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Trading in Dozens of Dreamcast VMUs at GameStop


The wind howled through the crack in the window pane, and a crackle of lightning illuminated the room as a cat hissed and fled from the encroaching storm. There was spilled Diet Dr. Pepper on the large cardboard box filled with retro video games, temporarily framed by the flash from the approaching storm. Actually, none of that happened. I just wanted to begin this tale with an over dramatic intro. Everything else here is factual, though.

I was filled with self disgust as I feverishly cleaned up the very small spill which I was sure would get me labelled as "that guy" by the employee who would have to go through the box later on and tell me what pittance they would bring for trade in. We all know who "that guy" is, the disgusting loser who at the age of 35 is trading in over a decade's worth of gaming detritus so he could justify getting a new console that was clearly manufactured with a younger, more attractive audience in mind. Of course I thought I was that guy, but I didn't want anyone else to recognize that fact. So I checked every single game to make sure there was no telltale brown dot of diet soda that would out me as a loser. That was my mindset as I left my condo.
Earlier I was digging through other cardboard boxes and comparing VMUs to each other. I didn't want to be a dipshit and try to sell broken stuff to GameStop but at the same time I couldn't bear to part with immaculate Visual Memory Units with their caps firmly in place that had probably never been used. The irony of course was that the bulk of the VMUs had been purchased from a GameStop for 50 cents each when they were clearanced out. My local store in Watertown, NY had told me that they had no Dreamcast items left. A month later I was in Syracuse, NY and they had a huge double rack of Dreamcast items on deep clearance. When I had asked where they all came from they told me that had been sent from the Watertown store. Now they would be sold back to GameStop for $2.25 each. A true example of the gaming circle of life. As a VMU hoarder, the volatile video game market had finally swung into my favor...

I noticed a special for 50% extra trade in value for any game turned into toward a new Nintendo Switch game. So that is why I was digging through my mostly disc-only collection of rag tag Dreamcast games. These were thrift store and garage sale games from the banner years of 2006-2008. Back when you could get Dreamcast games for $4 each and games that would go on to be well out of my price range were $20 at most in the game stores. These were games that I carefully resurfaced when I had access to a disk cleaner and put into generic heavy plastic cases designed for archives. As I was digging through my collection I discovered that I had far more than I realized. Here was a random motorcycle game I had found in a junk CD pile at a flea market. Here was a copy of Silver I found randomly in a thrift store. Here was a forgotten stack of Dreamcast demo discs.
I would keep most of my Dreamcast games of course. How could I give away the copy of Powerstone 2 I got for $3 from a stack of PlayStation games, or my thrift store complete copy of Dynamite Cop 2? However, I couldn't justify the vast collection of VMUs I owned and the multiple copies of games that I knew I would never get around to playing.

The trade in incentive was less money than I would have gotten from selling games on eBay (with the exception of the VMUs). But, let me give you a couple of examples of recent eBay transactions I had to deal with. I had sold a perfect condition copy of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance for the Nintendo Gamecube. I shipped the disk in one of the aforementioned hard plastic archive disk cases. The buyer claimed it didn't work and eventually returned it. In an envelope...without the case. I had recently also tried to sell some mint condition Xbox 360 games. The buyer informed me that they were broken and dirty. When I refunded his money he then informed me that he didn't have a proper PayPal account and that he wanted me to refund his debit card directly. That isn't something I can do through eBay since he used a PayPal account to transfer the money through a debit card not attached to the PayPal account. After you sell stuff online you start to wonder why PayPal and eBay have strange rules such as allowing a PayPal user to have multiple eBay accounts.

With that in mind you can understand why I would rather lose 30% more "potential" money by trading the games into GameStop for credit.

As I proceeded to walk into GameStop I was greeted warmly, and the person who started trading in my games seemed legitimately pleased to have a break from asking people for pre-orders. It was a lengthy process and the computer software he was using was clearly harder to work with than the website I had used to look up all the games in the box. I had low-balled myself in terms of how much credit I was going to get. Almost all the games and accessories were taken. Tragedy struck as a computer error stopped the process and a manager had to restart the computer. Luckily my trade in info was saved but I had to ask why the amount was lower than expected. It turns out that the computer didn't recognize most of the retro game trade ins as part of the 50% deal. The manager returned and fixed that issue as well.

I pre-ordered Mario for $5. (I will have to make sure that I remember to cancel that. Due to the weird management at GameStop the employees encouraged me to do it. It apparently doesn't matter if people actually buy the game. Management just cares about people pre-ordering. Maybe that sort thinking contributed to 50% of GameStops shutting down).
My total amount of Credit was over $300. There was no Switch in stock at that time. So I still carry a gift card around with me.

That box literally contained the detritus of my collection.  I can't imagine the hours I wasted driving to thrift stores and looking around dusty shelves for some of that stuff. On one hand it saved my sanity when I was at my lowest point, on the other hand I gave up other activities that would have been more enriching than what is in these boxes. And my living room is still stacked to the ceiling with boxes of video games. I still have the hard work of trying to let go of more of this stuff. Most of the Dreamcast games I have left I will keep for retro video games at the public library and tournaments, but the bulk of my collection needs to be sold and considering the outrageous prices right now it should be easier than it is. One thing that keeps me going is selling to someone who is legitimately excited about what they are getting. One person profusely thanked me after buying the Philips CD-i I found in a thrift store back corner, and I found that oddly touching.
Do I suggest that anyone else take advantage of a similar deal and sell your Dreamcast games and VMUs?  I can't imagine that there are many collections out there like mine that were bought so dirt cheap. If you happen to have as many capless VMUs as I did then yes you should do the right thing and trade them in. They are $6 new on eBay right now. There is no reason to be "that guy" and have a box of VMUs in your condo like I did.

2 comments:

hoogafanter said...

No way I'd sell any of my Dreamcast stuff, but then again I don't have boxes of extra stuff that never gets played laying around lol

Caleb said...

Yeah I really obsessed over getting garage sales and thrift stores for a bunch of years.

The Dreamcast stuff I use for tournaments and events are used frequently but my collection needs to be seriously trimmed down.