You might not have noticed this if you’re only playing current generation games, but the retro game scene has been absolutely surging as of late. Rising prices for once-common games are everywhere. What was once a few dollars has jumped in price. Looking over at Price Charting you can see an upward trend for many classic consoles. For me, I’ve seen this most notably in selling off duplicates for the original Wii and PlayStation 2.
Undoubtedly the rise in prices is correlated to the stay at home orders from many states across country. What to do when you’re at home and you’ve already watched all you wanted to on Netflix and played everything you were waiting to play on the PlayStation 4? It’s easy to see why retro gaming is on the rise: nostalgia is a wonderful way to get your head out of the current state of the world. Going back to a time when life wasn’t so complicated is immediately enticing.
But will this surge in pricing stick around after COVID-19 (hopefully) runs its course? The demand will likely take a hit, but with so many games having changed hands, what will the future of retro collecting look like?
To really understand what the future may look like, we would want to evaluate what we are currently working with. With more people buying games for systems like the Nintendo Wii, for example, the market for Wii games has grown with potential buyers. But will these buyers buy more games after they finish playing Wii Fit? Moreover, will they sell those games again when they are done with them, are will they sit in the home collecting dust of the non-game collector? My expectation is to see the availability of games decline as people have already bought them, and won’t sell them again, effectively removing them from the market.
Will this greatly affect the games that are being bought? Hardly. Nostalgia is fueled by what is familiar. In the case of the Nintendo Wii, for example, what is familiar to many “Non-Gamers” gamers are quality games from Nintendo: Mario Kart Wii, Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, Wii Fit, etc. These games sold in the millions and are readily available wherever you retro game shop. While prices might go up ever so slightly, these games hadn’t really fluctuated for years and a small change here won’t be significant.
On the other hand, the games that are not mainstream are seeing huge spikes. The totally random Nintendo DS game that was once $5 is now over $30. The traditional high priced RPG genre is seeing rising prices across the board. Am I surprised? Yeah, kind of. I didn’t expect these consoles (Nintendo Wii and DS, for example) to have increases in prices anytime soon. And I have to credit it to gamers/collectors wanting to play something while staying at home. I don’t blame you: I’ve been hitting up GameStop online almost weekly and finding excellent deals on current gen games I’ve passed by so many times before.
To answer the question at the top of the story: Will this spike continue after quarantine? Honestly, no. I don’t think so.
With the impending release of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X this coming holiday season, the swing will move back to the newest generation of games. In hand with that shift, people will then start to look at the then-last generation of games (PS4/Xbox One) to build collections. The focus on retro gaming will decline but never evaporate. Prices will likely stay high for some time until the demand likewise declines. Best case scenario this quarantine creates a large, passionate group of retro gamers that really contribute and move the community forward!
Alas only time will tell where the community goes from here. Quarantine in the USA is still in effect in many locations, and working from home is a possibility for many. Gaming will surely remain the height of entertainment for so many, and retro gaming a welcome diversion from the hectic world outside. While it’s fun to look at what to do while at home, it’s also important to not forget why we are at home. Be safe out there, make smart choices, and help one another.