With literally thousands of video games out there begging for your time and money, it can be more than daunting finding a starting point for a growing collection. Worse yet (or better depending on how you look at it), more and more games are being released each and every week! So where to begin? In part one of a special Game Hunter’s Journal series, we’ll discuss the best practices for collecting current generation video games, where to buy new games, how to save money, and what to look for when seeking future classics and rare titles.
What is the Current Generation?
The “Current Generation” of video games is always changing because, well, naturally what is current does not always remain current. Game generations are determined by the video game consoles that come out during that time. The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii are part of the seventh generations of consoles. Just for fun, the first generation of consoles was way back in the 1970’s when the original consoles were dedicated to playing simplistic video games (like the Odyssey) and the Atari Pong machine that only played the classic game of table tennis. As another side note, the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable (and all their revisions) are also considered part of the seventh generation of games.
Where to Buy Current Generation Games
This should come as no surprise to anyone, but buying current generation video games is remarkably easy. For starters, they’re readily available at any retailer that sells video games: Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, Best Buy, and of course GameStop. Instead of going over these locations to pick up games, I’ll highlight a few obscure places you might not otherwise think of when looking for video games.
A lot of grocery stores nowadays are starting to carry a small electronics section. I don’t think they’ll take off and be the next great place to find games, but you might be lucky enough to score a good deal on a new game at your local supermarket.
I’ve extensively covered thrift stores already, so be sure to hit them up once in awhile for games.
Discount retailers like Big Lots or Five Below (or another similar shop of those aren’t around your neck of the woods) often stock current gen games for decent prices as well. And sometimes they even go on sale, compounding the savings!
Perhaps the best thing about all these stores is that they almost exclusively (sans GameStop to a degree) sell games brand new. If you’re looking to collect games still factory sealed in that wonderful-to-remove plastic covering, then these stores will quickly become your friends.
Of course there are online retailers like Amazon, which frequently gives wonderful discounts on new video games, and eBay which you might get luck with a score a good find, but these sites aren’t always reliable outlets for game deals/prices.
Regardless, no matter what you pick, there are plenty of places to find current generation video games out there.
What to Look for When Collecting the Current Gen
Projecting which games will be worth more money in the future is difficult. There’s no way of telling if your Collector’s Edition of Resident Evil 5 will be worth the initial investment 10, 15, 20 years down the road. But there are some general rules of thumb to follow to better your odds of picking up future collectibles.
Collector’s Editions are becoming more and more frequent with video games. Simply having a Collector’s Edition version of a game doesn’t mean you have a more rare copy of said game. With Collector’s Editions you have to be mindful of what you’re getting: if you’re buying a Collector’s Edition version of Call of Duty: Black Ops and it comes with something like bonus downloadable content, that’s not going to be worth much of anything when we’re playing Black Ops 13: Modern Combat Future G.H.O.S.T.S. Collector’s Editions that are worth picking up are ones that come with extra physical stuff: the RE5 example above works well, as does the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Collector’s Edition. An important note here though is to retain everything that comes with those versions: having a steelbook case for RE5 is cool, but not having anything else doesn’t really mean you have the full, much more valuable, Collector’s Edition.
Games that get re-released are interesting bunch for collectors. For the most part, re-released games come out with the moniker “Game of the Year” slapped on to the end. This happened quite a lot with popular console games this generation: Borderlands, Batman: Arkham City, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and many more. Generally, re-released games always decrease the value of their brethren. So for example your copy of Borderlands 2 is going to decrease in value when the inevitable Game of the Year edition gets released. Faced with choosing one over the other, I’d opt for the original version of the GOTY/re-release simply due to the original game being the first issue, if you will, of that title. But if you don’t care that much and just want to collect and play games, then the GOTY version is usually a much better value for your money.
There are some games you just know are going to be collectible in the future. Games that have a huge fan base will always remain sought after: that’s why our old friend Final Fantasy VII remains on a lot of collector’s want lists decades after its first release. Your Mario’s, Halo’s Gears of War’s, Zelda’s, Final Fantasy’s, and God of War’s are always going to be collectible. Keep in mind that these games aren’t rare: they’re simply popular and expensive. These games will likely be readily available from just about everywhere in the future and will float around the same price tag for a long time.
Pay attention to news outlets about games. Sometimes something may come up that should tip you off to future collectible games. A good example of this happening relatively recently is when Silicon Knights lost a lawsuit to Epic Games and had to destroy all their copies of Too Human on the Xbox 360 as well as a few versions of X-Men: Destiny (specifically any game that used the Unreal Engine). Copies of those games, with particular emphasis on Too Human, began to jump heavily on auction sites like eBay. In these instances it’s good to be aware of the happenings in the gaming world. Recalls are another indicator of future collectible games, but I can’t think of any recent examples…
Here’s where collecting the current generation gets fun: Buy something you wouldn’t otherwise buy and take a gamble. There are tons and tons of video games on each of the current generations systems. Some winners, for sure, and plenty of losers. But you never know what’s going to be hard to find or even rare in the future. Perhaps that $5 copy of Spray on the Wii will end up being worth a lot more money down the road when completionists can’t find a copy of it anymore because they were only released in small quantities (here’s hoping). I’ve said it before, but if you’re really on the fence about a game you know little about, I say just go for it. The worst thing that can happen is the game’s value or rarity doesn’t mature, but at least you have a game to play in return!
Now is the Time to Buy
Stop himming and hawing over that used copy of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: now is the time to buy! With the eighth generation of game consoles beginning soon (it’s technically already begun with the release of the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and PlayStation Vita years ago) your window of opportunity to buy for this generation is closing. Retailers are going to stop carrying video games for the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 awhile after the release of the PS4 and Xbox One. Stores like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, etc. are looking for what is new and hot at the time, so they’re not going to still carry Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on the Xbox 360 when the newest version of the game everyone wants to buy is out on the Xbox One. Specialty stores like GameStop will continue to sell used games for these older consoles, but buying new will be out of the question almost entirely.
If you aren’t opposed to buying games used then GameStop will be your friend in the coming months. Since they’re the largest retailer in North America (though I have nothing to back that up, just an assumption) of used games you’ll likely be perusing through their racks from time to time. In an attempt to lower their stock of older games and prepare for the launch of the new consoles, GameStop has been (and will likely continue) running lots of used game sales. Buy 2 Get 1 Free, 3 for $10 on select games, and more will not only add lots of new games to your collection, but will also be really nice to your wallet!
Other retailers will run promotions as well. I’ve encountered several wonderful deals at Best Buy, and for new games, nonetheless! A friend of mine has found a handful of deals at his local Target. Toys R Us has been running a lot of video game deals as of late it seems. And let’s not forget about Amazon’s sales online. Oh, and Black Friday is almost upon us as well!
Why Collect for the Current Generation Over the Others
The benefits of collecting for the current generation of video games can be summed up in one word: Convenience. As stated above, there are dozens of stores that sells video games for the current consoles. There are tons of stores with sales and promotions to take advantage of, something that older video game collectors would kill for. Not only that, but the current generation of games are just that: Current. They’re still exciting and “in the now.” People are still playing Borderlands and Pokemon, so if you’re one to play the games you buy then you’ll be in good company while your build your collection.
A few downsides do come up with collecting for the current gen. The most pressing issue is likely pricing. If you are looking to get the best value for each game you buy, then buying a game right when it comes out is completely out of the question. You’ll have to wait months, sometimes years(!!) before a game you want goes down to a price you’re willing to pay. This type of fluctuating price point isn’t a problem with older games because they tend to stay around the same price range for year. Another potential problem is sifting through the stuff you don’t want to find what you actually DO want. There’s hundreds of crappy games, shovelware movie tie-ins, and downright lame video games for every system, which really started happening more with this generation over any other. While retro game hunters have to seek out each of their titles one by one, to an extent so to do the current game hunters.
Collecting for the current generation of games (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable (PSP) and Nintendo DS) is just as fun as collecting for any retro, classic, or older game console. Many of the same methods are still in place for seeking out certain games. Finding future collectible titles now, before they’re super sought after and much harder to find, will save you tons of cash and frustration in the future. On top of that, the current gen is arguably the easiest to find games for because of their presence at nearly every electronics retailer.
Now you are armed with tools to help you find games to add to your collection from this generation of consoles. In Part Two of this three part series, we’ll take a look at collecting for the previous generation of games and discuss what to look for when hunting for games, where the best places are to find games, and some titles to keep on your radar. Until next time,