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Atari 2600 Game Collecting - Is it Dead?


Doctor Octagon

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Is Atari 2600 game collecting dead? Why is it so often overlooked?

 

Has it gone down to nothing since the heyday of the late '90s? Is this because the average Atari 2600 player is now in their 40s or 50s and have had their fill of nostalgia? Or is it because Atari is essentially a "dead" company that does not have franchises that continue to exist and build interest, as Nintendo does?

 

These were all topics brought up by Pat & Ian in the most recent episode of Pat the NES Punk's Completely Unnecessary Podcast (which I have yet to post). They delve deep into the issue.

 

Do you think they were fair? One reason they put forth is how a lot of Atari 2600 games don't hold up as well as NES games with their enchanting ability to tell a story, controller that can do multiple things easily, and graphics that are easily identifiable. 

 

 

 

 

Atari 2600 Game Collecting - Is it Dead?

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I am sort of agreeing with RickR.  However, even with me in my 40's the 2600 is one console I am wanting to collect for.  The problem is that the games that no one wanted back in the 1980's are starting to dry up.  All the inventory that could not be moved then has moved in high volume during the past decade.  The 2600 was the easiest console to start collecting with because of the high volume of games available that were interesting if not cool to get.  I talk about this to a friend of mine almost all the time because I can remember being a teenager and going to yard sales every weekend and we (my Mom and I) would spot at least 3 to 5 Atari 2600 consoles with games...lots of games.  But we didn't buy them all (even if we should have knowing what I know now).  I think I seen one 5200 2-port out of all those yard sale adventures with Mom and we passed because it looked like the system was dug out of the dumpster.

 

You have to remember back then there was no internet and no online auctions.  Once Ebay came around it became the go-to place to pick up yard sale stuff cheap and make a quick profit for those with the know-how.  A 10 cent Atari cartridge probably fetched about $5 to $10 on EBay for those who were needing a game for their collection.  Then the used video game stores started showing up and gamers once again had another source for grabbing games missing from their collections.  All this buying, selling, trading, and so forth has sucked up the inventory that was once in abundance.  Atari, the old Atari, has finally managed to sell almost all of the inventory they couldn't move decades ago.  That is my theory anyway.

 

I have lots of gaming systems in my collection but Atari makes up a majority of it.  I enjoy my NES games, too.  I even have a rare VIS, only one of 11,000 ever sold...and I hate the thing.  Might have to barter with it someday.  But I believe that the price of the games have brought the collecting of Atari 2600 games to a halt as well.  Why pay $5 for Pac-Man when you can use that money to get something for another console?  Right now is the perfect time to start collecting for more modern consoles like XBOX, 360, PS2, PS3 games because businesses are trying to move out the old to make room for the new.  Seriously, these games for a few bucks now will eventually hit the $50 to $100 price range because of collectors.  It might take a few years to get there but they will eventually get there.

 

Trust me...I'd love more Atari 2600 games because the games would be "new" to me because I've not played a whole lot of 2600 games outside of common arcade ports and a few Activision titles that almost everybody had which was usually Pitfall!.  I hope to someday attend game club meetings somewhere someday where people are like, "Oh...I have these for trade or sell.", and the prices of the games won't be too astronomical that I would have to get a loan to buy them.  That's my 2 cents worth anyway.  Rest assured, however, that I am still collecting for the 2600, new, used, and damaged.  I'm still looking for a 4-switch woody design, too.

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OK...I guess I better put Taz on my list ;)  I believe after watching the podcast that they missed something...the 2600 was obviously a flexible console.  For a three-chip design it did things that it was not designed to do and that is an achievement in my book.  I mean Solaris is absolutely beautiful on the system but don't overlook more graphically-challenged games like Gravitar, Kangaroo, Moon Patrol, or even Centipede.  The game play is ever present in games Atari made for the 2600...including E.T. which I believe didn't get fair reviews but that's just my opinion.  Then you have odd games like Tunnel Runner that are hidden fun if you have passed on it before.  The 2600's design was suppose to be for Pong style games but the hardware was tested and pushed beyond its abilities to give us 2600 owners the games we enjoyed most.  

 

I can't dog the NES because a good portion of my teenage years...actually from 13 until I was 18, the NES was there so I can see where the podcasters are coming from.  But I also had the 7800, 2600 JR, Master System, Genesis, and Super NES while having an NES at the same time.  The NES I would go to often because I had a library of 80 plus games at least then but I went to my Atari systems for Space Invaders, Asteroids, and others because while the NES versions looked good the Atari consoles nailed the game play.  OK...I'm done LOL

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Unless they are talking about Nintendo, and specifically NES, Pat doesn't know sh*t from shinola.     He really gets out of his element very easily, but his mouth never realizes it.  
Don't get me wrong, I love the CU Podcast...but it ain't because Pat knows a thing about first gen gaming.     For example, his statement that only the Atari releases were good, the third party titles were all crap.    That statement is so obviously flawed that I pretty much ignored everything he said after that.

Ian, being a bit more in touch with gaming in general, pointed out the most important thing....KIDS are collecting Atari.   What he didn't mention is that in many cases, these kids that get into retro gaming learn that their parents had an Atari growing up.   Sometimes they find dad's old Atari collection, etc.   This is helping to drive interest to a whole new generation.

I mentioned the Steam pack  being released as another sign of interest among younger gamers.  Although some dude at AtariAge said the experience will be completely ruined because the Steam Controller doesn't properly emulate a track ball, I disagree.  I think it will be a great thing for the Atari crowd.  

Lastly, I'm not a fan of the thought process that says, "I'm glad people don't want Atari games, that means they are cheaper for me!"   Stop being a selfish bass turd and care about the hobby.  If not you're no better than the 70 year old guys picking through games at Goodwill pulling the prices up on their phones so they can see how much they can overcharge for something they know nothing or care nothing about.

"For you - Rowsdower from the 70 - have been appointed Omnivisioner of the Game Grid."  ~ Atari Adventure Square

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Unless they are talking about Nintendo, and specifically NES, Pat doesn't know sh*t from shinola.     He really gets out of his element very easily, but his mouth never realizes it.  

Don't get me wrong, I love the CU Podcast...but it ain't because Pat knows a thing about first gen gaming.     For example, his statement that only the Atari releases were good, the third party titles were all crap.    That statement is so obviously flawed that I pretty much ignored everything he said after that.

 

Ian, being a bit more in touch with gaming in general, pointed out the most important thing....KIDS are collecting Atari.   What he didn't mention is that in many cases, these kids that get into retro gaming learn that their parents had an Atari growing up.   Sometimes they find dad's old Atari collection, etc.   This is helping to drive interest to a whole new generation.

 

I mentioned the Steam pack  being released as another sign of interest among younger gamers.  Although some dude at AtariAge said the experience will be completely ruined because the Steam Controller doesn't properly emulate a track ball, I disagree.  I think it will be a great thing for the Atari crowd.  

 

Lastly, I'm not a fan of the thought process that says, "I'm glad people don't want Atari games, that means they are cheaper for me!"   Stop being a selfish bass turd and care about the hobby.  If not you're no better than the 70 year old guys picking through games at Goodwill pulling the prices up on their phones so they can see how much they can overcharge for something they know nothing or care nothing about.

 

It's going to be a GREAT! morning.  And we ought to do our own podcast...if I knew how LOL.

 

I am taken back to the video posted on here where the person of interest gets an Atari 2600 JR in mail.  To love Atari like we do was thought that you had to be there.  In hindsight it's the fact that it is a shared memory meaning that if those that lived through Atari years shared those experiences with their kids and grandkids, and great grandkids, then Atari will be a huge part of their lives, too.  That is what separates Atari from the rest in my opinion...it was about family time together.  Atari didn't replace board games like the NES and consoles after did...it was an addendum to them.  

 

It also played a huge babysitting role if you think about it when adults didn't want kids in the same room for whatever reason.  I know when Mom, her boyfriend, and some adult family friends would pay a visit, that something was going on.  I stayed on my Atari.  I often wondered what happened to the mushrooms in Centipede when I would shoot them down.  Now I know  :rofl: .

 

All kidding aside Atari was a time when life was simple, you didn't need a high-class job to pay bills and have fun, and you could play in the streets without worrying about being kidnapped.  While those days are gone from the most part the Atari machines and games are still here and hopefully will be here for many generations to come.  I can only imagine what an Atari would go for 100, 200, 300 years from now if they last that long.

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Is Atari 2600 game collecting dead? Why is it so often overlooked?

 

I hope not.  I'm just getting started!  

 

Often overlooked?!?  How can anyone overlook the 2600?  It has the most well-known iconic joystick designs in the world.  Even generic joystick images often mock the design in some fashion.  It is also the most recognizable design by an ever aging gaming community (sorry Atari.IO member...but we aren't getting any younger).  Just like any game console to follow it has its ups and downs, its popular games and its sleeper titles, as well as a mix of history and memory stories that if collaborated and combined could be a long video series into the system and its many games.   

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Collecting Atari has slowed, and it's not as "sexy" as Nintendo, but my god is it still kicking. There is still a homebrew market out there. I only wish that there would be an Atari version of the retron 5. Play all the games, even the home computer ones. That would be awesome. I enjoy the fact that most of the games are affordable, just look at the mess the NES crowd has to deal with, scumbags willing to ripoff even their own grandmothers. That is why I don't want to even enter that market. NES emulating is good enough for me.

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Collecting Atari has slowed, and it's not as "sexy" as Nintendo, but my god is it still kicking. There is still a homebrew market out there. I only wish that there would be an Atari version of the retron 5. Play all the games, even the home computer ones. That would be awesome. I enjoy the fact that most of the games are affordable, just look at the mess the NES crowd has to deal with, scumbags willing to ripoff even their own grandmothers. That is why I don't want to even enter that market. NES emulating is good enough for me.

 

Over the past two or three years I've watched NES games go from under $2 to triple and quadruple price ranges.  Over a year ago I picked up TMNT III for the NES in a box.  No instructions but it still had its box.  Found it for $3 at Goodwill.  Try to find that same game today with its box and your jaw should be on the floor.  I couldn't believe it myself.  The last NES game I got was NFL Football from LJN.  I gave a pitiful $1.25 for it.  The same place I got it from is now charging double for it.

 

So...for the price of the games I'll stick with Atari games for now.  At least the 2600, 5200, and 7800 stuff is not too overly priced.  The same goes for the 8-bit stuff as well.  The only Atari console I know of that I feel is ridiculously priced is Jaguar stuff...especially when the machine prices are going for double original retail price.  That's not inflation that is just plain greed.

 

But, collecting for the 2600 has slowed down and that's a good thing.  It means that the rest of us who sat back while the attack dogs got what they wanted can get what's left.  And usually we can do that at cheaper prices!  We might not get some of the more rare and sought after titles but as long as what we get is entertaining to us who cares, right?  I don't mind leftovers.    

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It isn't dead.

 

Let's take a typical game for the 2600.  Say...Defender.  There are millions of copies out there, and the game isn't very good.  Most collectors already have it.  Even finding a complete boxed copy is not hard.  Loose copy is probably $3 tops. 

 

So given all that...I think it's safe to say that when these guys say that collecting is dead, they really mean that they can't make money at it.  And IMO, people that are in it as an investment aren't real collectors anyways.  I have no problem with those that buy and sell to get a bigger collection or to make a small profit.  But it should mostly be about FUN.  Playing and enjoying the games, and sharing the fun with others that may or not be familiar with a system. 

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No its not dead, but has slowed. All systems tend to have ebbs and flows in collecting, usually with the high point being when the original owners hit their 30's or so and now have the money to relive their childhood. Try collecting for the SNES right now....wow! I think ps1 prices are also rising. If someone wanted to collect for the 2600, the most likely already bought the stuff they wanted, or something like a flashback, which also dilutes the 2600 scene.

 

For me, the best era of 2600 games was the Silver Label games. GCC did some amazing stuff producing great games with great gameplay and graphics. Phoenix, Ms. Pac Man, Centipede, Battlezone, Kangaroo, Dig Dug, Joust, Mario Bros, RS Volleyball....lots of good stuff. And even some of the not so good stuff was still technically impressive.  :indiana_jones:

 

 

Over a year ago I picked up TMNT III for the NES in a box.  No instructions but it still had its box.  Found it for $3 at Goodwill.  Try to find that same game today with its box and your jaw should be on the floor.  

 

Your TMNT 3 was a great find.  I did some quick research, and it looks like the value today was either the same or a bit lower than when you found it at goodwill. You just happened to stumble on a great find, which can happen.

 

 The only Atari console I know of that I feel is ridiculously priced is Jaguar stuff...especially when the machine prices are going for double original retail price.  That's not inflation that is just plain greed.

 

I don't think it's greed. It just happens to be the going rate which is high right now.  :atari_jaguar:

 

 

  I have no problem with those that buy and sell to get a bigger collection or to make a small profit.  But it should mostly be about FUN.

 

I also don't have a problem if someone wanted to try to make a living buying and selling games, in the same way I don't have a problem with antique dealers.  Besides, usually its the guys that have the most passion for what they are selling that give you the best service and have the most knowledge on the product.  Those in it just for the money rarely last anyways.

 

BTW, I find it interesting that I never heard much about Tax Avoiders until I reviewed it a couple years ago.....hmmm..... ;)

The No Swear Gamer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChtJuo040EOCTVziObIgVcg

Host of The Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube

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It isn't dead.

 

Let's take a typical game for the 2600.  Say...Defender.  There are millions of copies out there, and the game isn't very good.  Most collectors already have it.  Even finding a complete boxed copy is not hard.  Loose copy is probably $3 tops. 

 

 

Exactly. I have all of the games I had as a kid & most of the ones I wanted but didn't have. Now I just want a few more. I'm more than satisfied with my collection. (Aside from a properly functioning system but whatever.  ;) )

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I also don't have a problem if someone wanted to try to make a living buying and selling games, in the same way I don't have a problem with antique dealers.  Besides, usually its the guys that have the most passion for what they are selling that give you the best service and have the most knowledge on the product.  Those in it just for the money rarely last anyways.

 

 

Me either, and thank you for pointing this out.  I didn't mean to imply anything against those making a living selling games, and I apologize if anyone took offense.   I was referring to private collectors who buy stuff and then immediately expect it to be worth twice as much. 

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I haven't taken offense to anything.  I find all this conversating very interesting.  But I do have to ask something...

 

 

Your TMNT 3 was a great find.  I did some quick research, and it looks like the value today was either the same or a bit lower than when you found it at goodwill. You just happened to stumble on a great find, which can happen.

 

I'm not in it for the investment opportunities.  Hell, I get new games, like the 2600 games I got for Christmas, to play them.  I like to look at them when they are on the shelf, take them down and look at the artwork and backsides but I am not afraid to open up a game that is still sealed just to experience the game.  Interesting stuff.  But I have to ask where you got that information so I can look.  I use Pricecharter and according to them...

 

http://videogames.pricecharting.com/game/nes/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-iii-the-manhattan-project

 

Just curious is all.

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I haven't taken offense to anything.  I find all this conversating very interesting.  But I do have to ask something...

 

 

 

I'm not in it for the investment opportunities.  Hell, I get new games, like the 2600 games I got for Christmas, to play them.  I like to look at them when they are on the shelf, take them down and look at the artwork and backsides but I am not afraid to open up a game that is still sealed just to experience the game.  Interesting stuff.  But I have to ask where you got that information so I can look.  I use Pricecharter and according to them...

 

http://videogames.pricecharting.com/game/nes/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-iii-the-manhattan-project

 

Just curious is all.

I'm sort of an odd duck in that I am in the middle between collector and investor.   Now I don't make a living off of it by any means, but it is an extra source of income while fueling my hobby.   I have tried to be very careful about lifting the hobby up, rather than fueling the negative aspects of the hobby.

 

I would say that one could make the argument easily that Atari collecting as an investment is a bad, bad idea.   Collecting any games as a long term investment is probably a bad idea, to be honest.  Heck when I first decided to get into flea market collecting I decided to try to keep a good stock of loose Atari games.   I don't even bring them to market anymore unless I have a system to sell them with.  Waste of table space.  That's not a knock against the system, its just a fact.   I listed 6 lots of games recently on eBay, only 2 sold and at minimum bids.  

 

Doesn't mean collecting is dead, by any means.  

 

Most of my money is made off of modern, or at least semi-modern games...XBox360, Wii, PS3, things like that. 

"For you - Rowsdower from the 70 - have been appointed Omnivisioner of the Game Grid."  ~ Atari Adventure Square

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I haven't taken offense to anything.  I find all this conversating very interesting.  But I do have to ask something...

 

 

 

I'm not in it for the investment opportunities.  Hell, I get new games, like the 2600 games I got for Christmas, to play them.  I like to look at them when they are on the shelf, take them down and look at the artwork and backsides but I am not afraid to open up a game that is still sealed just to experience the game.  Interesting stuff.  But I have to ask where you got that information so I can look.  I use Pricecharter and according to them...

 

http://videogames.pricecharting.com/game/nes/teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-iii-the-manhattan-project

 

Just curious is all.

 

Yeah, thats what I used, and a quick glance told me that in the past year the game is starting to loose value.

Dec 2014 23.99

Dec 2015 22.50

 

Jan 2015 25.19

Jan 2016 18.75

The No Swear Gamer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChtJuo040EOCTVziObIgVcg

Host of The Atari 7800 Game by Game Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube

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Well, I would agree with that the 2600 has a much smaller collector base compared to NES games. Much less demand and there are like a gazillion atari games out there. But, with the amount of home brews that come out for the atari each year, it's hard to say that the console is dead.

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It seems to be a minor interest compared to Nintendo, Sega and the others. I think there was more interest 15 years ago than there is now sadly. People are forgetting about Atari, Intellivision, ColecoVision which is why we do Atari Day. Keep that gaming alive!

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I do agree that their commentary is based through the lens of a reseller more than as a gamer. This and other forums are indicators that the Atari hobby is thriving.

 

From a reseller perspective, most of the best Atari games are commons from Atari, Activision, Imagic, Coleco and CBS that don't command high prices due to their high volume availabilty. This is especially the case for loose games. A/V modded systems in good cosmetic condition or boxed bundles still go for a decent amount though! ;)

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