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


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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • barryfallsjr

    Selling an item for more than it’s worth does not change the item’s value. I could purchase all of the copies of Super Mario Bros games in my area and charge $1,000,000 for them. That doesn’t make the games worth that much, so it doesn’t affect you at all. Whenever I run into someone trying convince me that Zelda II is super rare and tries to sell it to me for $50, I just chuckle and move on. Perhaps the problem with retro game collectors is that they think they’re entitled to the games that they want for cheap prices.

  • TheGVN

    No one thinks they’re entitled to cheap games. Retro collector’s do what everyone else in this world attempts to do, haggle and search for cheap prices. You may laugh off a $50 Zelda 2, but it depends on how the conversation/encounter with the reseller went. Most people complaining about the resellers mention they have bad attitudes and unfriendly etiquette, not to mention a smug sense of superiority like they know more than anyone. I’m not saying all resellers are like that, but alot of those stories go around.

  • barryfallsjr

    It doesn’t matter how smug or unfriendly they are, just laugh and walk away. Letting a select group of people ruin something your passionate about is the most counterproductive thing you can do. And for game collectors, that happens every day when they go to forums to whine and perpetuate the totally false myth that just because some people charge too much, that is driving up the price of games. By the time you turn to walk away from a rude reseller is how fast it should be to get over it. The bad resellers aren’t ruining collecting; it’s collectors who let resellers ruin the experience for them by dwelling on it.