activation / digital download only.

I don't really care (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about a year ago | (#43888621)

I'm collecting games so that I can re-play them in the future, or play them at all since I have quite a few that are unopened or at least unplayed. And I won't have to rely on any server authentication to do so! I'll also have the original unchanged and uncensored versions. Some games that have been re-released have included modifications and changes that are a result of expired agreements or what the developers deem "fixes" and other such things. Even NES and Genesis games.

Even if the next generation of game consoles holds me hostage, I'll still be able to go back to my game collection and play those however and whenever I want.

Yes they will, but only for a time. (1)

Tempest_2084 (605915) | about a year ago | (#43888801)

I've been into classic game collecting since the mid 90's (back when the real Atari was actually still around). Up until last year I had a massive gaming collection that spanned multiple systems from the Atari 2600 to Neo Geo (many were boxed as well). For the longest time, anything classic would sell. Loose 2600 games, common 5200 games, Vic-20 cartridges, Colecovision stuff, anything as long as it was pre-1985ish. People were reliving their childhood, only this time they had access to a much bigger allowance and they wanted everything they were denied back when they were kids. Then after awhile I started noticing that no one wanted the loose stuff anymore, people were now paying big bucks for manuals and boxes (originally people wouldn't give you much if anything extra for the box). The reason behind this was that all the big time collectors had the loose games, now they needed something new to collect so they went for the extras (boxes, manuals, catalogs, etc.). Loose games would sit there on gaming convention tables gathering dust other than a handful of very rare titles. Now we're getting to the point where the big time collectors have all the common and uncommon stuff they need, boxed and otherwise, so it's only the rare and extremely rare stuff that's selling. Those will always be worth money because there aren't enough of them for every one to have one. So everyone that was hording common and loose classic gaming stuff like it was gold are discovering that their Pac-Man cart is worth exactly 10 cents and not the $10 they were lead to believe. Unfortunately it would appear that many brick and mortar gaming shops still haven't gotten this memo.

Another thing to consider is the age of the collector. Back when I got into the hobby (mid 90's) Pre-Nintendo stuff was all the rage because that's what the current collectors grew up with. We were all 20 to 30 somethings who grew up with a 2600 joystick firmly affixed to our hand and that's what we wanted to collect for. However about 7 or 8 years ago I started to notice that the classic stuff I grew up with wasn't selling as much as it used to, and it was NES stuff that was starting to go for big money. I found this odd because up until that I point I was grabbing NES games out of bins at flea markets for $2 each, and suddenly even the common games were going for six or eight bucks, while boxed games were going for $80-$100 or more depending on the title. Then it occurred to me that the kids who grew up with the NES were now old enough and wealthy enough to start buying all the games that they missed out on as a kid. So the valuable and collectible games had shifted from Atari era stuff to NES era stuff. That doesn't mean that the Atari stuff was worthless now, but only the rarer stuff kept its value, the rest started to slip. Now we're starting to see SNES and Genesis stuff rise value (the NES stuff hasn't started to fall off yet, but its coming) and eventually we'll see the Saturn and PSX stuff skyrocket as well (although the rarer stuff already has).

So my point is, yes classic gaming can be a good investment, but only for a short time. However unless you're constantly selling off and buying at the right time (before the next trend hits) you're eventually going to lose money or at best break even. The days of mega cheap games that are going to rise in value are over, because people are already looking for what's going to become collectible in the future even with the current stuff (sort of like comic books). That's why we always say not to get into classic game collecting for the money, because there really isn't any. Get into classic gaming because you love the games.

I got lucky because I bought the bulk of my collection when people weren't thinking of what it would be worth in the future, we were thinking of the here and now. When I decided to sell off my collection due to an upcoming move to a smaller house, I actually made a good deal of money on it. However that's because I bought it back before the collecting boom happened, if I tried to recreate my collection now (or even ten years ago) and then sell it I would have lost a fortune.

You can see pictures of what my collection used to look like here: [] and what it looks like now that I've slimmed it down (it looks bigger, but it's not, I just concentrated everything into one room): []
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