Some of you may recall that some time ago, I interviewed Mr. Aus Retro Gamer himself, Alex Boz. Since then, I’ve endeavored to get into retro collecting myself. It’s certainly a labor of love and money, but it’s a very rewarding hobby if you love playing older titles, whether they’re games you missed, games from your childhood that you adored, or just games you’ve always really wanted to get your hands on.
So I’ve decided to share a few tips about what I’ve learned during my brief time as a retro collector, in order to help anyone get started if they’re interested in the hobby.
This is the first and most important tip I can possibly offer. The internet is like one big trap full of people who want to sell you things for far more than they’re worth. You could be buying an old game or an old console for ten times the price it would normally be sold for. So how do you prevent this from happening to you?
Ask around: Check with more experienced collectors via Twitter, Facebook, or whatever your favoured form of social media is. How much have they paid for things? What should you be paying for things? Something may look rare and to be a good deal, only for a more experienced collector to tell you it’s an item that comes up fairly often and to hold out for a better deal or to message the seller directly and haggle.
Read up on it: When was it released? How rare is it in your region compared to others? Would it be easier buying an NTSC version than a PAL version if you’re just looking to play a game, rather than own a collectors item? The more you know about an item, the easier it is to haggle or to look up alternative methods of getting your hands on it.
Price check: Spend some time taking a look at the item on Gumtree, Ebay, private collector forums and the like. Does the item seem to have a set price? Or does it seem to be something that fluctuates? Understand what the base price is and that way you’ll be able to spot a real bargain and jump on it.
Know what you want to buy: You might think ‘I just want to collect retro things’ is a good enough reason to start collecting. But then, why? What do you want, exactly? The best way to get into collecting is to go after things you want. That one console you never got as a kid. That one game you used to love. Are you a Nintendo fan or a Sega fan? Maybe something more obscure? Start with what makes you happy, and go from there.
Besides research, this is the second most important tip I can offer. There’s nothing worse than leaping on what you think is a good deal, only to discover the same item a week later at half the price. After thoroughly researching what you want, sit back and keep an eye on where it tends to pop up. Whether it be a market site like Ebay or a physical garage sale in your area. You could spend $150 on a SNES, only to attend a garage sale the next week and see a lovely old lady selling one for $20.
Of course, you can’t just spend forever waiting and obsess over prices, waiting for that perfect deal. You might just wind up going crazy over it. So, in saying that, the best deals you can get are bundle deals. It’s pointless buying a console when you have no games to play for it, so it’s best to wait until someone sells a console with a few games thrown in and for a reasonable price. For example, I managed to pick up a NES and 10 games for $150 on Ebay, because I was patient and didn’t jump on the first cheap console or deal I saw.
Even making a post on your local buy/swap/sell page, whether it’s just a general page for your town or a dedicated game collection page can yield amazing results if you’re willing to wait. These games and consoles have already existed for years, they’re going to keep existing for many more, and they’re not going anywhere.
Whether it’s the thrill of the hunt, a love for games new and old, or just wanting to play games and have fun, retro collection should be an enjoyable hobby. If it leaves you pulling your hair out over costs, missing that perfect deal or stressing over hunting the internet for hours researching information, then maybe it’s not for you. No matter how much you love games, something made to be enjoyed should never cause you stress!
There are many ways to get enjoyment out of the hobby, whether it’s the satisfaction of completing a set, playing the games themselves, or any number of other reasons, the most important thing is to have a good time.
Video games were made as a form of entertainment and fun, and that holds true today. So get out there, find a great bargain and enjoy yourself!