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Everything retro - big and small! Live from Perth, Australia!

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Thoughts on Resellers...

I had never encountered a reseller until the other week. I of course knew they existed, but was never worried about them in my little corner of Australia. I had walked into a pawn show I frequent regularly and he was in the games section, mulling over a pile of PSone games. PSone games aren't that hard to come by, but this was a solid lot, for a very good price considering it was a pawn store.
Now, I will admit I was a little jealous about missing out on such a purchase by mear minutes, but that's life. First in best dressed. All the best to him I thought at the time. I'd been picking that place clean for years, so I guess it was time for someone else to win. These thoughts were washed down the sink immediately when I heard him talking to the staff at the counter though. He was checking every nook and cranny of the games, checking over everything to an extreme level of detail. At first I thought he was just hardcore, but then he started asking questions. These questions were about the history of those copies, asking questions like where they had come from and if they'd been sold before etc. I didn't catch it all, but it was quite obvious he was in the business of reselling video games.

Resellers buy games at bargain bin prices (the price old things really should be) and then resell them online at a (usually) incredibly inflated price. I've seen the practice on eBay as well as Gumtree, but no doubt it happens on Craigslist where its available. Basically, they are preying on the nostalgia of ignorant gamers who just presume that because its old, it's worth a lot. That of course is bullshit; there have been plenty of times I've seen games that were released in the hundreds of thousands with an asking price well over what they're actually worth considering how many of them exist.

I must stress that if you're lucky enough to have a local retro gaming oriented store, they're not what I'm talking about here. The awesome guys and gals who run those are not lumped into the same category, they're hard working folk doing a service to the community for running such a shop. The resellers I'm talking about are basically the shady, alleyway dealers of the hobby.
Retro game shops will be generally competitively priced with online, plus the staff will be quite knowledgeable and the games most likely tested as they will have the consoles on-hand. I'd highly recommend going and spending your money at those instead of eBay if you have the choice.

This is what I've picked up over the last week. While there is nothing outrageously special here, it should be noted that I didn't pay more than five dollars for any of these games... except for Saltwater Sport Fishing for whatever reason (lol). I find a bunch of games like these just about every week for those prices. 
It seems if it has a well known name in it too (ie Sonic, Mario or Zelda) the price from resellers then skyrockets again. I'd like to think I'm living proof that games shouldn't be that much, if you've followed my blog for long enough you'll see I very rarely pay more than ten dollars per game. Hell, I don't like paying more than five. It's not that I'm cheap, (well, I sorta am) but the fact is the games just aren't worth that much.

This pisses me off to high heaven for two reasons. The biggest reason is that these scumbags are ripping innocent gamers off. There is no reason for someone to pay that much for an old game, their ignorance and their nostalgia are being milked, and that is sick.
I wish I could properly educate the world to not pay that much, and instead hunt around op-shops, garage sales, swap meets, dedicated stores and (sometimes) pawn shops for what they're really worth but I'm only one mortal man. I do tell everyone that will listen though.
Secondly, collectors like myself are missing out. I don't want to get on a moral high horse or anything, but I feel us actual collectors deserve them more. We care about those games and actually play them, as well as actively preserve gaming history. Resellers are just wanting to make a buck, and are ruining the hobby for everyone.

An important thing to note though, as much as I piss and moan, is that they can't be stopped. They are doing nothing illegal because capitalism is a very real thing. Essentially they are running a business, a business that is a big disservice to this hobby for sure, but a business none the less. If for example you started picking up rocks on the sidewalk and started selling them as vintage because they're millions of years old, who would have the right to tell you to stop? Sure anyone could go and pick up the rocks themselves and get them for free, but you're right there offering. There will always be the actual rock collectors complaining that you're defacing their fine hobby, but stuff them, money is to be made.

So really, how can this be fixed? Short answer: it can't, but the visibility of the bruise can be faded.
If you come across other retro gamers in the field and they're not homicidal maniacs, trade with them. They're sure to hate resellers as much as yourself so I'm sure they would be willing to trade games they no longer want, which is a win for everyone (except the resellers) as the games stay between the collectors.
Networking can be a powerful thing, so I'd recommend the Racketboy Forums as there are plenty of buy, sell and trade threads active from collectors such as myself.
Also like mentioned above, throw your money at dedicated storefronts. Resellers are usually crippling the hobby as they're own hobby, but these stores are being run full time but like-minded enthusiasts such as yourself. You're guaranteed a good price, as well as likely a good chat.

The other fix, but to a lesser extent is education. If you know someone is about to buy a copy of Mario Kart 64 for $70 because they have fond memories of playing it in their college days, remind them that it sold 9.87 million copies worldwide and that there is probably a better deal to be had. Save that money for important things, like snacks and beer to consume as you're playing it with your buddies. If everyone knew this, the resellers would leave as they would have no target market and maybe the rock market will finally get its time to shine.

Ultimately though, the war continues and you just have to savour the wins. The example above is obviously a loss, but about a week later I was in the same store and lo and behold, that same reseller walks in. That time I got in before him, and I then travelled to another op shop (which he also walked into minutes later) where I also got in first. There were a whole heap of games on clearance, and I scooped them up. It may sound selfish when I write it like that, but the fact is I won't be ripping people off. If they ever do leave my collection, it will be staying in the retro gaming ecosystem.


  1. I've noticed 2 obvious resellers in my travels.. one at Canning Vale Markets and another at Nexus Toy Fair, Helix Video games. The markets guy, his prices are just absurd and nothing ever seems to sell. The guy at Nexus though, he somehow manages to have people flooding his stall eating up his overpriced stuff. I think it's cause he has a greater variety of things, admittedly it's a pretty impressive collection of things for sale, considering it's Perth. I've never bought anything from him myself, but lots of people are obviously willing, so you can hardly blame him :( A patient collector will hold out for a deal, but most of these places get away with it simply because at a cursory glance, their prices are about as good if not slightly better than the going rates on Ebay - and you don't have to pay shipping, you can inspect in person etc.

    That guy once bought stuff off me and touted his plans of offloading it for higher, to fund his own collection. Popped up on Gumtree (it's still there!) a few weeks later. I felt a little dirty... but I was just trying to get the same money i originally paid back - i think that's a fair approach to selling your own things. I kinda wanted to gouge the gouger though! But sometimes even with reasonable/same as i paid originally prices on my stuff for sale, there's just no market for some of it. The only option to sell it then, is to drop the price below the point where you'd think "it's not worth selling it now". Those resellers though, have nothing they're not willing to sell because they need massive sales volume to make anything worth running a business for.

    Pricing your own collection stuff for sale is difficult. I have stuff i'd never sell from my own collection... but if i were to, well they're worth a lot to me (in the condition i've kept them in) ... so i'd damn well want to get a good price for them. And with something like Nintendo games in the old cardboard boxes that have somehow stood the test of time... it's more understandable that their prices are high. They may have sold millions but they're also highly regarded and timeless games as well and so that also adds to their value.

    But a few times i have checked Ebay and wondered "geez, how is that game going for that much?" ie double what i thought anyone would pay.. but also how much i'd value it at personally. So i list my own copy and it sells in no time flat. Some dood out there is happy regardless, cause all the auctions are around the same price anyway - sometimes it's really just the price of not waiting for a generous collector willing to offload their stuff for less than it's worth.

    You should check out the stall at Nexus Jul 12 and see if it's the same guy you saw, wouldn't surprise me!

    1. It might be, I can't imagine there would be too many resellers in Perth (at least, hopefully not). You raise some good points, but ultimately, I've found plenty of games in op shops etc for way less than what you'd pay online, you just have to hunt for it. I guess someone people don't want to do that, but eh, it's up to them I guess. I'll be talking more about that in my next post.