Now is the ideal time to sell your old video games thanks to high resale prices, surging demand, and a dedicated base of collectors. If you have a pile of retro games sitting untouched somewhere, it’s a seller’s market and you should consider putting them up for sale. However, don’t expect to get a million dollars like this recent record breaking sale of Super Mario 64 garnered. Certainly though, hundreds or even thousands of dollars are possible from even a small game collection.
The Retro Game Market is Hot!
Putting aside the headlines of video games fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, the market for old video games is still very hot. Of course, popular or rare titles are what will command the highest dollar value, but it’s hard to find a game that isn’t worth at least something.
If we take a look at the game library for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) we can get a feel for how valuable old games are. Of the 1,027 NES games listed on the video game price tracking site pricecharting.com, just 7% are valued at $5 or less. On average the mean price for a NES game is about $172, but when you don’t factor in the system’s most expensive games, you get a median price of $15 per game. Given that a complete NES will sell for about $100, if you sold a system with just 10 games, you could easily expect $250 from the sale. Throw in a couple of rare or more expensive games and you could be in for a nice payday.
If you want to take advantage of the used video game market while it is red hot, there are a few best practices you should follow that I’ve learned from decades of buying and selling used video games. There are a few tricks to maximizing your profit, you’ll want to make sure to follow before you look for buyers or consider where the best places to sell old video games are or how to sell them for the highest amount possible.
Retro Games Don’t Last Forever
Consoles like the Atari 2600 are over four decades old. These systems were built to last but their components do last forever. Some components, capacitors in particular, go bad over time and need to be replaced. This means opening up the console, disassembling pieces and soldering in new ones.
Thankfully, even if you love retro video games, you don’t need the original hardware to enjoy them. The possibilities for emulation seemingly grow by the day and options like the Raspberry pi single board computer, which are easily available at retailers like Amazon, make it cheap and easy. Rather than holding on to an aging collection and waiting for it to break down and need repair, the smartest choice might be to pass on your collection to a collector who is willing to put in the time and effort required for upkeep.
How to Get The Most Money For Old Video Games
So, you’ve found some old games and have decided to sell. Now comes the question of how do you maximize your profits? To get the most money for your old games, you’re going to want to make sure that your system and games are tested, working, and as complete as possible. You’ll also want to determine how best to sell your games, whether it’s individually or in a bundle, and the best marketplaces to put them up for sale.
Prepare Old Video Games for Sale
If you have retro games to sell, you probably have the console to play them on as well. To maximize your profits you’ll want to ensure that your video game console is complete and fully functional. It’s not uncommon for systems to be missing controllers, a power cord, or AV cables to hook up to a TV. If you sell your system incomplete and list it “as is” or “untested” you will greatly reduce the final sales price. Take the time to replace missing accessories with inexpensive aftermarket parts. I source all of mine form Amazon which has a very respectable selection. Their minimal cost will be offset by the higher sales price that a complete system commands.
Having a clean system and games is especially important for cartridge based systems. After decades of collecting dust, your old video games and systems may not work properly. If at all possible you want to fix that before putting them up for sale. Thankfully, getting cartridge based games and system working again can often be a matter of simply doing some light cleaning.
For cartridge based games, you’ll want to take a cotton swab and moisten the ends with isopropyl alcohol (70% strength or stronger). Rub the swab along the game’s pins, repeating with new swabs until it comes off clean. Then dry with a dry end and your game should be good to go. The pins on your system likely are in need of a cleaning as well. Each system is different so look for the best way to do each one by doing a quick Google search. However, for systems like the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and Sega Genesis, you can put isopropyl on a cotton shirt stretched over a plastic card. You can then insert the shirt and card into the slot where the cartridge goes to get the card edge connector in the system nice and clean—just don’t use a shirt you aren’t okay with being ruined.
Selling Old Video Games Individually or Together
Before you just go and list your system and games together, take some time to assess the value of everything individually on pricecharting.com. To get the most money out of your collection, set aside anything worth $15 or more and sell those games individually. Take the rest of the inexpensive games and bundle them with your system to sell as a single set.
If you have a lot of low value games, the time invested into their sale will likely not be worth the return. Therefore, it’s best to sell inexpensive games together as a lot. This applies both for selling online or meeting up for in-person sales. For online sales, if you are selling a low value game, remember to factor in your time, the cost of shipping materials and postage as well as seller fees charged by the marketplace. In-person sales have less associated costs, but they may require you to travel and will consume some amount of your time. Those factors combined make it impractical to sell games for less then $15. However, by selling multiple cheap games together, you can make a single transaction more worthwhile.
Regardless of how you want to split up your collection when selling, it’s always wise to set a few aside to bundle with your system. Anything you can do to make the system ready to play right out of the box will go a long way to making your system more attractive to buyers.
The Best Way to Sell Old Video Games
In most cities, the best way to sell old video games is through private sales via online marketplaces that don’t charge fees like craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. By selling your games in person, you will avoid a whole host of fees as well as expensive shipping costs which can seriously eat into your profits. If you are located in a rural area or somewhere where there are not a lot of buyers, your next best option is Amazon, followed by ebay.
If maximizing profit isn’t your concern, and you just want a quick sale then your best bet is to take everything down to your local used game store. You will get your money fast but you’ll get pennies on the dollar. Do yourself a favor and take the time to clean, test, and complete all of your systems and games as described above to sell them for maximum profit.
Note: Originally posted on Retro Informer