Tips for Collectors of Retro Video games

Tips for Collectors of Retro Video games

Having bought lots of video games and had lots of pleasant surprises but also lots of massive disappointments, I have developed a guide to help avoid the latter.

1. Check as thoroughly as possible

  • If you are buying the game from a shop and have it in your hand check the following:
    • Is the manual present and in good condition? Check to see if it has become badly creased, dirty or stained (it may have been read while someone was eating and have dirty finger marks etc. Or it may have been stored in a shed or garage and have mildew stains or water stains). Is it damaged or defaced? Manuals often get caught on the clips that hold them in place and get ripped or 'chewed' or have their pages torn over time. Some will have been written in or on, they may have someone's name on the front or have cheat codes either in the front, back or notes page.
    • Is the inlay/are the Inlays stained or ripped? Again, if the game has been stored in a shed or garage, there is a chance that it has some mildew or water stains on it. Often these are not visible on the picture side of the inlay, so you will need to look on the back (you will need to gently remove the inlay from the outer casing in some cases, by opening up the case and sliding it out). At this stage you will also notice if the inlay has become torn, which generally happens on the folds around the spine of the case, but can happen elsewhere and you will see it straight away on the white side of the inlay. Also common for inlays is for them to become frayed at the edges from sliding out of the protective outer casing a little, so check for this too.
    • Are there any second hand sellers stickers or markings on the game? If the shop has put a sticker or written a letter (usually a 'P' for pre-owned, on the manual or the paper inlay it may be impossible to remove without damage. Some sellers will even have put a sticker or written a letter on the game disc itself. The letter on the disc can often be removed easily but the sticker may take the picture off the disc with it, so be careful.
    • What condition is the game disc in? Most discs will have some scratches on the back from use, but beware of those that are heavily scratched as some scratches will be so deep that even a professional polishing machine will not not be able to remove. Also check the inside of the disc by the centre hole to see if it has been cracked (this damage is more common on discs that are in a 2 disc DVD style ,case as it is harder to put the disc in the second holder correctly. Lastly check the picture side of the disc does not have any nasty scratches on.
    • Is everything authentic? This is a bit harder to check but will become easier with practice. Some things can be quite obvious even to a novice if you look closely, for instance:
      • the manual may be in a different language or may look quite obviously re-produced.
      • The inlay could again look obviously re-produced.
      • Does everything correspond? For example all platinum PS2 games come in a silver case and the disc has no picture on it, platinum PS1 games may also have platinum on the manual too. Quite often a platinum game will be in a Black label case or vice versa. Also much rarer but what can happen is to have the formats mixed, for example you could find an NTSC game in a PAL case or vice versa.
      • Is the game still in its original case? This is particularly common with games in jewel cases like PS1 games as the cases so often get broken and replaced. Many PS1 games will have had a specific sticker on from the manufacturer, and this is a good way of telling if it is in its original case. Also with PS1 games, there are a number of different cases, the big box case, the little black case, the larger black sided case and the standard case.
      • Finally does the game have all its original documentation? Older games like SNES games for example often had lots of promotional paperwork and other items like maps which are very common in GTA games, in with them.
  • If you are buying online:
    • You will need to check the photos carefully for the above and message the seller asking about anything you are unsure of.
    • Check what the seller has stated in the listing, for example they may state that these have been stored in a shed, so you will know there is a chance of damage to the inlays and manuals.
    • Beware of ambiguous statements in the listing, for example stating that something has been untested is a good way of covering themselves if it doesn't work.
    • Finally try to ensure that the item is packaged well by the seller so it does not get damaged in transit. It is worth sending the seller a polite message asking them to ensure this.

2. Buy from reputable seller 

  • There are a lot of very good sellers out there who will do most of the work for you and are happy to provide you with an excellent service. 
  • If you are buying from a business seller, check their reviews and feedback before you buy or ask them questions like what their returns policy is. 
  • If you are buying from a private seller, you can still check their feedback if they are selling through an online market place like Amazon or Ebay. You can also ask them questions, especially if they are selling somewhere like Facebook.
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