Being a little kid means having lots of free time and an unrealistic understanding of how the world works. Especially when it comes to money, economics, and practicality.
Since I was a little kid, I had an ambitious goal.
Not pictured; me or my panicked mom. Pic from timpickens.com
And once I realized how terrible an idea it was to attach rocket boosters to my bicycle, I got another bicycle and a new goal; the ability to play any video game my nerdy heart desired, be it an arcade machine, home console game, or PC title.
Fast-forward many decades and hoping my back doesn't go out due to whiplash, and I still can't shake that little-kid voice. Especially after sharing so many games with so many people over the years. If I see a game for a few bucks that we don't own, my natural inclination is to pick it up for our collection or run through a list of folks I think may appreciate it.
Sadly, neither preservation nor universal availability has been a real concern in our industry until somewhat recently. Thankfully, between emulation, repros, retro compilations, and an awareness and effort towards historic preservation, it is now easier to play more video games (new and old) than ever before.
That being said, a little vigilance and consideration in the now can mean a lot fewer "aw, wish I'd have picked that up back when" moments in the near future. How many gamers are kicking themselves over not nabbing that Misadventures of Tron Bonne
for five bucks? Or how easy is it to be unaware that the only way to get the last part of the story of the new Fire Emblem
on a cart was to catch a very limited reserve window that sold out long before release?
Younger gamers have had the gift of cheap digital downloads for much of their gaming lives. But there is a (in my opinion) dangerous precedent in assuming digital-only access will be forever ubiquitous and accessible. Let me give you an example of my concern. My Beloved and I are huge fans of the Mass Effect
trilogy. All three games are readily available, even bundled together. However, some of the best story content (and some of which is extremely relevant to a better understanding of certain characters and plot reveals) is download-only, and there is no 'complete' version on disc. EA, the publisher of the series, is notorious for shutting down servers for games after a few years, particularly after profitability drops. This means that sometime in the near future, the 'whole' story of one of my favorite sci-fi universes will only exist on hard-drives, which will eventually fail. And EA has already commented that they have no plans to release a physical 'complete' Mass Effect
I'm not as resistant to digital-only gaming as I once was. But between such concerns as mentioned above, as well as my desire to have a collection to share and preserve video gaming, I wanted to chat about my thoughts on collecting for more modern systems.
These recommendations aren't just about nabbing something that may go up in value, but about owning a physical copy of a game that may be tough to download or find otherwise in another five to ten years. All of this is speculation, naturally, and I may be completely wrong on all of this, but most of these suggestions do have some input from working in video game retail for a long, long time. So, on with the guesswork!Collecting for the PS3
It took a few years for the 'steak-dinner' system of its generation to appeal to me, but now it's easily one of my favorites to grab games for. Several excellent retro compilations and rare gems are on here. The PS3 also has great compilations of recent hits as well, such as the Prince of Persia
trilogy, the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection
, a compilation of some of the better modern Tomb Raider
games, the Sly Cooper
compilation, the Ratchet and Clank
and Jak and Daxter
compilations, the Syberia Complete
collection, and Ico/Shadow of the Colossus,
among others. Also notable are many disc-versions of popular digital titles- if you know where to get them. Some, like Teslegrad
and Under Defeat HD
seem to have mainly come through select channels like Amazon and a few others, and did not see a wide release.
The lack of region-lockout for PS3 games is an often overlooked feature and vital for collectability. For U.S. based gamers, the PS3 has some pleasant surprises in the import market, like a disc based Wipeout Fury
containing all of the dlc that was released in many other countries including Europe and Korea. In fact there are many disc versions of games that were digital-only in the U.S., such as a Monkey Island SE
compilation, Aquanaut's Holiday
, the D&D arcade games comp, the modern take on Strider
, Vampire Resurrection
(a.k.a. the Darkstalkers
arcade compilation), the cute-em-up Mamoru-kun
, Ratchet & Clank Quest for Booty
, Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle
, and the Alien Breed Trilogy.
PS3 games are probably getting close to as cheap as they ever will be, and many greats like 3D Dot Game Heroes
are getting hard to find. Even some recent releases such as Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
and Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel
came out with low print numbers and should be picked up if you have any interest.
As any retro collector knows, the last few releases in a system's life tend to be overlooked, have low print numbers, and can eventually go up in value. And that's where we are in the PS3 (and Xbox 360, and Wii) market. If you find something that meets this description for cheap and you'd like to play it someday, consider grabbing it. It just may end up as another Panzer Dragoon Saga
. Probably not, but if you wanted to play it anyway...
Finally, having a PS2-backward compatible PS3 is going to be a rare gem as the years go by, but every PS3 can also play original PlayStation games, giving instant access to that Crash
disc you found while helping a buddy move. Collecting for the PS4
Already? Yep. The rare, physical copies of Retro City Rampage DX
and Saturday Morning RPG
are certainly the exceptions, but much like the PS3, there are many physical versions of mainly digital releases that are out and mostly cheap... for now. These tend to have pretty small print runs, and could easily climb up after a few years. Shovel Knight
thankfully seems to have had a pretty nice release, as did Life is Strange
, Toy Soldiers
, and Brothers
. Somewhat less common are the disc versions of Pure Chess
, Pure Pool
, Stick it to the Man
, Motorcycle Club
, Awesomenauts Assemble!
, Back to the Future
, Tiny Troopers
, and the first season of Pinball Arcade
(The second season on disc is importable from the U.K.) And I'd wager that even fewer gamers are aware of the disc versions of Teslagrad
, Kromaia Omega
, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2
, Giana Sisters
, The Last Tinker
, and Gravity Rush Remastered
Also as a head's up, if you have Amazon Prime and the 20% discount off reorders, disc copies of Zombie Vikings
, Super Dungeon Bros,
and a few others are able to be reserved, and come out to less than $16 bucks apiece. Collecting for the Wii U
I could certainly be wrong on this, but I truly believe that the Wii U is going to be the modern version of the NES/SNES. In another five to ten years, when the supply has really dried up, I think the Wii U library is going to get rather collectable. Many things suggest this; it is a comparably small library with many critical and well-received gems, the prices on said games tend to stay high, and many of the titles have a small print run out of the gate. Add in the 'Nintendo Nostalgia' factor, and I just can't see the Wii U not being collectable in the relatively near future.
Cheap Wii U games can be tough to come by, but several out-of-print titles were just revealed as 'Nintendo Selects' discount re-releases. Now may be the time to look out for some, because lots of 'Player's Choice' and 'Greatest Hits' re-releases still climb up in price, particularly for Nintendo. I definitely believe that we're going to see some of these games at their cheapest over the next year or two, and if you ever wanted to play any of them (even if you don't have the system yet) it may be a good time to look into a few. Collecting for the Vita
Pic from Play-Asia
Whew, where to begin? This is a system whose library is all over the place price- and availability-wise. Many excellent physical copies of games are on the system in low prints, including lots of cross-platform releases of great games. Considering how many RPGs and niche titles are released for it (such as the DanganRonpa
games, Ar nosurge Plus, and the only physical version of the new Dariusburst
) there is already a bit of a collector market going for the Vita. As a bonus, the PlayStation TV is literally just a box with Vita hardware (minus the touchscreen) inside, so many of these games can play fine on a nice home TV. PlayStation TVs can be easily found for under $30 and can be worth it just as an entry point into this library.
If you like RPGs, Japanese stylized games, or just a generally eclectic and interesting library, check it out. And the sooner the better; apart from the occasional clearance sales, Vita game prices don't seem to drop much, have limited runs with few re-releases, and some games have already started climbing.Keeping Up With NISA
There's more to these guys than Disgaea
. In fact, NISA is one of the most quirky publishers of the modern era. I'm not a fan of all of their stuff, and it certainly doesn't all go up in value. But many of their games are tough to find and tend to be at least interesting, and there are have been some real gems. Check out their website, http://store.nisamerica.com/
, and if you are interested sign up for their newsletter so when a new game is around the corner, you can decide if you want to order it before it disappears. Many of their CEs and LEs really are limited and only available at the online store. Speaking of which,Keep An Eye Out For Kickstarters And Publisher-Specific Limited Releases
Pic from Gaijinworks
If you haven't heard of Class of Heroes 2G
, it's not surprising. The digital release of an old-school RPG popped out without much fanfair, but to get the physical version for either PSP or PS3 required signing up through Gaijinworks' website. Supposedly about 200 extra copies went to an exclusive retailer... and that's it. To sign up and order was extremely cheap, especially compared to prices now.
I nabbed a complete copy of Saturday Morning RPG
through Limited Run Games just a while ago, and while a physical copy at $25 seems excessive when the digital is $10, just a few weeks in and it's, well, certainly more. http://www.amazon.com/Sat...=ps4+saturday+morning+rpg
The moral of this story is that if this is the kind of thing that interests you, subscribe and pop into a few forums and websites that can blip your radar when something like this rolls around. Most of the time it is a pretty cheap investment towards a game you probably won't want to pay more for later. And A Few Observations About Slightly Older Game Libraries
I would have not assumed the ol' N64 would turn into a collector's market only a few years ago, but nowadays a few titles are turning in quite the value, and the entire library has been steadily going up in price. A buddy asked for me to look out for a few well-known titles, and I was quite surprised at what they are now going for.
Ditto with GameCube. And sure, retro game collecting as a whole has become a much bigger deal in the last decade, but the same game for other systems tend to go for more on Ninty platforms, and obscure or Nintendo-published titles sometimes never really go down much in price after release.
All that to say that if you, like me, ever intended to go back and grab a few N64 or GameCube titles before the price skyrockets like it has with NES and SNES, now really is the time. Some games have already started pricing outside of my comfort range in just the last few years, and it will likely trend that way indefinitely. Digital releases of these games blunt the price a bit, but they still tend to stay high and climb higher, so now may be the best time to start hunting more aggressively and specifically.
Still, in the end, what matters is finding what you want to play and nabbing it for cheap before it becomes another Little Samson
. Profit-flipping is a natural part of retro-collecting, but for me the better option is having a game on the shelf to pop-in and have fun with instead of frowning at eBay prices and wondering when a hard drive failure or server-shutoff will mean waving goodbye to a desired gaming experience.
Most of all, make sure the hunt is part of the fun! If this part of collecting and gaming is more trouble than it's worth (or just not financially realistic) then just let it go and find whatever gaming angle works for you. I only covered a handful of ideas and systems here, but if there's any interest much more can be covered in the future. RFGeneration is a great community and if any of my ramblings or observations can be of use, here I am.