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It has been well documented over the past months, perhaps close to a year, on what the retro gaming market has become.  A high-priced, greedy market which has primarily been taken over by resellers and online retailers, charging maximum prices and driving them higher with each sale.  Even “newer” systems like the PS2 and the Wii are starting to see game prices increase in recent months as collectors try to shift their focus away from earlier generation consoles and games which have become too expensive to swallow.

So that begs the question, what will become of retro?

Zak Penn

 

This guy with his someday $1000 copy of E.T.

The internet really sucks sometimes doesn’t it?  Flea markets, garage sales and other local events used to be a hot bed for retro gaming paraphernalia, I remember being able to go to a flea market and get a good deal on a bundle of games without any real effort.  Well those days are gone.  Sellers, and more importantly resellers, have gotten wise to the current market conditions.  They realize that the retro gaming market is currently on the upswing and they are trying to capitalize by either forcing patrons to pay eBay-like prices at their sales tables, or simply taking their operations online to a site like eBay where they can charge top dollar for their games, consoles, accessories and  whatever else retro gaming they possess.

demandsupplycurve

 

Look! My schooling maybe has paid off!

This has lead to two major problems:

1 – Demand for games is diminishing with each passing day.  People are not going to pay continually rising prices for games.  They are going to spend more time searching for a good deal, or they are simply going to keep their money and hope prices adjust themselves as time passes (more on that shortly)

2 – Supply of games will also diminish.  This will occur because people will now attempt to hold on to their games, hoping to maximize the value they can get as prices rise ever higher.

These 2 points have a negative effect on one another.  Less games for sale means prices increase.  Increasing prices mean more people pulling their games off the market hoping to wait until the price spikes and achieve maximum value/profit.  Now this is not the case everywhere you look.  There are still deals to be had if you look hard enough.  Some people just want to get rid of their games, others are simply not paying attention when it comes to market conditions.  Some people actually care about preserving the history of gaming and want games to end up in the hands of good, spirited collectors trying to carry on the legacy of the 80’s and 90’s, although these people are starting to grow fewer and farther between.

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Don’t even think of trying to afford a copy of this!

Now, at this point of the article I know there is still an unanswered question I posed in the title, what will become of retro?  I have hypothesized a potential ending using a Magic 8-ball

Prices will eventually come down.

This will happen because the supply and demand chain will finally fall out of balance due to inflation of prices. When supply gets too high, because sales have slowed due to gamers choosing not to pay such high prices, sellers will have no choice but to sell their items at lower prices to avoid overstock.  This is a naturally occurring business phenomenon and is the most likely scenario, although its probably not likely to happen quickly.  Sellers in collectible markets always have the advantage.  It’s not very likely that a game which retails for $30 today will ever drop to $5 bucks.  Maybe several years ago you could get it for $15 and maybe someday you can get it for that again, but it will never be a ‘buyer’s market’.

This might all seem like hogwash to you out there who still find local deals on Saturday mornings in the YMCA parking lot, but it won’t last forever, pick ’em up while you can.  The retro gaming market is heading towards an interesting time.  As more and more systems age and become considered ‘retro’, more and more sellers are stocking up and buying whatever games they can in anticipation of games and systems becoming desirable for collector’s out there.

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Imagine a word where a copy of this goes for $250 bucks?!

So, what will happen to retro game collecting?  I have no sweet clue, this article is just my analysis and best guest based on what I know of business.  One thing is for sure and it couldn’t be more crystal clear.  Retro game collecting is no longer what it once was.  It has garnered fame through the advent of social media and that has created a market where people try and take advantage of that popularity.  The ones who get screwed are the guys who are just trying to relive their childhood memories and want to do so without paying $55 Canadian for a copy of Startropics on the NES (which is a real story that I don’t want to get into right now).

Do you have thoughts about the current state of the retro market?  Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time,

Mancave Kris