Correctly Manage Your Expectations Before You Try to Sell Your Arcade Game
Something I see far too often are outlandish prices when uninformed people try to sell a game. I usually see this with someone that originally overpaid (badly) and is trying to make their money back or thinks all games appreciate in value. For example, “I bought this Street Fighter II 10 years ago for $1500(!) and I am sure it is worth $2500 now!”
First: It Is Not Worth What Google Tells You
Occasionally I see someone that has a busted-ass Pac-Man, in a generic converted cabinet with water damage, and a dim monitor, and they Google “Pac-Man Sale Prices” and then think that they can sell it for $1200. And have the audacity to believe they are getting low-balled when someone offers $250.
No, you are not getting low-balled. You just did your search (“research”) incorrectly. You shoulda Googled something more like “converted damaged Pac-Man prices.” But hey, you did not know any better. Take the advice of people that know more than you about things like this.
Also, just because someone paid $xxx for that game in the past does not mean that anyone will now.
Second: It Is Not Worth What eBay Tells You
Some people search eBay for prices and use the final sale price. But before you do that, make sure your game matches up perfectly with the listing you are looking at for your “research.” Do not try to compare your “home use only” Star Trek pinball with one on eBay that was clean, shopped, with new rubbers and no peeling paint on the backglass or playfield.
And, remember: that price is the price that ONE person was willing to pay. Look at the bidding history, if you can, to see what most people were willing to pay.
Bigger is Not Better
Another mistake: thinking larger games are worth more. If you think you are gonna get someone to buy your dual Cruis’n Exotica sit-down for $2000, you are sorely mistaken. Larger games are much harder to sell to the general public because of their space demands. Look closer to $100-$300 per cockpit instead of $1000 per cockpit. If you get lucky and find an arcade or amusement center that wants it, you might be able to command a higher price, but from the general consumer? Nope.
What You Need To Know
So! First thing you need to know. If your game is not in its original cabinet, or it does not have an original cabinet because it was released only as a conversion kit, aim low. Like $500 or less low. Games in converted cabinets are literally only worth the sum of their (used) parts. Lemme say that again for the people in the nosebleed seats:
Games in converted cabinets are literally only worth
the sum of their (used) parts.
For example: if you have a bootleg Ms. Pac-Man (that has hearts instead of dots) in a generic cabinet with aftermarket graphics, marquee, and control panel overlay, with a monitor that needs a cap kit (dim and folded over):
|Parts (controls, mechs, power supply)||$20-50|
Do not expect to sell that game to anyone knowledgeable for anything more than $200. Maybe you will get $250 if it has $50 in quarters hidden in it. It does not matter how long you had it, or how much you got duped into paying for it at some auction in NJ 10 years ago. Does that price seem kinda low to you? Then go ahead, try something higher and see what happens.
“But Google says my game is rare!”
So? Rare does not always translate to worth. Suppose you bought a bunch of tile flooring and in all those tiles, you found one that was completely missing a color. Rare as hell, for sure. Is there something magical about that tile that makes it suddenly worth $100s of dollars? No.
So you have one of the Battlezones that were modified to the Bradley Trainer in fantastic condition with a working monitor? Definitely rare and worth something!
On the other hand, a Mega Zone or Superman board? Sure, a little hard to find. Know why? Because they are shit games (IMHO) that got tossed in the trash. (I have personally tossed MZ boards before.) Are they rare-ish? Sure. Are they worth something? Not really.
“But my game is all original!”
Again, so? Got an all original Phoenix game in its original cabinet? Congrats! Is someone gonna pay $1000 for it? Likely not. Phoenix is an OK game, but its collision detection is a bit buggy due to how its graphics were implemented (it is actually a character-based screen, which is why the animation is a bit sloppy), and its cabinet is nothing to write home about and is not very friendly to conversion.
If someone is looking to expand their collection and play more modern 2-player JAMMA games, they would pay more for a generic Olympia cabinet or a Z-Back that has a 2-joystick, 12-button setup rather than buy your “all original” Phoenix game.