Previously we’ve covered why it’s a good time to collect physical games, as well as how to go about doing that. Now, for the potatoes to our proverbial meat. Which types of games are relatively cheap now and will only get more expensive, as well which games a higher now and will go down in the future.
Older Games Worth Picking Up Sooner Than Later
What do I mean by older? Pretty much anything produced after 1973 but before 2000. That gives us a meaty 27 years of older games and hardware to work with. Maybe these dates seem kind of arbitrary, yeah? Well, this isn’t your article. It’s mine. I choose the dates. The dates have been chosen.
Now That The Timeline Is Established
Let’s talk about the older games that you need to be picking up this year. There are quite a few consoles and games that I see just absolutely everywhere still, and those are the ones you want to be targeting.
Systems to Target
- Atari 2600: $30-$90 depending on peripherals included
- Sega Genesis: $35-$100 without CD or 32x addons
- Sony Playstation 1: $20-$80 depending on hardware revision
- Nintendo 64: $60-$100 for common color variant
- Gameboy Color: $40-100
- Sega Dreamcast $60-$120 depending on condition
While you will still find Sega Master System, Colecovision, TurboGraphx 16 games and for Vectrex, Virtual Boy and other rare consoles out in the wild, they’re becoming increasingly rare and subsequently prices are increasing. I have only found one or two of these systems in working conditions.
The SNES, Saturn, Nomad, Game Gear are all notable runners-up in terms of collecting, though working systems are getting to be harder and harder to find. You may just want to ask around at work, church, or your local swap meets to see if anyone has a system in their closet or basement. Oftentimes they don’t even remember what it is or what it’s worth.
That’s why investing in systems that were very popular will save you money in the long run. And thankfully, Atari 2600 carts are still absolutely littering stores shelves at retailers that still deign to sell them. Some places have decided that they’re either too old or not worth selling, and that’s just sad, people.
Genesis and N64 titles seem to crop up at the same regularity, with N64 first party titles increasing rapidly in price and collector popularity. You’re going to want to start stocking up on Marios and Sonics this year.
GBC and PSX games are still absolutely plentiful and for very cheap. Disclaimer: With Gameboy Color and of course Gameboy games, you’ll want to do some research to figure out if the cart uses on-board soldered batteries to record save games. I played four hours of the Pokemon Blue cart I received over the holidays and yeah, it doesn’t save anymore. This cart was one of the last printings too. Good thing my Yellow still saves, for now. You’ll either want to invest in some soldering skills or buy from sellers who have already done that work in the last few years.
As for PSX games, you’ll be hardpressed to find the long-box format games anymore as they were relatively quickly replaced by smaller form factor jewel cases that most music CDs come in. These jewel cases are extremely fragile and prone to cracks and flaking at the corners. Thankfully, replacing the case with blanks is extremely viable except in multi-cd PSX games.
Lastly, there’s the Dreamcast. While there are still plenty of games floating around for this system, they’re getting rarer and the first-party Sega games are starting to achieve mythical status. Retailers know that there is strong nostalgia around these first-party Sega published games like Jet Grind Radio, Shenmue, and Grandia are either receiving huge price hikes or just can’t be found in good condition. If you find them, buy them, test them and keep them. They are going to increase even more considering many of these series are either still in production with sequels or are still solid titles to play natively. Alternatively, many of these titles have made their way to PC’s via Steam or have releases on Xbox with potential backward compatibility with the upcoming Xbox Series X.
Newer Games and Systems Worth Collecting
We’re talking 2001 to present day now with some very exciting systems and games to play and cherish. We’ll be placing these into three tiers: Dirt Cheap, Less Cheap, Barely Worth Collecting. First, we’ll go into how much on average you’ll put down on a system.
Game Systems 2001-present
- PS2: Slim models up to SCPH 70000 series and older fat models: $40-100
- PS3: Slim models or bust: $17 (my lowest) – $80. Don’t worry about backward compatible PS3s as they have heat-dissipation issues that will tank it unless you know how to repair that design flaw. Slim PS3s are just awesome okay.
- PS4: Saw a pawn shop PS4 500gb for $179, thought about it, and said no.
- Xbox: ~$40 is what you should pay for a console unless you have specific tastes in color variant. Gods I want a translucent orange one.
- Xbox 360: Never buy the original model. I shouldn’t have to tell you why. 360 slims are around $80-120 depending retailer. Would not recommend Gamestop premium refurbished 360s, Ask Spawn Wave why. This dude knows how to do a great tear-down.
- GCN: Can be hard to find a good, working one, especially with the Gameboy Player attachment and boot-up disc. And…broadband adapter. $60-120. You’re going to want to watch this before buying a GCN or just simply use a first-gen Wii with backward compatibility.
- Wii: Super cheap, everywhere. $20-40. The accessories are where they get you, though. Look for corrosion in the battery compartments for peripherals.
Dirt Cheap Games Tier
- PS2: All but JRPGs. $2-10
- PS3: All but JRPGs and blu-ray bundles of entire game series. $3-10
- GCN: Some loose discs of sports games, I guess.
- XBox: Generic multi-platform titles. $2-10
- X360: Most shooters, action adventures, racers and XBL Arcade physical releases. All cross-platform releases. $3-10
- Wii: All dat shovelware. Excludes Nintendo First-party titles. $3-7
- Gameboy Advance: Cart only, non-pokemon/mario/metroid/etc. $3-8
- Nintendo DS: same as Wii. $3-10
- PSP: Common action, racing and some arcade titles. $4-10
Less Cheap Tier
- PS2/PS3 JRPGs: Still worth looking for, as they’re amazing and provide great price:content ratio, many of which are not available on PS Now or PS4. Many Japanese Imports. $6-20
- GCN: Multi-platform titles, sometimes CiB.
- Xbox: Collector’s editions and backward compatible titles that work on Xbones. Also Sega published titles brought forward from Dreamcast days. $10-25
- X360: Halos (especially collector editions), later Forzas, and those few really stellar JRPGs. $8-16
- PSP: Titles not available on any other platform besides Vita digitally. Complete-in-box with original art and working UMD. $8-15
- Gameboy Advance: Non-Hannah Montana cart-only, some first party titles. $10-20. Remember: internal batteries will start going out soon.
- Nintendo DS: Complete-in-box highly reviewed and/or rare titles. $8-25
- Nintendo 3DS: Older titles from 2011-2013 that are not first party. Nintendo Selects first party titles. $10-20
- Xbox One / PS4: Older multi-platform racers, shooters, action-adventure titles. $7-20
Barely Worth Collecting Tier
- PS2: Complete-in-box JRPGs with playable discs. $15-60
- PS3: Only the rarest of JRPGs and special collector editions. $25-60
- PS4: Newer games, why are you collecting for this console right now? By 2021 they’ll be so fucking cheap, especially is PS5 is fully backwards compatible.
- GCN: First party titles: CiB. $20-50
- Xbox: Steel Battalion and rarer JRPGs that Microsoft invested in devs making for their console. $30-250
- GBA: Pokemons, yarr…unless you grab a counterfeit copy off eBay.
- NDS: JRPGs or limited run games complete-in-box. Feels like a fool’s errand sometimes. $20-$60
- 3DS: ‘New’ enhanced titles, newer titles. Ambivalent about grabbing these now, as the Switch didn’t diminish the prices of 3DS titles like I wanted. $20-$40
- Xbox One: Same as PS4. Stop it.
- PSVita and Switch: Alright, I’m going to address these down below.
Vita and Switch Collecting
Vita, first, okay. For whatever reason, Sony didn’t do large game batches for Vita titles and even with the help of companies like Limited Run, some digital games still don’t have physical releases. Like I said, the games that /did/ receive physical releases are already increasingly rare and oftentimes cartridge-only. Their prices are not cheap at all. The cheaper games are the ones that were common or popular, but if you understand the Vita at all, you know that there was only a small amount of relative time where it was actually truly popular or mainstream.
Switchy Switch. Yeah, the Switch isn’t great to collect for at the moment, as the console is at the height of its popularity and the Switch 2 hasn’t even been hinted toward. My gut feeling is that this console will become more like a Vita than a NDS over time with many of its games becomes very scarce physically. Side note: The Switch has now outsold the Xbox One. Wacky.
Now That You Know What to Look For
Get out there and collect. There’s nothing quite like getting that new game you’ve been looking for for months. You open it up, smell that game cartridge, read the brochure, inspect the back and then finally pop it into your console. But before you run out the door and raid your local Vintage Stock retailer, read some hopefully true bold predictions.
Bonus Bold Predictions For a New Year
- Sony will announce a new handheld that can be docked into and out of a PS5 that also plays Vita games because yay. (a boy can dream)
- The Xbox Series X will have approximately 5% of the Xbox’s library (licensing issues), 80% of the X360 and all of the XBone in its backward compatibility profile, further reducing the prices of old Xbox game titles. Wait, didn’t they already kind of announce that?
- Okay, let’s try that again. The Xbox Series X will require an Xbox Live or Game Pass subscription to access the bulk of its backward compatibility service. That’s just a Microsoft thing to do. Change my mind.
- A Switch successor will be announced later this year and will not diminish the prices of first-gen Switch games at all due to backward compatibility.
- Lastly, Nintendo will release a handheld Switchy thing (not the Lite) after announcing the Switch 2 that also plays physical 3DS and DS carts. Tell me they shouldn’t have done that instead of the Switch Lite. Pitiful. Also this will drive up the price of used DS and 3DS games.