Since the 1970s we've been playing video games across the team here at GamesYouLoved. From the early pong console versions by Grandstand and Binatone, through to the very early years of home microcomputing in the UK starting with the ZX81.
Then there were the heady and progressive years of the 1980s to where we ended in 1990 with the SEGA vs Nintendo wars and beyond with the rise of Sony and Microsoft with Nintendo still in the mix. With computers, consoles, handhelds and other accessories - things have been sold from time to time, others have been kept, some rebought and even resold to be rebought again! It all depended on the time and the circumstances.
Overall it has been an amazing journey seeing the progression of games from the very basic on the ZX81, to the massively advanced worlds we can explore now. Understanding where we came from is key in many hobbies and life even.
Music collectors enjoy to play and collect sounds from the past. Art appreciators view, research and if they are lucky enough - they collect art from generations back.
In the same vein as a gamer it's really a fulfilling experience if we understand the past and experience it as close to the original way as possible.
And you don't have to have lived through it to appreciate the past either. Many new retro game players and collectors were born years after the games they play and own were made. The fun, appreciation and enjoyment is there.
So you want to own a piece of history?
Well you can. In the last 5-10 years retro game playing and collecting has become hugely popular. What was once a very niche hobby is now getting more interest from people all over the world. With a new generation coming in, as well as the generation who lived through it original that increases it's demand. Also the popular media do cover this subject often now too.
Not all - but some tabloid journalists hugely inflate the price of the games or consoles in question without proper research in their reporting. This all adds fuel the fire and gets people looking or buying more so demand and prices increase. Youtube also covers the subject massively now as well as every other social channel.
So if we put our heads together here, what top tips can we give you as the gamer if you want to collect in but not empty your bank account doing it?!
We have these tip below from all the guys here at the GamesYouLoved Team with our experience out there game hunting, but also would encourage you gamers out there to shar tips with us and fellow gamers, share in our social channels or email us - links below.
1. Don't rush into it!
We don't want to nag but it's really cool to take your time.
Trust us - this is not a race. Retro game collecting should be fun and you want to enjoy the hunt rather than go for the 'easy buy' and whilst you might think that 'passed by' opportunity won't come up again. After 30 years of playing and buying games...we know it will.
2. Look at what you've got before you go on a buying spree
We think this one is psychology. And sometimes a simple checking procedure!
Have a good look at your existing collection even if it's very small at the beginning and figure what you want to add that week, month etc. Work out a budget so you're not over stretching yourself. And...it might sound a little silly - but take a good look at and appreciate your existing collection before heading out to buy (on line, games shop, an event etc) it will make you smile, feel good and less inclined to rush buy (see 1.)
3. Make a list
Once you have figured out what you have - be a little organised if you want to buy in a certain way. Also at this point be honest with yourselves about what you want out of game collecting:
A - investment later on
B - reward in next 6 months from buying and selling
C - nostalgia of playing a game you used to own as a kid
D - fun and enjoyment
E - something to be proud of
F - anything else (tell us about this too!)
Now we are not going into too much of A and B here.
There are clearly people who are 'investing' in retro gaming either for the short term for buying and reselling for a quick return or long term as an investment later on in life.
We don't have anything particularly bad to say about that - especially on A, but we're not going to encourage the reseller market in B any more than it needs it!
The reseller market is a concern for many retro gamers and collectors who are in it for the C, D and E. That's where we are at mainly and where this tips article will focus in on
Helping with the emotional advice when it comes to gaming - rather than the quick wins will be our goal here too. To be honest, most of the resellers will know the basic tips on eBay and flea markets etc and they involve splitting up bulk lots on eBay, buying everything in sight at flea markets, car boot sales without any true understanding of what it is and then hiking prices up for auctions generally. Not saying 'every' reseller is like this at all in fact some have really good prices but there are some bad ones too - it's clearly an issue. So if you're a collector...we'll continue.
So you've made a list by now. That's good. And you have a budget. Now it's hunting time.
Now because we might have some people look at this article not as collectors we're not going to give away the actual places to go in some circumstances - so you're going to have to do a bit of the research here, but we'll give you a start to get you going.
These include Facebook groups specially for retro games, general game sales and also general items for sale 'in your area', forums also for gaming are worth a look especially if you are looking for arcade cabs or parts, Twitter groups and even DM'ing directly with like minded people is a good start.
Then you have free giveaway websites, parenting sites even and gaming websites with their own discussion areas.
Give these all a go before hitting eBay. Also Craigslist and other sales sites of this nature. eBay we'll come into later.
5. Online purchasing
Aside from social media and forums as mentioned above, you can also just go direct and buy from a games shop online.
There are many throughout the world and some even have a physical store too (see 6. below). Worth doing a price comparison with these stores against each other and then alongside eBay auction prices (not buy it now) with also a test purchase with a cheap game first to see if their pictures match the actual item sold to you, and check they send it out well packaged and quickly.
Alongside getting the actual retro games and consoles of the past, you can also go to www.funstock.co.uk who have retrogaming devices across a wide range of brand from SEGA, Atari, Nintendo, Colecovision and many more. You can save a little here also with code: GYL which gets you 6% off in store.
6. Physical game stores
As mentioned above there are many physical retro game or game stores with retro sections selling classic games. New ones are popping up more and more - so check your local area for these via Google Search.
Also there are 'some' games cafes and bars selling a few titles so check them out too. But check your original wish list and budget for games you really want and a rough guide price you want to pay before heading out.
A bit like the games stores we also feel that going to a gaming, film or comic event and seeing the actual game you might want to buy has it's advantages.
Not only do you see the game in question, it's also social like visiting a store as above and you can often work out a price with the vendor of the store if you buy multiple items. Also if you see them regularly it's more a personal approach and get the rewards of being regular customer like any other store experience. To put it bluntly - haggle!
We have bought many a quality game at Play Expo Manchester and Play Blackpool and also at the recent London Gaming Market. Links below:
Right then - there are hundreds of tips for buying on eBay that we won't repeat and cover everything here. It's a whole subject in itself and has its positive and negative aspects to it.
Safe to say eBay is not all bad, even for hardcore collectors. You just have to go back to step 1 - 3 of this tips list to ensure you are all set up and organised being jumping in feet first, do that and you will save time and money. Also check their feedback score and length of time on ebay - and the description VERY carefully. You don't want to be be buying a box and instructions only if you want the game too!
Maintain a control! And compare prices at all times.
9. Be seen as being a retro gamer and retro game collector
How is this a tip you ask? Trust us!
Make it known you are collecting retro games to friends, family and work colleagues..this is the Golden Goose that will bring you rewards and lay you a potentially golden egg!
And we are very happy to give this tip away as they are YOUR friends after all!
Seriously - tell your network you're collecting retro. Granny, Uncle, best mate, girlfriend's brother, your boss - whoever you can! And show off stuff you are collecting on your network social media - they will get the idea.
We guarantee if you are proactive here people you know will be offloading their perceive 'junk' of boxes of stuff in the loft and soon you'll be sitting on treasure.
Now we wonder if you talk to your boss next week about his computer days growing up if he has the odd Amiga in the loft, or if your Uncle has his original Atari 2600 boxed and mint fresh?! Let us know how you get on.
10. A charity shop
The times that have changed here alot for collectors is the charity shops and the lack of retro games in them now unfortunately. Years ago (well maybe 10-15 in the UK) you could pick up a Vectrex, SNES or even a big box of Playstation games for practically nothing.
eBay happened and now every charity shop now decides that ebay 'buy it now' prices are it's guide to retro gaming prices. We totally want charity shops to get as much money for causes as possible. But we often see shelf upon shelf of certain games overpriced sitting there for weeks on end. It would be better to get the price down a little for gamers and they would sell quick to get the money in. Anyway that's a different article!
There can be the odd gem but alot of the real good stuff gets sold elsewhere as everyone is getting clued up. You just need to go regularly, and we find if we get to know the people who work in the charity stores, they are really helpful and sometimes they will even keep things by for you, knowing you are a collector.
11. Car boot sales or flea markets
Ok we'll try and keep this short as possible but effective as its a big subject!
- Get up early to the site which is obvious as the early bird catches the worm and it allows you to scope out the cars coming in and the opposition - which we'll come onto!
- Get to know the regular sellers and ask them what they have before they unload
- Do quick circuit first then focus in on 3/4 stalls you think have potential once the place opens. Then do the walk from stall to stall - but quick as you can!
- The other thing you can do if you get the timing right is about half hour after opening go to the cars just arriving and unloading at the entrance once you've done a decent circuit. You can catch the early sale here before any resellers pitch in
- Spot your competitors - if you go regularly to flea markets and car boots you will become familiar with the other game buyers. Some will be like you a gamer/ collector - for others it will be purely business - as a reseller. If you see them, you have two options..avoid them so you get to the stall first! Or if you're feeling lucky outbid them carefully in a stall. This should only be done with certain scenarios. I.e you know the other person has no idea what they are buying so you can get it at the price you think is reasonable.
Also they may just be scoping the seller out and wasting time - get your money out with a clear price you are happy with and the seller will more than likely do the deal. If the other buyer hikes up the price don't battle it out - just shrug your shoulders and see what goes next. They may even back off (then you move in if the price is good for you!) or let them buy it - there's always a next time! \
Takes a little practice this but it can work well.
- Vary up the venues you visit. There are times when the same old stuff comes out week after week and you need a change of scene and to experience a new set of sellers. Yes go back to check out your usual venue too, but maybe try another venue after or the day before. It's good to vary the venue up now and again.
- Oh final tip, bring decent strong bags, bag of coins and a bottle of water!
12. Local newspapers or Exchange and Mart style magazines
Finally we'll end with a very vintage way of collecting! Try looking at the gaming items for sale in a printed publication. Yes not the internet this time! This is how we used to buy videogames in the 80s and even early to late 90s before eBay came along and took over.
Yes - there is less in these areas because everyone flocks to eBay, but you can find the odd bargain.
That's it for now. We hope you found some of this useful whether you are an experienced collector or newcomer in the retrogaming scene. Most of these things you might already do - but there might be something new in there for you hopefully :)
If we get any more tips from you over the coming weeks we'll add these to this article and credit you below along with any URL links you have.
Our channels to contact us on:
Happy playing and collecting folks!