Monday, January 31, 2011

World 1-4 Trade Etiquette, and Buyer / Trader Types

Audio Transcript here. This is just an audio transcript.
Once I get some real hosting this will be available in real feeds like a true podcast
Video game collectors go about amassing games in various ways: eBay, garage sales, video game stores, pawn shops, and the one I want to really focus on forums. Forums are a great resource for collectors, you can get tons of info on games, meet like minded people, be part of a community, and buy sell and trade games. Forums are great to have, but I think we need to talk a little bit about proper etiquette when conducting business on forums.
First and foremost if you are new to a forum introduce yourself. Most forums have a dedicated space for all new users to say hello and give a brief introduction. Introducing yourself will allow current members a chance to greet and familiarize themselves with you. This might not seem very necessary, but for me I am far more likely to conduct business with someone who has a few posts down and has introduced themselves. I'd much rather deal with you than the guy who jumped into the Market Place Forum and put down a few items he has for sale. Forums are very small communities people look out for each other. When someone burst onto the scene with no post but a sale thread it throws a few red flags. Who is this guy? Is this a scam? Is their only reason for being here to profit on collectors? Unknown members are a risk, this isn't just for selling, it goes for buying too. How do I know a new member won't try to screw me with a bad paypal transaction, or bad feedback? The answer is I don't. The risk of being taken advantage of isn't relegated to just new members; this goes for transactions with anyone, but being new might just tip the risk / reward scale to far into the risk category.

How to create a Buy, Sale, or Trade Thread
Now that you are a full fledged member of a forum lets talk about how to properly create threads in the market place. Know the lingo, you have to know what the common abbreviations used in market places mean like WTS (Want to Sell) and WTB(Want to Buy). Knowing the lingo will allow you to more effectively create threads. Okay example 1: You have three games for sale, two for the Genesis, one for the SNES. The games are Bubsy, Batman, and Sonic 1. First be very clear in your title, as it will tell your potential customers what to expect. For me I have an ongoing trade/FS/WTB so my threads look like this: Timemaster's Big Trade and Sale Thread, Sub header: looking for... New Items: Sega Games. My thread title lets you know it's not a one off sale. For the purpose of our example a good title might look like this WTS/WTT 1 SNES and 2 Genesis games MINT!!! This title tells everyone what you have and gives them an idea what to expect.
Thread Content and Layout
Now that we have an adequate title for our thread it is time to put in the content. The most important think to know about the content of your thread is this "BE SPECIFIC". It is so important I made it bold. When it comes to collecting nobody like surprises. I have seriously seen threads where the title says "Game X For Sale $50", and then the content of the thread some how manages to say less "Game X". Threads like this make me crazy, I know nothing about the game except the title and the price and as a collector that simply isn't enough. So when making a thread do it right and tell everyone as much as you can, it doesn't need to be a novel. Using our example.

Genesis games for sale: Sonic 1 complete Retail Version all original paper work included, cart manual and clamshell in Mint condition, hardly played $10. Batman includes, original clamshell, manual and cart no other paper work $7. Shipping not included buyer pays actual shipping

SNES Bubsy also for sale Box, Cart, and Manual. Formal Rental has stickers on cart and box, manual is in rough shape. $5 plus shipping. Please see attached pictures. Paypal non gift only. I know I am new seller, but please see my eBay feedback and my feedback on Forum A. Links attached.

Also willing to trade all three and some cash for Shining Force 2, would like CIB but willing to discuss cart only.
The thread is specific, it tells us how the seller expects to be paid, how much the seller wants for their items, the nature of the items for sale, leaves nothing to the imagination by including pictures, includes references, and tells us the seller is looking for in trade.

You made a Sell or Purchase, now follow through
Now that you have made your sell it's time to move on to the easiest part of the transaction to mess up. I liken this part of a sell to movies that have endings so bad they ruin the the whole movie. Basically what I am telling you here is to do these two things, ship it fast, and make sure it is well packaged. Remember shipping it fast doesn't mean send it express mail, send it however the buyer paid for it to be shipped. It means get that game packed and in the mail soon, don't make someone wait a week before it goes in the mail, unless it's already been discussed. A note for all sellers, be it on eBay or on forums, "DO NOT USE BUBBLE MAILERS FOR BOXED GAMES". I cannot tell you how many times I have had a game ruined by bubble mailers. In many cases the box is the most expensive and hardest to find part of a game, packing it in a bubble mailer is a sure fire way to screw up a valuable box and a transaction. Every collector I know has the same story about some idiot who sent them something nice that was ruined by a bubble mailer, and everyone of those collectors would have gladly paid another dollar or two to have it shipped in a box. So in short pack, boxed games in boxes and protect them with bubble wrap or paper. Packing a game properly is more than just bubble wrapping and putting it in a box. When you ship an item protect yourself by put tracking on the item, and if it's expensive put insurance on it too. After you have packed it properly and got it to the mailbox only a few small are left for you to do, inform the buyer of their tracking number, this tells the buyer when you shipped it and keeps you from getting a ton of messages asking for updates, and lastly leave the buyer feedback. Many forums have designated areas for feedback, some forums even have trade transactions you can create which also allow you to post feedback.

If you were a buyer your follow through is much easier, first pay promptly, second leave feedback after your game arrives. If you had a problem with delivery or the item is damaged contact your seller and try to work it out. Most people aren't trying to mess you over, and will gladly work with you to resolve any problems that may arise. Mitigate all potential problems by using good communication through out the transaction, remember no surprise.

Other pieces of Etiquette
So I know the first two thirds of this post reads like a tutorial, and that's it's intended purpose, it is geared for new members. The advice I give is solid all the way around for all levels, but in this portion I want to talk more to forum members who have been around the block a few times.

For Offer threads...
I hate them, and I am guilty of placing them. If you make a For Offer thread then please really be willing to take offers, and stop complaining that people are low balling you. If you have a price range in mind then then you should state your price, don't put members in the tricky position of trying to generate a number they feel like is a bargain but simultaneous not be offensive. For Offer threads to me feel like a seller is trying to see what they can squeeze out of you. Has anyone else had this happen? Offer X (50) amount of dollars on game Y in a FO thread, seller replies with an adjusted price of 70 or something similar. It really feels like the seller is trying to bait the buyers into telling them how much a game is worth. They know if you offer 50 it has to be worth more than that, because nobody offers at a games highest estimated value, people usually go mid or mid low. The seller now knows how much they can squeeze you out of you, if you offered at 50 (mid) you might make a follow up offer of 60 (Mid High), which the seller will probably take. The game is not had at what I would call a deal, you probably did a little better then what you would find on eBay. Another scenario is you offer and the seller replies back with a snarky low ball comment. So annoying, just stop it. Again if you know what you want for it just say what you want and stop making it awkward.

eBay prices in Forums...
Another silly thing that seems to be coming up more often is, sellers wanting full eBay price for their games in a forum. Here is my view, feel free to disagree. If you are trying to sell something on a forum, you should know what it's worth on eBay and then go lower. If it is a really rare item then maybe you can get away with asking full eBay. The math to me is simple, if I sell something in eBay, I figure I am only going to get about 83%-86% of what it sold for. This number accounts for listing fees, final value fee, and paypal fee. If I want to sell Burning Rangers and I know I can get $100 on eBay I will probably take $80 in a forum, depending on if they are sending paypal gift or regular, have I dealt with them before, are they a well reputed member that sells a lot, and so on. If you demand $100 I will probably just go to eBay, it is a lot safer, if your response to me asking if you would take $80 is I can get $100 on eBay, then my response to you is then sell the damn thing on eBay and loose all that money. What you can get for it on eBay is only relevant in a forum as far as I am concerned to create a forum price.

Trade Value is not the same as Cash
Again just my opinion trade value, is higher than cash. If the game you want from me ranges from 10-14 I am probably going to side on 13 to 14, while if you wanted to give me cash I'd probably take 11 or 12. I imagine you are pricing your trades the same way. Another note about Trade Value, both parties should use the same source for prices. Doesn't really matter what the source is as long as both parties agree to the source, for me I actually prefer to pull prices from a few sources to create a true median price.

A few more suggestion and reiterations
  • Don't be afraid to give someone a deal, sure you could get $15 for a loose Punch Out, but sometimes taking 10 or 12 will net you a better deal or more business later.
  • Always have pictures.
  • Always have a tracking number.
  • Don't use bubble mailers.
  • In a sale thread don't mention where a similar item is on sale.
  • In a sale thread don't bring up how much a previous copy sold for or how much another member is selling it for.
  • Don't be an ass, trading and selling is about building relationships, people remember and tell others who is good and bad to deal with.
  • Don't try to rip people off, it might work once or twice but once a community is on to you they will spread your name into every bad trader thread they can find.
  • Don't waste peoples time. If you have no intent on buying, or can't afford an item, don't string a seller along.
  • Do follow all forum rules.
  • Be specific, again Be specific, manual have small tear on page 9, list it, even if they may never see it.
  • Do communicate and follow up
  • Help others when you can, I know I already kind of said this, but really I have gotten so many sweet deals and throw-ins from people I have given good deals to.
Now that we have gone over some basic etiquette and generally good trading and selling tips I want to spend a few lines talking about trader/buyer types. In my last post I talked about collector types and many collector types translate into buyer types, almost a one for one conversion. I am not going to rehash that I want to talk about the difficult types. The people who represent these types might be really nice people, but are kind of a pain in the ass to sell to or trade with. We all have our standards and goals and it isn't for me to say someones standards are too low or high or their reason for collecting is wrong. I do want to point out just these few so people are aware. If you know the collector type you are dealing with it should allow you to not get in a bad situation.

Investor- These collectors may or may not care about games at all, they are in it for the potential to earn money. Many of these collectors are part of the great Stadium Event Phenomenon. These collectors know games now = $Dollars$. Long gone are the days of any NES game 5 dollar bin at game stores.

The Dealer- These are my least favorite types of collectors. These people might own stores or are big sellers on eBay. They want to trade with you, but they will point out every small flaw in your cart, manual, box, disc, ect and then under value it. They will then proceed to over value their item and over estimate its rarity. They will says things like, well I bought it at price X (20) so I have to get at least this much Y (30). It's nice to buy low and sell high, but save your blatant attempts to rip me off. If this is how you make your living fine, don't ask me to like it and please just avoid me. The Dealer is usually in this for one reason, to turn a profit. Are they wrong?

The Perfectionist- Another tricky collector type to deal with. These collectors, never mind what they collect, need the items they are getting to be pristine. They want nice box, no dings, or creases in the manual, and no broken hinges. They are not wrong to want these things, but if you are dealing with them be sure you have accurate pictures, and be sure to do a good job packing the item, something you should do anyway. I try to treat ever transaction I make as if I am dealing with a perfectionist, it ensures I do all I should to make a positive experience for both parties.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bonus World 1: Video Tip for Sega CD and Saturn Games

This is a bonus post, my next full entry will be up in the next day or two.

If you are like me and you collect Sega CD, Saturn, or PS1 Long Box titles, you will undoubtedly know about about curved manuals. This curved condition is brought on by storing your games flat instead of having them stand straight up. Manual curve can happen even if you have the foam brick. In my video I show you how I have gone about combating this. Take a look and let me know what you think or if you have a better solution.

Video Note: This video was shot one handed with my phone, so its not the highest quality and it shakes a little. I am also aware I call the bubble wrap foam, just ignore that and move on.

Thanks again for all the kind words and support. Look for my next post, Trade Etiquette soon.

A question to all the readers, would you like an audio transcript of the blog posted along side each post?


Monday, January 17, 2011

World 1-3: Types of Collectors

Before I dig into the subject matter of the day, I wanted to point out a few additions to the blog. If you will turn your attention to the top right of the blog, you will see two new items. The first is a Most Wanted List (MWL), and the second is a tally of number of games I have for each Sega system and the the completion percentage. The Most Wanted List is just that, the games I want the most. It doesn't always represent the most expensive games I need to acquire, nor does it mean that those are the next games I will seek out. I am the type of collector (Opportunist) that will grab a deal when I see one, in my last post I showed a Crusader of Centy, that game while on my radar wasn't one I was actively seeking. What a perfect lead into our topic. (Scroll to the bottom of the blog to see my latest find.)

Types of Collectors
Collector types are many and varied and I am sure I won't cover them all, but I want to give a brief overview on a few of them. A Nintendo Age post lists a several and my info overlaps. You can see that here. I will start by listing what I am first.

The Opportunist- The opportunist jumps on deals for system he/she may not collect for because the value of the deal far out weight the fact that they don't actually need it...Yet.

The System Collector- The system collector simply picks a system or two and collects for those exclusively, system collecting might spawn from nostalgia but it may just be the collectors preferred system to play. These collectors may or may not go for complete sets. I feel like this might be the most common type of collector, well this and the Nostalgia Collector.

Nostalgia Collector- A person who collects games from their past because of the feelings and memories those games evoke.

The Librarian- These collectors go for the whole library of , even if the game is terrible, even if it's super expensive, even if they have 4 other versions of the game on other systems. Librarians gotta catch'em all.

Series Specialist- These collectors collect series, these series may span several different system and include foreign titles. Often times this is the collectors favorite game series, and thus it explains their diligence in finding even the rarest titles. ( This is why I have Zelda's Adventure for the CDI)

Genre Collector- This one is as easy as it sounds, a collector picks a genre and avidly collects games from said genre. These collectors are unique in that they often times will pick up imports, cross systems and hardware generations to get their fix. The two most common genre's collected are RPG's and ShMUPS.

Import Collectors- Title kind of says it all. Imports offer more variety and several games that never see US release for some systems. Prime example the Sega Master System 116 US titles, HUNDREDS of imports. Sometimes imports are different from their US counter part or they are cheaper. Their are many reasons to dig imports.

The Rare Collector- Unlike my meat, I like my games Rare, and so do these collectors. These collectors can be system specific, but most of the time I think they branch over many system. The goal for this type is simple, find rare games, collect, repeat. They thrive on the obscurity of titles and difficulty one must face to obtain them. Elitist maybe, sweet collection absolutely!

Two of the less fun types of collectors I thought were important to mention

The Hoarder- I have only met one person I would classify as this. The hoarder is not the same as a collector, this type will let their house be overrun by their collection, I can hear the snickering of a hundred wives, mine included. The difference is hard to define, and really not for me, some smuck from the burbs, to diagnose, but I can say this, these people keep and store to the detriment of their family and their personal lives and for reasons that make little sense. Just because you have thousands of games does not make you a hoarder, if you are organized, if it has its own space, and you control it rather then the other way around you probably aren't a hoarder.

The Addict- This is the scariest type. These people much like hoarders collect to the detriment of their family and their personal lives. Shopaholics exist, see here. This is a compulsive behavior and is at the very scary dark edge of collecting. No one wants to classify themselves as this type of collector, but if you feel like the urge to buy is controlling you, or if you aren't paying bills or taking care of yourself so you can buy games, I urge you to seek help.

There are many other types of collectors and remember most collectors fall into several categories not just on. This list just touches on what I feel the big ones are. A few more, VGA collectors, Cabinet, Vintage only, Portable collectors, Sealed collectors, Modern system collectors, Special Edition collectors, Home-brew collectors and Repro collectors and the list goes on. I am sure I am missing several, but now I want to bring up a few less talked about collector types, the kinds that are harder to deal with and are really subsets within the community. I realize after outlining these harder to deal with types, they are more like trader and buyer types, and that seems like a whole new topic.

Knowing collector types is important, though it might seem unnecessary. Trust me if you are buying, selling, or trading on forums; knowing the type of collector you are dealing with will ensure a smooth transaction. On forums all you have is your name and feedback. If you have good feedback you will find more people will be willing to deal with you, and in some instances give you a better deal. Knowing these types might give you an advantage in trading, just be sure not to breech trade etiquette. Speaking of "Trade Etiquette", it's the topic of my next post that and Buyer and Trader Types. Be sure to look for my next post soon, as I will also cover how to improve your responses in WTB or WTT threads.

Now on to the hunt portion of this blog. My latest hunt was for Saturn Bomberman. I can find it on eBay, but it isn't as simple as that, I wanted a better price. I have deemed that Saturn Bomberman has a moderate rarity, digitpress concurs giving it an on their scale. So I started looking for this game about a month ago, and I know some collectors are willing to wait months for the right deal (and that is the better way), but when I am ready, I want to get things rolling. The quest for this title is part of my bigger decision to start collecting Saturn titles. When I decide to collect for a system I try to knock out pricey or rare titles first, this puts me at ease knowing the hard stuff is out of the way, then I can take my time with the smaller or more common titles. The first place I always look is eBay complete auctions, their I found no copies of it sold, or even unsold, well not American versions. If you check now you will find only one, and it's a pretty sweet deal for a disc and manual only for $10. After that it was on to regular listing,where I find the price to be about $80/$90, pretty high, so time to hunt elsewhere.

It is now time to do some driving. I make my way to one of my local shops about 5 miles away, their selection is pretty terrible, and getting worse under new ownership. No surprise, it is a bust, so now it is back to checking eBay, setting up a saved search and waiting. One week goes by nothing, two weeks...nothing, week three comes, and now it's time to make more significant rounds. I am now going to travel about 35 miles one way to a big game store in Los Angeles,Game Dude. The store has a great selection and is the biggest game store in the LA area, but the prices are kind of like eBay, you might get a good deal, but very rarely a steal. Game Dude, put the price at $69, but I get 10% off, I decide I can live with that price. No dice, despite having about 120 Saturn titles in stock, Bomberman is not one of them. Now that I am out an about in the city I hit up 3 more game stores, and still no luck. With nothing but a fist full of fail, it is time to call it a day, I make the long trek through LA traffic home, 40 miles= 2 hours. A day or two and some eBay searching later, I decide to brave craigslist...what a waste. CL can provide awesome steals, but you have to sift through so much crap, sometimes it just doesn't feel like it's worth the effort.

Week 4 time to brave a weekly collectors show Frank & Sons about 50 miles away. Franks has 4 dedicated booth that sell classic games, most of these are your standard fair over priced Super Mario 3 and other such Big N titles, but this usually means rare games for less collected system get under priced. Here I find Crusader of Centy for $25, a great find, but not what I am actively seeking. Not satisfied but by no means happy I return home and continue my pattern of eBay and Forum searching. Yesterday, As week 4 comes to a close I decide my wife decides a Disneyland trip is in order. On the way down to Disneyland roughly 55 miles, I stop at a small game shop that is pretty close to the park. In this tiny shop they have 4 Saturn games, and one of them just so happens to be Saturn Bomberman for $40 + Tax. Game is complete and in nice shape. Was it worth it? I think it would have been easier and almost as cost effective to buy it on eBay, but then I wouldn't have found Crusader of Centy. If you are the type of collector that enjoys the journey, then this one was pretty good and it ended well enough, if you are a about speed and efficiency then this was a bust.

Thanks Again for reading...Next up "Trading Etiquette"

Friday, January 14, 2011

World 1-2: Collector Vs. Someone with a Bunch of Games

I think its important to make clear what I feel collecting is VS. someone who has a lot of games or just likes games (Players). You become a collector, in my eyes, the moment you buy a game you know you are never going to play or when you keep a game to fill a need. Most of the time those two reasons go hand in hand. Often times people will buy or keep games they don't like and you will hear statements like this "Well I have all three, so I guess I'll just keep Simon's Quest even though it's clearly the worst Castlevania I don't want to break the set". You may hear something more common like " UGHHHH I have to spend $12 on stupid Make My Video with Kriss Kross to complete my Sega CD set."

People who have a lot of games (Players) have different reasons for having games than collectors and their reasons are usually more clear. Players may keep their favorites titles, they keep games because they are going to replay them, or perhaps they still play certain titles. Some people with lots of games have them because they simply have the money. Excess money allows them to buy and try more game. This does not mean that collectors don't have some games for the same reason, but they have many more games that don't meet that criteria. For instance I have this gem in my library.

The difference is the feeling of need, or the emotional reasoning that is accompanied with keeping games that separates the collector from just a player. I have Barbie in my library because its kind of rare and its new and sealed, it has some value and when I decide to work on Playstation I am going to "NEED" it. Someone who has a lot of games probably doesn't just have this lying around. People who have a lot of games can become collectors, in fact I think having a lot of games makes you much more likely, because you obviously appreciate games and have invested lots of time into them. I started out just having games I liked being just your average player and then one day I decided I'd like to have all the games I ever liked, and then it grew again into I'd like to have every Sega CD game and every N64 game and all the RPGs on the SNES and now its 2000+ games and growing pretty much daily.

To boil down an overlong point: Collector = Need, while Player = Like. In my next installment I will take about collector types. Oh before I go, here is my latest find
Crusader of Centy in the wild and complete $25

World 1-1

This blog has been created to catalog my journey as a video game collector. It has also been created to talk about the madness and obsessive compulsive behavior that I feel accompanies collecting. I want this blog to be an honest look into my methods and thought process. I plan on tell you exactly what I spent on each game, how I organize my collection, the lengths I am willing to go to obtain a game, and my goals as a collector. Hopefully each post doesn't come off sounding as melancholy as these first few statement, because he truth is I love video games and I love collecting. I want to be able to share the highs and the lows with everyone willing to read. The last thing I want to be able to show is my latest finds, and how each one moves me one step forward in my current collecting goal.

Current Collecting Goal: Finish Sega CD 143/147, then Complete a US Set of Saturn games.

Larger Goal: Complete US Library of all Sega Console Games.

I have discussed the blog, now time to tell you a little bit about myself and my collection. My name is Johnny, in most forums you will find me under the user name Timemaster11, but I really do just prefer Johnny. I am 32 years and I have been collecting video games for about 7 years. Collecting is more then just having a lot of games, I will discuss how I define a "collector" in my next post. My collection is over 2000 games and 100 systems. My favorite system of all time is the Super Nintendo, I don't have a favorite genre, if good games counts as a genre then that is my favorite. my favorite system to collect for currently is Sega CD. Favorite current gen games include Portal, Mario Galaxy, Bio Shock, Uncharted 2, Pac-Man CE, and Braid. Favorite Retro games, Castlevania SOTN, Shining Force Series, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Final Fantasy 2 SNES, Super Metroid, and Zelda..all of them.

Outside of video games I am a Basketball Coach, and love the game. I am married without children, though I am curious how that will affect my collecting, a college graduate with a BA in Communications, and a Masters Degree in Education. I play adult Kickball, if you haven't tried it you should.

That's the basic run down of this blog. I will try to update it when I get something good or believe I have something relevant to talk about.

Thanks for Reading