Lately, one of the ways my girlfriend has been making money (besides selling the blood of the innocent) is by selling old video game stuff on Ebay.
Be it games, old hardware, you name it. There’s been a lot of talk about how the return policies are screwing out the retail stores-namely Gamestop-so why not go over the middle man and sell the product yourself? Not only do you get to keep, at least if you Craigslist it, ALL the money, but thanks to parents who maybe can’t afford the newer titles for their kids, you can help bring joy to some kid or teenagers day simply by selling your old copy of the latest COD title at a markdown price. You can also do it for a standard price online, like Ebay. But that’s recent stuff. Recent games and hardware. Let’s discuss how much you can make by selling older stuff and start bringin’ in that Nintendoller. I’m sorry. That was terrible. Older systems-NES, N64, Genesis-these can bring in a good asking price, as can the games if they’re in relatively good condition and moreso if they have the original boxes and whatnot. Older systems, like Ataris and such can bring in even HIGHER, and there’s even a market for the more obscure things like the Dreamcast or the Saturn. But is what we pay today worth the return especially if we might have to wait 20 years or more? AND CAN they be worth even close to equal amount since the stuff we have today is so heavily mass produced and easier to access that we may not even apply that high of a dollar value to it, even 20+ years down the line?
The used hardware/gaming market is interesting. Like most things you can sell online-books, movies, internal organs ripped from your victims, your own original artwork-there’s a market and there’s even people willing to pay the same amount or around that amount as they would if they picked it up in store today. Let’s face it, people are laaaaaaazy and are much more willing to have things shipped to them than spend the time it would take to go to the store and buy it themselves, also spending money on gas. Plus, having something shipped to you doesn’t interrupt your regular day to day life, like having to go buy it in store maybe would. Maybe Daniel’s got a busy schedule and can’t break away from class and exams for as long as he’d like. Maybe he’s got a girlfriend who’s family is falling apart and she’s starting to dive into drug addiction and his mom was a drug addict so he knows what it’s like to lose someone. One day he comes home and finds Melanie just sprawled out on the couch, and he drops to his knees and sobs, “WHY?! I COULD’VE DONE SO MUCH MORE!!!” From then on, Daniel was never the same. They say he dropped out of school to drive cross country, but nobody’s really sure. And others say that while doing that he met a nice, young hippy girl who shows him the true meaning of life and how to let go of Melanie. Together they help others, open a drug clinic and eventually get married. And finally…finally Daniel is happy. So Daniel’s got a lot on his plate. He might not have the TIME to run to the game shop. But 1 click shopping and it’s there in 2-4 days, depending. Not even mentioning what people will pay for arcade cabinets or the amount people will put into add ons and such to mobile games.
And my other, earlier point. Can we attach the same dollar value to consoles like the 360 or the PS4 (or their games) 20+ years down the line that we do to things from the 80s/90s that we consider to be “retro” and “classic”? Can we do that? Really? Look, back then, they didn’t mass produce games the same way they do now. Burning discs is a HELL of a lot easier than making a whole cartridge. With billions of copies of “hits” like Bioshock or The Last Of Us on the shelves, can we really compare it to something like any of the older Nintendo or Atari titles? Back then, gaming wasn’t nearly as much of a mainstream market. It was certainly a more niche thing. Today it’s been packaged and sold to the consumer for pennies, and it’s become a normalized part of society. People play video games. COD promotes their titles in SUPERBOWL commercials for christ sake. Meanwhile, somewhere in Mexico, there’s a ditch with every copy of ET in it. Not because they couldn’t sell them but because….well actually it WAS because they couldn’t sell them, but you get my drift. And, what with the creation of Emulators and Roms, how can we honestly put a price tag on ANYTHING? In a day and age where piracy runs rampant and EVERYTHING is digital, including-sadly-books, how can we put a monetary symbol of anything now? I personally like to own media. I like to hold it in my hands. The only thing I’ve gone digital for is my music. Otherwise I still buy books, DVDS, and all my games in physical format. But if we’re at the point where we are-with piracy being normalized and accepted at least by everyday peoples standards-and everyone being broke, AND everything I’ve said above about what games may or may not be worth in the future….why pay for titles when if you have a high enough model computer, you can simply DOWNLOAD the titles? ESPECIALLY FOR FREE. Hell even our currency has gone somewhat digital with online banking and Bitcoin.
It’s a touchy subject. I think with all the emphasis we put on money in the gaming industry, and not just the second hand gaming bit but as a whole (production budgets and what games make in units sold etc.) we really do need to talk about this thing. How much longer are people going to pay top dollar for stuff, especially if the stuff is more mass produced and easily accessible, and if we are moving into a purely digital age? They try and make anti piracy ads legit by showing you people who say things like “I work 40+ hours a week busting my ass to make this game and piracy made me lose my job” but if piracy were to end tomorrow, companies wouldn’t pay that guy MORE money for his job. People are expendable. That’s the thing about companies, especially monster corporations like the conglomerates that make the games today.
Would I pay $1400 to own a copy of Joust or Pitfall? No.
But I’ll pay you $1400 if you can come and give me an ending to this article.
Maggie Rose is a 25 y/o trans lesbian. She currently lives in Olympia with her girlfriend and together they fight crime, put an end to injustice and sometimes do laundry. She is a writer because she has no other skills or applicable talents useable for monetary gain.