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Thread: Atari 2600: Collector Crash

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    Default Atari 2600: Collector Crash

    Here's a weird theory I came up with the other day, but haven't really been able to put into words yet (and I'm not sure if I did it justice here or not, but here goes).

    I believe that in the near future, there will be an Atari 2600 "collecting crash."

    Several years ago, I remember a lot of collectors talking about owning Pong machines. If you check the lists of many collectors, especially the younger ones, you'll find that most of them don't have them anymore. My guess is this is because most of these younger collectors never HAD a Pong machine, and have no desire to own one now either.

    Collecting is rooted in nostalgia. Why else would we spend massive amounts of time and money trying to recreate "the old days"? Sure, there are some collectors out there who buy anything and everything they can find relating to videogames, but the majority of collectors buy vintage videogames because they used to have one.

    Just for argument's sake, let's say people's "nostalgic memories" start when they are five years old. In 1986, the NES was released. That would mean that, most likely, kids who were born around 1981 or so (22 years old now) would have the NES as their first gaming memories. (Give or take -- this assumes all sorts of things, like at what age people would remember videogames, and that people bought an NES at launch -- bear with me, focus on the idea, not the exact numbers.)

    My theory is, that the people that are getting into collecting now will remember the NES as their first system, not the Atari 2600 (like some of us) or even Pong (like a few of us old fogeys). My neices (ages 13 and 14) just decided they don't care about the Playstation anymore, and miss all their old SNES games. They know what a NES is but never had one, and the one or two times I showed them my Atari 2600 games they couldn't have cared less. As the new generation of collectors begin down the same road many of us have travelled, they will feel the desire to recreate THEIR childhood, NOT ours. Super Mario Brothers is the Combat of a new generation.

    So, where will that leave Atari 2600 collectors? I believe that it will drive the price up for hard to find titles, and it will lower the price even more for commons. Most of the hard to find titles will have been found by then. So if you're selling, you're not selling to a kid but to an adult -- most likely one with a job and deep pockets. Likewise, anyone who wants a 2600 Pac-Man or Defender cart by that point in time will probably have one. 70's stuff was cool, 80's stuff is cool now, and as time goes on everything that was old is new again for a while and then gets old again after that. I've seen .50 cent games at thrift stores get marked up to $3 now, and in a few years they'll be back down to .50 cents.

    The desire to play "the original games" on "the original hardware" is slowly sinking. The average person on the street has no way to even connect an Atari 2600 to their existing television. And even if they could, what's the point? Their PS2 is already connected, and plays Atari 2600 games perfectly. So does their computer, their handhelds, and maybe even their toaster! One could argue that you might want to play the games on an original 2600 just for the authenticity of the joysticks, but this is a generation who grew up with NES pads in their hands. A black 8-way with an orange button would feel completely out of place to them!

    We've never had a generational turnover in collecting, just because videogame collecting hasn't been around that long! As 2600 collectors finish their collections and newer, younger gamers begin the collection adventure, I think you'll see the popularity of the original Atari 2600 slide by the wayside.

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    Older collectors have more money, and will collect atari, seeing as it was of their generation.

    I forsee no crash....EVER!


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    There may be peaks and valleys in Atari 2600 collecting but I never see an outright crash. It's true that a lot of people are into it because of Nostalgia, but I am surprised by the number of under 20 collectors there are here on Digital Press.

    The Atari 2600 also has one hugh advantage. I t is seen by many collectors as the first home videogame system and seen in that way it will always be collectible.

    Even if I am totally wrong and it falls thru the floor, I'll still be happily collecting Atari games at a cut-rate.
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    I was born in 83, and I grew up with a 2600 and 7800, so :P

    To be honest though, I love collecting for other older consoles that I either didn't grow up with or just plain was too late for. Despite their age, quality is quality, and you'll always have people collecting for them, even when their contemporaries are done.
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    I have been saying this for like 2 years now. If you look at my past posts I have written about this same theory like 2 or 3 times.
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    If there is another crash then many of us will stock up on the games.For the generation thing I was born in 1990 but I grew up playing my parents' 2600 since I was about two or three and I graduated to other systems but I kept all the old systems (except for that stupid blinking nes). I love collecting for the older consoles because I like to know the roots of stuff so its no problem to get older games even if they do become expensive at times.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarioAllStar2600
    I have been saying this for like 2 years now. If you look at my past posts I have written about this same theory like 2 or 3 times.
    (removed).

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    Im going to agree with flack on this one. I doubt many people that were born in 93 and over will even want to play with a 2600. They may get some NES stuff, but most likely their first system would be a genny, snes, or a N64. It about 10 years or so i doubt many people will even care about an atari 2600, because everyone will be playing their xbox 3's with every single 2600 game programmed on it.

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    I don't know if a "crash" may be the correct term for what Flack is saying will happen, but I imagine at some point (if it hasn't happened already) there may in fact be a sea change of sorts involving the collectability of that particular system.

    There's an axiom I picked up once from a disc jockey friend of mine. I've used it here before but it bears repeating: The music you grew up listening to in high school is the music you are going to be inclined to listen to for the rest of your life. I believe this applies to gaming as well. As the 2600 generation grows older (and that includes me), what I imagine could happen is that the collector scene for that system will become more marginalized to a point where the vast majority of persons collecting for that system will be those who grew up with it in the first place. We will be a fringe element of game collecting, but a fringe that will be driven by the increasing rarity of the system which will inevitably be wrought by the passing of time. Put another way (as Raccon Lad did), the only people collecting 2600 games will be those who can afford to do it.

    Your 2600 games, yea, even your E.T. cart, are only going to go up in value as time marches on. A microcosmic example of this can be seen between the CGE events of 1999 and 2000. For those who were there in `99, remember that quite a few dealers were selling common carts for something like 50 cents apiece (I myself must have bought at least twenty-five of them). Then at the end of the show all that common stock was literally dumped on the floor and sold for 25 cents apiece. The next year (and subsequent years) of the show there were seemed to be very few dealers selling loose common carts, and if they were then the price was something like two to five bones per cart. I missed the last CGE, but I imagine the common carts were probably, um, harder to find. Dare I say that they were extremely rare?

    Also consider that perhaps as much as eighty percent of the persons actively and aggresively collecting 2600 stuff today will not be doing so in another decade owing to one or more of the following: losing interest in the hobby, financial necessity, life changes, focus on other systems or in a few rare instances attaining complete or near complete collections.

    Lastly, let's not lose sight of how many Atari systems and games are being sadly dispatched to the landfills owing to people who bought them in their heyday yet have no awareness of the current collector community.

    All of these factors point to a day when certainly Atari 2600 systems and games will surely be sought by less of the collector community, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be any less valuable.

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    Nope

    The next step is the bandwagon stage.

    The next step for Atari and NES collecting is that one day "other" people will realize that video games ARE a collectable.

    There were hundreds then thousands then hundreds of thousands of "closet" collectors of baseball cards and comic books who just needed the justification of knowing that others did it before they would do it.

    They would go to the mall and the tables would be set up for a show. Walking by unknowing they were sucked in. MAN thats cool I had that as a child and other people are paying how much for it? That is so cool I have to have it back.

    Also you have to understand something. No matter the era 50's 60's 70s or 80s certain things will always be wanted for their place in history.

    Few car collectors (if any) remember riding around with dad in the Model T

    The seed of collecting MUST be rooted in nostalgia but it grows like a mutha after that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buyatari
    Few car collectors (if any) remember riding around with dad in the Model T
    How many car collectors do you know with a Model T? That's exactly my point! My dad is into 50's cars, I'm into 70's cars. Who's into Model T cars?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buyatari
    Nope

    The next step is the bandwagon stage.

    The next step for Atari and NES collecting is that one day "other" people will realize that video games ARE a collectable.

    There were hundreds then thousands then hundreds of thousands of "closet" collectors of baseball cards and comic books who just needed the justification of knowing that others did it before they would do it.

    They would go to the mall and the tables would be set up for a show. Walking by unknowing they were sucked in. MAN thats cool I had that as a child and other people are paying how much for it? That is so cool I have to have it back.

    Also you have to understand something. No matter the era 50's 60's 70s or 80s certain things will always be wanted for their place in history.

    Few car collectors (if any) remember riding around with dad in the Model T

    The seed of collecting MUST be rooted in nostalgia but it grows like a mutha after that.
    I agree with you completely, Adam. If you think the prices for 2600 games are high now, you haven't seen nothing yet. This system should always be considered the benchmark and starting point for serious videogame collecting, I believe. From a historical prespective, it is first major video game system with a large (+400) amount of games released for it. The NES is the trendy pick right now, since it is the IN system to collect for now, that'll change to the SNES and so on.............as time goes on the 2600 should have the staying power to withstand trends in the collecting scene.

    Don't get me wrong, some collectors may bail on the good old 2600 and there may be times when the values fluctuate, but I see this system going way up in value. Just my opinion.

    Danny

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    laulz
    Last edited by BoOchan; 06-23-2009 at 08:46 AM.

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