Comparing the Cost of NES Classic Edition to eBay and Virtual Console

The NES Classic Edition’s price point of $59.99 set it as a worthy and attainable holiday gift for gamers and its popularity was predictable. The surprise of this new plug-in console is that it sold out immediately from practically every retailer nationwide. While we’re stuck waiting for future shipments to come in, it gets one thinking about how much of a value the system truly is. Thirty great games is a big deal, but is it really the best way to go if you want to play NES today? Nintendo’s own Virtual Console offers all the games in this set. eBay also features copious listings for these games in cartridge form for physical collectors. If you’ve been curious about these avenues you can now see how much they would cost in comparison.

Nintendo’s Virtual Console has been around since the Wii and continues today on Wii U and 3DS. Of all the games on the NES Classic Edition, only two are not available on the Wii U (or 3DS) Virtual Console: Bubble Bobble and Final Fantasy. They were sold on Wii for 500 Wii Points, or for $5.00 each. As for the Wii U editions, each and every title represented in this collection goes for $4.99. This makes calculating how much the NES Classic Edition’s library would set you back by purchasing through the eShop quite easy. Someone picking up each game from Virtual Console would end up spending $149.72 before tax. That means you’d be shelling out nearly $90 more by grabbing the games using this method.

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The bigger question is the cost one might spend on eBay. It should be easy to grab NES carts for relatively cheap on this auction-based marketplace, right? Maybe that would be true if you were shopping in the early 2000s before NES collecting really started to ramp up. Over the past few years, however, nearly every game has increased in price. Many of these have practically seen prices doubling in the past ten years. Although this might sound terrifying, prices still average out around $15 for a popular NES game. While it’s not nearly as great as the $2 you might have found in thrift stores or yard sales, it’s still a good deal cheaper than the original retail value of these classics.

As far as eBay is concerned, it’s often hard to determine average costs because of people selling games for prices they never end up selling for. Fortunately, PriceCharting.com takes out (most) of the guesswork by tracking sold listings of loose, complete, and sealed games. When utilizing the most recent average sold value of loose games, you come up with a pretty intense value for the thirty game collection. It would cost approximately $445 (without taxes or shipping fees) to buy if you picked up each game separately on eBay off their current price averages. This, of course, does not factor in the potential deals you can get by snagging a good auction or buying game lots. This is all assuming someone just bought games up in a hurry to get exactly what they wanted.

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Which NES game included with the NES Classic Edition costs the most on eBay? Right now, it’s Donkey Kong of all things at an average selling price of $25. The cheapest game of the collection is Dr. Mario, which tends to sell for $5. As such, this method of purchasing would end up as $385 more expensive than Nintendo’s handy plug ‘n play device at minimum. Those who already collect NES games are likely to own a lot of these titles already, which fortunately lessens the buy-in required. As with both options, going to Virtual Console or eBay does allow people to choose which games they want rather than being locked into a specific list of thirty.

With that said, the NES Classic Edition includes a great lineup of classic titles for sixty bucks. As should now be obvious, this tiny console is absolutely a great value. The only negative is that many of us are stuck waiting to acquire it. My one tip is to not pick up the console via eBay. Scalpers are managing to sell the unit for far higher than its retail value because some out there are willing to pay it (not to mention trolls inflating the cost to ridiculous prices for fun). Nintendo will soon produce more NES Classic Edition units to eventually meet demand. While the wait may take a few months before everyone who wants it will get their hands on the system, it will be worth it for the consumer’s wallet in the end.