One of the most popular features of this site is our Rare and Valuable Game Guides. These features have received a lot of attention lately because of the recent sale of a Stadium Events NES Cartridge on eBay for $13,000 and a sealed listing of the same game on eBay for more than $20,000 (auction is still active).
Because of this recent traffic, we have received a lot of emails and blog comments asking how much their old games are worth. Instead of trying to answer each and every request, I’m going to put together a quick little guide to determining the value of your classic video games. If this post seems like basic knowledge to you, I apologize, but I hope this will be beneficial to a number of visitors.
It’s Only Worth What Someone Else Is Willing To Pay For It
This may seem like a simple concept, but many people don’t realize this little fact. When collectors get wrapped up in scarity and popularity, it’s easy to start spitting out values of what they think something is worth. But in reality, unless somebody actually pays that amount, the quoted value is just an opinion. Examples of this can be found on eBay on a regular basis. A current example is this complete copy of the NES Myraid 6-in-1 — the cartridge is usually sold for $700 to $3,000, but this seller is hoping to get an asking price of $12,000 on eBay.
Why eBay Is The Best Price Guide
Since the best way to define the value of something is to see how much somebody actually paid for it, we need to find a way to see what games are actually selling for. It just so happens that the world’s largest public marketplace, eBay also lets you see what items have actually sold for in the last 30 days (we’ll get to that part in a sec). What’s even nicer is the auction format (what most sellers use for pawning off their goods) is especially good for pinpointing what people were actually willing to pay for the item. (The Buy-It-Now format works too, but the seller establishes the price when the seller could have, theoretically, been willing to pay even more).
How To Find What People Paid For Items on eBay
Now, let’s take a look at how to find out how much certain items sold for during the last 30 days on eBay. (An eBay account will be required for this, so if you don’t have one, sign up now)
- To find out the recent value for an item on eBay, just do a search for the item just like you normally would (typically the name of the game and the name of the system).
- Once the search is finished, scroll down and look in the left sidebar for the “Completed Auctions” checkbox in the “Search Options” section. (see image item 1) Check the box and hit the “Show Auctions” button below.
- The search results will then refresh with all the auctions for that search that closed in the last 30 days.
- Check out this sample Gunstar Heroes completed auction search
If the price is in the completed auctions listing is in red, that means that the item did not receive any bids and did not sell (it was probably priced too high). Of course, that also means that the items with prices in green actually did sell. (see image item 2)
Once you have the completed auction results in front of you, you can sort the results by price (by selecting “Price + Shipping: Highest First” from the sort drop-down box). (see image item 3) Once the items are sorted, you can more easily see the average selling prices group together in the middle. (you could also add up each up the values and divide by the number of the items to get an exact average). (This is the method I use for I use for both the Cheapest Games and Rare & Valuable Series).
Condition of the Game Can Make A Big Difference
If you’re trying to figure out how much your game is worth, you really need to pay attention to the condition it is in.
- Do you have the case or box? If you don’t, the price on many games goes way down
- Do you have the manual? A missing manual isn’t the end of the world, but it will take hit on the value
- Are all the pieces in good condition? If you have a game with a cardboard box, one in good condition can make a significant difference
- Is is still in the orignal plastic wrap? If the game is a couple generations old or more, a sealed game can bring in some nice money
If you would like to see how much of a difference the condition of game makes in value for the most popular consoles history has to offer, take a look at this analysis I did on my article entitled, Comparing Massive Markups For Pristine Retro Games.
As you can see from that article, some newer games like those for the Dreamcast or Playstation will almost always come with cases, but every now and then somebody lists some disc-only games at a discount. Some systems like the Saturn and Sega CD came in fragile cases that are now becoming a rarity, so those disc-only games should be relatively easy to find.
Values Between Regions Can Also Vary
While in most cases, the values between the different regions of games can be quite similar, sometimes the print runs can vary if different regions, resulting in quite a difference in values. Here are some examples…
- Stadium Events for the NES – The US version of the game was recalled and is one of the Holy Grails of Gaming, while the PAL version still has plenty of copies floating around. Unfortunately, some people do not seem to be aware of this (see this PAL version of eBay that closed for $4,600)
- Numerous Games from Acclaim on the Japanese Megadrive – As shown in the Rare and Valuable Genesis guide, some games from Acclaim that are quite common in the US and PAL territories were sold in very limited quantities in Japan and are commonly sold for hundreds of dollars each.
- Popular Sega Saturn games – Many popular games on the Sega Saturn are quite expensive if you want US copies. Japanese copies are much more affordable — partially because the system was significantly more popular there. For examples, compare some of the listings from the Rare and Valuable Saturn list to some of the Japanese games recommended at the bottom of the Best Sega Saturn Games Under $25 guide.
Still Unsure of Your Game’s Value?
If you have read through this guide and still don’t have a good idea of how much your game is worth, the Racketboy community might still be able to help.
Ask any tough questions in our Dedicated “What Is This Game Worth?” Thread