retro video game collecting

The Ultimate Guide to Retro Video Game Collecting in 2023

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to retro video game collecting. Whether you’re new to this exciting hobby or have a collection already, we are here to help you build an impressive assortment of nostalgic gaming treasures. We understand the passion and joy that comes from reliving childhood memories through video games, our extensive guide is filled with tips and strategies to bolster your game collecting prowess.

In this guide, we will provide you with valuable insights on how to start your collection, carving a niche, find great deals, amassing your video collection progressively and even how sell your retro video games when the time comes.

Retro Video Game Collecting: The Basics

Video games have come a long way over the past forty years. What began as a simple hobby of accumulating games has now become a passion fueled pursuit of specialized collecting. As a collector, you must take into account various elements like the expense, Rarity, and storage requirements for your collection.

Carving Your Niche

One of the fundamental principles of practical retro game collecting is to focus on collecting what truly brings you joy. In a world influenced by social media and nostalgia, it is easy to get swayed by external factors and feel the need to acquire every game or console out there. However, we encourage you to stay true to your own gaming preferences and interests.

Consider what aspects of gaming make you the happiest. Is it a specific series, a particular console, or a set of games from your childhood? Every individual has their own unique preferences, and it is important not to let others dictate your collecting journey. By focusing on what genuinely brings you joy, you can build a collection that reflects your personal tastes and values.

With that said, it can be overwhelming to decide where to begin. By selecting one or two themes to specialize in, you can narrow your focus and make your collection more meaningful. Consider the following factors when choosing your focus:

  1. Long Term Investment: If you see video games as an investment opportunity, you could focus on rare and valuable titles that are likely to appreciate in value over time. Researching the market trends and understanding which games have a track record of increasing in value will help you make informed investment decisions.
  2. Short-Term Profit: If you’re looking to sell your games within the next six months for a profit, focus on finding games that have high demand and can fetch a good price in the current market. Keep an eye on trending titles, limited editions, and collector’s editions that have the potential to appreciate quickly.
  3. Nostalgia and Sentiment: For many collectors, the main goal is to relive cherished memories and build a collection that holds personal meaning. You could focus on acquiring Nintendo games from your childhood or a specific era that resonates with you emotionally. This approach allows you to create a collection that reflects your personal gaming journey.
  4. Hobbyist Enjoyment: If your primary goal is to enjoy the process of collecting and owning retro video games, focus on games that you find interesting, fun, and visually appealing. Whether it’s a specific console, genre, or franchise that captivates your interest, curating a collection that brings you joy is a worthwhile endeavor.
  5. Visual Aesthetics: Some collectors view their collection as a work of art. If you’re more interested in the visual appeal of the games themselves, you can focus on building a collection that is visually cohesive or aesthetically pleasing. This could mean collecting games with unique artwork, special editions, or a specific visual style.

These reasons are all equally valid, and there’s no right or wrong focus for your collection. It’s essential to define your goals and interests before diving into the world of video game collecting.

Organizing Your Collection

As a retro game collector, your collection can quickly grow into hundreds or even thousands of games, like this guy who holds the world record for the largest video game collection. An organized collection not only makes it easier to find certain games but also protects your investment and prevents duplication. Here are some tips for organizing your video game collection:

  1. Get a Shelf System: Invest in a quality shelf system, be mindful of game case size for each platform you intend to collect, a multi-media stand like this is often the best choice. These systems keep your games off the floor and don’t restrict you to a certain platforms game case size. Refer to our game case dimensions page for more info
  2. Sort and Alphabetize: Sort your games alphabetically by title. Start with the letter “A” and create separate piles for each letter. Within each pile, alphabetize the games by their subsequent letters. This systematic approach ensures that all your games are in order and makes finding specific titles a breeze.
  3. Consider Alternative Organization Methods: If you prefer organizing by genre or platform, feel free to adapt the sorting system to fit your preferences. Grouping games by genre, console, or any other category that appeals to you can make your collection more visually appealing and cater to your personal interests.
  4. Preserve Game Cases and Artwork: Keep your games in their proper cases to protect them from dust, scratches, and other damage. Properly storing game cases helps maintain the overall condition of your collection and ensures that each game is paired with its original artwork and documentation.
  5. Regular Maintenance: Regularly dust your shelves and game cases to keep your collection looking clean and presentable. Perform routine checks to identify any signs of damage or wear and address them promptly.

By following these organizing tips, you can create an aesthetically pleasing and well-maintained video game collection that you’ll be proud to showcase.

Assessing the Value of Retro Video Games

Evaluating the worth of retro games can be a challenging endeavor, given the vast price range that can span from a few dollars to tens of thousands for rare pieces. However, in our increasingly digital age, a multitude of tools and online resources are at your disposal to aid in this quest.

Understanding Factors Influencing Value

The first step in assessing the value of a retro game is understanding the multitude of factors that contribute to a game’s worth. These can include rarity, demand, condition, and completeness (whether the original box, manual, and other inserts are included). A game’s historical significance, such as its impact on the gaming industry or its role in pushing the boundaries of gaming, can also significantly influence its value. Check out this rare video game price list article.

Online Price Guides and Marketplaces

Online price guides and marketplaces provide an excellent starting point for determining game values. Websites such as PriceCharting and GameValueNow publish up to date average prices for games, taking into account their condition and completeness. These prices are typically based on completed sales from online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, providing a realistic view of what collectors are currently paying for games.

Online marketplaces themselves can also be valuable resources. By studying current and completed listings for a particular game, you can get an idea of a video game’s going rate. Remember, prices can fluctuate based on demand and market trends, so it’s important to regularly check these resources for the most accurate assessment.

Retro Game Forums and Social Media Groups

Collector forums and social media groups are also great places to gather information on game values. Platforms such as Reddit offer a wealth of collective knowledge, and members are often willing to share their experiences and insights. You may find discussions about recent sales, advice on how much to pay for a particular game, and alerts about changing market trends.

Professional Appraisals

For particularly rare or valuable games, you may wish to consider a professional appraisal. Certain organizations such as Heritage Auctions specialize in assessing the value of collectibles, including retro games. These appraisals take into account all aspects of a game’s condition and market value, providing an expert opinion on the most rare video games.

Staying Informed

Keeping up with trends in the gaming industry can also aid in assessing game values. Following gaming news, attending conventions, and staying involved in the retro gaming community can all provide valuable insights into the ever-changing market for retro games.

By utilizing these tools and resources, you’ll be well-equipped to accurately determine the value of retro games. Remember, however, that the most important aspect of game collecting is the enjoyment and satisfaction it brings. Regardless of a game’s monetary value, its true worth lies in the pleasure of playing it and the memories it creates.

repairing a video game using a JFJ machine

Guidelines for Maintaining Your Video Game Collection

For every passionate video game collector, the thrill of adding a new item to the shelf is exhilarating. However, the task doesn’t end at acquisition. Maintaining your video game collection in prime condition is essential to preserve its worth and functionality.

Proper Video Game Storage is Key

The first rule of video game collection maintenance is providing appropriate storage. Games and consoles should be kept in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight. This helps prevent damage from heat and moisture, both of which can harm electronic components and degrade materials over time. Consider investing in custom-made shelving units or other storage solutions to keep your collection organized and safe.

Cleaning and Restoring Game Cartridges

Retro game cartridges from early Nintendo, Atari & Sega consoles often require some cleaning and restoration to ensure optimal performance. Here are some tips for cleaning and restoring game cartridges:

  1. Cleaning the Cartridge Port: Use isopropyl alcohol and a cartridge cleaner to clean the port of the cartridge. Dab a small amount of alcohol on the tip of the cleaner and gently rub it inside the port to remove dust, grime, and debris that may interfere with the connection between the cartridge and the gaming system.
  2. Removing Writing: If you encounter game cartridges with writing or markings, you can remove them with a few simple steps. First, write over the marks with a colorless blender pen to help lift the ink. Then, apply a small amount of Goo Gone to a clean cloth and gently rub the area until the markings are completely removed.
  3. Troubleshooting Non-Functioning Games: If a game cartridge doesn’t work despite cleaning the contacts and ensuring a proper connection, you may need to open the cartridge and clean the circuit board inside. Carefully use a screwdriver to open the cartridge, clean the board with isopropyl alcohol and a soft cloth, and then reassemble the cartridge. There are numerous online guides like this available.

Remember to handle game cartridges with care and avoid excessive force or rough handling during the cleaning and restoration process. When in doubt, consult professional restoration services to ensure the proper care and preservation of your valuable games.

Cleaning and Restoring Video Game Discs

Various DIY solutions can be found online such as this one, but for novices, it’s advisable to entrust the task to experts. Local game shops often provide disc repair services using specialized disc restoration equipment.

If your collection starts to expand significantly, or if your hobby begins to transition into a more business-oriented venture, it could be wise to consider purchasing a reliable disc repair machine. Starter models like the JFJ Easy Pro or the JFJ Eyecon are excellent options for your first machine.

retro game collector store

Embarking on Your Journey as a Retro Game Collector

Having covered the foundational aspects of retro game collecting, it’s time to delve into practical steps that will aid you in becoming a successful collector.

Research, Research, Research!

Knowledge is power in the world of retro video game collecting. To become a successful collector, you must arm yourself with knowledge about the games, consoles, and their market value. Take the time to research the most sought after video games, rare editions, and valuable accessories. Online forums, gaming communities, and dedicated retro gaming websites are excellent resources for gathering information and staying up to date with the latest trends of the retro game collector.

Arming yourself with retro game collecting terminology is essential. This understanding allows effective communication with other collectors, navigates the market more efficiently, and protects against scams and misunderstandings. Heritage Auctions have an excellent glossary of such terms.

Where to Find Rare and Valuable Video Games

When it comes to practical retro game collecting, it’s essential to adopt a strategic approach. While traditional methods like garage sales and flea markets have become less fruitful recently, there are still effective ways to find affordable games. By shopping smart and being patient, you can add to your collection without breaking the bank. Here are some suggestions on where to look:

Local Retro Game Stores

Starting your journey at local retro game stores or fairs can be highly beneficial. Make it a habit to frequent your chosen store as they typically offer reasonable prices and continually add to their stock. Engage with the store owner about any specific games or equipment you’re seeking, as they could have just the hidden gem you’re searching for.

Thrift Stores and Flea Markets

Local second-hand stores, especially those dealing in pre-owned electronics, can be treasure troves for unearthing retro video games. In the past, these stores were some of the top spots to discover hidden classics. However, as store owners have grown more tech-savvy in recent years, snapping up these gems at bargain prices can be a bit more challenging.

Garage Sales

Garage sales can be a treasure trove for finding retro games at affordable prices. Keep an eye out for garage sale advertisements that mention electronics or video games. While it may require some effort and persistence, stumbling upon a collection of neglected games or a rare gem can be incredibly rewarding.

Pawn Shops

Pawn shops can be hit or miss when it comes to finding video games. However, they are worth checking out as you may stumble upon some hidden gems among their inventory. Keep in mind that thrift shops can also yield surprising finds, so don’t overlook these establishments in your search.

Family and Friends

Don’t forget to tap into your social network when searching for retro video games. Let your friends, family, and co-workers know that you’re collecting games, as they may have games tucked away in their homes that they’re willing to part with. Additionally, they may be willing to offer you a good bargain on their games.

Online Sources

Online platforms such as Amazon, Reddit, and dedicated gaming marketplaces offer a vast selection of video games. These platforms provide convenience and allow you to browse and purchase games from the comfort of your own home.

eBay is another valuable resource for collectors. Set up email alerts for the most rare video games or consoles you’re interested in, and regularly check the listings. It may take some time before reasonably priced items appear, but patience is key. By staying vigilant, you can seize opportunities when they arise.

Bargaining for the Best Deals

When shopping for retro video games, it’s essential to know how to negotiate effectively. Here are some tips for successful bargaining:

  1. Be Polite and Friendly: Approach sellers with a friendly demeanor, and avoid being aggressive or confrontational. Establishing a good rapport can make the bargaining process more pleasant and increase the likelihood of getting a favorable deal.
  2. Do Your Research: Before negotiating a price, conduct thorough research to understand the current market value of the game you’re interested in. This knowledge will give you an advantage during negotiations and help you determine a fair price.
  3. Offer Cash: Cash offers can be enticing to sellers, as it provides immediate payment and eliminates the need for additional transactions. Having cash readily available when negotiating can help seal the deal and potentially result in a better price.
  4. Be Patient: If a seller is hesitant to accept your offer, give them time to consider it. Sometimes, sellers need to weigh their options or may have unrealistic expectations. By walking away and returning later, you may find that the seller has become more receptive to your offer.
  5. Exchange Contact Information: If the seller doesn’t accept your offer initially, provide them with your contact information in case they change their mind or their item doesn’t sell. This opens up the possibility for future negotiations and allows you to stay connected.

Remember, bargaining is a skill that improves with practice. Approach negotiations with a positive attitude, be respectful of the seller’s perspective, and strive for a win-win outcome.

Know Your Collection’s Worth

Understanding the worth of your collection becomes significant as your collection grows, both for insurance purposes and future transactions. Keep an inventory of your collection, noting the condition, repairs needed, and quantity. This documentation aids in making informed decisions when buying, selling, or trading items. Websites like PriceCharting and GameValueNow can help you keep track.

Spread the Word

Let friends and family know about your collecting interests. They may chance upon valuable items or be aware of local opportunities. A broader network of people looking for collectible items can greatly benefit your collection.

Engage with Fellow Retro Game Collectors

Participation in a local community of game collectors opens opportunities for networking, sharing knowledge, and potential trading or buying opportunities. Attending conventions, flea markets, and meetups help to connect with like-minded individuals who can offer invaluable insights and support.

Spot Counterfeit Items

Identifying fake items is a major concern in game collecting. There isn’t a universal guide, but concentrate on unique aspects of authentic items. Get familiar with genuine markings, holographic stickers, or specific configurations that counterfeits may lack. A supportive community can be of great help to identify potential frauds. This guide from Nintendo Life shows some examples of what to look out for.

Follow Noteworthy Collectors and Sellers on Social Media

Extend your network by following collectors and sellers on social media platforms. It helps you stay updated on new additions, interact with other enthusiasts, and potentially find rare items for your collection.

Congratulations! You now have a comprehensive guide to help you master the art of collecting retro video games. Remember, building a top-tier retro game collection is a journey that requires time, dedication, and a deep love for gaming history.

By defining your focus, conducting thorough research, optimizing your shopping strategy, valuing condition, embracing trading, preserving your games, and cultivating a community, you’ll be well on your way to creating a remarkable retro gaming collection that brings you joy and admiration from fellow enthusiasts.

Happy collecting, and may your gaming adventures be filled with nostalgia and endless fun!

Scroll to Top