We’ve all been there: you’re collecting for a specific platform, and the price of a new game could net you many used copies in good condition. Sadly, those of us in developing countries don’t have access to the same deals as those people in Europe, the US or Canada. Over the past 4 years, I’ve developed a few techniques for buying used games, and a few things to avoid, too. Following is a list of things I do when I’m trying to grab a good deal. Hope you find it useful!
USE: FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE AND GROUPS
This has now become my #1 resource for buying games. Though the price can seem somewhat inflated when compared to buying online, the fact is that I have to pay extra shipping to my forwarding company (more on that later), and it usually adds a few dollars to my purchase. It also takes much less time to reach me (sometimes a day, sometimes it’s an in-person transaction). You never know when a good deal is going to pop up, so it’s a bit like Live Roulette in that you have to play the odds. There are some good deals to be had, though. I suggest using retro gaming groups that are local to you. For example, there’s a very neat group here in Paraguay dedicated to buying and selling retro Nintendo stuff. They are friendly, knowledgeable and appreciative of good stuff. My kind of people!
USE: US EBAY (through a freight-forwarding service)
This is a bit more expensive, but depending on the game I’m looking for, there might not be another way of getting it. When I’m buying on eBay, I have to use a freight forwarding service. This gives me a US address to buy my stuff, and the company then brings the item from the US to Paraguay, where I pick it up 40 minutes from my house. I have to do this because there’s no real postal service here in Paraguay (the one that exists might as well not exist). This is true for most developing economies. Sadly, a lot of US stores don’t ship to freight forwarding addresses (the most complicated for me is Best Buy, which has had tons of stuff over the years that I’ve wanted to buy). I currently pay US$25/kg to the freight forwarder, with a minimum of 100g per item. So, on top of whatever I’m paying on the purchase, I usually add between $2.5 and $5 for the freight forwarder’s fee. Thankfully, this includes the customs fee. Be sure to check with your company if they cover that, because otherwise you might find yourself paying more for customs than you do for the game!
USE: ACQUAINTANCES WITH OLD HARDWARE
It’s incredible, but I’ve gotten so much stuff from friends and family who no longer want their stuff! From SNES systems to rare Japanese games, I’ve got tons of goodies for very cheap or sometimes even free. People don’t want to hang onto their old stuff, and if they see you’re giving it new life, they’re very likely to part with it. I let my passion for games be known, so now, when my friends or family members find old gaming stuff, they call me to pick it up, or just send it over. In Paraguay, there are all kinds of quirky stuff, from Famiclones to imports. It’s a bit of a gamble, what you’ll find, but it’s super fun.
AVOID: PAWN SHOPS AND CHARITY SHOPS
In the US and Canada, pawn shops and charity shops are great places to find good deals. In developing countries, it’s a completely different story. First of all, there are no charity shops to speak of: people never donate their stuff! They’d rather sell it for whatever they can, because they really need the money. Pawn shops do exist, but if you think they are shady in the US and Canada, then you don’t know how much of a shark they can be in developing countries! Not only that, but they are not very knowledgeable, so whether you’ll get an original copy or a reproduction is about as much about luck as Online slots. I usually just stay away from these places because it’s a total crap shoot.
And that’ll do it for my guide to buying used games in developing countries! How does it compare to your experience? Do you have any more tips to share? Be sure to let us know in the comments below, and we’ll see you next time!