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Poll: Your Thoughts on Flipping Videogames

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Poll: The Ethics of Flipping Videogames (83 member(s) have cast votes)

When is it okay to flip videogames?

  1. Always. If you legally bought something, you should be able to sell it for whatever you can get. (42 votes [50.60%])

    Percentage of vote: 50.60%

  2. Sometimes. It's complicated. (28 votes [33.73%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.73%

  3. Never. Flipping is a practice that threatens the hobby. (13 votes [15.66%])

    Percentage of vote: 15.66%

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#1 boxpressed OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 11:12 AM

I want to write an article for my blog on the practice of flipping, which is selling an item that was purchased for the sole purpose of reselling for a profit. I'm most interested in the ethics of flipping classic videogames.

Here I should differentiate between "selling" and "flipping." I would say that sellers are flipping when they have no intention of keeping an item in their collection. They may try to sell the item right away or at a later, more convenient or advantageous time. Selling something that you value or once valued as part of your collection is not flipping. For example, I don't consider it flipping when you have to sell your collection because of financial need or because you just lost interest in the hobby over the years.

These ethics appear rather complicated, and I'd like to hear your thoughts and comments on them. I'll create a list for the sake of referencing each particular practice. Which ones do you agree with or would further qualify?

1. It is always okay to flip. Flipping is not a question of ethics. There is nothing wrong with a seller flipping anything obtained legally. It doesn't matter when, where, or how the item was acquired. If you own it, you have the right to do whatever you want with it.

2. It is sometimes okay to flip. For example, you may believe that it is okay to flip something available to the public and obtained in person, e.g. at a thrift store, garage sale, Craigslist, etc., but the ethics of flipping Atari Age or eBay purchases is murkier. Or, you may believe that it is okay to flip anything except limited edition homebrews, which collectors would have bought at the regular price if they had had the chance. Or, you may believe that flipping is okay if selling videogames is how you make a living.

3. It is never okay to flip. For example, you may believe that flipping videogames harms the hobby because it inflates prices and creates an artificial "floor" value.

For what it's worth, I fall somewhere in between #1 and #2 but closer to #2. Thanks for your thoughts and comments.

#2 godslabrat OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 11:26 AM

You bought something, you can sell it. The "why" of either is no one's business but your own.

If you NEED some sort of justification, then bear in mind that a collector selling to another collector is likely going to result in that game being appreciated and preserved, whereas if it languishes at a yard sale or discount bin, it would eventually wind up in the scrap heap.

#3 Ransom OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 11:27 AM

I think flipping is fine, but as always, there are edge cases. For example, buying so many of something that is in short supply just to drive up the price is never OK (I'm thinking of a certain Odyssey reseller, here).

#4 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 11:27 AM

1; but ethically, I lean more between 2 and 3. (ETA: Basically, what Ransom said.)

Edited by The Usotsuki, Thu Jan 3, 2013 11:28 AM.


#5 Atari_Bill OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 11:31 AM

I've hated this practice for as long as I've collected anything. Flipping as per your definition leads to escalating levels of greed within a hobby driving prices up and consequently driving collectors out. There's obviously no way to prevent the practice, but if I had something for sale at a reasonable price and the person asking to buy it was known to me to do this, I wouldn't sell to them.

#6 thegoldenband OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 12:17 PM

Flipping items found in the wild = totally OK, you put in the time and the driving, and brought new items to the community at large. If your prices are stupid then no one will buy.

Flipping items bought on Ebay = marginal, but unless it's a misguided BIN, everyone else had the chance to bid the item up to its true value. And of course if you need half of a lot and want to resell the other half, that's fine.

Flipping items bought on Atariage and other message boards = annoying as hell, especially if someone's trying to give a good deal to fellow members* and you turn around and relist it with a 200% markup. (Possible exception: if you keep some items in a big lot, and resell other items from the lot individually.)

Flipping homebrews available in limited quantities = if it's helpful to the original maker to have an infusion of capital, that can justify this, especially when an online retailer sells them at 20-25% higher than the "direct" price. But when something sells out, people who wanted the game are missing out, and multiple copies immediately show up on Ebay at a 250% markup, it's kinda gross. A person who does that is basically a glorified ticket scalper, and really isn't adding anything of value to the community.

But after all, I'm one of those crazy folks who think the individual's right to profit should always be balanced against the needs of the community at large, and that communities are generally well-advised to boot out members whose main interest is parasitical. So grain of salt, etc.

*(To forestall any cynical comments: yes, many people actually do this, and don't sell merely in the name of maximum profit, i.e. in hopes of getting some undereducated newbie to overpay. On AA, I'd even elevate "many" to "most"! :D )

#7 Pixelboy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 12:24 PM

I choose option 1.

You own it? You found a buyer who's willing to pay your inflated price? It's your lucky day pal, enjoy it.

Of course, that doesn't mean I don't find the practice distasteful, especially when the game is flipped mere weeks (or even days) after the purchase. But hey, I find paying taxes distasteful, considering how taxpayer money is squandered by all levels of government in pretty much every country on Earth, but you won't see me going to war over it.

#8 jhd ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 1:30 PM

I do not routinely buy games to resell (nor do I buy games that do not fit my narrowly-defined collection mandate) , but sometimes an offer is just too good to pass up. For example, a few months ago I found an original Ultima game (complete with cloth map, etc.) at a local rummage sale for $.50. I have no interest in this particular title, so it will be available for sale shortly.

Edited by jhd, Thu Jan 3, 2013 1:30 PM.


#9 Hatta OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 1:37 PM

Flipping is always OK. The biggest danger with this stuff is that it will be undervalued and destroyed. Inflating the market price makes these items more valueable and less likely to be destroyed. That's a good thing.

I hardly ever sell anything, and I almost never buy anything to sell. The only time I ever flipped an item was when I bought a Sega CD Model 1 and Saturn Model 2 for $40. Sold the Saturn for $40 and kept a free Sega CD. Everyone was happy with this, can't see why it would be a problem.

If a flipper charges too much, his items won't sell, he may have to sell at a loss which is an appropriate punishment for being too greedy. If he charges a high price and it sells, then someone who valued that item very much got it. That's a good thing.

#10 WispFollower OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 1:43 PM

It is difficult to make a general rule about this kind of thing. I find it easier to judge them on a case by case basis. I used to think I had no problem with it.. supply and demand, etc. However, some recent events and activities of a certain member on this site made me reconsider my philosophy. People can do what they want with their capital and property, but sometimes it is glaringly distasteful. I have never sold a single gaming item, but I have recently begun a mental list of people I will not be dealing with if I ever do sell.

#11 Deteacher OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 1:51 PM

When I was hitting thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets, I was always looking for 2 things:

1. Items to add to my Atari collection.

2. Anything sold underpriced so I could turn a profit (not necessarily Atari related.)

I see nothing wrong with flipping items to gain some extra coin. Once, I found a NIB, still shrinkwrapped "Stop Thief" board game from the 70's at a thrift store. The asking price was $2-$3. I immediately bought it and sold it on eBay for something like $40-$50. I don't remember the exact amount I got for it...it was quite a long time ago.

If you find it and buy it, it's yours to do with what you wish. You bet your sweet bippy if I came across a CIB Air Raid somewhere for $5, I'd be flipping that like burger at McDonalds. :)

#12 Mr SQL OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 2:09 PM

TronSpaceParanoids.jpg
It's all in the wrists :)

#13 bojay1997 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 3:58 PM

Flipping items found in the wild = totally OK, you put in the time and the driving, and brought new items to the community at large. If your prices are stupid then no one will buy.

Flipping items bought on Ebay = marginal, but unless it's a misguided BIN, everyone else had the chance to bid the item up to its true value. And of course if you need half of a lot and want to resell the other half, that's fine.

Flipping items bought on Atariage and other message boards = annoying as hell, especially if someone's trying to give a good deal to fellow members* and you turn around and relist it with a 200% markup. (Possible exception: if you keep some items in a big lot, and resell other items from the lot individually.)

Flipping homebrews available in limited quantities = if it's helpful to the original maker to have an infusion of capital, that can justify this, especially when an online retailer sells them at 20-25% higher than the "direct" price. But when something sells out, people who wanted the game are missing out, and multiple copies immediately show up on Ebay at a 250% markup, it's kinda gross. A person who does that is basically a glorified ticket scalper, and really isn't adding anything of value to the community.

But after all, I'm one of those crazy folks who think the individual's right to profit should always be balanced against the needs of the community at large, and that communities are generally well-advised to boot out members whose main interest is parasitical. So grain of salt, etc.

*(To forestall any cynical comments: yes, many people actually do this, and don't sell merely in the name of maximum profit, i.e. in hopes of getting some undereducated newbie to overpay. On AA, I'd even elevate "many" to "most"! :D )


I'm almost 100% in agreement with what you posted except for the Ebay stuff. That's not marginal IMHO, that's just as bad as reselling stuff you bought here at a discount with the sole purpose of reselling hence taking advantage of the community. People that repeatedly flip Ebay stuff hurt all of us and provide nothing to the community at all. They really are the lowest of the low in my opinion.

#14 thegoldenband OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 4:18 PM

Well, I definitely think buying an Ebay lot that has one or more items you need, and reselling the rest at a reasonable price (or trading it!), is OK. At least I hope it's OK, since I've certainly done it a few times.

Buying a single item or a lot just to flip it...that's sketchier, I agree, and contributes to the price inflation that hurts us all (at least if "us" means "gamers and collectors").

OTOH, if you buy it with plans of trading it with another gamer, I personally have no problem with that. For that matter, I've bought a few items in the wild specifically because I knew someone on AA was looking for it.

BTW, feel free to take all this with a second grain of salt, since I have the flu. :)

#15 SlowCoder OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 4:36 PM

I think I'm ok with flipping. It does perhaps raise the cost of items, but as other said, will likely automatically regulate as people will not buy if asking too much.

What about when someone finds a particular game in a lot. They will buy the lot for that game, but intend to flip the rest of the lot? Possible loophole?

#16 boxpressed OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 6:10 PM

What about when someone finds a particular game in a lot. They will buy the lot for that game, but intend to flip the rest of the lot? Possible loophole?


I suspect that many of us have done this and thought nothing of it. This leads me to think that an uncompromising attitude against flipping is a slippery slope.

For example, I'm reluctant to say that flipping something you found at Goodwill is any different from flipping an eBay BIN. As someone mentioned, I do appreciate that there are additional expenses involved with the former, but that's not enough of a difference to me to make a distinction. Maybe the distinction is there because someone picking through physical items seems more deserving than someone camped next to a computer hitting the refresh button. But both are spending time that they could be using in another way.

The "buying to trade back into the community" option is an interesting loophole, but the buyer still usually places a fair market value on the item. If you hit a $10 BIN for Power Lords, are you going to trade it for five common Odyssey 2 games?

The more I think about it, the less defensible option #2 (which I voted for) seems. Thanks for all of the responses so far!

Edited by boxpressed, Thu Jan 3, 2013 7:09 PM.


#17 SRGilbert OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 6:37 PM

I wouldn't have my collection if it weren't for reselling. I don't make a ton of money, but I've managed to amass a pretty impressive collection while basically breaking even. Probably 99% of my purchases from yard sales, flea markets and thrifts were marked with a price, so seller beware. Its not for me to educate sellers on what they have.

I do agree that buying up limited releases and trying to gouge people later is a little annoying, but then again you snooze you lose. I wished I had bought a CC2 back in the day, but I wont pay the premium price.

#18 sqoon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 8:43 PM

Capitalism at its greedy worst.

#19 Atariman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 9:08 PM

I think I tend to agree with the pro-flipper people who have the caveat that the item being flipped isn't some limited homebrew cart (or equivalent) that was purchased for the sole purpose to make a profit.

If somebody finds a cart at Goodwill before I do and they plan on selling it, fair enough. However, if someone buys 10 copies of a game with a limited release just to resell later once it has sold out... That's just plain greedy - The equivalent to the kids that snatch the whole bowl of candy left on the doorstep on Halloween!

#20 CGQuarterly ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013 9:21 PM

When I go out hunting, I'm looking for stuff for my collection, as well as stuff to sell. Helps fund the hobby. What I don't like is that our hobby has been infested by eBay resellers who aren't even gamers. Old games are just one more thing that they're looking for when they go out looking for merchandise.

Chris

#21 Mirage OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2013 5:24 AM

I think flipping is fine, but as always, there are edge cases. For example, buying so many of something that is in short supply just to drive up the price is never OK (I'm thinking of a certain Odyssey reseller, here).


What he said.

Personally, I never buy with the intention of selling unless it's in the wild, then I'll flip it for cash. Unfortunately, I usually end up having a ridiculous attachment to these random things I find and end up keeping them anyway, unless they're doubles.

#22 Hatta OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2013 10:06 AM

Buying a single item or a lot just to flip it...that's sketchier, I agree, and contributes to the price inflation that hurts us all (at least if "us" means "gamers and collectors").


Price inflation doesn't hurt us. The more valuable these items are, the longer they'll be preserved. If people are priced out of the market for originals, that helps develop markets for repros, clones, and ports to newer hardware. This is all good.

#23 Atari_Bill OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2013 11:10 AM

Price inflation doesn't hurt us. The more valuable these items are, the longer they'll be preserved. If people are priced out of the market for originals, that helps develop markets for repros, clones, and ports to newer hardware. This is all good.


I disagree personally. I got into this hobby as a cheap collecting option as other items I had been collecting had increased to the point of pricing me out of the market. I've always been a completist and the idea of "completing" collections at such a low cost via garage sales, thrift, and flea markets appealed to me greatly. In the 90's and early 2000's it was bliss. Since then however, local thrifts and sales are absolutely stalked by folks with the ebay selling addiction. As items are no longer available locally, the primary options to fill the few holes in my collection are auction sites. What little I still need is no longer priced even close to my price range so at this point I'm frustrated enough to consider leaving. Being a purist, reproductions are not of any interest to me. I was a gamer from at least starting in 1977 so this stuff appeals to me in many ways even though I unfortunately have no time in life to actually play them anymore. I personally would have rather kept this hobby low key / low cost / no profit as I don't sell or flip items. I'm sure I'm in the minority here though.

#24 the.golden.ax OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2013 12:03 PM

I'm a collector first, and a seller second. This is proven by my actions. Dedication to the hobby comes first, and my bills second. I didn't say it was wise, or the best way to do it. I love games. Over the years I have been repeatedly vilified as a "dirty reseller" or "opportunistic sh*t." People have their opinions (haters gonna hate). Bill talks about being priced out of the market. Yes, totally. Games keep going up in price. I get that, so I play the game. The "resale game" for a collector, is just as much of a game, as video games themselves. It's just more real. It's part of the hobby if you want the bigger bad-ass stuff. You think I have Metal Slug 3 English AES because I'm rich? Heck no. I sold off $500 worth of crap that I got for less, and struggled with my bills. I have to be ready to sell it off if required of me for house and family (but I wouldn't want to) and you best bet I'd hope to get $700+. If I want something I have to work for it. You know, make sacrifices. There is this illusion that selling stuff is easy, like picking up cash from the ground. Not true. It's a crap ton of work. Anyone who has run a sales thread with more than a dozen items knows this, and are boggled by the ability of the few that can do it consistently. It's a full time job. If I didn't like video games, I'd find some cheap wholesale item and hock that instead. I deal in games because I like them. Not because it makes me money. I do what I deal. I know that breaks all the rules, but there are a few of us out there. We aren't evil. It's just how we can afford to collect the stuff we like.

Edited by the.golden.ax, Fri Jan 4, 2013 12:05 PM.


#25 bojay1997 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 4, 2013 12:55 PM

I'm a collector first, and a seller second. This is proven by my actions. Dedication to the hobby comes first, and my bills second. I didn't say it was wise, or the best way to do it. I love games. Over the years I have been repeatedly vilified as a "dirty reseller" or "opportunistic sh*t." People have their opinions (haters gonna hate). Bill talks about being priced out of the market. Yes, totally. Games keep going up in price. I get that, so I play the game. The "resale game" for a collector, is just as much of a game, as video games themselves. It's just more real. It's part of the hobby if you want the bigger bad-ass stuff. You think I have Metal Slug 3 English AES because I'm rich? Heck no. I sold off $500 worth of crap that I got for less, and struggled with my bills. I have to be ready to sell it off if required of me for house and family (but I wouldn't want to) and you best bet I'd hope to get $700+. If I want something I have to work for it. You know, make sacrifices. There is this illusion that selling stuff is easy, like picking up cash from the ground. Not true. It's a crap ton of work. Anyone who has run a sales thread with more than a dozen items knows this, and are boggled by the ability of the few that can do it consistently. It's a full time job. If I didn't like video games, I'd find some cheap wholesale item and hock that instead. I deal in games because I like them. Not because it makes me money. I do what I deal. I know that breaks all the rules, but there are a few of us out there. We aren't evil. It's just how we can afford to collect the stuff we like.


From my perspective, there is nothing wrong with that kind of reselling. You are putting in an honest effort of time and knowledge to run a small business that supports your hobby and your lifestyle. It's the flippers who literally sit on Ebay all day and at times relist items they don't even have in hand using the same photos from the auction they just purchased that annoy me and frankly cause the most damage to other collectors in my opinion. Those are the lowest of the low I was referring to as all they do is create a situation where collectors must pay them additional money for something they could have purchased themselves for far less just moments earlier. Any other reselling in my opinion is perfectly fine.




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