Tuesday, April 5, 2011

6 Tips to Sell a Rare Video Game

You're lucky enough to run into a rare video game at a garage sale or pawnshop. How do you sell it to get the most money? This is the single biggest question I get from our users. This guide will give you six tips to sell your expensive game and ensure you get the most out of it.

6. Rare Games Sell Well on Ebay

eBay is the biggest online marketplace in the world with 94 million users. They are also the largest video game marketplace too. A great way to sell a rare game is to put it in front of this huge user base.

How should you sell though? Fixed price vs auction? Reserve vs no reserve? High starting price vs low starting price?

Reserve vs No Reserve: Studies show that auctions with a reserve are less likely to sell, receive fewer bids, and sell for less than auctions without a reserve. I don't recommend selling with a reserve price. More than likely you will get less for your game or it won't sell at all.

Fixed Price vs Auction: If you know the value of your item you can list with a fixed price. You can list the item for 30 days and see if anyone is willing to pay your set price. Many times sellers set this price too high and the item doesn't sell. I've seen people list the same item five or six months in a row with a lower fixed price each time. And I've also seen sellers list with a price that is too low and it is purchased in two hours.

For rare games, I think auctions are the best. There are plenty of bidders interested in a rare game so the price will be bid up to the correct value. You don't have to wait months for the item to sell. And you don't have to worry about setting too low a fixed price.

If you're in no rush at all to sell, start with a high fixed price a couple of times. If it doesn't sell then try an auction.

High vs Low Starting Bid: If you decide to do an auction you have to choose the opening bid. For rare games I always start bidding at $0.99. People are more likely to bid on an auction if it already has one bid. Many people don't want to be the first bidder - "Nobody else has bid. What do they know that I don't know?" I have won many auctions by placing the only bid at the last second even though the opening bid was way below the market value. Nobody wanted to be the first one.

A low starting bid encourages someone to place the first bid and that encourages more bids.

eBay Fees: The biggest drawback to eBay is they charge for selling something. Normally, eBay charges 9% of the sales price as their fee, but luckily for rare game sellers this is capped at a $50 maximum. If your game sells for more than $555.55 you saved some money. eBay also charges listing fees for simply making the listing, which depend on what type of listing you create.

5. Write a Good Description with Item History

A good listing is very important for selling a rare game on eBay, craigslist, forums, or any other marketplace. Potential buyers need to know what they are buying so give them as much information as possible. Your listing doesn't need to be a book, but it should include the following:

Physical Description of the Game: Go beyond the generic "Looks Good". Say exactly where any blemishes are on the game. If it looks perfect let people know that too, but almost all games will have some cosmetic issues.

Background on the Game Title: Why is this game rare? How many copies were made? What makes it interesting? Many bidders will already know the story behind a rare game and why it is expensive, but most visitors to your listing are probably not video game collecting experts.

Background on This Individual Game: Where did you find it? Did you buy it from someone else or are you the original owner? Did you get the item when you were a kid and not realize your game was rare until last week? People like to know as much information as possible about rare games so tell them as much as you know. If you don't know anything put that in the listing instead.

Listing Policies and Rules: Let buyers know how you will ship the game, what types of payment you accept, will you ship internationally, who pays for shipping, or any other policy you want to make. It is helpful to lay these rules out in the listing so people know what terms they are accepting when they buy the item.

4. Ship Overnight with UPS or FedEx

After an auction has sold and you have received payment don't skimp on shipping by sending the item USPS First Class. You run a risk of the item getting lost in the mail. FedEx Overnight or UPS Overnight is worth every penny when you are shipping an item that sold for $500, $1,000, or even more.

With FedEx or UPS overnight you can see exactly when and where the item is scanned and see who signed for the package when it is delivered. Plus with overnight the shipping process is done in less than 24 hours so you (and the buyer) aren't worrying for days about when the item will arrive.

You can require the buyer to pay shipping but I always like to pay shipping myself. If someone is paying me hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a game, the least I can do is pay $20 for overnight mail.

Package the Item With Care: Be careful when packaging the item for shipping. A little extra effort will avoid a lot of hassle. Use a box instead of a bubble mailer to provide more protection. Put bubble wrap around the item and then tape the bubble wrap together. Put lots of tape around the box so it doesn't open during shipping. And write the shipping address and return address very legibly or even typed.

3. Only Accept Escrow or Cash at Pickup

The best method of payment for really expensive video games is escrow. There are fees involved but much less stress and no risk of fraud. Cash at pickup is good too, but most buyers won't live near you and don't want to pay for a round trip flight to pickup a game. Paypal can work too but be cautious.

Escrow: The full escrow process can be found here but basically you use a third party to verify the money has been received before you mail the item and you don't get the money until the buyer has verified it arrived. This eliminates worries for buyers because they know they can get their money back if you never ship anything. And the seller doesn't have to worry about credit card chargebacks or bogus checks. Escrow guarantees the funds as part of the process. It can take a little bit longer than other methods, but it is worthwhile on games that sell for thousands of dollars. Companies like provide this service for online purchases.

Cash at pickup: This is a very straight forward method. You meet the buyer somewhere. They give you cash and you give them the video game. It sort of feels like a drug deal from the movies, but there are no fees involved and almost zero risk of fraud.

Paypal: You can use Paypal for the payment but the fees can be pretty expensive and you run a risk of credit card chargebacks if someone was using a stolen card when they made the payment. If you do accept paypal only ship to a confirmed address.

Money Orders, Checks, and Western Union: With a rare video game listing you will be contacted by people asking if they can pay with a check or send the money with western union. THESE ARE ALMOST ALWAYS FRAUD. I never accept these forms of payment because the buyer is probably a scam artist. It is not worth the risk.

2. Rare Games Need Lots of Pictures

Take lots of picture of the game on every side and post these in the listing. One of the front, one of the right side, left side, back side, and bottom. If the case and/or instructions are included take mutiple pictures of them too.

Make sure the pictures are high quality and the buyer can actually see some details from them. Avoid too much light or too dark:

Too Much Light

Too Dark

Scan Game for Best Quality: For the best quality images put the game in a scanner and scan the game or if you don't have a scanner go to a copy store and use a color copier and save the image to a USB or SD card. The image will be more crisp and clear than any photograph.

1. Try Listing on Game Collecting Forums

Video game collecting forums are a great place to sell rare games. The members are probably familiar with your game, they are interested in video game collecting, and many of them are ready to pay big money for rare items. The three best forums focus on certain games and consoles:

Nintendo stuff: Nintendo Age
Atari stuff: Atari Age
Sega stuff: Sega-16

These sites are communities of game collectors and they are leery of new members who try to list an expensive game for sale as their very first contribution to the community. Become a member, talk in some discussions, get to know other members a little bit, and then you can post an item for sale. Only list items for sale in forum threads devoted to buying and selling.

Forums also let you know the reputation of your buyer. You can see how long they have been a member, how many posts they have made, and often times how many successful transactions they have made too. Best of all, there are no fees for selling on forums so you can save quite a bit of money.

Summary of Tips for Selling Rare Games

6. Ebay is a good site for selling rare games
5. Write a good description when listing the item
4. Ship overnight with UPS or FedEx
3. Only accept escrow or cash at pickup
2. Take lots of quality pictures and post them in your listing
1. Try listing on collecting forums

Good luck with your game sale.


Anonymous said...

Very Informative, thanks!

BRIK said...

Great! Now all I have to do is get lucky at a garage sale or something...

Lonnie said...

What about VGA-Graded items? They always seem to go higher, but is it easy to get an item VGA-Graded? I don't even know the process.

Great read btw.

JJ Hendricks said...

Great question Lonnie - For really rare games I think VGA grading can make sense. I don't have any solid data to prove it, but my guess is VGA grading would increase the price of a game. Bidders would be more comfortable buying with an official grade.

VGA grading is not a video game industry standard though like coins or comics have so I don't think it is required by any means.

Neil Waterhouse said...

Great information! Tips provided to sell are really worth reading and helpful.

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