Thanks for reading!
…but seriously. There have been some ongoing external factors over the last year and a half that have certainly laid a big, blunt, bludgeoning bruise across the butt of the retro games market.
Most recently, Sony’s decision-then-undecision to close down the Playstation 3 and PS Vita online stores played total havoc on the prices of those games. (We’ve covered Playstation prices extensively on this site.) Prices skyrocketed almost overnight, some games got downright ridiculous.
Add that debacle to a games market that’s already burdened by quarantined nerds looking for more ways to pass their free time. The video games market has absolutely thrived during the pandemic. And even though quarantine measures are being lifted, COVID’s influence on soaring game prices appears to be permanent.
That’s talking about video game prices in general. If we start to get into the meta of the games market, you can point to a few consoles with prices that actually are likely to come down in the near future. But in general, any console of the PS2 generation or older, is very unlikely to see prices come down like, ever.
But if history remains true, PS4 prices should continue to drop over the next few years. And PS3 and Vita prices should come down off the Sony Store hype. But they won’t ever come back to where they were last year.
How Long Until Video Game Prices Drop?
For current-gen consoles, it might take 10 years for prices to reach their lowest point. PS3 prices are likely to continue falling over the next few months, but it’s doubtful they’ll get anywhere close to where they were before the Sony Store fiasco.
But this topic of rising prices, falling prices, and pricing bubbles brings to mind a certain school of thought that’s probably important to address.
See, it’s tempting to treat game prices like the stock market, where wild swings up and down are typical, and are entirely dependent on the public’s opinion toward a certain product. But while there are some similarities between the stock (or Cryptocurrency) market, they are not even close to being the same thing or behaving the same way.
For one thing, the stock market is almost entirely dominated by trading bots and obscenely wealthy traders that are flipping huge numbers within milliseconds, based on algorithms and whatever’s happening in the news. The bots and traders feed off of each other’s actions in a mad dash to SELL SELL SELL before prices plunge any lower and BUY BUY BUY before they get higher. It’s that automated mania that leads to that classic stock-market snowball effect. And it all happens in a matter of seconds.
The retro game market is not controlled by bots or super-rich traders. Instead, the retro games market is dominated by nerds like you, purchasing games a few at a time, and only after a bit of shopping around for the best deal, cross-referencing Pricecharting, and sending a lowball offer to the seller.
Don’t get me wrong though, the market does respond. There’s still a snowball effect similar to stocks/crypto, it’s still triggered by external events, but it happens in slow motion. Instead of prices plummeting in a few minutes, prices relax gradually.
And don’t forget one of the prime factors keeping games dumbly expensive: F***ing scalpers. And, let’s be honest, scalpers aren’t just ruining the video games market. They’re ruining pretty much every market for every niche hobby ever. They need to stop. But again… the effect scalpers have on pricing is happening in slow motion compared to the stock market.
The fact is, while stock market prices tend to skyrocket overnight, then crash the next morning, retro game prices will never do that.
Oh sure, they’ll go crazy overnight. Just like PS3 did a few weeks ago. But they don’t drop right back down. They’ll drop a little, maybe. Over time. But…
Prices literally can’t drop when there are too many copies on eBay just sitting there, holding the price some scalper put on them when prices were high, and that scalper is too indignant to lower the price or remove the listing. One eBay seller isn’t going to list his game at the *real* price of $35 when some scalper has the same game listed in worse condition for like $150.
Prices can’t come down when ding-dongs can get some extremely common game graded and expect it to sell on ebay for 3X or 5X the regular market value. Listings like that virtually ensure prices will stay higher than Snoop Dogg.
Prices can’t come down when, at the first whiff of a value spike, collectors run out and grab overpriced copies and keep them on their shelf. This removes tradeable copies of rare games from the market entirely. A collector won’t spend $100 on a game they need for their collection, then turn around and sell it at $75 just because prices have dropped by 25%. Not a chance. They’re going to sit on that game for however long it takes for prices to come back up. Or possibly forever. Whichever comes first.
And don’t forget: The cost of new video games is coming up as well. From the standard $60 to the new standard of $70. Somehow video games have been immune to inflation for the last 25 years as computer technology’s decreasing prices have kept up. But that’s finally slowed down. (Or companies are just way greedier now. Debate in the comments section.)
As I’ve said many times already before: Video game prices might drop a bit. Over time. But they’ll ratchet back up again at the first sign of another spike. It’s just the nature of the market, unfortunately.
And like so many previously-fun collector hobbies, we have scum-of-the-earth scalpers to thank for it.
So like… If you’re a scalper reading this… You suck. And when you die, your family will sell all your precious collectables back into the market and maybe… just maybe… prices will come back down again. Hallelujah.
Thanks for reading and happy hunting.