At the start off the pandemic, people sought something to do while stuck in their homes.
Some people took up art, others turned to puzzles, and others were bit by the nostalgia bug, eager to play the video games they played when they were younger.
Three years later, the popularity of those video games has not waned. Many sellers say collectors are still willing to spend money on high-priced games.
“I was surprised to see that prices of the games have gone up, even though inflation has gone up,” said Emmanuel Rogerson, a Durham College Business student and the owner of XP Games. “I thought people would have been spending less but were willing to spend more.”
The video game industry brings in approximately $5.5 billion annually for Canada.
Justin Ashley, the owner of Fly By Nite in Oshawa and the organizer of the recent Oshawa Video Game Show, says events like this pull in customers willing to drive a long distance to buy retro games.
“Shows like this bring in a large group of people that are not necessarily from this community,” he said. “We pull people from Toronto, Kawartha Lakes, and Northumberland. We even have people drive from Belleville.”
Even more significant events, such as the video game show GAMEX in Mississauga, bring in a lot of money for vendors such as Quality Games’ Lucas Delves.
“I did probably two and a half times what I normally do,” he said. “It was hand over fist. It was crazy. I didn’t sit down all day, and I can’t imagine how many things I sold. Probably close to 300 [games].”
However, high inflation and a low dollar are making it difficult for some people to justify spending their already limited disposable income on older games.
“The attendance has been going down the last couple of years,” said Ashley. “The interest is there, but a bad economy and a recession have taken its toll on most people’s pockets.”
Yet, some older games continue to retain their value.
One example is EarthBound on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which can sell as much as $2,000.
In 2021, the collectibles tracking website Price Charting revealed the average retro video game price had increased by as much as 42 per cent in one year, and expects they won’t fall anytime soon.