Online auction site eBay can be a real haven for game collectors. Literally everything you could ever want is on the site. That includes games, specific versions of games, very specific inserts and other stuff included with a game but not necessarily the game, and some other things you didn’t even existed (but now must have!). With everything at your fingertips, it’s easy to get drawn into the black hole that is eBay and never look back. As a game collector you can use eBay to get all kinds of stuff you otherwise would never find, but using eBay the proper way can be challenging. Here’s how a game collector should use eBay to their advantage and grow their collection the best, most efficient, way possible.
At first glance you might think of eBay as nothing more than a website to buy things, much like Amazon. In many ways this is true, but as I mentioned in an earlier post there are a lot of great functions you can use with eBay to help your game collection!
Pro: Find the current selling price for a game
There’s a nifty feature built right into the eBay search engine. Entering additional settings for your search allows you to filter your results to only show sold listings. By doing so, you can quickly see how much Super Princess Peach is selling for online. This is a fast and simple way to tell if what you’re looking at in a store or elsewhere is actually a good deal. I use this frequently when buying games at places like GameStop or even Goodwill. If you’re using the desktop version of eBay and you’re looking up a title that sells relatively frequently the site will tell you the average selling price on the page itself!
Be wary of this however, as eBay isn’t the be-all, end-all for prices. Sometimes other sites will have games cheaper, so if you really care you’ll need to do even more research. For me, a look at eBay is usually enough to justify a purchase or a pass. Find out what you’re comfortable with, and go from there.
Also, don’t forget to add in shipping to the overall price of the game online! As the buyer, you pay for that too, so it’s a good idea to lump that fee in with the total price of the game, because, well, it’s all just money, right?
Pro: Find that game you’ve been looking for
The greatest benefit eBay will have to the game collector is convenience. Within minutes you could be purchasing the entire Etrian Odyssey DS collection. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a used game shop (not GameStop) you might actually find these games out in the wild, but for many others there are simply no other choices as no stores actually sell these games anymore. But that doesn’t mean you should be foolish and jump on the first auction you see!
As long as someone wants a game, someone else will be selling it. Use this logic when looking for games on eBay. Research prices for the games you want and determine what price is average, how much you are willing to pay, and be patient waiting for your desired auction to come up. Believe me, it can be incredibly easy to bid on the first auction you see with the games you want, but this is such a terrible idea I don’t even know where to begin. A cool feature with eBay is that it allows you to place your maximum amount you’re willing to spend on an auction and eBay will bid on your behalf up to that amount. So if you think a copy of Final Fantasy XIII-2 is worth $20, you can set $20 as your max bid, and, assuming no one bids higher than $20, it will be yours for that price or less! Again, keep shipping in mind as part of your max price.
If you’re looking for that one last game to add to a collection, or a very specific item then eBay might be your best choice.
Pro: Do some extra research
This doesn’t happen all too often but every once in a while I’ll come across a game in the wild that looks different from the standard box I’m use to. Take for example the Splinter Cell: Conviction Collector’s Edition image above: right in the middle there’s a steelbook case for the game. Sometimes those cases will turn up at GameStop’s or some other store and I’ll be scratching my head as to what it might be. Usually a quick search online will find the results I’m looking for, but what is really useful is researching through eBay.
Using the same example above, I found a steelbook copy of Splinter Cell: Conviction for just $5 used a few days back. I looked up the price online and noticed $5 is fairly average. But this is a steelbook case, it has to be worth more. Well, seeing as nothing else was included from the Collector’s Edition, that wasn’t the case. Just the game and steelbook case alone look really cool but don’t fetch any higher price in the resale market, which is what I learned from eBay!
I’ll also come across some games on eBay that are for sale that look different than what I’m used to seeing. Sometimes these games are actually different versions of a game you may already know or have, so picking up this variant copy might be worthwhile! On other occasions they might simply be the same game but from a different region, such as a European PAL version or even Japanese version. Watch out though, as some weird looking games might actually be pirated copies!
If you’re not careful you might get caught up in the ease of eBay and forget the better parts of game collecting. Yeah, I love getting an awesome lot online, but what I love even more is going out to a store or garage sale and finding games for crazy good prices, or items I never knew existed! You don’t get that on eBay, so keep these things in mind as well when buying.
Con: Lose the thrill of the hunt
I can tell you for sure one of the most exciting things for me about game collecting is hunting for games. Searching through used game racks, be it at GameStop, Goodwill, or anywhere that sells games, is always really fun. More often than not I’ll find something interesting that I might buy, or at least something that will catch my attention I might come back too later. Going out and buying games in the real world (as opposed to online) will almost always net you better deals financially and is a wonderful means to discover new games which you can play and hold the day of purchase!
I take pride in my collection, but anyone with money to spend can have a ton of games to house. For me, it’s about getting a sweet deal or finding that fun game no one else has ever really played. Those are hard to come by online, since prices are usually comparable to market value and you won’t find many obscure (and possibly amazing) titles.
Con: No flexibility in pricing
If you’re savvy enough, when dealing with a seller at, say, a garage sale, you can barter with them and possibly lower the price of something you want to buy. Or, more often for me, I bundle a few items together and ask for a cheaper price since I’m buying multiple things. This is a great strategy to get games on the cheap, and something you just can’t do online. Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price from a seller in person: you want to buy, and they want to sell, so they might be inclined to do business with you even if it means getting less cash. Some money for them is better than no money at all if it doesn’t sell!
One could argue you can actually do this on eBay by only bidding what you’d pay for the game as your max bid, but this isn’t really lowering the price. And combining shipping on multiple items doesn’t count either!
Con: Buying from the great unknown
A huge minus in the online department comes from not knowing for certain what you’re actually getting. A great eBay seller will write down the condition of the games, as well as the contents packed with it (like instructions, inserts, etc.), and take some excellent photos displaying their goods. But they might neglect to tell you they live in a smoking household, so all of your items you’re purchasing will smell like crap! So no to Smokers!
I would say however that you’re likely going to get what you expect from an auction. Only when you’re buying from someone that doesn’t list the condition or contents of an item (or doesn’t provide pictures) are you risking getting an inferior product. This will never be an issue when shopping locally, since you can inspect and determine the quality of the product first hand. Emailing a seller asking for the condition or content of an auction is so much more agonizing than just picking up the game and looking at it yourself.
Shopping online will never fully replace heading out and finding a game store or yard sale to scoop up more titles. In tandem with shopping at stores sites like eBay can be invaluable, but never truly the only source of new content for a collector. With these tips in mind you can use eBay to expand and develop your own collection into something extraordinary!