Gaming Under Construction 0.03 – Top 10 Reasons That Game Collecting Is Dying

Until recently, I was a tried and true game collector. My collection topped out at nearly 3,000 games. But throughout 2009, I got a continuing feeling that my efforts seemed pointless – that I was fighting against a tide that would eventually overwhelm me.

As 2010 begins, I’m in the process of paring and honing my collection, shifting to digital downloads and trying my best to approximate a central iTunes-like availability for most of my gaming.

For other game collectors with the same sneaky feelings I had, or just for those curious, I present the top ten reasons I am a recovering hoardcore gamer.

1) It is impossible to have a complete collection of physical games for any current-generation system.

Collectors relish complete NES collections, or even complete Dreamcast collections. The sad truth is that the days of being able to complete a system or franchise collection with box and instructions are over. Just in the past year it has become impossible to have a complete Contra, Mega Man, Castlevania, Ratchet and Clank or even Mario collection without having at least one digital-only game. Before the entire gameography of a franchise could be laid out in physical boxes, but no longer – the full Wipeout Collection just isn’t the same with a print-out.

2) Most PS3 games require large hard drive installs, making regular play of more than a few dozen games arduous

This might seem like a trivial point, but even with the maximum 250GB hard drive, that is limited to say sixty games that can be played any time without juggling hard drive game installs. If a collection is to have dozens or hundreds of games, plus downloaded games, it adds an additional time burden for memory management. Of course this has only just begun on PS3, and on the iPhone in some respects, but it could be a barrier down the road as games increase in size.

3) Older systems and games have a limited shelf life

A few months ago, I went to test an NES system I could lend to a friend and lo and behold, it didn’t work. Not worried, I went to another NES I had stored, and it too did not work. Only my top loading NES was working at all. The NES systems were likely over twenty years old, and I can probably clean them again or do something to jumpstart them into temporarily working condition. But the clock is ticking, not only on older cartridge based systems, but especially for disc-based systems with tons of moving parts any of which are failure points for the system’s operation.

4) The value of older games plummets when they are released as digital downloads

Once upon a time, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was a valuable PS1 game – especially the non-Greatest Hits all-black version. The game has since been released on XBLA, on PSN, as an extra on PSP and even on Konami compilation for Xbox 360 released in December 09. Suddenly one of the most exciting parts of game collecting – having super valuables games – was in jeopardy. How long until my Panzer Dragoon Saga on Saturn is worthless because it’s 800 points on XBL?

5) It’s unwieldy to continue collecting forever

As someone who collected nearly 3,000 games, it was becoming an impossible task to inventory and store the games in a logical and efficient manner. Not to mention the fact that it was nearly impossible to play games on various systems at any time. Keeping shelf space for all these games, especially older games with bulkier boxes, was turning out to be a part-time job in itself. On top of the games, keeping dozens of systems set up or stored reasonably had also become cumbersome.

6) It’s impossible to play every game in my collection

My collection was intended for use. I didn’t collect factory-sealed games. In that respect, it was already too large. If you add up the gameplay hours in every game, it would be literally impossible to play them all in a lifetime, not even including the games that are released every week. I had dozens of RPG’s that I’ve never tried – would there ever be an opportunity to play dozens of 100+ hour games? Am I really going to play Super Widget on Super Nintendo? Ever?

7) It’s redundant to have the same game on many systems

I’m a huge Mortal Kombat fan, but is it necessary to have it on ten different platforms? Many of them – such as the Genesis or Game Gear versions – aren’t good arcade conversions. There are so many games for which I have multiple versions – Smash TV on Genesis and Super NES are both pretty weak compared with the arcade game, which I have on Midway Arcade Collection. There was so much redundancy throughout my collection that just eliminating doubles was a task.

8) Most game companies produce black and white manuals

This is a huge pet peeve of mine and continues to get worse. Sega has classic, diehard-focused franchises like Sonic and NiGHTS, but includes flimsy black and white manuals in the box. Not as bad as the cardboard slip-box red-striped boxes late in the Genesis lifecycle, but still pretty weak.

9) Battery backups are dying

For many cartridge games, long games could be saved directly to the cartridge with a battery backup. However, with many of these games now over twenty years old, the batteries in these cartridges have run out of power, rendering the game unsavable. There are work-arounds, such as manually replacing the battery or simply leaving the system on, but these are not convenient or sustainable. The loss of the ability to save cartridge games that don’t utilize passwords is a major drawback to holding onto older games.

10) It’s better to have downloadable versions

Most game collectors are completists in some way. Having all of the games in one digital source, playable instantly via a menu or interface is the optimal way to have all games at your disposal. Even though its not legally possible to get every game yet, over time more and more games will be available. It’s eminently more fun to sift through classic games and be able to play them quickly in succession than it is to manage a physical collection across multiple systems.

Of course it’s bold of me to declare that game collecting is dying simply because I’ve decided to move away from it. However, game values are going down, and less games are apt to be produced in physical form in the months and years to come. Game collecting will almost certainly exist for decades to come, but it might simply be limited to antique-like collectors looking for relics.

Jonathan Widro is the publisher of Diehard GAMEFAN and owner/CEO of the Inside Pulse Network. He has worked as a writer and publisher for over a decade, after working in game-related retail for over five years. He has worked in game development, most notably creating user-generated gaming portal Fyrebug and over 100 Flash games. Gaming Under Construction, Jonathan’s perspective on the gaming industry, is published every Wednesday on Diehard GAMEFAN.



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13 responses to “Gaming Under Construction 0.03 – Top 10 Reasons That Game Collecting Is Dying”

  1. frazer369 Avatar

    I collect a few ps3 games at the mo lol, like i buy a few games that i’v not played yet, like rainy day games. I agree a fair deal with what you said though, I’m just not to keen on buying games at full rrp and getting rid of them at less than a quarter about 5-6 months on :( It happens to everything.

    3000 games is an achievment in itself lol almost open your own library :)

  2. Aaron Sirois Avatar

    I for one, will never count a digital game as part of my collection as it were. Though I’ll have to download the Ratchet game at some point, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t count.

    That mindset makes things a bit easier.

  3. Scott Avatar

    If value going down because of digital downloads is a reason why game collecting is dying, then you probably got into the hobby for the completely wrong reasons.

  4. Widro Avatar

    >>If value going down because of digital downloads is a reason why game collecting is dying, then you probably got into the hobby for the completely wrong reasons.<<

    value is one of 10 reasons – if you can buy castlevania: sotn for $5.99 on psn, why would you pay more for a physical PS1 copy? part of that is a perceived monetary value. its not the main reason, it's a factor. why else would there be price guides?

  5. Zach in Los Angeles Avatar
    Zach in Los Angeles

    I think that this also has to do with the rise of Ebay – anything is now readily available. If you had cash, how long would it take you to replicate your 3k game collection? One week? Why collect over the years?

    Just my thoughts.

  6. Alex Lucard Avatar

    I’ve never understood the point of hoarding personally. #6 is easily my top reason why I will never understand people who collect and then just let games sit on their shelves to collect dust.

  7. D.J. Tatsujin Avatar

    Heh. About 5-6 years ago I went through the phase of collecting with no intention to play. I’m glad I got out of that phase really quickly. At least back then, and when I was really into collecting NES carts in 2000, just before it got really popular, I was finding some amazing deals. You could pretty much say a lot of those items came to me for free or at prices very close to that. I paid a quarter for a boxed, complete, mint Final Fantasy for the NES, for example.

  8. Sean Madson Avatar
    Sean Madson

    Widro, after stepping away from the collecting scene, did you end up selling much of what you have gathered up, or do you still hang onto them today?

    I’ve been into collecting for the past few years, but I try to limit what I buy only to what I know I will play. Also, I very rarely buy titles brand new anymore. Just the ones I HAVE to play on day one. Otherwise, I’ll wait for a deal to turn up on it. Saves more money that way. As for the space issue, I haven’t quite figured that one out yet…

  9. Widro Avatar

    >>Widro, after stepping away from the collecting scene, did you end up selling much of what you have gathered up, or do you still hang onto them today?<<

    i'm cutting the 3000ish down to 1000ish, keeping older games with sentimental value… redundancy was a big part, like if i have a game on wii virtual console, or on a compilation, i sold the older versions (mega man as a prime example)

  10. […] As 2010 begins, I’m in the process of paring and honing my collection, shifting to digital downloads and trying my best to approximate a central iTunes-like availability for most of my gaming. Jump over to our friends at Die Hard Game Fan to continue […]

  11. Aaron Avatar

    So, as a long-time reader of all things InsidePulse (and *ahem*..a certain code-for-information-website Widro use to be a part of) I feel this is a great opportunity for the website to give back to the community. Run a contest whereby people email you with a guess at how many games you actually have (before you started getting rid of them or whathaveyou) and the top 10 closest guesses get X amount of the games you don’t want, where X is the number of games you don’t want divided by 10.
    If it doesn’t divide easily by 10, the extra games go to the person who was actually the closest.

    What say ye? :D

  12. Speed California Avatar
    Speed California

    If collecting is dying, then I’m keeping all of my games, because in the future there will be game collectors, with fewer old games. I don’t collect every game, just the ones I enjoy playing. There’s alot of games I wished I hadn’t traded in from the PS1, Saturn, Dreamcast, GBA days.

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