GameStop recently announced they were going to start accepting classic games and consoles for resale, possibly seeing the surprising (to me) revival of consoles like the PSOne and the NES. As much as I like the idea of being able to walk into my local mall and see games like Clash At Demonhead and Aero the Acrobat alongside modern shooters and AAA franchises, I’m actually torn about it both nostalgically and economically.
I’m not one of the major collectors of the world, but I have been consciously collecting games for consoles I love since 1999, when I discovered a little chain store in my hometown named FuncoLand. Just saying the name brings back good memories, not only for me but I’m sure for thousands of gamers. I remember a floor-to-ceiling shelving unit filled with NES games, a plywood behemoth of gray carts with the slivers of color glinting off their shiny labels. I remember behind-glass consoles with games to test on N64, Saturn, and the newly-released Dreamcast.
I even remember being 15 and stopping in for a handful of NES games (most of which were priced under a buck) and ending up helping some poor stranger looking for a game for their kid/nephew/niece/grandkid, and walking out with a job application even though I—and they—knew I couldn’t take the job by California law. (My grades were awful and my mother never would’ve signed off on it anyway.) Those were great times, even when I had little to no money and could only browse.
But now, as an adult with a job and a gig writing about games and gaming, GameStop is bringing some of that back… hopefully without the massively-inflated eBay prices, though that’s a disappointing possibility.
In recent years, with so many people so easily rediscovering the classics from either their modern incarnations or download services, prices for the physical copies has gone up. Gone are my old days of ten games for ten bucks, and in are the days of ten bucks bringing home a child-signed Wheel of Fortune: Junior Edition. Especially in the days after a few Stadium Events—both boxed and not—being discovered for high prices, and the people who somehow think that all games are worth that much (including the sad case that Storage Wars aired a few years ago). When online auctions and confused, no-research-necessary people decide something is worth a certain amount, sellers can make some serious cash, but collectors and players who know better are going to lose their shit.
While GameStop will likely not take their cues directly from online auctions (like one local shop I remember visiting that was asking $30 for a loose, sad copy of Super Mario Brothers 3, which sold over 10 million physical copies), they’re not immune to keeping high prices and buying as low as possible. The running joke is that they’ll buy a near-new-release game from a customer for $10 or so and flip it for five bucks under retail, which is usually the case. Who knows what they’ll do to pricing if they’re allowed to continue to give older games that treatment, just as they did before clearing out their older stock? Purchase common-but-popular complete PSOne games like Metal Gear Solid and try to sell for $50? Maybe a loose copy of Sonic 2 for $20? Jump on the NES bandwagon and try selling Little Nemo: Dream Master with some kid’s signature for $25?
I’m skeptical. Like I’ve said to friends, I’m just interested enough that when my local GameStop (if this plan comes to fruition) is packed that I’ll take a browse through, even if just to satiate my FuncoLand-filled nostalgia and glance around for the copy of Persona 2 I was too late for… provided they're not actively trying to rip me off in the process... though sadly, I know it is.
Are you interested in GameStop selling classic games again? Is there a game or two you’re looking for on their shelves? Let us know in comments, you know, so I don’t feel so alone.