The cliche move of walking to your local garage sale to find old discarded NES games is becoming a thing of the past.
With countless new generations of video games falling into the laps of today’s youth, old cartridges are becoming harder to find. I know I’d never give up my old games, but some people don’t know the value of what they hold in their hands. To raise awareness for collectors, I’m going to go over just how our beloved NES and Genesis games are meeting their end.
Garage sale decline: By now, the peek season for buying old games at garage sales has pretty much passed. The generation that played those games as kids are now growing up and looking for those very games to give to their own children. The days of going down the street, and finding a copy of Mario Bros. in a discount box are pretty much over.
Corporations: Used video-game pawn shops seem to be collecting old cartridges from aging parents for minimum value, taking those games off the market for collectors like myself – unless, of course, you pay an inflated sum for the game you want. These games are being held by the select few who have the money to invest, and down the line if they aren’t selling, they will either be thrown away or liquidated to someone else who has a large resource pool. Even Amazon is getting in on the act of purchasing used games.
Battery life, old plastic, the “brown residue”, and smoke: Cartridges also are dying. Just the other day, there were reports of Pokemon games all the way up to Crystal losing their battery life. The plastic for many old games are beginning to chip away. NES games have a mysterious brown substance growing on games that were left in damp places. People who smoke make the cartridge itself smell terrible.
The fact of the matter is, what is out in the public now is all we’ll ever get to see. It isn’t like you can “burn a new copy of the game” for your NES. True, there are emulators, but the actual cartridges are what we remember. With every cartridge destroyed, that is one less that will ever exist (sounds dumb, but it is true).
And if you think the cartridges are still ok, then think about their labels.
With that said…
There is still hope: eBay can still be a good place to find cheap(er) games. If you get lucky, you’ll find an entry that seemingly gets looked over. Also, games are starting to be remade through reproduction services. It may not be the original copy, but you still get the same feel for what it was like to plug in a cart and play.
tl;dr: Please protect your games from dust, smoke, and damp areas. Some of us out here love the feel of an old cartridge. Since they are no longer being made, it will become harder to find the carts you love as time passes. Do your part and protect the vintage gaming industry.