Retro video game collections are a marvel to behold. The beauty of the video game industry is that it’s incredibly feasible to pretty much own every piece of its history, and the allure of the dusty cartridge has proven inescapable for many game room fanatics. That being said, it’s often difficult to buy cheap retro games or to find them in good enough condition at all. In building your own retro games collection, where do you start? Or at least, where do you look first?
If you caught our piece on the best retro collectors you can watch right now on YouTube, you might have felt that retro game collecting itch. Whether you’re looking to expand your collection and have exhausted your usual suppliers, or if you’re looking to start from scratch, here’s a list of all the places you should check for cheap retro games.
Dedicated Retro Games Shop
While they may carry a few higher price tags than some of the more thriftier items on this list, shops dedicated to retro video games will often stock a much wider range and even a few rarities if you catch them on a good day. Shops like Critical Mass (my local in Exeter) and Retro Game Base in London can vary in prices but ultimately provide a nostalgic experience even if you’re just browsing. They often stock a good collection of working and well preserved retro consoles and systems as well as libraries of retro titles and even board games. If you’re looking to buy specific retro game franchises or systems, you can even get to know the staff and ask that they let you know when these titles come in stock.
Online – Ebay, Gumtree, Shpock
eBay is probably your best bet here, however it’s worth keeping an eye on Gumtree and Shpock in your local area for any loft clearouts. Quite often sellers using the latter sites are simply looking to get rid of clutter, and don’t see your treasure in quite the same value – that means lower price tags and exciting job lots.
Ebay is where you can perform more specialised searches – the specific games you need to complete a collection, or something you are simply feeling the itch to play. While cartridges often stand the test of time with eBay sellers, it’s worth checking their rating out before purchasing consoles or devices and always check for that small-print ‘for parts only’ before shelling out full price.
By far one of the cheapest options for grabbing some cartridges while you’re out and about. It can never hurt to have a browse in your local charity shops, and if your highstreet is anything like mine these shops are a dime a dozen. Most of the time you’ll be faced with rows of Xbox 360 Fifa titles and the odd PS2 game but if you look often enough you will stumble across some gold.
There’s no better feeling than picking up the perfect find for 50p or less, and these are often the prices you’ll be faced with. Buying cheap retro games can be incredibly rewarding when you only popped out to the bank, whereas retro consoles are trickier to find. That being said, there’s always the chance someone’s thrown out an old NES and you can be the one waiting to catch it with open arms.
Retro Gaming Events and Markets
The London Gaming Market is a bi-annual event dedicated to the buying and selling of retro items. For specific titles or even a bit of advice in your hunt, these types of events are perfect. Full to the brim with experts stocking a wide range of consoles, games, peripherals, and merchandise, there’s always something to catch your eye if you’re browsing or buying. Retro board games are making a comeback alongside their digital counterparts, and these events will offer you complete sets often in pristine condition. A simple Google search will reveal loads of events across the country, like the Doncaster Dome Video Game Market. The Retro Games Fair in Leeds also offers further chances to grab more titles with more frequent event dates.
Boot / Garage Sales
If you’re willing to get an early start on your Sunday, there’s no reason not to check out your local bootsales. You’ll need to be within the first group to browse, as you’ll be competing with many others looking for exactly the same thing. The great thing about boot sales is you can often pick up titles for a fraction of the price you’d pay in some other places on our list. Homeowners take their games to fairs to get rid of their clutter – which means an abundance of carts and disks for you to browse at low low prices. Make sure you start learning when these events are taking place near you, and try to get to a few in one morning for top efficiency.
Gradually you’ll learn which ones are better at different times and can begin planning your Sunday morning journeys accordingly. Keep an extra eye out for those rare titles – you’ll never know what you might stumble across and it’s highly likely the sellers won’t know how much their clutter is worth in some cases. To buy retro games and consoles from boot sales make sure you have a good amount of cash on you in different denominations – it can be a valuable bartering tool to ‘only’ have a fiver on you. We’re heading into bootsale season now as mornings begin to lighten and warm up, so set your alarm and get a good night’s sleep!
Fellow Retro Game Collectors
For top assurance on quality and delivery, look no further than the network of fellow collectors you will (or already have) built up around you. Often you’ll find collectors intentionally picking up bundles ready to trade you, and the advice you receive can often be invaluable alongside these deals. Similarly, start grabbing doubles that give you some leverage in a trading situation to ensure you always have something up your sleeve when you spy someone with something that would look perfect on your own shelf. As you attend more and more events some familiar faces will start to show through the crowd – take note and start chatting to these like-minded individuals and you’ll quickly build a high-quality network.
Buying retro games in this way becomes a social event that is often the main appeal for many collection veterans. Not only are these networks good for direct trade, but if someone spies a title you desperately need they can pick it up for you, and you can do the same for them. More eyes on the markets means more games in the console.
I hope you enjoyed this list of where to buy retro games and consoles. If you’re starting your collection afresh, these first steps can be arduous before you start learning where and when you’ll find the best yield. Ultimately, the networks of fellow collectors will be of utmost importance to your growing collection and can provide lasting friendships that <sometimes> transcend console wars.
Let us know what you think. Are you a retro collector? Willing to share some of your tips with a budding class of 2017? Let us know where you like to make your purchases down in the comments below.