In the big, black, slightly frustrating shadows of the recession, the Xbox One and the PS4, savvy videogame consumers will have their sights firmly set on the trade stores, pawn shops, charity shops and retro outlets both new and old as they hunt for bargains, retro finds and other cheap and fulfilling ways to fund their gaming habits without having to sell the house, the wife, the boyfriend, the kids, the dog (or, heaven forfend, the consoles) to do it.
Trawling through eBay, GameStop, Entertainment Exchange et al is almost always fruitful, giving you the chance to unearth hidden gems of yesteryear you may have missed or pick up brand new titles at a fraction of their (extortionate) cost. Rocking out of a St. Vincent DePaul shop with a copy of Metal Gear Solid 4 that cost €2 is a rare experience, and never less than satisfying.
But as you sift through piles and piles of copies of old The World Cup Football Quiz and Dance-Dance Revolution 6: The Funky Chicken, it’s good to remember that sometimes, the sellers very often don’t realise that they have something that could be worth the cost of a lot of new games if found for the right price and sold to the right buyer. While it’s unlikely you’re going to pick up a mint copy of 1990 Nintendo World World Championships in your local Oxfam (although at $15,000 dollars starting price, it’s worth a look), there are plenty of recent and current gen games that could potentially net a tidy profit for wide-awake gamehunters.
So, deerstalker hats on, spears at the read and be veeewy, veeewy qwyett. We’re hunting bargains…
NBA Elite 11 (EA Sports, 2010)
Biggest Sale Price (US Dollars): $2,250 (mint)
The Moby Dick of current gen games, NBA Elite 11 is rare and desirable for all the reasons NOT to buy a videogame. A doomed attempt by EA developers to re-jig the entire control and animation system of their basketball sim and re-tool the NBA game franchise within a year and a half, Elite was a glitch-ridden, near-unplayable mess – check out the Andrew Bynum “Jesus Christ” video on YouTube – that was so bad the company shelved the entire project.
But a few copies of the game were released to retailers for PS3 and have since joined hens’ teeth in terms of rarity and the amount of money you could make selling them. Ireland in particular is a big market for sports games, especially with more casual gamers, so someone may have picked up a copy of this, given up trying to play it and dumped it in a bargain bin somewhere, waiting for you to find it crouching among the seemingly endless stacks of used Fifa titles and make those “fat stacks” we keep hearing so much about.
My Horse And Me: Riding For Gold (Atari, 2009)
Biggest Sale Price (USD): $300 (mint)
Everyone knows at least one kid of a certain age who wants, has been gifted, or otherwise owns one of these irritating “have a horse, make it a better horse” simulations, and one look in the local car boot sale will show you just how pervasive these incredulous titles’ popularity is. If they’d put these games into burgers instead of the other thing, most people wouldn’t have batted an eyelid; they’d have been glad just to get them out of the way.
But if you should happen to find this particular gelding grazing in your local GameStop, it might be worth a punt, since the developer’s cancelling of its publishing licence shortly after its release makes it one of the hardest games to find for the Wii, which in turn makes it very desirable to collectors (though why anyone but the family of people involved in making the game would want it is beyond the ken of this writer.)
Luigi’s Mansion (Nintendo, 2001)
Biggest Selling Price (USD): $500 (mint)
Hard to believe, in the wake of the sequel’s release on DS, that this particular game would be a) hard to find and b) so expensive. Until, of course, you consider that it was one of the launch games for Nintendo’s Playstation challenger, and that it’s pretty damn good, meaning that owners are unlikely to want to sell, even at the top price.
Demand will likely have gone down by now thanks to the sequel, though it did pick up at the time of the DS game’s release, but the fact that this is still playable on the Wii, and that there aren’t going to be any new copies available, means that collectors and Mario enthusiasts could be tempted to part with some walkin’-around money for a mint copy of this gem. Keep an eye out for the “Black Label” (ie not Platinum) version of the release, which is pretty desirable.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (Konami, 2004)
Biggest Selling Price (USD): $300 (new)
This remake of the first Metal Gear Solid game was a critical darling at the time of release, but in the wake of Metal Gear Solid 2’s success its sales were far from fantastic, and so it’s gone into the rare game ether.
Interestingly for a game as old as this, new copies still exist – starting on Amazon from around $170 – but stocks are limited, and with both Hideo Kojima AND Shigeru Miyamoto credited as overseers of the remake of this, a sealed copy could command big money from Nintendo-heads in the next few years. Alternatively, a decent used copy (check pawn and thrift shops) could net you about 50 bucks US.
OTHER SPECIES OF INTEREST
The above are the Holy Grail games, and netting that kind of cash for them depends on who you’re selling it to, when, and the condition, but there are plenty of other games to be dug out of bargain bins and off dusty shelves that, while they won’t finance your Caribbean holiday, could still make some decent scratch. Here are a few to keep a lookout for:
Spyro: Dawn Of The Dragon doesn’t sound like it would be a big money-spinner, considering how new the character is with Skylanders and the like, and how bland this PS3 instalment turned out to be. But since it’s also one of the last games ever made by legendary developer Sierra (creator’s of Half Life, etc.) before its purchase by Activision means that a copy of this game could be a solid future investment. It retails for about €20, but could be worth in the hundreds soon enough.
PS2 games are cropping up more and more in thrift shops and places like Entertainment Exchange, and thanks to the console’s popularity and the fact most people have ditched them in favour of current gen systems, a lot of profit-making titles are out there for small money. Marvel Vs Capcom 2, while no longer the collector’s powerhouse it once was thanks to the Xbox Live re-release, still commands a noticeable fee, making up to $150 for a mint copy. Used, it retails for about a tenner. It’s also a great game, so you may want to keep this rather than sell it if you find it. The PS2 copy is rarer than the Xbox version, but either one is worth a punt.
Shadow Hearts is something of a cult game now that had plenty of copies available for purchase in Ireland, so it’s possible someone has let a copy go, and it can sell for up to $135 online. Owners of the game are usually lovers of it too, though, and aren’t likely to part with it for a pittance.
A neat tip for hunters who frequent charity shops is to make sure and look in the CD racks just in case the staff have placed a few random PS1 titles in there because the boxes are the same size. Aside from picking up some classic titles, if you happen to find mint copies of Valkyrie Profile and the original Black Label version of Final Fantasy VII for charity shop prices (about €1) as collectors have been known to pay up to $300US for them. Of course, if you have a time machine and can go back to 2008 when FF7 was netting up to $700 for a mint copy, it’d be even better, though whether or not using a time machine for this purpose would be cost effective is another matter.
Well, there you have it; just a brief glimpse into some of the big game out there in the wild that could prove to be worth much more than just a cheap night in bashing the controller of your Xbox of a weekend. Go, hunt, and be sure to come back and show the scalps you’ve claimed, the prizes you’ve found, or the titles that just rekindled your inner five-year-old.