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Why video game collectors should forever retire the word “reseller”

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There comes a time when a group of people attaches so much hyperbolic stigma to a single word that it becomes necessary to retire the word altogether. For those in the video game collecting community, that word is “resellers.” If there’s one thing that video game collectors love almost as much as collecting and playing video games, it’s whining about those who buy games and sell them for a profit.

But here’s a thought: not only are resellers simply participating ethically in a free market, capitalist system, they’re actually providing a hugely important service to retro game collectors everywhere. No, really. But I’ll get to that more later.

Instead of the usual paragraph format, I decided to outright list every reason that retro game collectors should either stop trying to demonize resellers or stop using the word altogether:

  • It’s annoying. Enough said. With almost every visit to a retro game collector forum, I see at least one person griping about how their hobby is being destroyed by resellers. And they somehow manage to summon an angry mob of commenters who join in on the gripe fest. It’s gotten old and it get staler with each new post.
  • Resellers don’t determine a game’s worth. The value of a game doesn’t go up because sellers price the games higher. A game’s value, like the value of anything, is determined by supply and demand. Fluctuations in prices might be upsetting to some who are committed to collecting in mass quantity. But that’s one of the great things about collecting– it’s a system based on supply and demand. And it rewards those who are ahead of the curve.
  • Your local retro game store is run by a reseller. By the very definition, your independent game stores buys games for about 30 to 50 percent of their market value and sell them for a 50 to 70 percent mark-up. Chances are you aren’t quite as hostile towards that sort of reseller. But the business is the same.
  • Most collectors are probably resellers, or have participated in reselling at some point. It’s a common practice. Sometimes you find a game for cheap that you already have. Other times you buy a game that you want, but later change your mind. Chances are when it was time to sell it, it was sold for more than it was purchased for.
  • No other hobbyists use this word– at least not this way. Resellers buy and sell anything of value. But only retro game collectors pretend that the it’s destroying their hobby. In fact, many video game collectors assume that resellers only flip games. But they also sell all sorts of collectibles. But you won’t hear people who collect antique glassware or vintage Air Jordans moaning that resellers will eradicate everything they hold sacred. That ideology is almost exclusive to game collectors.
  • You’re not making resellers look greedy, you’re making retro game collectors look obnoxious. This goes off my first point. The retro video game collecting community is so close-knit that sometimes it’s easy to grow oblivious to their reputation as a collective. It’s not great. Generally game collectors are seen as self-entitled grumps who take their hobby far too seriously. Often, that’s a fair assessment.
  • Not everyone is passionate about retro gaming. And it would be unreasonable to expect others to care about retro gaming as much as you do. The complaint more frequently lodged against resellers is that they care about money more than the culture of retro games. That’s true. Let’s move on.
  • Resellers provide an important service for retro game collectors. The circulation of collectibles can be stagnant. Unfortunately, most of the games collectors are searching for are scattered across the globe, boxed up in people’s attics and basements. And the people who want those games aren’t likely to make it to all of those homes or local Goodwill stores every time those games are released back into circulation. But thanks to resellers (and websites like Amazon and eBay), rare and valuable games around the globe can find their way to people who want them the most. It’s a win, win, win situation– for the games’ previous owner, the reseller and the collector.
  • And finally, you’ll never complete your NES/SNES/Sega Genesis/whatever collection without resellers. If you think you can find every NES game that you’re looking for in the wild, I tip my hat to your extraordinary confidence and naiveté. But for everyone else who’s grounded in the laws of mathematical probability, the less common titles will eventually need to be purchased through resellers– even if you have to pay a little more than you’d prefer.

Featured photo by Trevor Owens. Check out more Game Theories on RetroChronicle.com.

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Comments

  • Psychopat

    The reason we (collectors) hate reseller that much is most of the time they are complete jerks…. I know bunch of resellers that are good guys and I could not collect without them…. but those we talk about in “I hate resellers” posts are the one who thinks we’re idiots those who tell us that Super Mario Bros 3 is a rare game, that sells games WAYYYY much more than what it’s worth (400$ Lunar?). And check prices on ebay in front of us and charging double. And trust me that kind of reseller is much more common than the nice ones and yes! in my opinion those resellers are destroying the hobby

    • barryfallsjr

      So you’re saying that someone selling something that you like for more than you believe it is worth is destroying the hobby of collecting?

  • Pacey

    Fuck you, reseller.

    • Gerrit Dykstra

      more like Fuck you, car dealers.

  • Derrick Krenke

    I think the term we should be using is “game scalpers”. We don’t really hate your average reseller, its scalpers who buy up most or all of something in either a local or online market, and they are then able to control the market price of them. This reseller, or “game scalper” is the guy who bought every Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One in your local area on launch day. He doesn’t really care about games at all. He just wants to make profit in one of the most unfair and unethical ways possible. This “scalper” is also the guy trying to charge $50 for a $30 game, and they somehow are finding people on eBay desperate enough to buy from them. Its these oddball sales that shouldn’t have happened in the first place that drive up the overall market price on rare and unique items. This “scalper” is also the guy who legitimately believes their $30 video game is worth $60 because it sold for that price ONE time in the last 3 months. Sorry, that’s not how the market works.

    We don’t really hate resellers, we hate “scalpers” – the people who dominate the market on individual items, prey on the desperate, which, in turn, hurts the overall market, and are just purely idiotic and clearly haven’t thought before they priced their item. That’s the person we don’t like.

    • Gerrit Dykstra

      I know of a guy that has almost 7000 carts in storage. Hoarding them to increase the value

      • Chris Combs

        Please explain the difference between the guy your describing and ANY big collector. All real collectors can be accused of being hoarders. You cannot physically play every game in your collection at any given time. So in essence your hoarding the others for your own pleasure.

        • Gerrit Dykstra

          Collectors: I collect all the DIFFERENT titles/variations.
          Hoarder/resellers: I’ll collect 100+ of the SAME title of the staples to increase it’s value artificially.
          BIG DIFFERENCE

          • Joel Anderson

            Most collectors actually fall into that second category. They’ll snatch up as many copies as they can of limited-run games…just because it’s limited, hurting the game’s availability for those who actually want to PLAY it.

  • Robert Fowler

    I am also guilty of throwing the term “reseller” around to loosely not realizing i deal with several on Instagram,and in retro gaming stores.

  • TheLight

    It’s not just collectible video games that suffer from bad resellers, every hobby you can imagine suffers from it to some degree. Whether your passion is video games, comic books, RC cars, vinyl records, or Beany Babies then there’s someone out there who is buying them up cheap and marking them up for resale. You can’t avoid it. The only way you can do anything about it is to become a reseller yourself and start grabbing some of those awesome bulk lot buys that the resellers are breaking down individually for a profit, taking out what you want from the lot, then selling the rest on.

  • Strider696

    I realize this is an older article, but I would still like to throw in my 2 cents worth. I personally feel that I am both a collector and a re-seller. I agree with the original article above for the most part.

    My background is a little different. Growing up I enjoyed three things: playing sports and subsequently collecting memorabilia associated with my favorite sports, reading comic books, and playing video games. What’s fascinating to me is that, like the article said, the visceral negative attitude towards game re-sellers is just bizarre. I don’t mess with comic books much in terms of re-selling (it’s a fickle animal that I can go into if somebody wants), but I still read the trade books. I definitely still collect and sell both sports memorabilia and video games.

    Few points I’d like to add:

    There are douchebag re-sellers, but to be fair, there are also douchebag collectors. I’m sorry, I’m not going to sell you a $25 game for $10. Get over yourself, and stop running to internet forums to complain. Likewise, the guy asking $50 for a $25 game is just an idiot. He won’t be in business long if he consistently tries to overcharge folks. Somebody could be dumb enough to pay that, but they’d probably have to be drunk or unwilling to take the time to do research. At that point it’s their own fault. To those concerned about this driving up other prices, the whole market would have to shift upwards a large amount for that to game to sell for $50. One sale won’t do it. Same thing happens to a guy trying to charge a $1000 for a regular Mickey Mantle autographed baseball. It’s worth $300 – $500 tops. Just walk away from him knowing that he’ll either lower his price or go out of business. If he’s being a jerk, then take absolute pleasure in knowing that. Just try to be there when he has to liquidate 🙂

    Guys on Youtube that complain about this re-seller “problem” aren’t doing themselves any favors by posting retro game reviews, game hunting excursions, etc. I love watching retro game videos too, but what’s happening to the retro game market is similar to what occurred to storage unit auctions after Storage Wars soared in popularity. I went to one just to research the thing, and I asked somebody what the locker that sold for $600 would have sold for 2 years prior. His response was maybe $175. When you increase the popularity of something, its demand rises, thus driving the price up. Sorry, that’s just the way things are looking right now, and frankly the way things work in general. Maybe the bubble will burst in the near future, and maybe it won’t. All of the people prognosticating that it will burst soon I personally think just want it to burst so prices go down. I’m not so sure it doesn’t have more room to run because the popularity is growing still.

    Sorry for the length, but I get a little annoyed at the negativity associated with somebody trying to make a living or side income selling video games. Who on earth, that was a kid who loved and probably still loves games, didn’t want to own a video game store at some point? Don’t rag on those guys. It’s absurd. Hate on individuals who are jerks all you want, and don’t buy from guys that overcharge. It’s as simple as that.

  • supergoku

    You can be of the opinion that resellers don’t affect the value of games but it’s simply a fact that most of the games with average supply are more expensive because of them(your point only holds true if there would be enough supply to bypass the resellers). Sure the price is ultimately decided because of what people want to pay for them but in a lot of cases people will value something higher when it is deemed rare/uncommon even if it is only perceived that way because the resellers bought up every copy they can find online, also a lot of people are willing to pay more then they are comfortable with just to complete their collection or because of whatever random reason you can think of which will increase price in a limited supply market.

    Also resellers don’t need to buy every single game worldwide as most collector’s only want games from their own region or the shipping negates the higher price in your local area for example.

    Either way if you’d take out half the people who are only in it for reselling(or only half of the games that now go to resellers would go to resellers) there would for a lot of games be more sellers for certain games then there are now which would lead to lower prices. Sure some of the rarer games would probably show up less online because of the reasons you mentioned and also some of the cheaper games wouldn’t be sold online because there would be no profit in it.
    The point is those nes/snes/n64 games that are around 50-80 dollars/euros would probably be between 30-60 dollars/euros which would make the hobby a lot easier on the wallet for most.

    • barryfallsjr

      This situation that you’re describing is entirely reversed in real life. By your logic, resellers are the people who buy up all the games and hold on to them, decreasing the supply of a game and making them less common, higher priced. But what you’re describing is actually a collector. Collectors buy up games and hold on to them. Resellers buy games and then sell them for a mark-up, like everyone who works for or operates a business in a capitalist society.

      This conspiracy theory in the retro gaming community that there are there are resellers with highly antiquated methods for buying all copies of one game, holding on to them, waiting for their value to shoot up and then sell them off slowly is very silly. There is absolutely no evidence that this has ever occurred, nor is there any evidence that this is even possible. In fact, there is plenty of proof of the opposite– resellers make retro video games much more available than they would be otherwise.

    • Gerrit Dykstra

      Perfect examples: Metroid (NES) MILLIONS made, BUT it’s a staple so every gamer has to have one. That $5 game is now $15-20 because it’s a staple.
      The WORST of the offenders is the GameCube Super Smash Bros Melee. 12,000,000 were produced. But because it’s a staple and a a damn FUN game, that $5-10 game is $40-70.

  • caesar

    lol the retro game bubble is about to pop. GG resellers.

    • barryfallsjr

      Hi caesar. If you don’t mind me asking, where did you find a link to this article?

  • caesar

    lol the retro game bubble is about to pop. GG resellers.

    • Barry Falls Jr

      Hi Caesar. If you don’t mind me asking, where did you find a link to this article?

  • Gerrit Dykstra

    As a collector/reseller, it’s not the avg reseller ruining the hobby.
    Hoarders are the biggest problem. There’s NO NEED to buy every damn Super Mario World cart and have like 600+ of them in storage. That’s creating artificial supply/demand. I don’t even sell SMW, I include them with every SNES I sell. And another thing that is really a unseen THORN are the Youtube celebrities that pick a random game, play it on YouTube and POOF! that $3 game quickly becomes 20-50-100 or more.
    Do you really believe just because the “Nerd” played a game like Seaman it should now mysteriously be “rare” and worth over $30-50? Sure the supply will dry up after said video gets posted. BUT. I think people will wise up to hoarders and the YouTube celebrity vids and you just watch. Crash!

    • Barry Falls Jr

      Hi Garrit. If you don’t mind me asking, where did you find a link to this article?

    • barryfallsjr

      Hi Gerrit Dykstra. If you don’t mind me asking, where did you find a link to this article?

      • Gerrit Dykstra

        Local Facebook retro channel. Great article!

        • barryfallsjr

          Thanks so much! Do you mind letting me know which page? I’m always curious!

        • barryfallsjr

          Thanks so much! Do you mind letting me know which page? I’m always curious!

  • TheGVN

    You do that. I don’t care. Doesn’t affect me in any way.

    • Barry Falls Jr

      If you don’t mind me asking, where did you find a link to this article?

  • Joeky

    Screw that, nobady has issue with resellers, most of us have problems with basing prices on ebay when prices are artificially driven sky high not to mention that capitalism is suposed to drive the market down due to competition in the market in most cases in which the savings trickle down the community but prices being based on sites like ebay and amazon doesnt leave much meat on the bone for the buyer OR THE RESELLER. The problem lays with people who broke down and paid these stupid prices for these games. I am a major collector and I have been collecting for a long time, at least since 1998 and I have watched these prices go from awesome to crap and the people collecting hate it. I hate the fact that I watch games like Kuon on ps2 set on ebay for over a year at right around 80 to 90 dollars and cheaper but there were these stupid greedy sellers setting there prices at 200+ for incomplete games or games that were in less than perfect condition and once all the other cheaper copies sold, folks who were posting there own copies saw only the outrageous priced copies and thus posted theirs accordingly and never knowing better. Thats a major issue, I also get sick of hearing what a game goes for on ebay and seeing fellow gamers in gaming communities squeeze every last dollar out of other gamers and being d*ckb*gs about it. Lets face it, some of these games are NOT F’ING RARE!

    • Joeky

      Meant to say nobody, but it should say most people in my experience…

  • Harry Welchman

    And then everyone will turn to emulators or making their own backup copies like I already have and then people like you will be stuck with a hoard of worthless junk. Smooth move ex-lax, you really showed us “cheap pieces of shit” there!