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Just how rare are some of those older games? I mean, most people know about PowerSlave for the PC, and the only PC copy I've ever seen on eBay is this pricey bub. Even the PSX copies call for a pretty penny. But who decides this stuff? Sealed is nice, but does it warrant $350 dollars? I can't see how, unless it's the only Big Box of the game ever released anyways (And that it's otherwise hard to find the art, and in truth that's ll I'd buy it for).
But then there's all those D!Zone cds and boxes people sell for $50 plus because, why? Because it's a bunch of crappy wads for Doom? And Doom is old, which means it must be worth a lot of money! And I'm talking the cool Shovel Ware's with interesting art, but D!Zone boxes with screenshots on the box or poor looking shopped stuff that displays a proto-Doom 64 screenshot.
And then games like Chasm: The Rift, which fared better than PS critically, but was just about as hard to find: Whenever that shows up, even complete in the box it's dirt cheap compared to some of this other stuff.
Sometimes I wonder if the price is justified, like Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, where even a poor looking PS2 copy has a forty dollar price tag in a modern Game Stop. I guess because it's the only JP game that's a park building sim? A damn good one, too. I dunno, ranting about god knows what.
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Does pay to shop around.
Definitely. As a kind of extension, never underestimate the thrift store. I've seen complete unsealed box'd copies of Dark Forces II online for 15 to 30 bucks, and I found an extremely nice brand new (Though unsealed, though it appears it was sealed and the store opened it to check the contents) box copy for 5 bucks at a store. So, even unsealed, it was in much better condition than some of the stuff I've seen online.
So, uh, yah, I agree with your statement :P
Used game prices have skyrocketed in the past few years. Retro gaming used to be a pretty cheap hobby, but it really isn't anymore. Even games that were dirt cheap in their day are getting pretty pricey now. It's certainly not the same market it was 5-10 years ago. (In fact, most games I've looked at are going for ten times as much as they did ten years ago.)
The original carts/discs sell for way more than they're worth to me, especially with so many legal options to get those same games on newer hardware available now.
Wait until you see the eBay prices e.g. on sealed audio Metal cassettes: those are typically sold for their weight in black truffles (not in gold or beluga caviar, yet). As others have said, prices are dictated by people who sell high and buyers who are willing to buy that high. Otherwise, e.g. in thrift/junk shops, you can see even pretty valuable stuff go away for pennies.