How do I price tag on my booty?
April 29, 2008 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Who sets how much old and collectible video games are worth? How do they know? (examples with Monkey Island inside)

I wonder if the answer is somewhere along the lines of "they charge whatever people are willing to pay for it" but sellers don't act in a vacuum. There's got to be some feedback for whether a game is worth $50, or $100, or they wouldn't know what to put on the price tag.

I'm wondering, because I noticed that my Monkey Island games are worth a whole lot more than what I paid for them-- on Amazon, anyway. f you look at the listings for Monkey Island Madness even the *CD itself* is "worth" just over $50. But is this just a case of sellers trying to gouge unsuspecting buyers, or a case of three clueless sellers following the lead of one unscrupulous one, or are people actually paying that much?? If I look on eBay, there's only one completed listing for this game and it didn't sell (granted they tried to sell it for $60)-- but the lack of postings don't look like there's really a huge market for them.

Similarly: why is the original Curse of Monkey Island just under $30 while the re-release is nearly $100? I thought originals were worth more than re-release copies? (I have the original one.) Again, are people actually paying $100 for this?

...and Monkey Island 2 for $85? I also have this! And the price, like all the rest, looks too good to be true!

Which all brings me to the generic question, for future reference: Is there a kind of "blue book" or price guide somewhere for old computer games/video games? Realistically, what is the best way to put a price tag on what my old games are really worth?
posted by lou to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think your best bet is to search eBay completed auctions, and throw out any outliers due to bad pictures, silly reserves, etc. These auctions represent what people have actually paid to buy the item, unlike Amazon which allows sellers to make up arbitrary prices for items that may or may not sell.
posted by meowzilla at 12:50 PM on April 29, 2008

The simple answer is: it's worth what someone is willing to pay for it. That said, just because an item is listed for $100, doesn't mean the seller has many, or even any, buyers at that price.
posted by zippy at 12:51 PM on April 29, 2008

i would not trust amazon's price as the true value of what a product is worth. unlike other on line p2p retailers (think ebay) amazon allows sellers to list a product for an extended period of time at little to no cost. as a direct result people will often list things at an exaggerated price hoping that eventually someone will come along who "needs" their semi rare offering bad enough that they are willing to pay an inflated price.

like meowzilla said. if you would like to get an accurate price for a product, search completed sales on ebay.
posted by phil at 1:11 PM on April 29, 2008

I thought originals were worth more than re-release copies?

I don't know for certain, but I think most people are buying these old games to actually play them, rather than as collectibles. If that's the case the versions with the most demand would be the ones most likely to be playable on a modern system.

A lot of games around that time still came on 3.5'' floppies and only ran on DOS. Most people don't have a working 386 running MS-DOS 5.0 lying around, so a CD version that works in Windows XP would be worth more to a casual gamer who wants to play it on a modern system. That's why a lot of those games were re-released in a new format in the first place, because there was a lot of demand to get old DOS games working on Windows 95/98.

Of course in the case of LucasArts adventure games like the Monkey Island series, you can use any version on a modern system thanks the the excellent open source ScummVM project.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:12 PM on April 29, 2008

There are two databases for older games: BRE Software and Video Game Price Charts. BRE is the "gold standard" used by independent retailers and VGPC is an upstart competitor. Neither, as far as I can tell, has data on PC games.
posted by sachinag at 1:25 PM on April 29, 2008

The true values are the completed auctions where the game has actually sold.

IE - what someone is willing to actually pay.
posted by fire&wings at 1:53 PM on April 29, 2008

I think it's important to point out that software piracy is taking some of the pressure off the need to own an actual copy. If something is priced reasonably, a game will usually sell pretty quickly, but once the price creeps up the only people who are interested anymore are collectors who want to own a physical copy and are looking for mint editions.

If you want a sense of an average price, try going to a place that carries used video games and see how much they are offering for similar titles. Their prices are usually closer to reality than what you'll see on the internet, but there you run into the opposite problem that some things will actually be underpriced because they want to move inventory and clear off shelf space.

The closest to a "blue book" I could find is this site called Game Price Guide. That link goes to a demo of their services with pricing from 2004. I'm not sure how much I agree with their prices, but then again I didn't try their current version because that requires making an account. Also, don't forget about when you are looking at prices, since their listings tend to be a little lower than ebay and amazon.
posted by CheshireCat at 2:53 PM on April 29, 2008

Create a seller account under (part of eBay) and go as if you were going to sell one of the item you are researching. When the moment comes to set a price, you will be given data in a range of what prices the item has been sold at. In my experience, is the best place to sell (and get accurate prices for) video games of any sort -- because there is no listing fee unlike Amazons $1 minimum for anything, thus insuring there are no $1 jackups to cover it.
posted by Quarter Pincher at 7:28 PM on April 29, 2008

As has been stated, the market generally determines the price. Some people are very sentimental for particular games, and they are willing to pay a lot to play them again. I recently sold copies of Final Fantasy VII, Grim Fandango, and Planescape: Torment for way, way more than I paid for them originally. And from what I gather, it was primarily because people loved these games, and there's a limited supply out there. These games aren't manufactured anymore, even as re-releases, so the supply/demand can push the price up. I've found eBay to be a relatively good indicator of what a game will sell for, if you watch the sales for a couple of weeks.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:01 PM on April 29, 2008

I have the original on 5inch floppy for MI2, except I lost one of the disks so I emailed lucas arts support and they mailed me out the MI1, MI2 and demo of CMI on CD free of charge. Bear in mind, I was 15 and this was about 7 years ago, but now that I hear that it's worth $50 I might try and palm it off!

I wouldn't have thought these were 'rare' games, since Lucas Arts is constantly re-releasing them in comps. or packs which I'm always seeing.
posted by chrisbucks at 1:00 AM on April 30, 2008

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