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 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.