This is another eBay 'guide' I have written to continue in my series of guides written about various collecting fields within the antiques and collectibles business. One can tell by my eBay name that I am obviously a video game collector, enthusiast, and dealer. That being said, I would NEVER recommend video games for 'investment' purposes, and as much I highly respect VGA (Video Game Authority), I would NEVER 'invest' in a graded video game with the hopes of selling them for a higher price sometime in the future. That being said, this is NOT the topic of this eBay guide. The topic of this eBay guide is what 'traps to avoid' if one is to buy graded video games. I have been wanting to write this guide for some time now, but both work and my businesses within both the antiques and collectibles fields have kept me from doing so. Before I begin, may I remind all my readers that my eBay guides are copyrighted and the sole possession of myself, the author. They should not be reproduced, summarized in whole or in part, or republished without my expressed written permission. In other words, if you don't have a piece of paper with my signature on it granting you permission to republish this guide, don't do it. Now onto the guide...
The mere idea of grading factory sealed video games is controversial to some. It is so controversial that I have written whole eBay guides and related articles on the subject matter entirely. I also respect VGA (Video Game Authority; the company that grades these games) and its parent and related companies (i.e. AFA, etc.). In fact, I recommend both companies for the grading of your beloved collectibles. That being said, if one is to buy a graded video game, there are certain 'traps' one should avoid when doing so, to prevent the individual from wasting (or losing) money on the said items. I have compiled a beginner's checklist to help those in this field. Please note that this is unbiased and already assumes you KNOW THE RISKS and have done all proper research before buying. Think of this as a common sense approach to buying these kind of games.
Number #1: Do not fall into the trap of buying high grade Nintendo DS/3DS games! These games are easily purchased by the factory sealed case! Getting a game in this manner to grade a 90-95 may seem difficult, but if one sends in a factory sealed case, it is usually the 'norm'. These games are already packaged very well. Their contents are very rarely damaged. I have gotten games directly from Club Nintendo and have seen them grade at 85-90; and these games were shipped in a thin envelope through the US mail before being graded! Do NOT overpay for modern games already packaged in a hard plastic shell!
Number #2: Do NOT overpay for 'modern' games that seem 'rare'. A few months back Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Wii, could be easily bought for under $300 in VGA 90. NOW some sellers are attempting to charge thousands of dollars for this game in the same grade! Do NOT BUY IT! You can easily buy a lot of 'raw' ungraded specimens and have someone look them over and possibly get a grade of 85 or 90 very easily. This game is uncommon, NOT rare; and factory sealed cases of this game still exist on secondary markets (just not usually on eBay). No need to overpay. Buy an ungraded copy and preserve it. You will thank me in the 'long run.'
Number #3: Be careful with so called 'limited' and 'special' editions. Super Mario All Stars and the like; repackaged for the Wii are NOT 'rare.' These will not be worth all that much in the future, as everyone saved them in unopened form. Do NOT fall into the trap of thinking of these games as 'rare.' Grading fees + going rate for a sealed copy is all you should pay for a game graded U90! (Uncirculated being the 'key').
Number #4: Paying a large sum of money for common vintage NES games is NOT wise. Some collectors and dealers have yet ot even hear of VGA. Once they start sending in their factory sealed games to be graded, the census numbers will increase and prices on the 'common' stuff will fall. Your copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES is not all that 'rare.' Trust me on this. Now if you happen to have Donkey Kong 3, and several other 'black box' releases, in '85' or better, you may just have something worth holding onto to. However, prices are all 'over the map' right now. You might want to wait until the dust settles before buying.
Number #5: Be careful with late release NES and Super NES games. A lot of these games were wholesale close outs. Some collectors and smart speculators have a lot of these games in storage, just waiting to be graded.
Number #6: Be careful with CD based games. Number one, the systems that these were released on are not as mainstream as Nintendo based systems (i.e. there are more Nintendo collectors than Sega collectors overall); and number two, games made in CD jewel cases hold up very well. It is expected that they should grade in the 80-90 range. These are NOT that 'rare' at all! Especially most Dreamcast games. Find a Sega Saturn game like Panzer Dragoon Saga factory sealed with a grade of '90,' and you actually have something worth the low thousands.
Number #7: Understand that factory sealed video games are not as mainstream as comic books, coins, or currency. In the grand scheme of things most experts agree that the next generation of gamers will download Super Mario Bros. over having a sealed copy of a game for a system they never owned from back in 1987. Logic and perspective should be kept in the front of one's mind when emotion takes over. Both baseball card collecting, Pokemon card collecting, and even comic book collecting has had speculator booms. Afterwards, these hobbies changed forever. So did the bank accounts and tastes of many buyers. Use caution and careful research before buying. There are much better itmes to speculate on, present time.
Number #8: There is nothing wrong with taking a wait and see approach or buying a game and keeping it sealed to see what the market does. I have yet to grade every factory sealed game I own (and I own a LOT).
Number #9: Understand that most Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Wii, DS, 3DS, Vita, PSP, Xbox, and Xbox 360 games are being hoarded as new and have yet to be graded. There is no reason most of these games should be considered 'rare' or hard to find. It takes at LEAST ten years for a third party census to begin to show accurate numbers of graded items on the secondary market. I actually believe it is fifteen years, but I have to go by what most 'experts' have said previously.
Number #10: You can LIKE and LOVE something out of emotion, but BUY OUT OF LOGIC! Passion is what makes any collecting field fun. Passion is also what causes some collectors to 'blindly' buy items they cannot afford, only to sell them at a loss later on. If you find the word 'investment' entering your lexicon anytime during your buying habits, it is time to write a written plan as to what you are buying, your investment objectives, and how you plan to sell these itmes at a profit. Well researched statistics should be a major part of this written plan. Fantasy and emotion have never made anyone any money that I know of; unless they happen to be video game designers or involved in other businesses.
In conclusion, this guide will probably get a lot of negative reviews! I can tell you that because those speculators that are happy to sell you an overpriced game; or who have spent a great deal of money chasing the next big thing; or those who buy solely out of emotion, need to ensure that certain facts stay 'buried'. In the end the most unpopular decisions and theories are usually the correct ones. After all, as a video game dealer, collector, and enthusiast; don't you think I want prices to rise? What reason would I have to NOT portray what I see happening within the industry...? Now that is an interesting question isn't it?
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU BUY, HOW YOU CHOOSE TO SPEND YOUR MONEY, OR HOW YOU VIEW THE COLLECTIBLES MARKET. YOU ENTER THIS MARKET, OR ANY SPECULATIVE MARKET, AT YOUR OWN RISK. COPYING, SUMMARIZING, OR PARAPHRASING ANY PART OF THIS EBAY GUIDE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. THESE ARE OPINIONS ONLY AND I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT ACTIONS YOU TAKE WITHIN AN UNREGULATED SECONDARY MARKET (WHICH IS WHAT THE ANTIQUES AND COLLECTIBLES MARKET IS). IN THE END, BUY WHAT YOU LOVE AND ENJOY WHAT YOU BUY. RESEARCH IS THE KEY TO MAKING MONEY IN ANY MARKET.