Friday, September 6, 2013

Retro Retrospective #1 : Rising Retro Popularity Pt. 1 - Pricing Inflation

First off, congratulations to MR. KENT ARCHER for winning the first of many video game raffles! The next one will be starting alongside the next NES review.

My latest review is being put on hold however until this upcoming Monday due to vacation pulling me away from NES access. Although thinking back, I should have carted my NES along with me. But then I'd have to meet the wrath of the wife. For those that don't know, this past week I have been taking part in a BBQ road tour that has taken me from New York to Austin, Texas and up to Kansas City. My wife has offered to drive up to Chicago while I write this blog post, since I've been dying to get this in writing since we left Austin.

My wife was willing to go out of her way with me and explore the retro gaming riches that Austin, Texas had to offer. It manifested itself with a little store called Game Over Gaming, a store that specializes only in retro games. You can still find some current gen systems here, but for the most part, the heart and soul of this store lies with retro. Which brings me to the topic of this multi-part post. The rise of retro popularity.
Browsing the Heavenly Goods
There I am. The guy with the white t-shirt on. At first, I was in awe. We only have a few stores like this in NYC, but I don't really go to them that often. There's a reason do that though. Overpriced games. Now I understand completely that stores like this have to stay in business and to do so they need to make a profit. However some of the prices are so exorbitant that I can't even fathom ever purchasing them.

Before I even started taking pictures I asked the store clerk for permission. They said it wouldn't be a problem, as long as I didn't take pictures of the prices. Completely understandable. But that doesn't stop me from talking about them. I've seen this type of pricing in every "retro store" I've been in. Here's a perfect example. Super Mario Bros / Duck Hunt selling for $9.99. Really? $9.99? This game is included in bundles across eBay as a filler, and shouldn't be valued at anything more than $2.99. I swear I must have had 10 copies of this game lying around at some point.

Behind the cabinets lie the "rarer" of the retro games - still over priced.
As I said previously, I know a store needs to stay in business so prices have to reflect some sort of profit margin, but anyone in their right mind who knows the value of retro games wouldn't be caught dead buying a game for that price. But the truth remains that the huge price inflation has a lot to do with the sudden rise in Retro Gaming Popularity.

I for one didn't start collecting until five years ago. It started with my modern games, and my refusal to trade in anymore. It recently expanded out to the retro games in which my collection is steadily growing. Over the years I have witnessed first hand the rise in retro prices and how stores in general reacted.

shelves upon shelves....I wish I could afford thee
Five years ago I was able to walk into thrift stores surrounding the NYC area and find a slew of old school video games. Most of them had been piled into corners, or stuffed in little baggies with a price tag stapled on them. I made some glorious finds back then, with one of my best being BODY SLAM! SUPER PRO WRESTLING for intellivision. I picked it up for $.79 at a thrift store called UNIQUE. Currently, this game sells for around $50+ on eBay. Even Nintendo games could be found for less than a dollar. Not anymore though. Now stores are catching on.

A recent trip to that SAME Unique Store and I came across two games I would have loved to purchase. A boxed version of Pokemon Stadium for N64, and a sealed SNES Blackthorn. Okay, I admit, blackthorn is horrible, but come on, it was SEALED. Anyway, guess what the prices were for those games?

Guessed yet?

Pokemon Stadium - $150 boxed (complete box, but still opened and in pretty poor condition)
SNES Blackthorn (sealed) - $300

Used to be able to buy all this for less than $50. Now? $300 +

Now, I don't know about you, but I would NEVER pay those prices for those games. They aren't worth anywhere near that. But it made me think. A few years ago, those games would have just been put it out on he regular shelf and sold for a couple of bucks. Not anymore. Now they are secured in glass cabinets away from prying hands. As well as my own hands for a retro collector.

I know they sell them at those prices because the figure, "hey, someone is going to pay for this eventually." - but not me. I feel sorry for the person that does.


Most of my thrift store visits end up with me leaving empty handed. I can't help it. I just don't want to shell out the money anymore. I feel like the employees there are randomly searching prices on the internet and then throwing a price tag on it. Sometimes I still find something that slips through the cracks, but it's rare.

Someone scored this recently at a thrift store for only a few bucks.
That person needs to play the lotto.
But what caused stores to catch on? Mostly it's because retro game collection has been on a steady rise. And the internet has exploded with sellers / traders / reviewers / bloggers (like myself!). It's a booming market, and its allowing for people to cash in big time on sites such as eBay and goodwill auctions.

For Part 2, I'm going to go into these sites to discuss the pros and cons of selling / buying, and how it's now the true measure of a games worth.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go buy a copy of Earthbound for $400. (and to think...I bought earthbound almost five years ago for less than $60...)

Until next time. Keep on gaming.



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