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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