Retro game collecting, notably gaming consoles, has been growing rapidly as a hobby in the last 5 years. The upward trend of prices on eBay and the growing number of retail stores is evidence of this statement.
The Amiga has not been immune to the spike in prices or interest and I suspect, the popularity of the system in the UK and Europe during the 90’s has fueled the nostalgia for our beloved machine. Like a mug of strong ale, down at the local on a Saturday night, the interest and excitement has overflowed to this side of the pond (the US). The upward trend is showing no sign of abating; year over year hardware and software prices for the Amiga have steadily increased – it makes me wonder how much the market can endure before we hit a plateau.
To anyone just entering the hobby of collecting or thinking about starting to collect, the current prices can be demoralizing. Shadow of the Beast is a beautiful, yet (ridiculously) hard game and a testament to the Amiga’s capabilities but is a cardboard box that shipped a 3.5in floppy disk really worth $97.41?
It’s rare that I’ll pay over $20 for an Amiga game, so as a reference for other Amigan’s or retro game collectors, I’m compiling here my own guide for searching for and buying vintage software.
1. Yard and Estate Sales
This is one of my personal favorites for hunting for vintage games, here in the US it’s very unlikely you’ll find Amiga titles but the excitement for me is the unknown and the potential. You never know what might be squirreled away in someones house. I have had a lot of success in the Denver area finding Genesis (Megadrive) and NES titles with copious amounts of PS2 games.
Every once in awhile I have hit a jack pot with some harder find collectables – it’s that potential that drives me. Last year I hit a gold mine of mostly Commodore gear with a few Amiga drives for $5 each and over this last summer, a buddy and I raided the mecca of vintage Apple gear. These finds and deals do exist, finding them depends on how patient you are and hard you want to look.
2. Craigslist and Other Online Public Forums
I recall about 10 – 12 years I did a search on Craigslist in the Denver area for Amiga’s, there were dozens of results with prices in the $20 range for A500s. These days not so much, supplies have dried up and most sellers do a price check on eBay before listing. There are exceptions, 18 months ago I saw a listing pop up for a few boxes of Amiga and Commodore 64 gear. It turns out this guy had been given an A4000, A500, a ton of external devices, software, magazines etc. and was willing to part with the lot for $250. Long story short I only walked away with the A500, years worth of magazines and a C64c for $100, even without the A4000 it was a great deal.
What’s the moral of the story? If you can, create email alerts for search queries and get in there fast!!
3. Flea Markets
The flea market venue has psychologically a lot in common with yard sales, you never know what you might find! Again, Amiga gear is very rare in the US and unfortunately some sellers think flea markets are real world eBay outlets and charge insane prices. Personally I’ve never found any Amiga item at a flea market, but last summer I did pick up a couple of boxed, mint condition Atari ST games for $3 each. I’m guessing Atari ST gear is rarer than Amiga, so I’m holding out hope on one day finding that Amiga jackpot.
4. Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are another hit and miss source (there’s a theme emerging here). I’ve mostly found 16bit and early cd-rom based consoles and prices are typically average these days, the great deals of 5 years ago are rare. If anything, I’m mostly seeing steep prices like $7 for a PS2 sports game. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for organizations that do tremendous work in our communities to make as much as possible, but their prices don’t sit well with my “Roger Frames buys budget games” philosophy.
Regardless, I have my regular thrift store or two I stop at on the way home from work occasionally.
I know what most of you are thinking, the price gouging, artificial market inflating prices of fleaBay are spoiling this past time for all of us. I would mostly agree with that statement, it appears most sellers in any of the previously mentioned locations first consult the online shopping mall and take the list prices as gospel. However, like with most things, if you apply patience with a little smarts and be specific about what you are looking for, you can find a deal. My own approach is to create notification search queries for a game title or genre and wait it out. Eventually, luck will be on my side and I find what I’m looking for at a price that I can stomach.
I’ll leave you fine readers who made it this far through my guide to finding retro with some relevant statics I have complied from eBay.
The AmigosPodcast top ten game price averages for eBay (worldwide). I’ve swapped Deluxe Galaga for Shadow of the Beast since it’s Public Domain.