SBox Soapbox: Are the GameStop Retro Game Prices Fair?

Early last week, GameStop launched their retro games program exclusively on their website. This has been something we knew was coming for months, but after months of speculation, worry and anticipation we finally get an answer to one pivotal question: how’s the pricing?

Everyone seems to have a different opinion on these prices. Some say it’s too high and that GameStop is nickel-and-diming gamers, while others call the prices fair for the most part.

Based on a quick skim of the different sections, the opinion I hold is that pricing tends to be relative to platform, with your occasional “WTF level” price scattered in between. To test this, let’s make an experiment to prove my theory.

What I’m going to do is pick three games for all six offered platforms and go shopping for the better deal. I’ll compare the GameStop prices to two sources: Ebay and Amazon. The way I’ll handle each will be different.

The Amazon price I’ll be showing is the one that appears on the right side of the listing under “Buy Used”. Amazon also shows you different prices for new, used and collectible options. So I’ll be include the lowest used price.

As for Ebay, it turns out finding the trending price is needlessly difficult. So, I’ll just find a median price based on the first 10-15 results I find. The games I pick out will all be preowned. Cartridge listings won’t include boxes or manuals. For listings with both auction and buy it now options, I’ll count the auction price as that’s the minimum the seller will accept.

These game choices will be based on games I personally want to purchase. Rarity will not play a big part in this experiment, especially since rare games are an iffy situation. The idea is to reenact an everyday buying scenario where the customer has an idea of what he/she wants beforehand. So, let’s get started.

NES

For NES, I chose Mega Man 2, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Castlevania. I wanted to put the original Super Mario Bros. in the mix, but it’s strangely absent from the site.

Mega Man 2

  • GameStop: $35
  • Amazon: $40; from $29
  • Ebay: $30 (based on 15 results); $15-40

Super Mario Bros. 3

  • GameStop: $20
  • Amazon: $28; from $15.50
  • Ebay: $15 (based on 10 results); $7-19

Castlevania

  • GameStop: $25
  • Amazon: $30; from $20
  • Ebay: $24 (based on 15 results); $12-30

Genesis

The games I chose were Sonic 3, Ecco the Dolphin and Golden Axe. All the Genesis games are low prices, so I expect little change.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3

  • GameStop: $15
  • Amazon: $60; from $12
  • Ebay: $14 (found trending price); $5-20 (based on 10 results)

Ecco the Dolphin

  • GameStop: $7
  • Amazon: $4; from $1
  • Ebay: $6 (found trending price); $1-8 (based on 10 results)

Golden Axe

  • GameStop: $13
  • Amazon: $11.50; from $10
  • Ebay: $15 (found trending price); $8-20 (based on 8 results… not enough search results)

SNES

The games I chose were Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country and Super Metroid. Another strange omission on the Nintendo side was Super Mario World. Seriously, I don’t get these odd ones out.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

  • GameStop: $40
  • Amazon: $44.50; from $31
  • Ebay: $33 (based on 10 results); $14.50-35

Donkey Kong Country

  • GameStop: $25
  • Amazon: $29; from $19
  • Ebay: $10 (based on 15 results); $5-22

Super Metroid

  • GameStop: $50
  • Amazon: $65; from $46
  • Ebay: $49 (based on 10 results); $32-60

Nintendo 64

I chose Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie and Zelda: Ocarina of Time. For once, the Mario game was actually there. Hooray for me!

Super Mario 64

  • GameStop: $30
  • Amazon: $28; from $18.50
  • Ebay: $22 (found trending price); $5-25 (based on 10 results)

Banjo-Kazooie

  • GameStop: $25
  • Amazon: $28; from $17
  • Ebay: $15.50 (based on 10 results); $8-22

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

  • GameStop: $30
  • Amazon: $40; from $29
  • Ebay: $19 (based on 10 results); $10-28

PlayStation

I chose Crash Bandicoot 2, Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil 2. I was considering Crash 3, but the price was less initially outrageous than CB2. Speaking of which, another mysteriously absent game is Crash 1.

Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back

  • GameStop: $30
  • Amazon: $25; from $5.50
  • Ebay: $14.50 (found trending price); $4.50-20 (based on 15 results)

Final Fantasy VII

  • GameStop: $30
  • Amazon: $33; from $22
  • Ebay: $28 (found trending price); $5-60 (based on 10 results)

Resident Evil 2

  • GameStop: $18
  • Amazon: $35; from $8
  • Ebay: $14.50 (found trending price); $4-25 (based on 15 results)

Dreamcast

This one is the one I’m most interested in, seeing that it is the newest option. I chose Sonic Adventure, Shenmue and Marvel vs. Capcom. With Sonic Adventure, the Amazon default price wasn’t listed, so I picked the median listing instead.

Sonic Adventure

  • GameStop: $18
  • Amazon: $14.50; from $7.50
  • Ebay: $19 (based on 10 results); $9.50-25

Shenmue

  • GameStop: $30
  • Amazon: $50 (that was the cheapest used price)
  • Ebay: $65 (based on 15 results); $21.50-80

Marvel vs. Capcom

  • GameStop: $25
  • Amazon: $36.50; from $22
  • Ebay: $35 (found trending price): $15-40 (based on 10 results)

Results

When it comes to my early claim that pricing is relative to platform, I’m clearly wrong. There is usually a consistent pattern across all platforms and across all games.

I find that in most cases GameStop offers the sandwich price; that is a price between the Ebay and Amazon prices. This was the case for 2/3 of the games listed (12 games). GameStop proved higher than the competition 22% of the time (4 games) and lower than both 11% of the time (2 games).

All NES and SNES games had this sandwich price. You tend to get Dreamcast games cheaper at GameStop. Genesis games are usually more expensive at GameStop, but seeing as most offerings are dirt cheap anyway, the differences aren’t as pronounced. N64 and PlayStation games usually have the sandwich price, with 1/3 of the options being more expensive. (Super Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot 2 respectively).

Amazon proved to be the most expensive of the three at their initial “Buy Used” price 72% of the time (13 games). Ebay surprisingly played the lower end 83% of the time (15 games).

So it appears what GameStop offers a more balanced option. While it is an absolute fact that cheaper prices can be found at Amazon and Ebay when hunting for the lowest listings, GameStop has a price that isn’t too far from the mark.

Quick Opinion

I’m definitely behind the idea of GameStop entering the retro market. In theory it can have nothing but benefits to the retro gaming market. It can popularize older games and make them more accessible. However, knowing what I know now, I feel GameStop is missing the point when it comes to the prices.

I feel that if GameStop wants to make this work, they should try to aim cheaper rather than higher. What turns younger gamers off to pursuing retro game collecting is the constantly rising prices. Competitors keep appreciating their prices in order to try and benefit more. In the case of GameStop, I feel they can massively benefit from making the prices low. To get games traded in for next-to-nothing and put prices close to the already overpriced competition doesn’t make buying these games at GameStop more appealing than going elsewhere. I personally believe that they can afford to go lower, but that’s just me.


Thanks for observing my little experiment. Let me know in the comments below if you think the prices at GameStop are too high. Are you planning to buy a retro game from GameStop? I’d love to hear you guys’ perspective.

Also, sorry this took so long. This took up more time than I expected and I made changes to get this out as soon as I can. Hopefully it’ll suffice all the same.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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