It’s hard to miss the headlines that graded video games have made over the last couple of years, but what about the market as a whole? You don’t judge the entirety of the comic book market on Action Comics #1 (or just the no. 1). Join me as I take a step back and look at the wide range of games out there to see if there is a reason to consider games as a collectible alongside your comics.
If you know GoCollect, you know that they track graded sales data. My NM might not be your NM, and while some people can feel that their 8.5 is better than someone’s 9.0 – it’s much easier to track sales data and trends with firm grades than general descriptions of raw items.
If you’ve been collecting for a while, you might collect raw and graded pieces. You know how much more of a gamble you are taking when purchasing a raw comic, game, poster, or other collectible. All this to say, there isn’t a ton of data here on GoCollect for games like there is for comics, since it’s a newer market. So I’ll be looking at a combination of data on eBay and GoCollect.
When I look at eBay listings or hear about garage sales and such, there are two things I think about. What do I want and what should I want? We all have items that we probably overpaid for, or that we know will never be worth as much to someone else as it is to you. So if I see something Doctor Who-themed within my budget, I won’t really care about the resale value.
That doesn’t mean that is all one should be doing when looking to expand their collecting or investment portfolio. Value is always in the back of my mind. Am I paying too much? Will I be able to get more out of this item than I spent if I decide to sell? With video games making headlines, my curiosity naturally spiked as I started to see them more often in listings, antique malls, or garage sales.
Let’s first look at the solid industry: comics. There is no denying that the comic market is one of the most solid collectible markets out there. Bubble or no bubble, graded or raw, people aren’t going to abandon their comic collections like many did their Beanie Babies (much to my collection’s dismay). Comics regularly make headlines with record-breaking sales, not to mention the “No. 1” from Action Comics #1 being sold for $7k recently. Let me review some harder numbers, though.
Graded Comics Data
At the time of this writing (3.31.22), over the past year, there has been over $20M in sales on eBay with “Graded Comics” somewhere in the title. The average sold price is roughly $79 and the total sold was roughly $250k. That is a TON of books! There was a major jump in September 2021 (see graph above) – personally, I don’t recall what was going on there – if you do let me know! Now, searching “Graded Comics” within product titles doesn’t always help, as people can list something as a “Low-grade comic” and it will show here. So let me look a little more closely and use the term “CGC Comic” and “CBCS comic”, ensuring proper categories to eliminate the unintended products, and see how different it is.
Combining the two, those numbers change to $158M in sales, $238 average sales price, and 588k listings sold in the past year. Now, there is no way I’m going to weed through all those sales and eliminate the listings that shouldn’t be included. So, while there is room for error, there is no denying those are some massive numbers. Let’s compare that to video games.
Video Game Data
When only searching for “graded video game” within the video game category, I see that there were $11M in sales, $23 was the average price, and 513k were sold. Let’s attempt to target some graded games though. Having “graded video games” inserted into the video game category search changes those numbers are massively from the comic numbers. $156k in sales, $403 average sales price, and only 388 sold in the past year.
Now, if I eliminate the categories and just plop in “video games” I get $215M in sales and over 3M sold with the average sales price of $57 – but the majority of the listings I see are accessories to consoles and such. My only reason for pointing that out is because when I did the same for comics, I got $142M in sales compared to video games’ $215M. Yet, when we pinpoint and singularly look at the investment opportunity aspect of both, comics fly forward into the spotlight over video games.
Alright, any data analysts out there. How do we take this data and form it into a conclusion? Well, we can’t fully decide what’s going on based on this alone. We can, however, theorize and make assumptions. What do I see with these data points and charts? Neither industry is in decline, but one has a lot more room for investment opportunities than the other. You may see something different in the numbers and if you do, please let me know your theories in the comments. My only ask is that you keep the numbers in the forefront.
What I gather from the data is that the video game industry as a whole is massively larger than the investment/collectible aspect of the same industry. Especially compared to the comic industry, which appears to be mostly a collectible/investment industry at this point. This, to me, means that video games have more potential to gain value over time. Especially as we look at the increase in popularity over the last few years. All this to say…
If I were presented with a raw comic and a game, both similar in condition – let’s say they are both a 9.0 and the game is CIB (Complete in Box) – and if they were both priced the same, call it $75, I would hands-down go for the game at this point. Here’s why: Comics likely will naturally ebb and flow over time. Their base worth will generally climb over time due to age, but their peak “ripeness” for selling is always going to be at the liberties of movies, TV, and other speculative things that aren’t very dependable.
On the other hand, Video Games, (at least in the retro world,) were meant to be played – enjoyed – and oftentimes their boxes were even thrown out, similar to comics in the golden age. Their popularity isn’t/wasn’t dependent on a show or speculation. Their value is all about numbers. Rarity, where in production that specific game was made, edition, and condition – that’s what drives the video game market.
At this point, generally speaking, we have a good idea of the number of comics existing right now due to the CGC Census. With video games, we might know how many were released but how many are still floating around out there is a complete mystery, especially in peak condition. Hopefully, WATA will hold true to their word and VGA will follow their movements and provide a full population report for full transparency. Looking at the numbers, video games have the potential to surpass the comic industry in terms of investment possibilities.
I wouldn’t say go buy everything you can find right now! Rather, just keep your eyes open. If this is something that is interesting to you, maybe start looking at the auctions going on and compare that to the raw sales on eBay. There are so many different aspects of video games that it confuses even the most experienced sometimes so it’s not a market to dive into without a bit of research. My only goal with this piece is to get you thinking about the market and the potential out there and get you curious.
If you think navigating the variant market is difficult just wait until you see the round vs oval stickers, matte vs gloss, or 3-screw vs 5-screw… Either way – hope you enjoyed looking at these markets in a different way. Happy hunting!