Fueling the Habit #2: Gaming Swag and Loot

All right, it’s time for Fueling the Habit #2: Gaming Swag and Loot!  Check out the previous issue, FLGS or Online!

Almost all gaming has a competitive scene…Magic the Gathering, Warhammer, X-Wing, Call of Duty, StarCraft, and that’s just off the top of my head.  E-Sports are now becoming mainstream and there’s some big money behind it.

 Just look at this list of the prize pools behind some Dota, Counter-Strike, and League of Legends events.  Yeah…that’s millions.  Not only that, but you can make money outside of competitive events by streaming.  For instance, PewDiePie, a gamer with a Youtube account, also makes millions off of ad revenue from views and subscriptions.  Again, millions.

lol
A League of Legends World Championship. via PC Gamer

But uh…what about the rest of us?  Not everyone can invest the time to be a full-time pro gamer and even then, for every winner there’s a bunch of other people walking away empty handed.

So…you’re not going to read this blog and suddenly learn the secret to making six-figures playing video or board games.  However, you may be able to turn your love and passion for these games into a bit of extra scratch and stretch your investment a little further.

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Nigel Richards: Scrabble Boss. via NPR

So, we’ve established that quitting your job, joining a Scrabble tournament and “just win” isn’t good advice for people like you or me (though it is for this guy).  However, most board gaming events have, what I like to call, “Swag.”  As you probably know, I’m a die-hard, though questionably skilled X-Wing Miniatures player, so most of my experience will come from that.

Fantasy Flight Games usually have several tiers of Organized Play Events for their games, ranging from “Game Nights” to “World Championships.”  Each tier usually has it’s own Prize Kit with unique items inside; for X-Wing, it is usually acrylic tokens or templates, alternate art cards, medals, or dice bags.  Magic the Gathering has a similar set-up, allowing you to get promo/foil cards or gaming mats.

Old-school X-Wing Game Night Kit with shield tokens!!!!!
Old-school X-Wing Game Night Kit with shield tokens!!!!!

Normally, these promo items are the ultimate form of street cred.  Not only did you have to attend a special event, you had to do well or even score first place to get some of the exclusive items.  Some, like the alternate art cards, only have relative value, but in Magic or Star Trek Attack Wing, you can earn cards or ships that have special in-game capabilities that cannot be purchased normally.  In video gaming, there is exclusive swag for attending events, even if you don’t play (like at E3, for instance).

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E3 swag hyping up the release of Payday 2. via drjengo.com

Depending on your skill level and attachment to trinkets and trophies, selling these on the secondary market can net you some serious cash.  Or, if you’re going to reinvest anyway, you are very likely to find someone willing to trade for your swag at your FLGS. If we do a quick eBay check, let’s see what we find:

Various E3 Swag- Usually around $15 for various trinkets, though someone made $250 off of a Borderlands Loot Chest.

I don't play Borderlands, but I still want this for some reason.
I don’t play Borderlands, but I still want this for some reason.

Star Trek Attack Wing: Seems that most people are getting about $20 for their promos ships, though there was a Khan card for $50 and $75 for a DS9.

staw
The ONLY think that would make me play ST:AW

MtG: It’s all over the place.  The “Languish” game night card goes for about $5-10 to $60 for a exclusive playmat.  The Wasteland alternate art Judge Promo is about $200.  And while not exactly in the same vein, don’t forget your Black Lotus, which goes for thousands of dollars.

BlackLotus
Even proxies of this card can go for decent money.

X-Wing: Acrylic shield tokens go for about $30 or $40 for a set of 5, Recon Specialist alternate art is about $5, and marbled dice from 2014 Worlds will net you at least $100 for a set.

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This is simultaneously the dumbest and most awesome X-Wing Swag I’ve ever seen!

For Video Games, especially MMO’s or anything with mirco-transactions, the market is even wilder.  For a while, people were making fair coin with the Diablo III marketplace.  If you invest in an MMO character and decide to stop playing, your character can be worth serious cash.  Our very own Gio managed to sell his World of Warcraft character for $200 several years ago.  Technically, I believe this is a violation of most TOS agreements, so you may have to get a little unscrupulous by checking out third party websites or some disgusting back alleys or bathrooms.   Personally, I used to play Team Fortress 2, but haven’t in a while.  Now that the Steam Community Store is up and running, I have the ability to post my items for sale.  The store gives you a little snapshot per item you have; it tells you how many have been sold in the past 24 hours and the cheapest asking price at the time.  There’s a few items I like (like these OSX earbuds) that are fairly valuable.  Unfortunately, if I had been keeping better track and decided to do this a few months ago, I’d have a chance to make more money.  I probably had $50 worth of stuff that’s only worth $20 now, and that’s if I get lucky.

Keeping track of market trends is important to stretch your buck the furthest.  Like I mentioned, my TF2 items are on the decline…not only that, but to use the Steam Community Store you need an active purchase on your record that’s between 30 days and 1 year old.  Hopefully, the value of my equipment will upturn, but I’m not hopeful.

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If I was faster, these would be selling for double digits…

Where I did catch a break, however, was with some X-Wing mini’s a year or two back.  I was jones’ing for some new ships and ended up buying someone’s collection.  I got a pretty good deal, but was having storage issues and decided to eBay a couple.  Wooowowoowowowow!  The secondary market, because of some supply and production issues on FFG’s end, was blowing up.

This may have been a little scumbag of me, but I put some ships for sale with inflated, but reasonable (at the time) prices.  Didn’t matter…people went nuts and bid the ships up into astronomical prices.  I got over $50 for a loose Millennium Falcon at one point.  Even 10 shield tokens were going for $150+!  I never sold mine, but I go back and forth on the morality vs profit of it.  Needless to say, I made my money back on that collection I purchased, but still kept 2/3 of the ships.

Long story short, if you’ve got some Geek Time (you know, like Air Time or Hang Time) under your belt, you’ve probably got lots of geek swag or loot.  Chances are, you don’t need it or use it and if you’re hurting for cash, it might be a good way to fatten your wallet a bit.

And, of course, any “Fueling the Habit” wouldn’t be complete without a super-geeky, hyper-specific, Scumbag Steve meme!

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Keep an eye out for #3!!!