how to start collecting vintage consoles & games

article by ron bowen

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Wednesday, Aug 04

The world of video gaming has come a long way over the past few decades. When video games were first discovered, few could have thought that they would become so popular. Today, the industry makes more money than several other entertainment businesses combined. For instance, did you know that video games make more money than the movies released in Hollywood?

It’s a lucrative business, to say the least. However, what if you want to become a vintage collector? Video game collecting is generally considered a pretty expensive hobby, primarily because certain games are so hard to find. More importantly, when you consider the fact that each game usually retails for around $60 brand-new, it can be hard to find copies that are in mint condition or have never been opened.

Needless to say, if you want to become a vintage collector of video games and consoles, you are going to need deep pockets. This is not like other collection hobbies. This one requires a considerable amount of money, primarily because most buyers also know the value of the stuff they have to sell.Nintendo_Image by WikimediaImages

Certain games, such as the Metal Gear Solid PS1 edition, can retail for upwards of several thousand dollars in their brand-new condition. If you are interested in collecting video game consoles and games themselves and eventually want to become a vintage collector, there are several important steps that you need to take.

Let’s talk about each of these steps one by one so that you know what it takes.

Start by Making a List

The first and most obvious step is to make a list of the games that you want. For example, one of the rarest game consoles in the world is the Famitsu Game Boy Light. It started for a mere $70, which was its original price, but it currently sells for several hundred dollars. The reason? It’s a limited edition console with a clear cover that allows you to see the inside of the console.

Oh, and the company only produced a mere 5,500 units. If you are a gamer, you probably already know the significant impact that the Game Boy had. So, it’s easy to understand just how important this one was for most gamers. Then, if you want to become a vintage collector, you may want to look for a prime edition PS1.

The Playstation is a multi-generation spanning console that is one of the biggest players in the market right now. When the first Playstation was released, it completely changed the way people used to play games. It’s easy to understand, then, the importance of the 10 million model, which was sold for $7,500. It marked the sales of 10 million models of the PS1, and the company itself produced only a handful of these ever.

It’s very different from the conventional grey PS1s of its time; this one had a blue shade that’s very similar to the Limited Edition PS4 Pro models that were released recently.

Also, no vintage game collection is complete without the Dreamcast. There were quite a few models released by the company of the Dreamcast, but you have to understand that the Seaman Christmas model holds a special place in the hearts of collectors worldwide.Playstation_Image by WikimediaImages

It has a red body, and the company only made 850 of these units. More importantly, all of these units were released in Japan, so you can understand just how special this is. Also, it’s important to highlight that this one costs a cool $2,500.

So, by now, you might have had a basic idea of what I’m talking about. If you want to become a vintage game and console collector, you need to start off by making a list of all the things that you are going to need. Starting a collection from scratch is not easy, and you will want to limit your options depending on what you have played as a kid.

I’ve mentioned a few consoles in the paragraphs above, but it’s obvious that this list is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure there are quite a few consoles that you may want to add on this list as well. Apart from this, you also have to make a decision about whether you are going to buy only brand-new vintage consoles, or if you don’t mind getting a used one either.

This is important and will affect your overall strategy as well. This is it for consoles, but what about games?

This is a different thing altogether. Finding vintage games, especially for obscure consoles, is not as easy as you might think. It requires a considerable amount of looking around, and you will have to visit a host of different gaming stores, build connections, and bid on different auctions to secure what you want.

My suggestion to you is to start off by slowly building your collection one by one. What’s the oldest console that you want to add to your collection? It’s probably the PS2 or the PS1. If that’s the case, make a list of all the most popular games that you want for it, and then, as always, decide whether you want to go for brand-new or used.

You have to define a minimum quality level for all the used products that you are going to buy. Not all people will treat their products the same way that you do. There are still people who have the limited edition cartridges of the Legend of Zelda gathering dust in their attics!

It’s just the way the world works, and it’s something that you will have to adapt to accordingly. When making a list, you may want to highlight all of the things that you should look for in each game.

In the past, games weren’t sold the same way that they are now. Today, game discs contain very little materials inside the box, hardly a couple of other documents. In the past, game discs used to come with extensive promotional material, including game guides and manuals.

Complete copies, as a result, are quite expensive. If you want to make one, you will have to first check an unboxing of the whole thing, and then be on the lookout for all the paperwork included within the original variant, such as the manuals, the maps, or the cards that used to come with the disc.

Of course, platforms such as eBay are your best bet because there are so many options available to you. It’s easy to understand that unopened copies are the most expensive ones, but if you are not going to keep them (and want to play as well), you may not be interested in those at all.

Read About the Quirks of Collecting

It might be a wise idea for newbie collectors to understand the differences between each version. Apart from the “base” version of a game or a console, companies also release a range of limited edition variants. For instance, Final Fantasy 7, one of the most popular games of its time, had a standard global release, but apart from that, the game also saw multiple limited editions released as well.

Another game, Gyromite, is a common example. A conventional copy of Gyromite for the Famicom doesn’t work with a standard NES. However, if you buy a special edition (provided you can find it), it actually comes with a Famicom inverter, which essentially allows you to play any kind of Japanese game on your American video game consoles, primarily because it fits in smoothly in a 72-pin connector that most consoles in America used at the time.

These are just a couple of examples. There are a whole bunch of other examples where games were released with a host of different perks and quirks that made them incredibly popular and certain editions were preferred more than the others.

Start Organizing

A collector is only as good as the way they present their collection. That’s a standard rule that you need to keep in mind. Before you even start collecting, it’s imperative for you to make a plan for where you are going to store all of these things.

You have shopped as much as you could, and now you finally arrive home. What are you going to do with all of this expensive stuff? Surely, you are not going to pack it up in boxes and keep it away in a storage unit? The best thing to do is to make sure that you create a suitable shelf space where you can keep all of your stuff.Sega Genesis__Image by WikimediaImages

It’s a great idea to hire a professional to build a beautiful shelf where you can present all of your stuff. If you are looking for a bit of inspiration, you can just search online for people who have extensive video game collections, and then start by creating your own.

Remember, if you have kids in the house, you will want to make sure that all of your important stuff remains safe. Obviously, you might have spent a whole lot of money on the games, but for your kids, they are just games. They don’t understand the concept of expensive collections.

In some cases, your partner might not either. For instance, if you have a Dead or Alive 2 calendar in the house, you may not want to put it on full display, since it’s pretty lewd!

It’s also important for you to factor in the feelings of others as well. For instance, if you have parents in your house, you may not want to keep all of your gaming memorabilia on full display. It doesn’t look very good, and they may not like it altogether.

Obviously, you can’t expect others to share in your interests, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s important that you should be mindful of their feelings as well.

More importantly, you have to understand that displaying everything is going to be virtually impossible. Instead of doing that, why not buy a strong box where you can keep all of your more delicate things that are not going to be on full display?

If you have lots of space available to you, it might be a wise idea to keep everything in a separate storage room. Even then, you have to make sure that you cover everything up properly because dust is not something that you want finding its way inside those delicate cartridges.

Don’t Settle

One of the most important bits of advice that you should follow when building your collection is that you should be picky about it. Remember to avoid settling because that could lead to a substandard collection. Do you really want that? For instance, why settle for a copy of Madden 94 when you could save up and buy Kirby’s Dream Land 3 in mint condition?

It’s not only going to boost the value of your gaming console collection by a considerable margin, but it’s also a fantastic idea for people who want to build something that’s different from the rest.

Remember, the stuff in your collection will only be more valuable if it truly is rare. That’s not as easy as it looks; you will have to work hard to find games and consoles that are not easily available.


There are quite a few platforms where different kinds of games are sold and auctioned off. You have to stay up to date with all of the news, as staying current is above all, very important. It’s going to help you in more ways than one, and it’s going to make matters considerably simple for you. It’s a great idea for people who are interested in building up their collection quickly.

These are just some of the simplest tips that you should keep in mind if you are going to start building a collection of video games and consoles. Remember, as long as you keep your options open, finding the right games isn’t a problem!



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