J.J Hendricks knows his rare games. Recently he was featured on Kotaku and Yahoo for finding one of the rarest games known: Nintendo Powerfest 94. With a great story behind it, and new collectors starting everyday, I became very interested in finding out more about rare games. And who else to ask but the man himself.
What first got you into collecting rare video games?
I first started selling video games when I was in college as a way to earn some money on the side. After a while I started noticing some games sold for much more than other games. It really intrigued me so I did more research on them to find out why and started tracking the prices for them. For some reason the really expensive games were the ones that most interested me.
You clearly know your video games. What games did you play when you were young?
The first video games I played were for NES and GameBoy. I don’t remember the first game I ever played but I really liked Super Mario 3 and Final Fantasy Legend for Gameboy.
What are some of the rarest games you own or had?
The rarest game I own currently is Nintendo PowerFest 94. There are only 2 known to exist and it sells for $12,000. I have also owned Nintendo World Championships Gold which there are 13 of and sells for about $18,000 and Nintendo Campus Challenge 91 which there is only 1 of and sells for $20,000.
Looking on your site a few games go up, then down in value? Is there a reason for this?
There are several reasons for the volatility in the prices. a) seasonality. game prices usually increase during the christmas season and then decrease the rest of the year until they spike back up again. b) condition. we track the overall used price, but the condition of the game can be a big factor in the price people will pay. A game in near perfect condition will sell for more than one with a ripped label. If the game doesn’t sell many copies during the month 1 listing with a ripped cover can change the average price quite a bit. c) randomness. the video game market isn’t big enough where every game sells hundreds of copies a day. many games might sell 1-2 copies per week. if there aren’t as many people looking to buy that week for whatever reason, that will show in the price. likewise if 2 people really want a particular game and there is only 1 available they might bid up the price above the usual market price.
Why does it matter if a game is PAL or NTSC for it to be worth more?
PAL vs NTSC doesn’t matter overall in terms of value. Sometimes PAL is worth more and sometimes NTSC is worth more. It all depends on the individual game and how rare it is in each region.
What is your white whale? What is the rare game that means the most to you?
So far there have not been any White Whale games that have gotten away. I really enjoy the games I do have and the ones I have had instead of focusing on what I don’t have yet. I find this makes collecting much more enjoyable for me. It is also good advise for life in general, be content with what you have.
How did you first get started on the website?
I own two gaming websites. JJGames, an online retailer of used games, and PriceCharting, a price source for video games and DVDs. I got started on JJGames in 1999 during college. I was gathering lots of data about video game prices for this website so I knew what to charge for games. I decided I should make this data public so I teamed up with my brother to make PriceCharting in 2006.
Do you have any tips for future game collectors?
Pick a focus. There are too many games out there to try to collect all of them, but focus on a particular system, or series of games, or type of game and collect those. Then it is much easier to collect everything in that subset and easier to focus and choose what to buy.
Do you think current or future generation console games will be pretty rare too?
I’m sure there will be rare games in the future. Companies make promo games like Uncharted 2: Fortune Hunter which came out 2 years ago and sells for thousands of dollars. There are production and copyright problems that limit games from being reproduced too. Disc games are much less likely to be rare though because they are cheaper to reproduce for publishers. If the game turns out to be rare, generally the publisher will print more. Cartridges were much more expensive to produce so publishers didn’t do that with games that didn’t sell well initially.