Buying and Selling Video Games for Profit

Buying and reselling classic video games can be a fun hobby and potentially lucrative side business. While it takes knowledge, patience, and effort, profits can be made by buying games for low prices and reselling them for higher amounts. This comprehensive guide covers proven strategies for finding deals and maximizing returns when buying and selling games.

Where to Source Games

First, identify places to find games for the lowest possible buy prices:

  • Garage sales – Scan classified ads and roadside signs on weekend mornings. Arrive early for best selection. Look for mentions of video games or consoles.
  • Thrift stores – Scan shelves and discount bins for cartridges mixed among other items. Check often as inventory changes rapidly.
  • Flea markets – Walk around and check each seller’s offerings for games. Negotiate bundle deals on the spot to get bulk discounts.
  • Estate sales – Look for listings mentioning video games or consoles. Big hauls can be found as heirs liquidate possessions.
  • Craigslist – Search under Video Games and Garage Sales categories in your region for sellers. Sort by newly listed and respond quickly. Meet locally to buy.
  • eBay auctions – Bid on auction lots ending soon with no reserves and at low opening bids. Factor in shipping costs before bidding.
  • Decluttr – This website buys used games and resells at discount. Look for titles below typical resale value.
  • Facebook Marketplace – Search for video game listings nearby. Meet sellers to inspect and negotiate prices.
  • Local game stores – Ask about purchasing used clearance items in bulk at a discount. Build relationships with staff.

Evaluating Game Value

When assessing potential purchases, determine expected resale value using these factors:

  • Condition – Heavily worn, damaged, or water-logged boxes/cartridges are worth far less than pristine condition. Inspect thoroughly.
  • Rarity – Common sports titles have lower demand than rare cult classics and platform exclusives. Prioritize rarer items.
  • Platform – Nintendo and Sega games often sell for more than Atari, Philips, and lesser-known consoles. Iconic platforms are preferable.
  • Brands – Flagship series like Mario, Pokemon, Sonic, Zelda, etc. hold value better than generic licensed titles.
  • Special/Limited Editions – Low print run variants with extras included sell for higher premiums.
  • Completion – Box, instructions manual, overlays, posters raise complete game values versus loose carts only.

Use price charting sites like and to assess fair market values based on sold listings for each title and platform. Input exact condition factors and editions.

Buy Price Guideline Tables

Use these general per-game buy price benchmarks based on expected resale profits:

Common Titles in Average Condition

PlatformMaximum Buy Price
Nintendo (NES)$2-$5
Super Nintendo (SNES)$3-$8
Nintendo 64$5-$10
Sega Genesis$2-$5
Sony PlayStation$1-$4

Uncommon Titles in Good Condition

PlatformMaximum Buy Price
Nintendo (NES)$8-$15
Super Nintendo (SNES)$10-$20
Nintendo 64$15-$25
Sega Genesis$6-$12
Sony PlayStation$5-$15

Rare Titles in Excellent Condition

PlatformMaximum Buy Price
Nintendo (NES)$50+
Super Nintendo (SNES)$60+
Nintendo 64$70+
Sega Genesis$30+
Sony PlayStation$60+

Buying Strategy

When purchasing games, follow these guidelines to negotiate great deals:

  • Set per-game and per-lot budget caps based on resell values and target profit margins. Stick to these limits during negotiations.
  • Thoroughly inspect games for condition issues and authenticate valuable titles before buying. Pass on broken, damaged or suspect items.
  • Check online listings to confirm actual current resale prices, not outdated assumptions. Show sellers evidence if attempting to lower ask prices.
  • Offer to take entire lots off sellers’ hands at reduced per-game prices. Volunteer to haul away for free to close difficult deals.
  • Quote fair per-game aggregates for bulk purchases based on actual average sold values for the titles.
  • Politely end discussions if sellers are unrealistic on prices for common titles based on your valuation research.
  • Be ready with cash on hand when meeting sellers. Avoid having to make repeat trips or payment arrangements to finalize purchases.

Refurbishing Purchases

To maximize resale value, properly clean and refurbish games following these guidelines:

Cartridge Refurbishment

  • Carefully open carts to access circuit boards. Use appropriate screwdriver and plastic pry tools to avoid damage.
  • Use 91% isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs to thoroughly clean accessible contacts and connection points only. Allow to fully dry before reassembling.
  • Inspect boards and components for battery leaks, grip tape or sticker residue, torn traces, or corrosion. Use soldering iron to repair any damaged areas found.
  • Replace any dead or swollen batteries that may prevent game saving. Match correct lithium coin cell battery types.
  • Reseat any loose chips or connectors firmly back into sockets if present. Avoid bending pins.
  • Test games thoroughly post-cleanup. Verify all functions, graphics, sound, and saves operate properly.

Label and Case Refurbishment

  • Lightly clean loose dust and grime from labels using soap, water, and cotton swabs. Avoid abrasives that may damage label surfaces.
  • For worn labels, print and apply high resolution color-matched repro label replacements. Ensure correct sizing.
  • Use lighter fluid to carefully remove price stickers or residue from cart and case exteriors. Wipe away any leftover adhesive.
  • For faded or damaged carts, purchase and install new aftermarket clear plastic clamshell cases to prevent further wear.
  • Replace any damaged, stained, or missing dust sleeves, manuals, posters, inserts etc. that impact value.

Pricing Games For Resale

When determining asking prices, follow these guidelines:

  • Thoroughly research current sold and completed prices for your specific game version, platform, and condition combination on eBay and other marketplaces.
  • Weigh relative rarity, popularity, strong IP demand, platform, and special edition status when assessing fair market value ceiling.
  • Review demand graphs over time on to identify upward or downward price trends to consider when pricing items.
  • Factor in the costs of any replacement components like boxes, instructions, or new clamshell cases into asking price determination. These improve value.
  • Account for selling platform fees (eBay 10% commission, etc.) to ensure adequate profit margin after all costs.
  • Common titles typically yield 25-50% margins. Rare games can command 50-100%+ profit margins when bought ultra cheap.
  • Consider bundling together loose common games into affordable value lots to help move stale inventory.
  • Allow wiggle room for negotiation in asking prices, but stick firm to acceptable minimums based on profit goals.

Best Places to Sell Games

Offer restored and quality tested games for sale through these popular outlets:


  • eBay – Broad reach to massive buyer audience globally, but factor in 10% final value transaction fees. Can list as auctions or buy-it-nows.
  • Amazon – Also has wide reach, but commissions are 15% of video game sales. Good venue for rare high-value sealed items.
  • Etsy – Lower 5% listing fees. Good for collectors seeking vintage games. Focus on hard-to-find inventory.

Local Direct Sales

  • Facebook Marketplace – Meet local buyers for cash sales. Avoid risks of shipping damage and lost packages.
  • Craigslist – Create search-optimized video game listings. Ask buyers to respond with phone numbers. Carefully arrange safe meetings in public places for cash transactions.
  • OfferUp – Create a profile showcasing your games for sale. Communicate through app messaging initially before sharing personal contact info.
  • Garage sales – Consider reselling games at your own garage sales. Price at market rates and keep refreshments stocked.

Additional Platforms

  • Mercari – Lower 10% selling fees. Faster sales for common low-value older games thanks to buyer coupon promotions.
  • Nextdoor – Post availabilities on neighborhood-specific feeds in your area. Draw in potential buyers living in close proximity.
  • eBid – Lower 5.25% final value fees, but smaller buyer pool than eBay. Worth cross-listing rarer items.

Grow Your Profits

Follow these tips to scale up earnings over time:

  • Reinvest a portion of proceeds into buying larger wholesale inventory lots for lower per-unit costs. Improves margins.
  • Build connections with avid collectors interested in premium items for sale/trade. Satisfy their desires for Holy Grail games.
  • Expand from cartridges to buying and selling vintage consoles, controllers, and hardware accessories which can offer wider profit spreads.
  • Develop relationships with pickers, estate organizers, and other suppliers to create consistent pipelines for underpriced inventory.
  • Specialize in refurbishment skills for particular systems to optimize restoration processes and quality for maximum resale value.
  • Consider hiring part-time help during busy periods to assist with testing, cleaning, pricing, listings, and shipping. Outsource labor to grow capacity.
  • Open an online or local storefront once established to boost visibility and sales volume. Advertise inventory to drive traffic.
  • Network and partner with other game resellers to trade excess inventory and optimize cash flow.


Q: What types of video games offer the highest profit margins for reselling?

A: Rare cartridge-based games from older platforms like NES, SNES, N64, Genesis, Neo Geo, etc. yield the highest ROI when bought ultra cheap and resold at current market rates. Popular franchises also hold value well.

Q: Can good buying deals still be found for vintage games amid rising market prices?

A: Absolutely. Many casual sellers are still unaware of new higher value price trends and just want to quickly unload old games found in basements or garages. Deals can be uncovered at yard sales with persistence and research.

Q: What are some telltale signs that a retro video game may be counterfeit or reproduction?

A: Mismatched label fonts, cheap plastic quality, lack of embossed stamps/numbers on cartridge, unusual donor boards, inferior label appearance, assembly screws or seams, missing code imprints on contacts, incorrect details on box etc.

Q: Should I sell games individually or in larger wholesale lots for maximum profit?

A: Individual sales maximize profit on rare and high-demand games. Bundling common low-value titles into affordably priced lots helps liquidate overstock faster. Use a mix of strategies tailored to inventory age and desirability.

Q: What is a realistic initial budget to get started buying and reselling video games for profit?

A: $500 – $1000 can purchase enough quality starter inventory to begin refurbishing and listing items for sale. Start small and reinvest a share of profits to gradually scale up purchasing power. Proper margins compensate for modest beginnings.

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