Last year I wrote 2 articles about starting a game collection with a limited budget.  In those articles I mention that eBay is a viable option but you must be careful for fakes and reproductions are everywhere.  Well it took some time, but I can now finally admit that I crossed that threshold when it comes to collecting retro video games.  I’ve gotten into eBay and have made some purchases through them.  As of this writing I have purchased 2 Nintendo Switch games, I won a Chrono Trigger DS auction, and I made an offer for New Super Mario DS.  I’ve lost 2 auctions and am using another app called OfferUp for hunting as well.  Now I’ve only just begun and I am already begging my bank account for forgiveness.

Why did it take so long for me to start trying eBay and other second hand apps in earnest?  Well I remember when the site was launched and I thought it was a very cool idea.  My parents on the other hand were VERY skeptical because they didn’t know if they were to buy something on eBay they would actually get the item they wanted, or would get scammed outright.  They were right to worry since rumors and horror stories of people’s experiences with the site in the early days were all they knew of.  Buying a new shirt with it being the wrong size, people stealing money, shipping woes, the works.  I don’t even think that we bought anything off eBay at all, we would just look at the site as a last, and I do mean LAST, resort for that 1 thing my brother and I wanted.  Now thankfully buying things online has gotten better, easier, and safer, but with second hand sites you still need to be careful.  With video games that’s especially true since making sure a game is the real deal is harder to do online than it is in person.  Luckily YouTube is your friend and there are a ton of videos helping game collectors spot the difference between fakes the genuine article.

With the bad there is the good when it comes to buying things online.  For every story where a guy gets conned there is another who got an amazing deal.  Take a fellow podcaster I know, Patrick from the Retro Blast Podcast, who showed me his CIB Game Boy with the Tetris pack in that he bought from a guy for $20 (you can watch the episode he was on and see it yourself right here).  Everything was in near mint condition and he got a steal of a deal.  It’s stories like that make me hopeful when hunting for games online.  I’ve been on the hunt for a copy of Chrono Trigger for the DS and haven’t been able to find one for under $100.  I go to eBay and find an authentic copy and the seller was asking $35 as a starting bid.  Best part the seller included a ton of pictures including the back of the game card so you can tell it was actually a real game and not a reproduction.  Sadly I didn’t win that bid, but I did win my second one and still paid less than $100 for it.

After winning a few bids and making a few deals on eBay I am more comfortable with buying and hunting games there.  I am in no way an expert but I did set some good grind rules for myself while buying games there.  Always read the description because some times sellers will be honest and tell you straight up that the game they’re selling is a reproduction.  Saying it’s tested and authentic is a good sign but still look at the pictures the seller puts up.  The more the better in my opinion especially when the seller shows the condition of the game.  If you aren’t sure or just plain forgot, keep a tab open on how to spot fakes so you can refresh your memory.  It’s not a sure fire way but it can help a ton.  Also only buy if you’re 100% sure and comfortable with making that purchase.  With other sites like OfferUp where you can meet the seller and not have to wait for shipping, I would always try to meet in a public place just to be safer.  It may seem like common sense but it doesn’t hurt to be extra safe.

Out of the two apps I have on my phone right now I am much more happier with eBay than I am with OfferUp.  I’ve never had good luck with OfferUp even before I was hunting for video games.  I would put up items for sale, get a message and then nothing.  Recently I was supposed to meet a seller who was selling New Super Mario Bros. for $15.  This seller even added a picture of the game card at my request and we agreed to meet.  Sadly the communication was mostly one sided and when the seller DID respond back I was already back home.  I tried to reach out again to meet elsewhere but no response.  In my frustration I went to eBay and found a copy of the game, that was authentic, and the seller had a bid of $1.  I also lost that bid as well since the person who won waited until the last second to bid.  That happens with eBay, especially if it’s a hot ticket item, for the last 5 minutes you need to be on it so no one steals your win.

Now that I’ve fully gotten bitten by the eBay bug will I still go to shows and expos to hunt for games?  Absolutely.  I see sites like eBay and OfferUp as a backup if I can’t find a game I’m looking for in the wild.  While at a store or a retro gaming expo I could find a game I didn’t even know I wanted or was looking for.  There are risks to be had sure, but sometimes the prices on eBay can’t be beat while the same can be said when you’re buying from someone face to face.  It’s all up to you as the buyer whereas to bite the bullet and pursue the game online, or wait until you find it at your favorite store.  The choice of course, is up to you.


Ben Magnet Ben Magnet (71 Posts)

Ben is a man of many hobbies. Aside from his deep love of video games, he also does 2 podcasts (The Fake Nerd Podcast and Basement Arcade: Pause Menu), reads comics, loves films, and studying up on video game history. His favorite eras in gaming are the Console Wars between SEGA and Nintendo, the early 2000’s, and the mid 80’s when he wasn’t even born yet.