Collecting Video Games is an Expensive Hobby | Fanboys Anonymous

Collecting Video Games is an Expensive Hobby

Posted by Travis Goss Tuesday, March 11, 2014
As a writer/video producer/podcaster for Fanboys Anonymous, I have another aspect of my life which I hold very close to me: collecting video games. This is something I have been doing for as long as I can remember. Some games I have had to sell in order to make ends meet and some I still hold on to to this day. At one point in my life, my collection consisted of around ten video game consoles and hundreds of games. Sadly, it has dwindled because our economy has made it very difficult to keep that number up.

I am an avid video game collector because, as you have guessed, I love playing video games. I am sure for those of you who have frequented this website, you most likely know by now that I have been playing video games ever since I was old enough to hold a controller.

So, when it comes to video games, I know a lot about them because I have grown up with them around me. From the Atari 2600 to the Nintendo Wii U, and the industry crash in 1983 to the explosive release of South Park: The Stick of Truth, I have been there during the times when the industry has had its ups and downs.

But my progress of collecting video games has slowed down recently, and there is one factor which has prohibited me from collecting games on a more frequent basis: the outrageous prices charged for some of these classics.

Here's what I mean: as you have read from my previous article for this site (read The Art of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Book Review), I am a major Castlevania fan. So much so that I have had a big desire to own a copy of Castlevania: Dracula X for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I have been wanting a copy of this game since its release. I would love to get a used copy of the game and add it to my collection.

But, I have a small problem. If I were to get a copy of the game with no box or instructions, then I would have to shell out an average of $250. This is an approximate average based on eBay and retro video games website prices. Let us keep in mind this game sold for $50 when it was released in September 1995.

buy Konami Castlevania Dracula X Let's Play
Castlevania: Dracula X is EXPENSIVE!

While I do understand that Castlevania: Rondo of Blood was released in the United States under the title Castlevania X Chronicles for the Sony PSP and the Japanese original is available on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console (which I have downloaded), I still want to get a copy of Dracula X for the SNES. Furthermore, I know this is not a straight port of the original game. According to Forbidden Library, the Castlevania Wiki:
"When Dracula X was first announced, Castlevania fans were excited to see the popular Japanese PC Engine game make it to Super NES. However, many gamers were disappointed upon discovering the game is very different from Rondo of Blood. This turned out to be what many feel is one of the biggest disappointments in the entire series. Rather than a direct port, it was meant to be more of a remixed version of Rondo of Blood."

If this game was such a disappointment for Castlevania fans, then why does it have an insanely high price? Perhaps, it did not sell very well and some of the unsold copies were shipped back to Konami. If this were the case, then it could validate the argument for which the game is considered rare. It would be a strong consideration as to why the price of this game has been inflated for online auctions. Some online retro video game websites do list this game for a huge price as well (if you can find a copy, that is).

Strider HD is now available for PS4 and Xbox One
Strider 2 for Sony PlayStation
What gets to me is how some of these people call these games "rare." To me, this is the kind of word which gets easily tossed around and has lost a lot of its meaning. According to Webster's dictionary, rare is defined as "seldom occurring or found." Granted, these games are no longer printed and are hard to find. But, these games are not uncommon. However, one could argue that the game is so awesome that selling it would not be a wise decision. This might also be the reason why a particular title would be hard to come by.

It is not just this particular game where significant price gouging runs rampant. Some popular video games have the same thing happening to them, too. For example, I have found Strider 2 for the Sony PlayStation was found on eBay for around $100.

Earthbound is available in the Nintendo eShop for $9.99
Earthbound for SNES
Additionally, I have seen Earthbound, complete with game, instructions, Player's Guide, and scratch-n-sniff cards for an asking price of almost $700.

Perhaps you would look at this editorial as me just whining and complaining. But, I speak for countless numbers of other collectors who have faced this issue of unnecessary price inflation time and time again.

There are some who sell these games online or in their "mom and pop" shops where they set these prices based on how much these games are going for on sites like eBay, for instance. For the most part, these people have very little knowledge about the game and resort to looking up prices on the Internet and then selling it for around the prices they find. This is about the same equivalent of a person doing a research paper for school and getting their research information from Wikipedia. They rely on this information as the true source.

Once this information is gathered, they come up with an average price and slap it on the game. Plus, they would tell you this is a rare game and that's why it's priced at "X" amount of dollars without doing any true research beforehand. They look at it as a fast buck and figure people who are that demanding (and stupid)  would pay any price to own a copy of the game.

This kind of "business" is not an old one. The same has been done toward many other types of medium, including comic books, music, and sports trading cards. Without getting the right education from the exact information, buyers end up emptying their wallets and bank accounts just for the coveted item they desire.

Of course, there are some who would suggest to the person looking for the game that if it is too expensive to obtain, why not download the ROM from the Internet and play it on an emulator? In my opinion, this is considered theft. I am against downloading a game or product without legally owning an actual copy of the game. This harkens back to the time when downloading music from Napster or Morpheus brought users into legal trouble. Although downloading free video games from the Internet is not as strict as downloading illegally obtained MP3s, it is still considered theft.

I will not go on my soapbox any further because that would totally derail this editorial. So, let's move on.

What I would love to see is an official guide to what these retro video games should cost. This would be kind of like how some used cars are valued according to bluebook prices. It would be based on how old the game is, the relevancy to the franchise, current economy and how strong the demand is for said game. Plus, it would not hurt for the seller to do some actual research on the game and not have its price based on what some other ignorant schmucks are selling the game for in these online auction sites. Even though we have websites such as pricecharting.com, more research really should be done before placing a game in an online sale.

What are your feelings on the subject? Do you find these prices to be fair? If so, why? Please leave your comments down below.
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