Posted on Jul 20th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under collecting, selling

Many times when acquiring video games for my collection, I have thought "this will be worth money some day." I rarely put any thought behind what I would do when that some day appeared. The COVID situation and subsequent stay at home orders have caused a rise in video game prices as people stuck at home look for ways to occupy themselves. This price bubble is calling me like siren's song saying "let it all go, NOW is the time." I'm thinking about many things besides just the rising prices. Our lease renews in the winter, and although we don't wish to move it is always a possibility. We literally have an extra bedroom for the game collection, and the more I think about how much that costs us by having a higher rent than we could, the more upset I get with myself. Most of the consoles I have can be played digitally or emulated. Yes, there are pros and cons to that but it is a major factor.

When I started collecting seriously around 2006, I figured I would be accumulating circles and squares forever and never let them go, despite not having children to pass them on to. I gave no forethought or consideration to my own changing tastes or maturation. When I moved from New Jersey to Texas in 2015, moving my approximately one thousand piece collection was a massive undertaking. There were more boxes of video games than boxes from the bedroom and kitchen combined. It was at this time I had the first inkling that I needed to trim the fat. In 2016 we moved again, within the same city, but it was still a pain in the neck because of all the video games. Again I was forced to examine why I needed all these damned hunks of plastic. We still live in the place we moved to in 2016, but I did vow to myself not to move this collection as it is ever again. I made that vow, then I did nothing about it. Worse, I continued to add to the collection in a counter-productive and wasteful effort to fill the hole in my heart with more hunks of plastic that are ultimately destined for a landfill. Sure, I would sometimes sell off games I didn't like or was convinced I would never play, but I made no concerted effort to lighten the load in any significant way.

What prevented me from taking action? There are a lot of factors here. Laziness is a big one. Selling games is work if you want to do it right. Games must be tested and preferably cleaned before sale. Then they must be photographed in an attractive way and described and priced accurately. All of this takes time. Packaging materials cost money. Another factor holding me back from a huge selloff was, of course, sentimental value combined with nostalgia. I have received so many of my games in trade or as gifts from friends or other collectors. For some reason, this makes it really hard to let go of them. When I think about this, it doesn't really make sense. Any time I have given something to someone, I know I have no say in what he or she does with it. Sure, I would love for the item to be cherished forever with the person thinking of my smiling face every time he saw it, but in reality he could flip it the next day and it's not likely I would even know, let alone care. Still, a lot of the games that were given to me and some that were sold or traded to me get picked up and put right back on the shelf, even if I have zero interested in playing them.

Recently, there has been progress. I have three wall units to contain all my games that at one point were filled over capacity, with many games stacked on top of the units. I made it a goal about two years ago to clear one of the wall units so that only two out of three were full. It took a very long time but recently I reached this goal, and although it was a great achievement, I still look at the remaining two shelves as a challenge to push down to maybe one. Even more so because as I have fewer and fewer games, the ones that remain are harder to let go of. I am at the point where I am inspired by my late friend Jesse. He always ribbed me for hoarding games. He owned physical games, and although he had far fewer than me, his collection was manageable at about two hundred pieces and every single one was noteworthy or interesting. I wasn't as envious of the games he owned as I was of his position, and now more than ever I imagine being happier with a collection that looks more like his looked. The tragic irony here is that I inherited a large part of his collection when he passed away, so turning my collection into his is literally possible.

Lately (for about the past month), I've been putting maximum effort into selling large swaths of my collection. I started with high-value games that have no sentimental or nostalgic value to me and made a lot of money quickly. I was hooked. Yes, it's work, but I set up a plan to list at least one item per day. On the weekends, it is way more. I am fortunate to work in a place with a daily bulk mail pickup so I do not need to risk trips to the post office. As I streamline the process by doing things like leaving my postage scale and tape gun out for easy access, the entire process takes less time. There is still a matter of testing, but that is dependent on the individual game being tested. For a while, games sustained me, and I was hesitant to get into selling my spare consoles. I knew that it would be doubly beneficial for the money I would make from them and also the space that would be freed up by removing them, but I was hesitant to commit to the labor intensity of properly testing a video game console. One way I solved this was by enlisting the help of my wife. For a spare SNES with about a dozen controllers, I enticed her to help me by firing up her favorite game, Tetris Attack, and just letting her play. Each time she beat a level I changed out the controller and asked her how it felt. I culled out the best ones to keep and as long as they were fully functional, earmarked the lesser ones for future sale. To be completely honest this process was an awesome and fun way to spend some quality time with Mrs. Grayghost and a rare opportunity to mix business and pleasure in a productive way.   

At the time of this writing I have gotten the collection down to about 750 physical, complete in box games or loose cartridges. Upon counting I was surprised the number was so high, to be honest, but how low can it go? Will I get burned out? Will I lose steam or end up feeling like there is nothing else I want to let go of? Time will tell, and I'll be sure to write an update later in the year. As it stands now, the COVID games bubble and me having some extra time on my hands and a strong desire for financial safety are pushing me to purge like I never have before. If I had written this post five or ten years ago, I think the community would have expressed doubt or disappointment in my actions, or at least the old sentiment of "you'll be back." I have felt the weight of this collection for many years, and I'm almost certain I will never have a collection as the big as the peak again. What about you? Are you taking advantage of the seller's market we find ourselves in, or are you holding strong?

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I have also been liquidating a lot my collection during these weird times. I've been very fortunate to be able to work from home during the COVID situation, and during this time I've done a lot of personal reflection. At the beginning when I started working from home in mid March I was kinda excited, because I was telling myself that  if I was going to be quarantining I'd have time to play all these games that "I was totally going to play" and that I would spend this extra time enjoying my collection. That was the case for the first couple weeks, but then I just got in this weird funk where I just had no motivation to play anything. It got to the point where I didn't step foot in my game room for almost two months. I just kept the door shut and stayed away from it. To put this in perspective, I live in a three bedroom apartment with my fiancee, and I would walk by this room 8-10 times a day and just avoid it like there was some big plastic monster waiting for me on the other side. The whole thing honestly made me feel anxious, because I just kept thinking about things like, "Why am I collecting these things?", "Am I going to hold on to them forever?, "Do they make me happy?". The short answer is that I don't know why I collect anymore, I don't see myself owning these things forever, and at that time they didn't make me happy. That's when I decided to go back in my game room and took some pictures and started listing a bunch of stuff online and sold it off. I've slowed down now, but I went from about 650 games/consoles/accessories down to about 275. After doing all of this I honestly feel so much better. I'm starting to play games again and I'm actually going into my game room now. I don't have any plans to build up my collection again any time soon. The only games I'm planning on picking up are current/next gen titles that actually interest me and Community Playthrough titles (Because I really miss playing with you all each month! I'm hoping to jump back for whatever the September playthrough is)
Interesting to hear an update on the size of your game collection. You and I have talked quite a bit about this topic over the years, and I've always struggled with the dilemma of hoarding vs. selling games. Nowadays I've been more about downsizing and really haven't gone out of my way to acquire retro games in a long time. Although there are some great options these days for emulating retro consoles, I still like playing on original hardware through a CRT for a variety of reasons. I have flash carts for most of these systems now anyway, so although I haven't gone as far as to mass sell games for these systems, I would probably be okay doing so if the need ever arises.

Space limitations have always been a constant concern for me as well. I recently dug my piano keyboard out of the closet and set it back up again, and I had to get rid of a shelving unit to make space for it. As such, I pulled a bunch of games from various consoles out of my collection to sell, and I decided to get rid of every Famicom and Super Famicom game I own except for a small handful. Again, with flash carts, the import stuff isn't really necessary to own.

I also struggle with holding on to games that I know are worth a lot of money. The smart thing to probably do is to strike while the iron is hot and sell them while they're worth something, but there's always that lingering thought in the back of my mind that I might regret it later. Having played something like Rule of Rose firsthand, it's not really a great game and something I might not ever play again, but I still haven't been able to bring myself to get rid of it. But yeah, I always worry that the bubble will eventually burst, and then if I decide I want to finally get rid of a lot of this stuff, it suddenly won't even be worth selling anymore.
I recently sold off most of my N64 collection including a CIB system.  But I kept the few that have nostalgia for me, which isnt much.  I didn't play N64 much as a teenager but did play 007, mario kart, Off Road challenge and several star wars games.  Those are the only ones I kept.  Along with my Star Wars system.
The way game prices are going almost makes me want to rush out some reviews of my expensive games. Still not too sure yet.
Great article! I've been wrestling lately with the idea of transitioning from physical games to digital/streaming games. I know digital is the future (and in some ways, is the present), so I've got to get prepared, but it's hard for me to let go of the artifacts. I like the way the games look on my shelf.

I've been trying to piece together a list of tips/quotes to keep me focused on accepting digital gaming. Your comment about plastic waste is a really good one and will surely be added to my list.
An interesting article, and definitely thought provoking. I always saw myself as collecting forever, and continually expanding. Now that I have my game room set up very close to the way I wanted it, I'm finding that, while I still have a little room to grow, it's nowhere near what I had anticipated. Ultimately, I'll either need to cycle some stuff out, slow way down, or at some point, decide to stop completely, other than the odd game purchase of something I'm definitely going to play. That could change, if I end up moving at some point, but for now, I'm being more cautious about how much I buy, and what I bring into my apartment. I don't feel a need to stop collecting, because the act of collecting itself, the thrill of the hunt (and the find!) is still there, and despite the fact that I'll never play each and every game on my shelves, that really doesn't matter to me. I have a lot to choose from, and can pick whatever I want at any time I'm home. Is it the adult fulfillment of a childish dream? Absolutely. But I recognize that, and haven't given myself over to the urge to spend all my money on this stuff. I'm trying to find a balance, so I'm meeting my obligations, and still considering my financial future. I've begun to make some positive steps in that direction, and fully intend to continue to do so, even as I keep buying a few games here and there to adorn my shelves.
When I hit the magic age of 50 I had about 6500 pieces in my collection and I did a little personal introspection as well.  I've always collected and thought "someday I will retire and play all of these games" but when I looked into my game room I realized that there was not a retirement long enough to play them all.  So last year, I started a serious thinning of the collection, starting as you did with high dollar items and systems that had no sentimental value to me.  6 months later I had gotten rid of my complete collections of Odyssey 2, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, Nintendo 64, CDi, 3DO, and quite a few others.  I made about $12k and then got a little burned out on the whole "take pics, list, sell, pack, ship, repeat" so I took a break.  I'm now going back into my collections and doing more of the same, with Gamecube, NES, and SNES on the "soon to go" list.  Good luck with your project!

I've been watching this channel for some time and like the content he provides:
I get to this point with nearly every system when emulation and/or flash cart-type devices are a nearly 1:1 replacement. With a few exceptions, I've never been attached to the physical item so much as I've been attached to enjoying the game on the hardware. When I can do that without the physical game, I let them go. There's a few cases where I end up choosing emulation over real hardware as well, simply because it's much easier to get the highest quality video and audio from the games that way. I recently sold off the high-value PS2 games, and am going to start into Gamecube. Unfortunately, my Virtual Boy and N-Gage no longer work, so I'm selling those off as well despite not having an acceptable replacement method of playing them.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to read my thoughts and chime in with your own experiences. I've learned a lot from the replies here. I really appreciate it.
I have interesting takes on whether this is a seller's market or not. I think that some people have a little bit less cash flow thanks to the pandemic, and others have a bit more. In my opinion, it balances out, maybe "less cash flow" comes out slightly ahead. So people are selling stuff to recover that cash flow. This is just a feeling, but I think the people with more cash flow want to collect things that are worth a pretty penny or "finally get that one rare game" etc so it seems like values are going up, but common stuff is more of just a giveaway item at this point.

I'm sourcing this from what I would say is not insignificant research, but certainly not comprehensive. I'm in a buy state myself because I'm trying to build interest in an electronic entertainment museum. To have visitors, we have to have a cool collection, so I've been looking at filling things out. Prices vary wildly. Even though I'm buying, I am a game composer and musician, so I don't fit into the "I have more money" bracket. I end up buying the low hanging fruit. We do have multicarts and flash, but eventually we want people to be able to come to the museum and say they want to see or play a certain game, and I will hopefully be able to pull it out and have them look at the original box, and load media into an actual system and play it on real hardware.

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