Editorial: Going Backwards

Possibly the most expensive games collection there is.

If I had this collection, I would not hesitate in selling it.

I have a rather huge collection of old games and the systems required to play them. In fact, I have never sold a single game in my life. I always believed that I would go back and play the better games in my collection during the summer months when there is typically a lull in new releases. Time have changed though. More games are released each year now than they ever have before, even if they vary in quality substantially, and as I have gotten older my free time has diminished somewhat as well. I am not sure it is worth setting aside enough space to store all my gaming paraphernalia. Today I will be looking at just how useful it is to have collections any more.

My first issue with games of the past is that they are all in a fairly low resolution. Nostalgia has often meant that pixellated graphics are smoothed out and generally look a whole lot better in my memory. This would not be much of an issue if I were still playing games on the old CRT televisions of yore, but on my huge high definition unit of today, those flaws come right to the fore. Even downloading a PlayStation 2 classic game from the PSN store, as I did with La Pucelle this week, does not prevent this from happening. Game produced for a different generation of consoles do not always look good on the current generation of machines.

Also, PS1 saves can be transferred back and forth for cross platform play!

Having games available digitally saves plenty of physical space.

Sticking with downloadable games, many companies are re-releasing their back catalogs nowadays. Square Enix has been doing this for years, but recently a whole lot of games are being released that are available digitally and sometimes with extra content. These games are often developed to run on modern hardware and, while not having the impossibly smooth graphics they had in my memory, they at least fit well on a HD screen. Having the games available through a digital service also reduces the need for me to store boxes in every spare crevice as I have to do right now.

The time constraints of being an adult with two children means I do not often have the time to sit down and invest a hundred or more hours into my favourite RPG. I particularly love the Disgaea franchise, but I find myself leaving the games alone for months on end, only to restart them the next time I feel the urge to play the one. This is why I enjoy picking up the games on a portable device. Not only can I put the game down whenever I need to (such as halfway through an item world run), but I get all the downloadable extras for each game along with new content. Portable is where it is at for me right now and it is probably the largest factor in my decision not to buy a PlayStation 4 so far.

Age of Empires 2 Screenshot Comparison

HD remakes made for modern computers often come with significant graphical upgrades.

When I do get the chance to sit in front my computer, I am often surrounded by titles that I own, but have not yet had the chance to play. Various Steam and Humble Bundle sales have seen me buying games like a child buys sweets. I certainly do not have the time to play them all thoroughly, and games that I have already completed years ago rarely seem to get a look in. Sometimes though, an old game will get a HD upgrade so that its graphical style is preserved on modern machines. Owners of theses games on Steam (and perhaps other digital delivery services) usually get a free upgrade to the new version. This often sparks a few weeks of multiplayer games within my Warcraft guild. This means that if I own the physical game, I would have to buy it over again digitally to join in the fun.

Finally, the best part of selling off a collection and purchasing digital copies of the important games is not having to deal with early access. Most of the staff on this site have written about it, so I will not go into detail here, just to say that it is a blessing that I can pick up a game and not find it riddled full of bugs while I wait countless months for a patch to fix the game.

So, now I firmly believe that buying re-releases of old games is worthwhile, but what of the games I still have lying around? Very few of them are actually worth anything, and the ones that are generally are not yet available in any other fashion. Selling them could fund the purchase of many new games, and this is what I am wrestling with at the moment. Let me know what you think in the comments. Should I sell off my entire game collection, or should I just get rid of anything that is available digitally elsewhere? Do you think physical or digital copies of games are better? I am curious what our community thinks about this issue.

3 comments on “Editorial: Going Backwards”

  1. I will always think that there is just something satisfying about owning physical copies of games, but I can totally relate to not wanting to waste precious storage space on stuff I never use. This is why, back when I was living in cramped apartments in college, I more or less allowed my older brother to make off with the vast majority of the considerable games collection that we built up throughout our childhood. I should charge that bastard for half of the current worth of the collection (it must be worth many thousands of dollars at this point).

    Recently, though, I’ve gotten back into older games (NES, SNES, Genesis) because of my interest in speedrunning and streaming video games in general (along with the fact that I have lost interest in playing all but a select few newer console games). So, I’ve been partially re-building my collection. I play these older games on a CRT, which I have placed on my mobile gaming station (I fastened some wheels to a cheap IKEA TV stand so I could roll the whole thing out of the way when I’m done playing), and I’m loving the feeling of having the original controller and hardware and playing on a TV with minimal lag. I also love that many older games are much easier to play in shorter sessions. That’s something that can’t really be replaced by a digital re-release or HD upgrade, although those obviously have their advantages over the original games (the Nintendo Virtual Console comes to mind as an excellent alternative to playing games on the original hardware).

    So, based on my experiences, my advice would be to keep anything that doesn’t have a decent re-release and that you think you might play again. A little extra spending money and some more room to store more useful things might seem worth it now, but there surely are some creative, space-efficient ways to store items in your home and easier and less potentially regretful ways to acquire extra money.

  2. I treasure my physical copies of games, but they are not some sort of unplayed hoard.

    I abhore collectors who buy physical games and then lock them up in a room to look at them, never playing them, and hence denying other people the opportunity to play them.

    Games only exist when played. The moment the game is turned off, it ceases to exist. Their aesthetic value does not come from being a label on a shelf. So, to collect games that one has no intention of playing is both a disservice to the game (its aesthetics will never be given a chance to exist) and to other people (someone who wants it will be denied).

    The best part is that these collectors usually spend their time sneering at people who have less games than they do, or who come by their games in less hipster ways. “Buying games on eBay!?” they sneer as they fiddle with their black hipster glasses, “I only buy mine at rural flea markets!

    Seriously, they are a fucking scourge.

    By all means, accumulate your collection, but do it only because you are buying games you want and will play. Games take up comparitively little storage room compared to books–I know what I am talking about here. Provided that your collection is reasonable–that it contains only things you want to play–you shouldn’t be in the need for too much space.

    My greatest regret is selling my SNES and NES collections. I desperately needed the money at the time–I was between jobs, I had bills to pay, and the site bills were coming due. There wasn’t a farthing in my bank account. So, I did what I had to do to meet my obligations. But, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t regret not owning a Super Nintendo and an NES. By the time I am financially secure in a few years, such things will likely be too expensive for an overworked adjunct.

    So, now you know both the peril of owning too much, and the peril of selling it all. Choose the sensible path which lies between. :)

  3. I seem to be in a pretty good position when it comes to my game collection. I value my collection, which spans across several (mostly Nintendo) systems. However, crucially, my collection is not particularly big. All the games I or my brother owned for the NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, 360, PS3 and a couple others fit neatly inside of a single large dresser upon which my current game systems sit.

    So I haven’t the need to sell my collection for space reasons. And while I value my collection, I still enjoy the convenience of digital purchases, knowing full well this convenience is balanced out (some may say overshadowed) by the benefits of a physical copy.

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