Full Sets, Investments Or Nostalgia? Why Do You Collect Retro Games?

Why-Do-You-Collect-Retro-GamesAs avid retro gamers we’ve come across many collectors with different aims and intentions. Some collect for the love and nostalgia they feel towards games and others accumulate in the hopes their horde will be worth something in the future. Both are good reasons to collect but is the latter really viable? RetroCollect debates the sensitive subject of collecting.

If you collect retro games for the nostalgic feeling and thirst for those childhood memories, then the value of what you're purchasing will matter very little to you. Just playing these games once again and remembering how hard it was or the fun it offered you can bring so much pleasure. Finally beating a game today that had you stumped as a child is probably one of the most rewarding feelings you can have in the world of retro gaming - seeing those credits role on the once impossible gives such a sense of relief and satisfaction.

On the other hand, is collecting for monetary reasons is a risky business?

The prices of retro games are continually fluctuating and it can be very hard to determine what the true value of a game is. A great example of this is how the unfortunate death of Michael Jackson saw his timeless Mega Drive game Moonwalker reach final bids over £100 on eBay, only to fall back to the standard 'going rate' in a matter of weeks.

With so many retro collectors around now the demand for retro games rising, what happens when this generation of middle-aged nostalgic games aren’t around anymore? Will the desire for these retro games which we are collecting now still be around? Complete in box Super Nintendo games are possibly the most expensive games to be collecting at the moment, but if you're hoping to sell them on in about 20 years, will the demand remain? Who knows as the next generation may not have the same passion or love for that system that we do, as they didn’t grow up with it. Our grandchildren most likely won’t be trawling eBay for any of the retro games we hold dear to our hearts.

So while paying a massive lump sum for Mega Games 6 Volume 3 might be a good idea now but do you really think in 20 years time the demand is going to be there for it?

At the other end of the spectrum we have those who aim to acquire complete libraries of games for certain consoles. Full set collecting, as it is more commonly known, can be both joyous and tiresome to aim for. The benefits of going for everything allows you to unearth many hidden gems and enjoyable titles that slipped under the radar when you were younger. While knowing you own every single game for a system brings so much pride, it can take a long time and a lot of money - but the satisfaction gained from such an achievement is endless. The downside to full set collecting is of course the wealth of games which you may never play, or ones you'll try once and never play again. Further adding to the downside is the mandatory yearly updates of sports titles. Out of the 540+ Mega Drive games released there are over 100 sports titles. Not great if you're not a fan of sports or the same game featuring a different cover every year.

So why do you collect? Is it for the love of gaming? The desire to rekindle your past? Are you investing? Are you aiming for a full set on a certain system? Let us know in the comments below.

Last Updated ( 11 November 2012 )  


(Link to this comment) Marink 2012-11-11 12:06
Basically all of the above. I am a bit of a hoarder in all honesty, and will collect just about anything really. Although I have never once removed my nostalgia goggles, and still prefer retro games (and last generation games) over most modern games. There are also a few games (Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario franchises, Super Smash Bros, Goldeneye, etc) that I played with my dad all the time, so we occasionally replay those games as well. :D
(Link to this comment) DarakuTenshi 2012-11-11 12:50
For me it's a little bit of both. I used to own 500 NES games and I decided to sell them along with much of my other collections when I was moving across country (and I sold them for pennies compared to what they were worth). I've begun collecting them again and some of the games I've never even played. Though, the ones I had not played are games that are not even worth playing... so why buy them? To add to my collection. I'm not looking for a return on my games because I'd rather not ever sell my collection. There are those times in life that cause someone to sell off their collections, but I hope to not run into that again.
(Link to this comment) Imagamegeek 2012-11-11 16:12
For me its a nostalgia thing ,as i own more games now for each system then i did when each system was released. Having been a gamer since my first Atari and commodore 64 which is nearly 33 years ,its a pride thing thinking that you have owned nearly every console that as been released at one time,and have most of my favorite games for each system..... will keep collecting till i retire or the heavens come for me .... preserve those video game memories..... ;-) www.imagamegeek.co.uk/
+1 (Link to this comment) hydr0x 2012-11-11 16:53
I don't think "full set" qualifies as a reason. It's the goal, not the reason for trying to achieve that goal. Some other possible reasons are completely absent, like preserving games, building a private archive or because they look good on a shelf ;)
+1 (Link to this comment) k1ngarth3r 2012-11-11 17:12
For me it's for the following reasons but ultimately I don't analyse myself I just enjoy what I do...

1. Nostalgia
2. Look good on the shelf
3. Hope they increase in value
4. Private collection

In that order :-)
(Link to this comment) alexsutherby 2012-11-11 17:32
Quoting k1ngarth3r:
For me it's for the following reasons but ultimately I don't analyse myself I just enjoy what I do...

1. Nostalgia
2. Look good on the shelf
3. Hope they increase in value
4. Private collection

In that order :-)

theres nothing better than having shelves full of games!! looks awesome
(Link to this comment) fanglespangle 2012-11-11 18:07
I've always had the lions share of the games I currently own. I bought them from "back in the day" and just kept picking up random games I liked the look of, heard a lot about(good or bad) or recognise the series or developer and want to see what got them started. I've also taken to playing games that inspired future genres, styles and mechanics so it's almost a research-esque approach to gaming too.

I started turning it into a collection when I realised how few games there were on many of my favourite consoles and how good a full collection looked when displayed on a shelf.
+1 (Link to this comment) MRCL 2012-11-11 18:44
Ah crap the 1000 symbol limit butchered my comment.

It boils down to:
- Never had a console in childhood
- Wanting to relive that childhood losses
- Being sucked into the scene more and more
(Link to this comment) Farzlepot 2012-11-11 21:10
I collect both for the purposes of nostalgia, but also as a subscriber to the paradigm that good games are always good. I don't go for complete sets, not do I limit myself only to childhood favourites (I've never once disposed of a game in any way, so I still have all of those), rather I collect games of merit.

Landmark titles, games which were critically acclaimed in some or all ways, or just games that were considered good old-fashioned fun; I aspire to have a library of the very best video games ever made, so that I can play them, or encourage others to play them, as and when I choose. I also feel that as somebody who still has every game I've ever bought that I should protect these titles, some of which, like Panzer Dragoon Saga, may never be re-released for modern audiences to enjoy.
(Link to this comment) underwaterlevel 2012-11-11 21:31
I remember a couple of years ago someone listed their complete collection of Megadrive games on ebay, when the time ran out nobody ended up winning the auction regardless of all the bids that were placed because nobody bidded enough to reach the reserve price. I cant remember the price of the highest bidder but I do remember thinking to myself,,, hmmm they must be worth more than that! I felt that even though nobody reached the reserve price, no one had bid high enough to try to reach even a reasonable price that they must have been worth! I dont think the listing reached more than £600, thats a little over £1 each with relation to how many games were. So I dont know how well "retro games" will sell in the future but if the demand for them dissapears then I would gladly like 50 copies of Megaman Wily Wars on my shelf :D
(Link to this comment) Miketendo 2012-11-11 22:55
When I was younger, I always had collections full of games that I liked based on the cover art. Things changed when I was in high school, where I was kind of a reviews whore and only bought games with excellent reviews. I only wanted to play the best games. Nowadays, I'm kind of an in-between. My collection of games consists of games I enjoy, except for a few like E.T. for 2600 that I own for irony reasons. I'm more concerned with getting a well rounded collection than collecting full sets. I never saw the point in full sets because, as you've mentioned, full sets require owning a lot of garbage titles.
(Link to this comment) NufcDazzla 2012-11-11 22:57
For me, its the nostalgic value, Everything I own and every console I have has some sort of link to my childhood, wether it be what I owned as a kid or what I used to play at my cousin's house, as for spending extortionate amounts on a single rare game, I would pass on it, mainly due to other financial interests I (and I believe we all) have. Im not a completist either, aside from the odd crap game I bought at flea markets (like my two Bubsy games) The games I own are ones I know I enjoy revisiting and playing, like recently I took time to complete the first Metal Gear Solid on hard mode and its still as fun and as satisfying today as it was 14 years ago

Plus it all looks awesome on the shelf :lol:
+1 (Link to this comment) DoYouRemember 2012-11-12 00:59
I personally collect to have the things I couldn't have as a child, either due to ratings, money or whatever other reason. Granted I also buy the games I grew up and loved. I don't really care what the sell value of them will be, since i don't plan on selling any of it. I don't knock anyone who collects for value sake, but it's not why I do it, and it would be hard for me to change my collecting habits to that of a monetary purpose.
+1 (Link to this comment) JoeMD 2012-11-12 03:12
I collect to play. I love replaying the games I knew from my childhood but I also really enjoy discovering news games that I missed the first time around. SKies of Arcadia is a perfect example of this; never got to play it on original release but am absolutaly adoring it now. While I consider myself a collector of many thing - just look at my Flickr account for all the photos - I don't see the point in paying money for stuff that I don't enjoy. While I LOVE retro games, my first love is comics. Even there I'm not going to pay money for back issues of rubbish titles. I'd rather spend that money on stuff I actually want to read. The same goes for games. I'm not paying for some crappy game that will sit on my shelf to gather dust. I don't see the point in that.
(Link to this comment) Tyron 2012-11-12 09:06
I really enjoy collecting retro games, but I have plenty of other collections going. Currently I'm looking at all things TMHT related. But retro games allow me to focus on something, and also it allows me to talk to other people about it.
(Link to this comment) Lord_Santa 2012-11-12 11:06
don't care what my games are/will be worth, nor do I care if they're in box or not. I've been emulating games that I missed out on for so many years and got real sick and tired of it. now I own most consoles/computers that I've been aiming for, in terms of machines that have games that I think I will enjoy, partly due to having played games on said machines in my youth and partly because I watch a lot of retro-reviews and am always on the lookout for "new" titles for old consoles, that I've not yet tried but seem interesting to me. of course there's nostalgia in there, but there's something about the 8/16-bit era of gaming that cannot possible be compared to today's games, not only due to limitation in graphics, but in limitations of technical achievements in a certain game, due to the hardware. a text-adventure can contain as huge a world as some of today's average cRPG's, whilst the Ultima series can span even greater.
(Link to this comment) Mayhem 2012-11-12 11:34
Quite often for preservation reasons... someone has to make sure software isn't lost to the ravages of time. And in the case of many early systems, trying to find everything is always an ongoing process.
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2012-11-12 14:09
I think I'd be telling fibs if I said that the financial element didn't matter. But, that's a side element. It's not why I started collecting or why I continue to collect. I'd love to tell you that I do it cos it'd be great having all the games lined up on a shelf, but since I don't have my games lined up on shelf, that can't be the reason. For me, I guess it's the fact that I never grew out of the likes of the NES, SNES. I guess it's mostly a combination of nostalgia, the fact that I prefer retro gaming in general and the general hobby factor. Browsing loads of sites, taking piccies of my games, tracking them, discussing them and of course...playing them....keeps me ticking over.
(Link to this comment) gamepopper 2012-11-12 17:47
I collect Mega CD games because the addon interests me, I collect shmups since I love the genre, and it was the one of the first kinds of games I ever played. I never really think of earning money from collecting games, I only sell games I either don't want, don't need or I already have, and even then I don't anticipate getting more than I bought it for.
(Link to this comment) gunstarhero 2012-11-12 17:56
Apologies for the multiple responses, but wanted to get my tuppence worth in:

Looks like this is a topic resonating with many people judging from the amount of responses here. We will all invariably offer a slightly different perspective by virtue and degree/extent of what tweaks us, whether its a nostalgia thing or looking to play things we missed out on, for example, but there will be common traits bewteen many of us too that we can relate to. I agree with much of what has already been said, so trying to offer up anything different is going to be hard, but for me, I love the history of videogames. Gamers in 100 years time (playing Legend of Zelda 26 on their holo-deck) may have the better immersive experiences due to the technological advances, but they will not have been there at the dawn of the medium and I want to help preserve what came in the beginning in my own little way for them to appreciate how they got to be playing whatever it is they are playing.
(Link to this comment) gunstarhero 2012-11-12 17:58
One thing that Micky Lynch has highlighted that I have noted in my years of collecting is that there are specific consoles that seem to be more likely intrinsically linked to a certain generation of gamers. Growing up in the 1970's, the Atari 2600, LCD handhelds and tabletops have far more nostalgia for me that the SNES, but these don't get nearly enough love compared to the SNES in the forums (it would appear that I am one of the older collectors on Retro Collect?). It may be true that in another 15 years time, the XBox 360 collectors box-sets will be the things in vogue as the younger generation get older and want to experience the games they played growing up or missed out on due to financial constraints and the SNES will be seen as a console played by parents/grandparents and not be so relateable to as it is currently.
(Link to this comment) gunstarhero 2012-11-12 17:59
When I started collecting 17+ years ago, the Atari 2600 and Vectrex were both really popular and the prices were higher to acquire the majority of titles for these systems than they are now. That doesn't mean that SNES games won't continue to rise in the future, but if the limited history thus far maintains the generational trait, then these current prices may drop in the future too. There are always going to be game that continue to rise, but the real test may only become evident when we have consoles that are capable of mass storage for digital downloads of thousands of titles.
(Link to this comment) gunstarhero 2012-11-12 17:59
Of course, like many others, there is a financial investment consideration in my collecting, I would be fibbing too if I said otherwise. However, first and foremost - I collect for the love of what I do and my love of the history of games to preserve for the future. If my collection had no value, I would be equally indifferent to this fact - my aim is to have a collection that somewhere along the way others will look at and say, "good job on helping to preserve what is now a massive industry at its inception". Videogames are not just something I play, I have loved them since I was a kid growing up in the 70's. I read books on videogames, surf the internet looking for games and read historical information nearly every day of the year.
(Link to this comment) gunstarhero 2012-11-12 18:00
I've got what many would consider a hoarders amount of games, but I would never consider myself to be a hoarder (and don't really care what others think either for what its worth, although I do despair when I see accusations of big collections being just a hoard of games as this for me is pretty insulting given the amount of hours invested in my hobby) and part of the reason why I've accumulated so many games over the years is because I have been collecting for many years. Gamers who have only been collecting for a few years will very likely have many more games than they have now in a few years (unless they tire of their hobby), so big collections do not in my book necessarily equate to being a hoarder!
(Link to this comment) gunstarhero 2012-11-12 18:01
You won't find much chuff in my collection except for where I have completed a few collections and I've only done these (such as Mega Drive, because it was so easy back in the day when I was going for this set to get most of the games for next to nothing and ensured I didn't return home from car boots empty handed) - most of the games I have will have some historical justification for their place in my collection, whether it is because they form part of a series, developer or tie to some other classic title or simply because I enjoy it.

I love going up to my games room and spending time there - it's a labour of love and I'm not going to tire of collecting any time soon. My kids love it too and my wife even chips in with some lovely things as presents. I'm finding myself nodding much to chocklo, Tyron and Mayhem's posts here and as k1ngarth3r has also said, I just enjoy what I do.
(Link to this comment) invaderboy71 2012-11-12 21:08
I collect for the thrill and the chance to play a game i havent got. The value is of no intrest to me but to other pepole its a big thing and thats what drives the prices up.
(Link to this comment) Happyguy1984 2012-11-13 17:44
'Out of the 540+ Mega Drive games released there are over 100 sports titles. Not great if you're not a fan of sports or the same game featuring a different cover every year'.

This for me will be the worst part of getting a full Mega Drive collection if I decide to. Except for EA Hockey and NBA Jam I don't really play old sports games so that will be pretty much over 100 games I may try once and never play again. Then there are games like Fantasia, Dark Castle, Sword Of Sodan, Back To The Future 3 etc I have no desire to ever play again.
(Link to this comment) pandorazellas 2013-01-17 16:27
I'm writing a Retro Collecting panel for an event in April. Do you mind if I reference some parts of your article in my panel?

Also, does anyone happen to have a screenie of that MJ game selling for stupid money? It would be perfect for my "ebay WTF are you doing" section :)
(Link to this comment) mrjikser 2013-04-11 22:40
for me

Hope they increase in value
Private collection/personal collection
the fun and the thrill
pass down to my kids
(Link to this comment) PaperLuigi3 2014-12-15 21:43
I collect because it connects me to an era that I can never be a part of. I wasn't born when the NES was a thing. I wasn't aware of video games until the GameCube. I miss what was never mine, and because of that I collect.
(Link to this comment) kamakazi20012 2015-10-26 17:06
It is a mix for me. It started out innocently enough buying an NES and 5200. Then all the old childhood friends arrived...Super Mario Bros., Centipede, Defender, Gyruss, TMNT, Excitebike, and I was hooked. I wanted more, I craved the games I once owned but no longer had. I discovered other consoles and games I never knew about and hope to get someday. My entire collection sits at 350 games but that is combining modern with retro, physical with digital, console and PC games...and I have a notebook just for jotting down wish lists. I collect to play and to find old friends I use to pass the time with while discovering games I missed. For me video games are not just a hobby...they are a way of life. As crazy as it sound it's true...I live and breath video games. I have had people tell me before I should get a life...that's OK...I have one.

Retro Game Database Search

Retro Gaming Podcast

Join the RetroCollect Squad as they discuss our gaming past in the all new RetroCollect FM - Retro Gaming Podcast.

Retro Games on eBay now

About RetroCollect

RetroCollect is your one stop for everything retro games and retro gaming. Featuring the latest classic gaming news around, informative reviews and an ever active forum, you'll feel right at home with other retro gamers.

RetroCollect FM - Retro Gaming Podcast

Join the RetroCollect Squad as they talk their way through the wonderful world of retro gaming.

Listen to RetroCollect FM - Retro Gaming Podcast

Join RetroCollect on the web