Buying Gaming Merchandise on eBay

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What to Look for as a Collector When Buying Gaming Merchandise on eBay

People have different relationships to gaming: some are passionate players well into adulthood, while others have enduring memories of the video games they played as children. The world of gaming is ever-evolving, and the market is enormous, not only for the games themselves, but for ancillary merchandise. No wonder that collecting gaming merchandise has become a widespread hobby for many, and a full-blown passion for others: one record-breaking collection boasts over 8,000 items. For those interested in starting their own gaming merchandise collection, eBay has a tremendous amount of items from which to choose.

As with any collection, selecting items can depend on one's personal taste, as well as what one expects to accrue value. Developing one's own preferences and collecting style is one of the joys of being a collector, while predicting value and verifying authenticity take some know-how. Informed buyers have a better chance at accurately assessing an item's authenticity, as well as its current and future value.

Types of Gaming Merchandise

Gaming merchandise can be as as creative and unusual as some of the games on the market. From plush toys to toilet paper, the choices for collector's items run the gamut. The following chart outlines some basic categories of gaming merchandise.

Type of Gaming Merchandise



Includes t-shirts, hoodies, baseball caps, badges, wallets, and more; many items are easy to find and affordable, but of less value; rarer items have higher value

Action Figures

Figures depicting popular characters from video games; new, common ones easy to find; rare ones can be quite expensive

Home Decor Items

Mugs, shower curtains, and more; tend to be of less monetary value but may have personal and functional value for collector


Device for using the video game; retro or special interest consoles are often collector's items, including rarities or particular versions like hotel consoles, prototype consoles, display consoles, or cancelled versions; unused consoles in original box can be very valuable


Life-size toys inspired by accessories and characters from a game; items include plush toys, swords, and more; limited edition items are often valuable


Posters make perfect decorations for the gaming room at home; rare and vintage posters are often valuable


Associated with a particular game; inexpensive; rare vintage stickers accrue some value

Novelty Items

In addition to common types of merchandise, manufacturers frequently produce novelty items in limited or collector's editions, such as toilet paper, cigarette lighters, aftershave, and more

Collectors take different approaches to buying merchandise. They may decide to focus on one type of item, such as action figures, or collect all the merchandise associated with a particular game. Still others may take a broader approach, looking for items that appeal to them personally, or ones they deem of greatest value.

Factors Affecting Gaming Merchandise Value

When shopping for gaming merchandise for a collection, there are several things to consider. Many buyers choose to buy items that are appealing to them personally, perhaps because of nostalgia, or the uniqueness of the item. Gauging an item's value is another step, which both determines how much money one is willing to pay for it, as well as predicting how much it may be worth in the future. And although value is relative and often unpredictable, there are several factors that consistently affect what an item is worth.


As with many collector's items, as gaming merchandise ages, it tends to accrue value. While other factors listed below must also be taken into consideration, a general rule of thumb is that retro items fetch higher prices.


Authentic gaming merchandise is produced by the same manufacturer as that of the game. Buyers should beware of counterfeit items, as they are worth very little. On the other hand, some bootleg versions of games may be considered collectible.

Condition: New-In-Box vs. Used

If an item is still in its unopened, original packaging, its value increases significantly. If no box is included with an item, original tags with the brand name should be attached and intact.

Used items may still be valuable; this is especially true if they have been well cared for.


Rare items tend to be worth much more than mass-produced items. This includes merchandise that was released in a limited edition, special edition, or collector's edition.

Resources for Assessing Value

There are books and websites dedicated to valuation of gaming merchandise. In general, if a buyer is informed about the specifics, such as all the merchandise associated with a particular game, they have a better chance of seeking and spotting items of value. Looking up an item on an Internet database prior to purchase can assist a buyer in deciding how much they want to pay for it.

Buyers should keep in mind that value for gaming merchandise is prone to fluctuation. Even items that fetch high prices today may not have much value in a few decades, so buying an item as an investment can be risky.

Spotting Imitation Gaming Merchandise

One of the challenges with buying gaming merchandise for a collection is the verification of its authenticity. This is especially true when buying online, where buyers have to be able to differentiate genuine products from imitations based on the information the seller provides. Fortunately, there are several steps buyers can take to help them do so.

Three Types of Unofficial Gaming Merchandise

Not all unofficial gaming merchandise is the same. In general, it can be broken down into three types: counterfeit, modified counterfeit, and unofficial products. Counterfeit items are illegal copies of authentic merchandise. While some may be poor replicas, others may be exact copies, which may deceive even seasoned collectors. Counterfeit items have no monetary value. Modified counterfeits, on the other hand, are unofficial copies that have some identifiable variation from the original. Doing so, they avoid certain legal complications, although they may still be designed to trick buyers into thinking they have value. The third category of unofficial merchandise is comprised of products that are designed to look as though they are official, although they do not copy any existing original items. These are also illegal.

What to Look for When Assessing Authenticity

There are several things buyers should look for, and look out for, when they are evaluating a piece of gaming merchandise on eBay. Buyers should not hesitate to be proactive in asking for more information from a seller if they need it.

Unusual Pricing

One tactic frequently used by counterfeiters is to ask for a low price, but charge exorbitant postage fees. This is almost a sure sign that the item is not authentic. Buyers should always verify the postage fees prior to purchasing an item.

Examining the Photos

It is essential that buyers look closely at the photos posted for a particular item. While some sellers use stock images, buyers should ask for photos of the particular piece of merchandise for sale. Stock photos are often used as cover-ups for differences in counterfeit items, or for authentic items in poor condition. A seller's unwillingness to comply with a request for more photos is a sign that the buyer should walk away from the deal.

When looking at the photo of the item, the buyer should check for original brand tags that clearly display the manufacturer's logo. Counterfeits may have the tag in a different position than on the original, or the tag may have an inexact approximation of the manufacturer's logo. Before investing money in a particular item, a collector should research the official original product, so that they can know what signs of authenticity to look for. This information is generally available online.

Check for Original Design

Modified counterfeits may feature a different design than the original merchandise. For example, if the original was a necklace, the same design as a ring is likely a counterfeit. Again, the more knowledge the buyer has about the original item and the official product line, the more easily they can spot fakes.

See What Other Items the Seller Has

Sometimes it is easy to spot sellers who are offering counterfeits by looking at the other items they have listed on eBay. If they have a large quantity of the same apparently rare item, it is unlikely that the item is authentic. Also, if the seller has any other items that are clearly counterfeits, that is a sign that they should be avoided altogether. 

How to Buy Gaming Merchandise on eBay

Whether you are a casual collector or a serious enthusiast, eBay is an excellent place to shop for the next addition to your gaming merchandise collection. Starting on eBay's home page, type keywords into the search bar, such as "Super Mario Plush". You can limit your original search results by entering a price range, selecting item condition, and more.

Before purchasing an item, be sure to read the description very carefully, following the tips described above to determine authenticity. Be sure to check the postage fees, as well. If you have any questions, it is easy to contact a seller through eBay.

When it come to collector's items, the authority and reliability of a seller is highly important. Check the seller's feedback score and read comments from previous buyers of gaming merchandise. Top-rated sellers complete a high volume of transactions and maintain an excellent standard of customer satisfaction.    


Gaming merchandise encompasses a wide range of items associated with video games. Because of gaming's immense popularity, collecting gaming merchandise has become a passion for many. When buying gaming merchandise for a collection, buyers should consider what kind of items particularly appeal to them, as well as learn how to assess value and authenticity.

There are several common types of gaming merchandise, including apparel, action figures, plush toys, and novelty items. Assessing value can be difficult, but there are several general factors that are reliable measures of an item's worth: age, authenticity, condition, and rarity. The premium tends to be on rare, retro items in excellent condition. To determine authenticity and avoid counterfeits, buyers should follow some basic guidelines when buying, including researching the characteristics of the specific official item, inspecting the photo, and researching the seller. Informed gaming merchandise collectors can find exciting additions to their collection on eBay.

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