RETRO Mag Guide to Building Your Physical Collection in a Digital World

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Gaming going digital is the bane of most retro gaming fans. This direction is not conducive to collecting and holding your collection. There is a disconnect when looking at games on the Nintendo Mini consoles and just seeing a pic of the box. A disconnect is there, maybe only collectors are willing to admit it. There is a way to build your physical collection in a digital world though.

Before we get going on this, I am not talking about illegally downloading “backups” of digital games and then grabbing box art off the Internet and calling that your “collection”. That is simply illegal, no matter what you tell yourself to make it seem okay, you are breaking the law. That is not what this article is about.

What this article is about is how to build a physical retro gaming collection in a digital world.

It is easier than you may think. You can even turn a small profit building your old game collection.

First, you will need to become familiar with an online marketplace that you are comfortable with. No matter if that is Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, Mercari, eBay, or another place with a good reputation and lots of members buying/selling retro games.

For the most part, we are going to focus on eBay in this article, but the tips will work for any online marketplace that has sellers and buyers.

The main thing to focus on when trying to find a deal with these marketplaces is the search box. Don’t get wordy here, just be concise and to the point.

If you are wanting to get a “lay of the land” then simply search retro games and get a feel for the available options. This search option is going to give results all over the place depending on the tags used by the sellers. Considering the breadth of the search term covering so many platforms and genres, you are going to want to refine it a bit.

Considering we are wanting to build, or rebuild, a collection here let’s go with retro games lot as our search term. Retro games lot is also a viable search term here.

With eBay you can drill down a bit after starting a search. For the sake of argument, we are going to choose Video Games under categories on the left. This eliminates consoles mainly. There are still a ton of results though – all over the place including auctions, buy it now, etc. Let’s refine that a bit.

On the left side of the screen we are going to choose Buy It Now so that we can see prices as they are instead of getting in a bidding war. Bidding wars are bad because you can end up paying more than you intended because you got excited, or burned, and let your emotions bid for you.

Okay, we are still not done drilling down. There is another step we need to take to get real world prices on these games.

Again, on the left side, scroll down to “Delivery Options” and choose free shipping.

There we go. Now we have a wide selection of retro games, many listings for more than one game (thanks to “lot” in our search term).

But there are so many ripoffs and illegal games still showing up.

While we cannot remove ALL those bootlegs from the search results, we can narrow most of those out as well. A lot of those listings are from sellers located in China where the copyright and trademark laws are quite relaxed.

We can remove a lot of those with one more click.

Over on the left side of the screen, again, there is “Item Location” simply check US Only. While this will not remove ALL the bootlegs, it will greatly diminish their number in our results.

Okay, now that you have the basics down, let’s discuss an advanced option with the search box.

Getting console specific is easy by using the plus “+” sign then the name of the platform or company. This tells sites like eBay that you only want to see listings with that keyword in them. This could be Nintendo, PlayStation, SNES, Genesis, Sega, etc. eBay will return listings in the retro games lot, only available in the United States, with free shipping and buy it now and for the platform you choose.

To make your collecting adventure a little easier, at least on eBay, you can “save this search” under the search bar. This allows you to get updates on new listings in this category and makes it easier to come back without having to modify your search terms each time.

Refining your search with specific names of games will help get more relevant results.

Finally, once you are happy with your results, we need to sort them. I prefer to sort by lowest price. Who wants to pay too much for games?

Now for the fun part of this guide. The part that could reduce your out of pocket costs for building a physical collection.

By purchasing lots of games, you will eventually discover that you are now the proud owner of games you don’t want. Guess what, someone else may want them.

Pay attention to the values of these games you don’t want to keep. You could easily turn a profit rebuilding your collection. Sometimes a seller will put in a bunch of titles they deem as “junk” or not worth their time to sell individually into a bundle with a AAA title hoping for a quick, or higher, sell.

Your time and effort are valuable. Just how valuable is up to you. That means, once you have a few extra games, look them up on eBay or another digital sales platform. The more valuable ones could easily be resold for a potential profit. The lower value games will probably sell quicker in a bundle of five more. Buyers like a deal.

Got any tips for rebuilding a physical collection? Tell us in the comments below!

Staff Writer

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