Treasure Hunting for Rare Retro Video Games: A Guide to Finding the Best Deals


Retro gaming enthusiasts know that collecting rare vintage video games can be an exciting and rewarding hobby. But tracking down these treasures can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a budget. The good news is that with a bit of persistence and some insider knowledge, you can find rare retro video games at fantastic prices. In this article, we’ll share some tips and strategies for locating those hidden gems in online auctions, garage sales, and through friends and relatives, as well as some other lesser-known methods.

Online Auctions

Online auctions are an excellent place to start your search for rare retro video games. Platforms like eBay, eBid, and Bonanza offer a vast selection of games from all over the world. To find the best deals, consider the following tips:

  • Research: Before placing a bid, research the average selling price of the game you’re interested in. Knowing the market value will help you determine a reasonable bidding limit.
  • Patience: Don’t get caught up in bidding wars. Be patient and wait for the right opportunity to snag a game at a good price. Set up alerts to get notified when new listings match your search criteria.
  • International Sellers: Expand your search to include international sellers, as they may offer lower prices or have rare games unavailable in your region. Be mindful of import fees and shipping costs, though.
  • Bundle Deals: Look for sellers offering bundles or lots of games, as these can often be purchased at a discount. You can resell duplicates or unwanted games to recoup some of your investment.

Garage Sales and Flea Markets

Garage sales and flea markets are treasure troves for retro gaming enthusiasts. Sellers may not realize the value of the items they’re selling, which can lead to fantastic deals. To maximize your chances of success:

  • Arrive Early: The early bird catches the worm. Arrive at garage sales and flea markets as soon as they open to have the first pick of the available items.
  • Be Prepared: Bring cash, as most sellers won’t accept credit cards or checks. A portable game console or a device that can test games is also useful, as it allows you to verify that the games work before purchasing them.
  • Bargain: Don’t be afraid to haggle. Most sellers are willing to negotiate, especially if you’re buying multiple items.
  • Network: Talk to other collectors and sellers. They may have leads on upcoming sales or be willing to trade games.

Friends and Relatives

Your network of friends and family can be a valuable resource when hunting for rare retro video games. Let them know about your hobby and ask them to keep an eye out for any games they come across. They may have unwanted games collecting dust in their attics or basements or know someone who does.

Local Game Stores and Pawn Shops

Local game stores and pawn shops can be great places to find rare retro video games. While they may be more aware of the value of their stock, they might still offer competitive prices or special sales. To get the best deals:

  • Build Relationships: Get to know the staff and owners of your local game stores and pawn shops. They may be more inclined to give you a discount if they know you’re a regular customer.
  • Trade-In: Some stores accept trade-ins, allowing you to exchange unwanted games for store credit or discounts on other items.

Online Forums and Social Media Groups

Joining online forums and social media groups dedicated to retro gaming can help you connect with fellow collectors, share leads on rare games, and even arrange trades or private sales. Some popular options include Reddit’s r/GameCollecting and Facebook

groups like Retro Video Game Collectors and Retro Video Game Trading. To make the most of these communities:

  • Be Active: Participate in discussions, ask questions, and share your own finds. The more active you are, the more likely you are to come across valuable information and potential deals.
  • Establish Trust: Building a reputation as a trustworthy and reliable member of the community can open doors to private deals and trades. Always be honest, follow through on commitments, and treat others with respect.
  • Local Groups: Look for local or regional retro gaming groups, as they may have information on nearby sales and events that you might not find in larger, international communities.

Special Events and Conventions

Gaming conventions, expos, and swap meets are excellent places to find rare retro video games, meet fellow collectors, and even attend panels or workshops on game collecting. Some popular events include the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, the Midwest Gaming Classic, and the SoCal Retro Gaming Expo. To get the most out of these events:

  • Plan Ahead: Research the event schedule, vendors, and exhibitors in advance to maximize your time and increase your chances of finding rare games.
  • Budget: Set a budget for your purchases and stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away when surrounded by so many enticing games.
  • Network: Don’t be shy about striking up conversations with fellow attendees, as they may have leads on games you’re looking for or be willing to trade.


Finding rare retro video games at good prices may require some persistence, but the thrill of the hunt is part of the fun. By exploring online auctions, garage sales, and flea markets, tapping into your network of friends and family, visiting local game stores and pawn shops, engaging in online forums and social media groups, and attending special events and conventions, you’ll be well on your way to building an impressive collection without breaking the bank. Happy hunting!