Meet a collector who's taken his video game console hobby to the next level

Johncarlo Salvatore of Oldcastle has about 45 vintage game consoles.  (Tyler Clapp/CBC - image credit)
Johncarlo Salvatore of Oldcastle has about 45 vintage game consoles. (Tyler Clapp/CBC - image credit)

For Johncarlo Salvatore, his Nintendo Entertainment System Deluxe is a point of pride.

It is one of about 45 gaming consoles tucked behind display cabinets in Salvatore's Oldcastle basement, a gallery of gaming history stretching from about 1972 and ending in 2000. Other consoles include the Sega Genesis and Atari Jaguar, but the Nintendo is the crown jewel.

"Just looking at them, and when people come over they're just interested," Salvatore said of what he likes about the collection. "They're like, 'Oh, I had that system back in the day.'"

Salvatore has invested roughly $15,000 into his collection since starting in the year 2000, foraging through countless garage sales and flea markets for quality pieces.

He isn't alone in his pursuit of classic gaming memorabilia, especially not since the pandemic. The video game pricing website, for example, shows the cost of retro video games rose by 33 per cent from 2020 to 2021.

Tyler Clapp/CBC
Tyler Clapp/CBC

Now some who choose to sell their vintage game consoles are doing so for big price tags.

In October 2021, a mint-condition Nintendo 64 sold for $4,800 in an online auction. Pop culture site Nerdable found perfect versions of Sony PlayStation 1 could sell for up to $5,000.

Roy McLean is the owner of Windsor game store The Game MD. He repairs discs, fixes consoles and accepts trade-ins for consoles and games.

He says getting such payouts depends on the quality of what's offered.

"Condition is everything. Just because you have something that is worth a lot of money doesn't mean that it's worth a lot of money in the condition that it's in," McLean said.

McLean also says a rise in sellers artificially inflating the value of what they offer is posing a new challenge to collectors as well.

Tyler Clapp/CBC
Tyler Clapp/CBC

"There are a lot of imposters, fake games people are purchasing online because they're cheap," he said. "They think it's the real deal because their advertisement's saying it is an official product when it's not."

For vintage console owners looking to sell, McLean says protecting the consoles from excessive heat or dampness is key. Researching the value of the console is also encouraged.

As for Salvatore, he says finding new additions has gotten harder.

"People now kind of know what they're worth. And that's another thing too with collecting these systems," he said. "People want retail for stuff now where before you could pick these up, they were a lot cheaper."

He aims to continue growing his assortment of gaming relics going forward.

"Maybe finish the Atari collection, maybe get the 7800, I don't have that one. There are a couple I'm looking around for."