Various Ways to Collect Video Games

From complete in box to factory sealed, video game collecting trends have evolved over the years.

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CGC Video Games™ is here because there has been a growing need in recent years to preserve the authenticity and the history of retro video games. Passion for these games has been around for decades, new collectors are entering the hobby daily and the recent pandemic has encouraged many to devote more time to their collections.

The near universal appeal of video games has also been a factor. Video games are quite diverse not only in their gameplay, but also their subject matter. Whether you are into anime, comics, music or even sports, there is a video game for you. And of course, there is the nostalgia. Most retro video game collectors grew up playing these games, and their desire to relive childhood memories — and try the games they never got to when they were kids — only adds to the growing appeal of this amazing hobby.

Changes in video game collecting

Video game collecting has gone through many changes over the years. In the 1990s and early 2000s, most collectors were content just acquiring the cartridge or disc of their favorite games. By the late 2000s, collectors began to take the hobby a step further by finding the original packaging for their games.

These “complete in box” (CIB) collectors spent significant time and money learning about the components of their games and searching for the right box, manual and inserts to go with them. Many were attentive to the condition of their games, working meticulously to collect high quality pieces for their collections. While some collectors did go so far as to collect games that were still factory sealed, CIB collecting remained dominant throughout the 2010s.

Now, video game collecting is going through yet another change. More and more collectors are shifting from collecting CIB games to collecting factory sealed games. This is due in large part to an increasing demand for high-grade items. Many of these collectors, especially those new to the hobby, assume that factory sealed games are in better condition than CIB games. There is a perception among these collectors that opened games have been mishandled over time while sealed games sat perfectly preserved on shelves and in closets.

This is not surprising, considering the common experience of kids ripping open games during special occasions only to disregard the box and manual in the frenzy to start playing. The result has been an astronomical divergence in the price between CIB games and factory sealed games.

The challenges of CIB collecting

There are other factors leading to this discrepancy as well. It can be a challenging process to make a game CIB, especially if a collector is sensitive to condition. Collectors will often interchange the components of multiple games to complete a pristine copy. As the hobby continues to grow, this will become harder as less pristine components will be available.

CIB collecting also requires a level of knowledge about specific games that novice collectors may not yet possess. For a CIB game to be truly original, a collector would have to ensure the production runs of the box, cartridge and manual match up correctly. This is a daunting task, especially for an inexperienced collector. Factory sealed games eliminate these challenges altogether.

Factors to consider when collecting factory sealed games

While there are real advantages to collecting factory sealed games over CIB, there are some important exceptions to note. CIB condition is not intrinsically inferior to factory sealed condition. In many instances, the condition of certain CIB games will be better than that of any factory sealed copy. This is especially true of rarer games, where the availability of sealed copies is quite low compared to the availability of CIB copies.

There will also be instances where there is an ample supply of high-grade copies of both CIB and factory sealed. Rather than a single copy sitting undisturbed in someone’s closet, many factory sealed games have been found in bulk on warehouse pallets. In such cases, there will be an abundance of CIB and factory sealed games in pristine condition. Collectors will then have to decide whether they prefer having the game sealed or knowing what the internal components are.

There is no wrong way to collect

Retro video game collecting is a large and diverse hobby that is constantly evolving. There are many ways to collect in this hobby, and it is important to remember that none of them are wrong. That applies to not only what to collect, but also how to collect.

Factory sealed collecting is no doubt growing in popularity, but that should not discourage those who wish to collect CIB, or even cartridge only. There is a special appeal to knowing what is inside a box and taking the time to find and upgrade the components, just as there is a special appeal to having an item that has never been opened. CGC Video Games recognizes this and encourages all collectors to share in this understanding so that no one feels left out of this fantastic hobby.