I took a while to answer this one because I feel I have a really strong responsibility to you right now, since $700 is a lot of money and I don’t want to see you waste it. In a lot of ways I feel like I need more information, but for right now I’ll do the best I can.
First and foremost, no matter what your specific intents are, DO YOUR RESEARCH! I cannot emphasize this enough!! It’s really, REALLY easy to waste your money on eBay, especially if you get excited and make an impulse buy before looking for more information.
When I say do your research, here’s more specifically what I mean:
- Look carefully at the listing itself. Make sure it’s actually the item you’re looking for. If it matters to you not to have knock-off items, be very careful when examining the item and its tags. If there aren’t good enough photos, ask the seller for more. Read the details on what condition the item is in; MAKE SURE IT WORKS! Some sellers sell non-working items for parts, so you MUST pay attention to this! Also, if it matters to you that it be smoke-free or pet-free, ask the seller for information if they didn’t mention it.
- Read carefully about the shipping charges, as well as what methods of shipping are available. Sometimes it can be worth it to get something more protected and expensive, but sometimes it’s fine going cheap. You have to make that call. Also, sometimes eBay freaks out and lists wildly incorrect shipping charges on auctions; if the number seems off, e-mail the seller to ask if it’s correct, and why it costs so much if it is.
- BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN DEALING WITH OTHER CURRENCIES! Your money’s value will fluctuate drastically when you start dealing with other regions. Ebay will usually tell you how much a bid price translates to, but it’s not always right. Always Google “currency conversion” and double-check it first, especially if you’re going to put in a higher bid amount and need to be sure exactly how much that’s going to translate to.
- If you find an item that seems good in the listing itself, I really, really don’t recommend immediately buying or bidding. Keep it in a side tab, then search eBay specifically for THAT item and see if you can find other copies. Sometimes you can find the same item for less, or the same item bundled with other items that you’d like. Other times you might find one with a Buy-It-Now or Best Offer option as opposed to a regular auction. Compare similar auctions to see if you can get a better deal before you pounce on the first one you find. (This is a common habit for newbies, and I can tell you from experience that it’s a very tough one to break because you get so excited when you find what you’re looking for.)
- If there doesn’t seem to be a good deal available, it may be more in your interest not to make a purchase at all. Look into how rare or common the item is and do your best to decide whether or not it’s likely to pop up again. If you think there’s a good chance that there could be more auctions later, maybe now isn’t the best time to make your purchase. It’s perfectly fine to walk away from an auction that you feel is over-priced and wait for a lower one to turn up. However, if you feel confident that this item isn’t likely to reappear (or at least not anytime soon), maybe it’s more worth it to you to spend the extra money on it now. Think carefully about the rarity (or lack thereof) before you bid/buy.
That’s a pretty generalized set of advice that ought to be able to guide you no matter what you’re looking for. The question now is, what are you looking for?
If your specific goal is the Genesis-era games, I personally would say save your money and don’t bother getting the original copies unless you’re specifically interested in collecting the hardware. Getting originals means that you’re not only going to have to find the games, but also the console itself, as well as its necessary cables and controllers. You’ll also have to be specific about getting one suited to your region (not all games are region-free). This shouldn’t be difficult with the games themselves, as North America is all the same region, but it could be a problem with the console if Canada has different plugs from the United States (as US stuff is usually the most common listed). You’ll also have to worry more about the shipping of the console, as just one bad jostling in the mail can change a working unit into a dead unit.
The versions of the classic games that are currently available on Xbox Live, PSN, and Steam are pretty much identical to the originals, with the added bonus of being able to save whenever you want. I think the original codes still work on these versions as well. If all you’re looking to do is play the games, I would really, really strongly recommend that you invest in digital copies instead of hunting down originals. It’ll save you a lot of time, effort, and most importantly, money.
However, if you do decide you want original hard copies, I would recommend making a list of exactly what you want and then prioritizing it. This will help sharpen your focus and allow you to weigh your decisions more accurately. For example, the game Knuckles’ Chaotix is very difficult to find in complete condition, but it may pop up more often as just the cartridge. Is it important that you get the box and book? If not, then you can save time and money by just getting the cartridge. As another example, you may find an auction for a single, difficult-to-find game, while also finding an auction for several easier-to-find games. Is it more important to you to get that one rare game, or to knock out several of your wishlist items in one swoop? Keeping items prioritized can help with those decisions.
I think that’s about all the advice I can give you without more detailed information. If you have any other questions, send me another note on my personal account, rather than here on my collection account, as the more detailed we get to you the less open the advice will be to others reading this. I hope this reply helped you out! Just be cautious and make sure you really want the purchase before you make it, and hunt for the best deal. That should help stretch your savings a very long way.