How To Get Video Games With No Money

If you’re anything like me you probably find yourself a few times a year with little to no money but the yearning to collect more video games.  I’ve been there off and on several times over the past five years and as disappointing as it can be there are actually a few creative ways to continue to collect games with no money.  Interestingly when I first decided to start collecting I didn’t spend much money at all, but I ended up getting a bunch of games!  So here are a three things I’ve actually done to get new games with NO MONEY.

  1. Ask people for games!  I’m not suggesting to be a beggar, but it always surprises me how often friends and family are “on the look out” for me.  On more than one occasion I’ve casually mentioned to people that I collect video games and low and behold a few days later they have games for me!  SCORE!
  2. Trade for games!  If you collect games surely you have duplicates of at least some of your titles.  Find mutual collectors and trade with them to thin out your stock.  You can also trade games you don’t like, want, or need.
  3. Trade other things for games!  When I first decided to start collecting games my son wasn’t that old (I think he was 18 months).  And it just so happened I had an air pistol that I didn’t want, and certainly didn’t need in the house with a baby, so I put an add on Craigslist offering to trade it for any video games.  Guess what I got?  A Genesis 2, Double Dragon, a golf game, and Street Fighter 2.  It just so happened that I video taped the exchange, check it out:

Part 1: Waiting For The Customer

Part 2: The Deal Goes Down

Game Boy Screen Repair Free And Easy

This is the best original Game Boy Screen Repair guide. I know this because I created these videos. Check out the youtube comments for the specific praise. You don’t need to buy anything to do this repair provided you have the proper tools which includes a soldering iron, and a Philips screwdriver (or tri-tip if the system wasn’t a launch model) . I’ve shared these here before (more than a year ago), but its been quite a while. Enjoy!

5 Ways To Increase The Value Of Your Video Game Collection

increase the value of video game collection


You can inflate the value of your video games by following any (or all) of the following 5 pieces of advice.  If the first four seem obvious, I hope #5 is something you never thought of before…

  1. Clean the games – This might seem obvious to you, but it’s not for many collectors, and dealers alike. It’s not hard, or even that time consuming, but the investment of a few minutes for each game to ensure they are in presentable and working order will be worth it if you ever decide to sell your collection.
  2. Collect the box, manual, and inserts to ensure the game is complete – Complete games always sell for more than just cartridges and disc. The rarer the game, the rarer the box the manual and the inserts. Unfortunately the materials, being made of paper like they are, will be more difficult to find which can sometimes mean they are worth more than the cartridge themselves!
  3. Collect all the titles of a series – Who doesn’t love multiple games? Especially when it’s a complete series? Take for example Ikari Warriors on the original Nintendo Entertainment system. By itself the game isn’t worth much, and the sequel Victory Road isn’t worth that much either. But Ikari Warriors III always seems a bit inflated and when sold with the original two games they always seem to sell for more as well.
  4. Collect all the label variations – Did you know Gun.Smoke on Nintendo has two different label variations? Different variations, especially those that are rare because of a typo (Final Fantasy VII for instance) tend to sell for more than the common print. Further, when you consider the Atari 2600 that had several revisions of their cartridges (Text, Text Tele-games, Picture, Picture Tele-games, Silver Label, Red Label, etc.) some will be considerably more rare and worth more than others. The picture label for the Tele-games version of Superman for instance, or the “Number Sequence” labels for the original Atari games (01 Combat).
  5. Have a few rare games even if you are not interested in them – This tip might be the most important of all of them. Consider this: you have copies of Anticipation, 10-Yard Fight, and let’s say Play Action Football – three games, notoriously not worth more than a dollar or two each. If you were to try and sell them on eBay you’d be lucky to get anything for them, much less for someone to even look at the listing. But suppose the listing said “Little Samson, Anticipation, 10-Yard Fight, and Play Action Football”. Do you think you would get looks and bids? Of course. Rabid collectors would be blind to the common games and wouldn’t mind eating those games to to ensure they got the copy of Little Samson.  If you constantly find yourself unable to unload cheap games consider buying a more expensive one to sell with it.  Even if its a break even proposition for the more expensive game (IE: you spend $12 for a copy of Contra, but you sell it, Anticipation, 10-Yard Fight, and Play Action Football for $24)

Don’t Get Ripped Off Collecting Games From A Thrift Store

Nintendo Prices

Thrifting is a main staple of a retro game collector, and if you’re just getting started in collecting you might be a little overwhelmed or confused when you find gaming treasures at a thrift store.  It’s exciting enough to find items, but sometimes upon closer inspection you come to realize that the awesome NES game you found really wasn’t worth the $10 you spent on it, or the SEGA CD you took home is stuffed with oatmeal.

With that in mind I’ve compiled 13 categories of frequently found video games at thrift stores and their accessories and I’ve summarized what to look out for and about what you should expect to pay.  There are few other common items not listed here (like Atari 2600, N64 and PS2, and I’ll save that for another day).  Whether it’s a non-profit store or not, thrift stores are there to make money and unfortunately they will over price many items, and will shelve items that probably should have made it into the trash.

1.  Nintendo NES – Avoid systems that are missing screws.  The chances are more screws are missing from the system and the tray is probably cracked.  Don’t expect the pin connector to be in good shape unless it’s clear that the system has never been used.  A “new in box” (NIB) NES is rare, but they do exist.  For a system by itself spend no more than $15.  Don’t pay for RFU adapters unless they are $2 or less.  Original power supplies – $5 or less.  Original controllers if in perfect and new, spend no more than $7, no more than $4 if used but the buttons have a good click to them.  Avoid anything with pet bite marks.  Add $2 more if they are the dog bone controllers.  If it’s a Vaus controller and it’s in good shape, spend up to $8.  For the PowerPad, unless it looks perfect and unused spend no more than $10.  Grey Zappers keep it under $8 and orange keep under $5.

2. NES Advantage Joystick – the buttons on these sticks are notorious for sticking.  Even with gentle use they will stick.  The rubber membranes under the buttons wear out very fast.  Outside of collecting one of these to say you’ve ‘collected one of these’ pass on all NES Advantage Joysticks unless they are in great shape and the buttons don’t stick.  Check the bottom to ensure the rubber feet are still intact.  Spend no more than $8.

3. NES Max Controller – Finding an NES Max Controller that works is always a crap-shoot.  I’ve yet to find one that was in excellent condition that works.  Typically if I find one that does work it looks (or smells) terrible, or vice versa – new out of the box condition but doesn’t work.  You can swap the guts if need be, but otherwise avoid it.  It wasn’t that great of a controller – even if it was the precursor to the Dual Shock.  Spend no more than $6 if it looks perfect.

4. NES Games – I’ve yet to encounter an NES game from a thrift store that didn’t work.  Always clean the games – duh!  And use this price guide for their prices!

5. PlayStations (PS1s, PSones, PSXs, etc).  Unless you don’t have one already (who doesn’t?) avoid these.  There is one notable exception – mod chips.  If you want a modded system thrift stores are a good place to find them, however the spindles will often be damaged.  Otherwise for an original PlayStation spend no more than $7; for a PSone no more than 10.  For original (non Dual Shock) PS1 controllers spend no more than $4, no more than $5 for Dual Shock.  For the PSone Ceramic White Dual Shock controllers $6.

6. PSone LCD Screens – if it works take it!  Try and spend less than $15 for it.

7. SEGA Genesis – You’ll find plenty of Model 1 and Model 2 SEGA Genesis at thrift stores (I have 3 in my possession right now).  Make sure the expansion port has its cover (located on the otherside) and that the cartridge slot has its two ‘folding lips’.  As with any system shake it gently to determine if there are any loose or broken parts.  On the Model 1 don’t forget to use the slider on the headphone jack.  If its sticky then something has probably been spilled on the unit.  Avoid it.  Sticky = roaches.  Also the Model 2 power supply will not work on the Model 1 Genesis.  For an original SEGA Genesis spend less than $12, for a Genesis II, spend less than $7.  The Genesis III is of poor quality, but if you must have it spend less than $10.  For an original Genesis power supply spend no more than $7, for a Genesis II no more than $5.  If you find a Nomad, and it has the battery case, and the screen isn’t cracked, spend up to $20.

8. SEGA Genesis Games – Unless the game is complete I’ll normally avoid it unless it’s a particularly rare game.  You’ll often find cheap sports games complete in cases for cheap.  Don’t pass these up.  You can always reuse the cases.  If you have Genesis games without a case, recycle the sports case, find someone you know who has the case with sleeve, then color copy the sleeve and then you’ll have an almost complete copy (sans the manual of course).  Keep in mind that many of the simpler SEGA Genesis games releaed early in its life had a fold out single page manual.  These are easily photocopied.

9. SEGA Saturns – Don’t buy unless you can try a game in it.  If the store doesn’t have games, try a Music CD.  Otherwise it’s a crap shoot.  Spend no more than $12 for an untested system.  Original controllers, spend up $8, for the ‘newer’ controllers no more than $6.

10. SEGA Dreamcasts – follow the rules of number 9, but spend no more than $10 for the system, and $3 for controllers.  Both are surprisingly common.  Also, spend no more than $3 for any VMU.

11. Gameboys, Game Gears, Lynx – make sure the unit doesn’t have damage in the battery component.  Make sure it has the battery cover.  Test the unit and ensure the screen works and isn’t cracked.  (Bring test batteries just in case).  Pay careful attention to the buttons – no ‘give’?  Avoid.  $6 for an original Gameboy, $8 for GameBoy Color, up to $12 for a GameBoy Pocket, up to $10 for a GameBoy Color.  For I tend to avoid original Game Boy Advances, but if you must have it keep it under $7, for SP’s with a great case (no chips, no missing paint) spend up to $12.  For GameBoy Micro Advance, spend around $15.  Unless you can test the Game Gear avoid it.  If the screen works and it has the battery covers spend no more than $10.  For an original Lynx in great shape spend no more than $20, for the ‘newer’ Lynx keep it under $22.  Test before you buy!

12. Disc Based Games (Any system) – as long as the disc is not scratched you should be OK.

13. NEW! Super Nintendo – Avoid systems that are yellowed – this isn’t caused by smoke but because of the fire retardant chemicals that are used in the plastics manufacturing process.  Sometimes you’ll see the top shell yellowed and the bottom shell grey this is ok to purchase if you have another system in your collection that is the opposite, then you can trade the shells and have a nice grey system and 1 ugly yellow system!  For a fully grey system pay up to $15 if it’s in great shape, otherwise keep it under $10.  For yellow systems $5 or free – seriously.  I’ve never seen a yellowed Super Nintendo JR, but keep in mind that most are knock off systems.  An easy way to tell is to find the service sticker.  This 1-800 sticker should be crisp – Mario shouldn’t have 4 eyes, or any other weird crap.  That’s the easiest way to determine if its authentic or not.  The RFU adaptor is the same as an NES – same rules apply $2 or less.  AC Adaptors are NOT the same as NES.  They are like 10.5 DC volts, and have a grey tip.  It’s the same adaptor for either system.  $7 or less.  Original licensed controllers if in good shape, pay up to $7.  Almost all unlicensed controllers suck and I’d avoid them.  If you are going to buy unlicensed, you can get knock offs online in new condition for super cheap.  The AV cables are proprietary to Nintendo Products and will work on the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and I believe even the Game Cube.  I see them everywhere.  Spend no more than $4 for them.

On a final note about thrift stores, I absolutely dislike Goodwill.  Perhaps it’s just the ones in Las Vegas that are terrible, but it’s always a bad experience.  I understand that they will hire people in need, but some of these people need drug counseling.  The stores are always filthy, and it’s impossible to get help from anyone.  If you’ve had a good experience at Goodwill I’d love to hear where this occurred.

A New Strategy For Acquiring Many Video Games Cheap


In the past two years I have had two successful garage sales with success being defined as having got rid of a bunch of stuff and making a large quick sum of money.  There are two things I am certain of:

  1. If you want a bunch of people to show up to your garage sale before you even open make sure you advertise that you will have video games
  2. Be prepared to give away your games for about 1/3rd of what they are worth unless you are prepared

You can probably imagine the reasoning behind number 1.  Number 2 is a bit trickier though because you would thing that by running I would have a good idea of what games are worth – and I do!  I priced every game accordingly.  But during both garage sales I got haggled down and neither time did I see it coming.

In my mind I imagined people would come to the table of video games, pick out the games they wanted and pay me cash without haggling since I marked their prices very well on easy to remove stickers.  But not a single transaction worked that way.  Anyone who would buy games would pick up a large random stack pile them in front of me and ask “how much for all of these?”  Pressured to complete the transaction because I had other people looking at items I’d always attempt to eyeball the amount, and every time I’d come in under.  Way under.  And to make it worse, they’d always offer me a few bucks under what I asked for, and I’d always cave.  Always.  I had no self-control.

I’ve been thinking of those garage sales recently because the Super Bowl is next Sunday.  And Super Bowl Weekend is the holy grail of collecting for me.  The last couple years I have had enormous success, and it is in that success I realized that the same tactic my buyers used on me I have used on others!

A few years ago on Super Bowl Sunday, I visited the swap meet and I approached a man who had a variety of video games, but what caught my eye the most was a shelf of 9 boxed complete SEGA Master System games.  He spoke broken English, but the conversation went something like this:

Me: How much for these SEGA Master System games?

The Vendor: All of them?

Me: Let’s start with one

The Vendor: $2

Now at this point I had already decided I was buying them all 9 X $2 = $18, no doubt about it, but I pressed on.

Me: How much for all of them?

The Vendor: $10


This exchange is exactly how I got burned at my two garage sales.  He could have easy determined that it would be $18 for all.  He could have discounted it to $15, and I would have still bought them.  But instead he stumbled and quoted TEN FREAKING DOLLARS FOR 9 COMPLETE GAMES!

The analyst in me was awoken.  How could this happen?  Let’s break down all of the possible scenarios:

  1. The vendor wasn’t paying attention
  2. The vendor didn’t know what he was selling
  3. The vendor figured it was an adequate discount
  4. The vendor didn’t know math
  5. The vendor wanted a quick buck
  6. Or the vendor under quoted when put on the spot

There might be more reasons, but I figured these first five are good contenders, and 6 could be most likely.  So let’s break it down:

  1. The vendor wasn’t paying attention (Impossible!  This guy had shelves, and other gaming merchandise neatly arranged.  He was clearly a seasoned vendor who has done this before.  He wasn’t distracted at all)
  2. The vendor didn’t know what he was selling (Impossible!  This guy had all sorts of gaming merchandise.  Atari, Nintendo, and much much more.  Some vendors have a mix of VTech and other non-traditional video games, but this guy had everything organized by system and accessory)
  3. The vendor figured it was an adequate discount (Unlikely.  A seasoned vendor wouldn’t just cut something almost in half by choice)
  4. The vendor didn’t know math (Unlikely.  It takes incredible amounts of math just to maneuver the office to get a booth, besides he couldn’t do 9 X 2?)
  5. The vendor wanted a quick buck (Possible, but the shelves tell me he was there for the long hall)
  6. Or the vendor under quoted when put on the spot (Very likely because based on personal experience I tripped on this myself)

So allow me to go into what I believe is the thought process for number 6.  If you are selling something you are doing so to make a profit – period.  You want to make as much profit as possible so you spend a considerable amount of time figuring out what something cost you, and what you should charge for it.  You don’t want to overcharge because you won’t make a sale, and you don’t want to undercharge because you’ll break even, create a loss, or make too little of a profit to not make it worth your wild.  And here is where the problem lies: you do all this thinking for ONE ITEM ONLY.  You’re not considering someone purchasing them all.  So when you’re confronted with this scenario, and you quote a price it is already considerably larger than what you imagined for a single item.  I believe the brain malfunctions because you are now talking about that price which is so much larger than the single item.  You spent hours pricing everything realizing you’ll only make a few bucks on that single item, but now you’re talking about a huge dollar amount!  And I believe it is the mention of that large dollar amount that clouds your ability to realize you’re under cutting yourself.

But there are a couple other things in play I believe.  When asking how much for all, you’re asking the vendor to do real work.  You’re asking them to count all of the items.  You are putting them on the spot, you’re making them feel uncomfortable, even if it’s only for a few seconds.  And nobody likes that.  So in the example of my SEGA Master System friend mentioned above, I believe he is thinking to himself “screw it, $10!”  Which I believe I did the same thing at the garage sale.  I don’t want to sit there and counting up a box of 20 – 40 different games at different prices.  I’m just happy someone wants to pay for all of them and I don’t want to offend them, so here, take these rare SEGA CD games for $20, and I don’t mind parting with these five Super Nintendos for $30, because after all I’m asking for $10 for 1, and $30 is way more than $10!

This whole idea sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?  I admit it, it sounds incredibly stupid.  But I believe I am on to something, so I am going to put my theory to the test, next Saturday, when I visit the swapmeet I am going to go to the vendors I always see but never buy from, and not ask “how much are the games” instead I’m going to ask “how much for ALL of these games”.  Maybe I’ll spice it up with “I’m in a rush, how much cash do you want for all of these video games right now?”  And I will report back here with my results.

Here is the original video I made during that infamous Super Bowl SEGA Master System Trip:

Organize Your Game Boy And Advance Games With This

If you collect video games you probably have a mess of Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games.  You probably have some in the case and some that are not.  Either way Game Boy games can be particularly difficult to organize.  They don’t have labels on the side, and the Advance games have a lip that prevent you from stacking them neatly.  We present to you a $1 solution on how to organize your Game Boy games:

You can purchase the trays here: Dollar Tree Organizing Trays