Are classic video games the next collector bubble?

Like how sports cards crashed in the 90s, I think classic video games are headed down the same path. There are more and more companies trying to get a piece of the action every day. Either by dealing in the old games themselves, or building new machines to play them, or reproductions. Prices are getting ridiculous, and there are many near flawless options for free emulation.

I don’t really follow your reasoning. I could buy a reproduction Action Comics #1, or a Honus Wagner card. Originals of these are still worth big money. Yes, you can play roms on emulators. This doesn’t really affect the price people will pay for the originals.

I read an observation about the collector’s value of vintage automobiles once, that might, maybe, be applicable to other genres of collector stuff too.

There were, and maybe still are, clubs of people dedicated to keeping, preserving, and driving their old Ford Model T and Model A cars. For some time now, these have tended to be mostly older folks. They put a lot of effort into keeping their cars in spit-spot condition, running, maintained, and spit-polished. They expected them to retain their value and appreciate indefinitely.

Then, I think it was around the 1990’s or so, they began to notice that wasn’t happening, and wondered why.

The explanation offered was that people became attached to the cars of the era they were driving when they were teen-agers, at the time they first began driving themselves. The younger generation didn’t inherit their interest, much, in the old Model A and T cars. Instead, they became attached to the cars that were current when they learned to drive.

Thus, for example, people who came of age and learned to drive during the 1950’s-1960’s “car culture” era, later became collectors and aficionados of those cars, and those were the ones that they kept, maintained, and spit-polished, with the flaming paint designs, Daddy Roth and Moon Eyes decals, and all that.

So I wonder if these other kinds of collectors genres – video games, trading cards, Elvis stuff, or whatever – might be affected by similar generational trends.

I have owned a number of classic full-size arcade games over the years (and still own two) and follow pricing on eBay and craigslist, etc.

In general, I would say prices have been trending lower and lower for years now. Not that you’ll ever be able to pick up an original working MS Pacman for $100, but prices are certainly better than they were 10 years ago. I don’t see any bubble in this corner of the market.

ROMS have been a thing for like 15 years. But I don’t think XBLA, retro games on Steam, and other ways to pay actual money for a 20 year old game are hurting too badly.

I’ve always wanted a Neo Geo but don’t have the space anyway. Arcade consoles are the realm of ultra geeky hobbiests who want the physical console anyway. For everybody else, it’s not worth it, but the market still is there.

I’d heard that too; that car collecting is, in part, driven by nostalgia.

Back in 1984, 85 I bought 3 games for $450 - fully functional Asteroids, Gravitar, and Battlezone games. The Asteroids game lasted the longest. Good times.

“Hello, TD? Convert all of my holdings into quarters. You heard me! Don’t ask… yeah, yeah, but I heard it might just be the next big thing…”

Right, and that’s why the classic video game market won’t ever take off. For 99% of the people out there nostalgic for classic arcade games, the emulators will be more than enough. I mean, where’s the attraction to having the “original”? I loved “Mail Order Monsters” for my C64, but if I want to play it, I’m not going to dick around with those awful old 5.25" drives, a C64 and figure out how to rig it up to a modern-day TV or monitor. I’ll just download VICE or CC64 and go to town.

Maybe if someone REALLY wanted to play BattleZone or one of the other Atari vector graphics games, they’d have to go fire up an old console.

Speaking as someone of a certain age, there is some appeal to sitting on a stool in front of the old style cabinets. I went both routes and bought a MAME cabinet with all the old ROMs loaded (though I only play the same stuff I used to play). At $500 or so, seemed reasonable and easier to find than scouring the country for an original. Some cousins of mine are younger and want the old Atari game systems, saying gameplay isn’t the same with the retros - more nolstagia.

I’m 43, so I’m right there in the arcade-game age with you. And while I occasionally get nostalgic about video games, in my case, it tends to be either the gameplay experience or the camaraderie from playing co-op with friends that I remember, so having the actual cabinet in my house isn’t going to satisfy that nostalgia. But firing up a copy of say… Robotron or Zaxxon on my PC goes a long way toward that.