Must Have eBay Tips For Retro Gamers & Collectors

must-have-ebay-tips-for-retro-gamers-a-collectorsThe retro community is ever increasing and with that new collectors start looking towards expanding their collections. While the novice collector could survive on boot sales, markets and second-hand shops, if they have a serious desire to complete any given consoles catalogue of games then they will eventually have to sell their soul to the devil and turn to eBay.

In this brief guide we will hopefully point both seasoned collectors and newbie retro gamer in the right direction - to the point where they can no longer resist the alluring gaze of eBay's bargains. Follow these handy tips and you'll avoid curling into the foetal position and crying yourself to sleep. After all nobody wants to losing out on countless bargains and the precious retro games to be had.

1. Check The Pictures

Always ensure you've seen the item you’re hoping to buy. Occasionally sellers will use a stock photo of a game (often just a scan of the front cover seen on the likes of Amazon and Play) rather than the actual game up for sale. With auctions like this, it is very hard to determine the condition of the game when there isn’t a photo. Sometimes a seller might suggest the game's condition is excellent, when it’s just short of being acceptable. If you’re planning on forking out a hefty fee for the rarities, be sure to ask for more photos. Most sellers will be happy to oblige. And if they don't, move onto the next auction as it isn't worth the worry.

2. Contact The Seller

If you have any doubts at all, make the most of the ability to contact the seller via eBay. If you feel there isn’t enough information or you need to know something specific then get messaging.  Sellers will usually give most of the information required (such as condition, working order and so forth) in auction descriptions, but sometimes you will come across an item which could do with being described in a bit more detailed. The contact form can often be found at the bottom of an auction's page.

3. Save Your searches

If you’re aiming to secure a specific game for your collection then be sure to save a search. Beside the number of results on a search you will see a button labelled 'Save search'. Clicking this will give you the option to be notified via email whenever new items are listed that match your search term. This is a invaluable tool towards getting bargain games before other eyes spot them. As some sellers are unaware of the value or rarity of a game, they may list it very cheaply - but that isn’t your problem, just snap it up the minute you see it!

4. Consider Bundles & Job Lots

As a retro gamer it’s always worthwhile buying a bundle - especially given you can sometimes gain a small collection in one purchase. This is a fantastic way to start off a collection, however, as time goes on you may run out of space!

Should a bundle contain only one game within you need, but you don't want to pay the full price of the auction, don’t hesitate to contact the seller. I have procured countless games by arranging a deal through private messaging. Sellers may refuse your offers in the hope of selling the bundle as one, however, you will find the occasional seller that agrees. There’s only one way to find out though.

5. Keep Track Of The Postage Costs

This is often the biggest issue for most retro gamers and collectors. Unfortunately a large portion of the money we spend on eBay ends up on postage. Another addition to the last point (regarding bundles) can be applied here. It is always beneficial to buy job lots as often as you can because you'll save a small fortune on postage. 

If you’re buying multiple games (separate auctions) from the same seller, be sure to find out if they combine postage. Most sellers that sell multiple items (sometimes as a shop) will explain their stance on combined postage in their descriptions. Whilst most will be happy to help here, if they don’t mention combined postage at all be sure to get in touch and ask. Those who fail to find out for sure can be easily caught out and could end up paying more for postage than what the games they are buying are worth. 

Hopefully this guide should keep you safe and sound whilst hunting for retro games online. Should for whatever reason you be unsure on a certain auction or need a retro gaming expert to help out, then head over to the forums and see if anyone knows the answer you're looking for.

And should you consider yourself to be an eBay guru, feel free to share your bargain hunting tips with the retro gaming community below in the comments.

Last Updated ( 17 January 2013 )  


(Link to this comment) invaderboy71 2012-09-15 21:46
Good tips for the new collectors out thire. if you follow them you wont go wrong and get riped off. keep an eye out in the charatey shops. :-)
(Link to this comment) gamesgaryjp 2012-09-16 10:10
Good tips, ive followed these since 2004 and havent had any problems. Stock pics DIE!
(Link to this comment) Wizbiscuit 2012-09-16 17:29
Always manuals is my problem, people often dont clearly state, and even though they select the ebay default that says manual, so unless it says manual, I would ask... (ie when the picture just shows the close box)...
(Link to this comment) Mayhem 2012-09-16 19:24
Also as a consideration for buyers, please understand why postage costs can be higher than you might think. Con artists and rip off users who claim items never arrive when they did spoil it for everyone, and sellers have to send everything tracked to ensure against claimbacks. Which obviously pushes up the shipping costs.
+1 (Link to this comment) chocklo 2012-09-17 16:14
On the subject of stock pictures, don't assume that the picture is of the item just because the picture is taken of the game on a bedspread (or something like that). Some sellers will nick pictures from google or previous listings. If you're splashing out a lot of cash, even though the pic looks like a seller original, double check (especially if you're really bothered about the condition of the game)
+1 (Link to this comment) chocklo 2012-09-17 16:17
If you're looking for rare titles and great bargains, you have a particular platform in mind and you have 5 mins to kill, do a 'top n tail' search on that platform (e.g. PS1). Then get your results listed by ending soonest (but only for auctions) and then change the view to 'newly listed' but look at BINs only.
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2012-09-17 16:23
If you're looking for Euro exclusives and you're deadly serious about securing that game, then doing a search for 'EU Countries' doesn't always necessarily give you all the games available in Europe. It only shows those listings where the seller is willing to post worldwide. Frequently the Euro sellers do not choose this option and therefore the games will not be shown. It can be long winded (but that's why I enjoy hunting) but you should refine the search to only look at the country where you know a game was released. So for example, for Cool World and Whirlo, don't do a search on EU, do a search on games which are located in Spain for example. Oh, that's just half of it. The other half is to convince the seller to post it to you. 90% of the time they say "no probs" (or - no problemo...chortle). I don't know why but whenever I've been rejected, it's frequently when I try to get Aussies to post across.
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2012-09-17 16:26
edit - decided to delete this one. It's a bit dark. A lot of people do it, but I don't want to be giving anyone any ideas! :)
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2012-09-17 16:29
If you're looking for German games (where you see a lot of non UK PAL games) - do a worldwide search for the platform and OVP (e.g. Game boy OVP). To this day, I have no idea what OVP stands for - but I do know that it equates to 'boxed'. I think I'll google it now.

other handy words include - Komplett, completo, boite, 'complet -complete'
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2012-09-17 16:35
If you're searching for an item and you're sick of 95% of the search coming back with cheap Chinese pens, dolls etc. adding a minus before a keyword removes those items. So, if you do a search on -

SNES -pen -watch -mario -plush -doll

You filter out some of the junk.

It's also handy to know that some people still list SNES games as Super Nintendo. This scenario is also where this rule comes in handy.

So, I haven't done it for a while, but typing in Super Nintendo, as you'd expect, brings up stuff like 'Super Mario Bros NES) as well. I don't wanna see that stuff, cos I'm interested in SNES. So....

Super Nintendo -Gameboy -N64 -NES -Mario -wii -gamecube -64 etc. etc.

I don't think many people still list their SNES stuff as Super Nintendo anymore - but they certainly used to....
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2012-09-17 16:35
....and that takes me to hometime!!
(Link to this comment) chocklo 2012-09-17 16:54
If you're buying games with cardboard boxes, ask the seller to flatpack/collapse the outer carboard box in the envelope/jiffy bag. It stands a far better chance of arriving to you in the condition it left the seller.
(Link to this comment) MSIXMEI 2012-09-28 15:57
If you use Windows Live Mail, You can use the RSS feeds, Once an item is listed on eBay you can get a pop up everytime a new item is listed on your desktop without even being on eBay!
(Link to this comment) Kingcizz 2014-05-22 17:41
Another tip to use when a seller has several different games for sale and you fancy a few of them, email them to see if they will sell you all the listings for a knock down price. I secured many games for import systems this way and the seller is happy with the bulk purchase, saves postage costs as well. Although make sure you still pay via pay-pal and check out the sellers feedback before doing any transactions that do not go through Ebay.
(Link to this comment) synt4x 2014-11-25 19:19
I'd like to add a tip for sellers: Don't use the Global Shipping Program to ship internationally . It's a scam that just makes eBay more money by charging the buyers ridiculous fees that they don't inform the seller of. I refuse to buy from sellers that use GSP out of principle. It's not hard to fill out customs forms yourself. GSP used to only be from US sellers, but recently I've seen that they have introduced it for UK sellers as well. So please, if you sell on ebay internationally , don't use GSP. It just drives international buyers away from your listings. It shouldn't cost ~$25/£14 to send a friggin' Game Boy cartridge to my country for example. Also the third party company that handles the shipping will open your package and repackage it as cheaply as possible to save money. So even if you take care to package well that might not matter in the end. And ebay won't take responsibility if something goes wrong. Look up lukemorse1's videos on GSP on youtube if you don't believe me.

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