Game Hunter's Journal: Collecting Last Gen Games

PS2 LogoWith literally thousands of video games out there begging for your time and money, it can be more than daunting finding a starting point for a growing collection. Worse yet (or better depending on how you look at it), more and more games are being released each and every week! So where to begin? In part two of a special Game Hunter’s Journal series, we’ll go over the ins and outs of collecting games from the last generation of consoles. Used games will be your currency, getting good deals your fancy, and some quality titles to play will be your reward. Let’s get right into it!

What is Last Gen?

It might seem silly to define something like this but let’s all be on the same page: the last generation of games is always the generation that preceded the current one. With the release of the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation Vita we are officially in the eighth generation of game consoles. So that would make the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, and PlayStation Portable the last generation of games. Considering that the eighth generation just started (the PS4 and Xbox One just released at the time of this writing, I’m going to be speaking of the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube as last gen as well to give some more tips.

The Seventh Generation of Consoles
The Seventh Generation of Consoles

Where to Buy Last Gen Games

While collecting for the current gen can burn a whole in your wallet like none other, buying last gen games can be painless if you’re thrifty and patient. Since the current consoles are taking up the space in retail shops like Toys R’ Us, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and other big-box stores, specialty stores will be your go-to spot to get last gen games. Of course resellers like GameStop (or some of those above stores that have trade-in programs) will be the biggest store to buy last gen games, but there are some other unconventional places to look.

One issue that gets more and more difficult as you go to lower generations of games is finding them new. If you’re looking to complete a collection with new, still sealed games, you need to act fast because finding last gen games that are still sealed will get increasingly more difficult the longer you wait. Worse yet (or better if you are looking to sell), the prices of sealed games will continue to rise as time progresses, so be wary of your time!

Love it or hate it, GameStop is going to be your last-gen friend. Hmm... they should copyright that...
Love it or hate it, GameStop is going to be your last-gen friend. Hmm… they should copyright that…

While some stores do carry current gen and last gen games, you’ll have better luck seeking out specialty shops to find last gen games. Check local shops. You might be surprised to find a CD/DVD reseller actually sells games as well.

Pawn shops are wonderful for last gen games. I feel like these stores are often overlooked for video games, but you can find some noteworthy and well-priced games at some pawn shops.

Garage sales are very hit or miss, but websites like Craigslist can help you narrow down some prospective pickups. You might get lucky and even run into a seller that is willing to part with huge collections for cheap prices (maybe to buy current gen stuff!).

Just once I want to go to one of these and be blown away with the video games available. Just once...
Just once I want to go to one of these and be blown away with the video games available. Just once…

It might seem unconventional, but your gaming friends are a fantastic resource for older games. A lot of gamers aren’t going to want to keep all of their games, so ask your buddies if their willing to sell you their games. A good way to bring up the conversation if when your friend says they traded games in at GameStop: Tell them you’ll pay them cash, pay them more than GameStop, and they’ll be helping you out as well. It’s a win-win!

Though it’s not always the best place to find games for great prices, there are sometimes great deals on last gen games and system on websites like Amazon, eBay, and some specific video game resellers like eStarland. As games get more and more scarce, the convenience of these sites can be worth it.

These are just a few examples of places to find last gen games. One of the perks of collecting last gen is abundance: everyone is throwing old games at you, selling them used for cheap prices, often having sales on top of that, and willing to part with games for little cost to you. As a collector I can say that collecting last gen is the easiest, most exciting systems to collect for just because you’re constantly finding new, sometimes hard to find titles, everywhere you go. Not only that but it’s light on your budget as well!

What to Look for When Collecting Last Gen

Obscure games from well known developers are what you should be looking for
Obscure games from well known developers are what you should be looking for

Here is where you can really go your own way: there are plenty of routes to take when determining what you want to collect, and no one way is better than another. Regardless of what you might choose to collect (only PS2 games, all racing games, anything that lets you customize your characters, etc.) there are some general guidelines to help you out when searching for games.

Keep an eye out for particularly good looking games. I don’t mean games that might be well received or rated highly, but games that physically look good. It’s going to be harder and harder to find a game in good quality, so if you should come by a game you’ve been looking for (or even one that you didn’t know existed until now) that is in great condition, then you should think about buying it now.

Take advantage of sales! Plenty of retailers are going to hand out deals to entice you to come in and spend more money. GameStop often runs Buy 2 Get 1 Free sales among other deals: take full advantage of these to lighten the damage to your wallet as well as expand your collection.

If you’re looking to grab that special edition or collector’s statue that comes with a certain game your time to do so is dwindling. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and stores will still have these versions of games in stock (and if you’re luckier they’ll be priced the same as the vanilla version!) so you might want to start grabbing those now too.

These are interesting games: the same games, but different in the slightest ways.
These are interesting games: the same games, but different in the slightest ways.

It might interest you to look into different versions of the same game. Sometimes a game comes out on multiple consoles with added bonuses or changes to gameplay. One version might be more sought after than the other, so having that knowledge can help you in the hunt.

Forecasting what will be more expensive or hard to find is the challenge, but certain games are guaranteed to be more pricey/rare than others. Limited release games, special editions, games that were remade/recalled, obscure games from well known publishers, niche titles, games that came out late in a consoles life, and even a game that became known for something silly on the internet can be more valuable down the road than the best games of that generation (like Mario or Halo games).

That being said, well known franchises don’t often lower their price. If you happen to see Super Paper Mario on the Wii for anything less than $20 new it’s probably not going to be much cheaper than that so you might think about buying. For this rule, look at what was popular on that specific system when it was current: those games won’t command a lot of money in the collector’s market, but they also won’t go down significantly in price anytime soon.

There are tons of strategies for collecting the last gen, but do what works for you. Personally I enjoy looking for the absolute best deal on a game before I bite. Patience is definitely a virtue and in can pay off enormously should you wait and find the best deal.

Also of note with collecting last gen: this is the easiest way to amass a humongous collection in a short amount of time. If you play your cards right you can come home from the store with a dozen new games to add to your collection having only spend $25 bucks!

Have a Goal

This is something that seasoned collectors won’t even think about, but it’s something that newcomers to the collecting scene should decide before going into collecting: have a goal!

Not technically last gen, but it's close enough.
Not technically last gen, but it’s close enough.

You’re goal can be anything: only collecting PlayStation 2 games, only getting games you actually want to play, collecting games from one company like Square Enix or Nintendo, and so on. For me, collecting all things Sega Dreamcast is the goal: games, accessories, and memorabilia.

Having a set goal will make shopping around (AKA Hunting) much easier. Now you have something to look for, a reason to stop in a store and peruse the shelves, and some excuse to spend your money. Being passionate about one console or type of collection will lead you to discovering games you wouldn’t otherwise buy, and learn about games online you wouldn’t otherwise know existed, and oftentimes these are the best games to play and buy! One thing I love about collecting for the last gen is the amount of value you can get in your collection: there are always games to try out for little cost to you, and the pay off for some of these gambles can be all the reason you need to keep going!

Clear Some Room for your Collection

I will be the first to tell you: collecting games really cuts into your personal space.

Sadly this isn't my collection. But it is a great representation of how to neatly display games.
Sadly this isn’t my collection. But it is a great representation of how to neatly display games.

While one or two shelves or drawers might be a decent location for your collection now, if you’re serious about collecting games and want to continue doing so you’ll need more space. A lot more space.

I bring this up because I’ve had several friends and acquaintances simply stop collecting games and/or *shudder* throw away cases to save room. Plan ahead so you can avoid this mess and allocate plenty of room for you ever growing collection. Personally I like having my games on display for all to see, but space is limited and I can’t always show them all. I’ve packed some games away neatly in a plastic bin for safe keeping and storage, and I always know where they are when I want them. If you’re collecting older games you can swipe up dozens of titles for under $20 and before you know it you’ll be swimming in plastic cases and game discs you won’t know what to do.

Why Collect for the Last Generation Over the Others

There are a few reasons why collecting video games for the last generation is better than collecting for the current gen.

First and easily the most obvious reason: price. It might go without saying that new games cost more money than used games, but the price differential between current gen used games and last gen used games can be substantial. Spending $10 for a quality PS2 game you never had the chance to play instead of plopping down $50 for a new PS3 game that will only decrease in value over time seems like a pretty sweet deal to me. Following this method you can bypass all the games you aren’t sure about on the current gen systems, only picking up the ones you absolutely have to play, and after some time you can pick those games up for the cheaper price as well!

It certainly does. And it also supports hundreds of games, some of which are worth your time.
It certainly does. And it also supports hundreds of games, some of which are worth your time.

Another reason I prefer collecting older games is because I tend to take my time with a lot of the games I play and never get around to playing some of the triple A, highly praised games I may have wanted to. It took me a few years but I finally played through the original Metroid Prime game, a good six years after its initial release. I likely wouldn’t have bought the game if I didn’t see it for the ridiculously low price of $3 and knew I had to play it. By collecting these games you aren’t under any time constraints to play the games now, and you can instead get them and enjoy them at your own leisurely pace.

The final reason I suggest collecting last gen games is the thrill of the hunt. You never know when a great deal might spring up on you and make your day! Sometimes sellers online or at garage sales will throw out games for insanely low prices, or maybe even a store will have a great sale and you can swoop in a pick up a few gems you’ve had your eyes on for awhile. All it takes is one great find to make you want to go out and hunt for games again! Go out there and look for good prices, find those good deals on PS2 and Wii games, and enjoy the ones you buy!

Collecting for the last generation of games (anything prior to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo 3DS) is my favorite gen to look for when shopping. If you are a gamer on a budget, the low price range for some of these games should entice you over the higher end prices of new games. Aside from the price, collecting for the last generation has a lot of advantages as well, including expanding your collection much faster than most of generations, as well as letting you play some older titles you may have simply missed out on.

There are some drawbacks to exclusively collecting last gen games. For one you won’t be able to get into the hype that comes with a games initial launch, which can be the best part of the game’s lifecycle. Second there likely won’t be any online presence for the game years down the road, which can be a real killer to games that rely on online multiplayer. And lastly you might not be able to find a game if you wait to buy it and it goes into retail obscurity, or if you do you’ll have to pay high price just to get a copy.

These games will simply not be the same without the online presence.
These games will simply not be the same without the online presence.

But don’t let any of those negatives stop you from collecting! There are hundreds of wonderful video games to find in the wild and enjoy at home! I’ve said it before but it holds true time and time again: one of the best aspects of game collecting is actually playing the games you buy. You can get dozens of hours of enjoyment out of a small investment that other forms of media simply cannot give.

Now you know the ins and outs of collecting for the previous generation of video games! Stay tuned for part three of the series where we will discuss retro game collecting. The final chapter of this saga will be a no holds barred romp of info, including collecting for classic game consoles, where to buy games, how to maintain your collection, and what to do if you have no idea what makes a game retro, classic, or rare.

Happy Hunting,

DownStab has been a personal endeavor of mine for many years. Please enjoy the content and let me know if you have questions, comments, or just want to connect. And as always, game on.

– Jason J

Original blue and red Nintendo Switch controllers
Game Boy  •  Game Boy Advance  •  Game Cube  •  Nintendo DS  •  Nintendo 3DS  •  Switch  •  Virtual Boy  •  Wii  •  Wii U

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