Luke Owen gives some thoughts on the My Retro Game Box subscription service…
The idea of boxes being sent in the post with an assortment of random items has become pretty big business here in the UK, as well for our brothers and sisters across the pond. Want a monthly supply of socks? There’s a service for that. Into geek culture? Well, there are several services you can subscribe to. Like playing retro video games? There’s My Retro Game Box.
Run by a couple in Scotland, My Retro Game Box is a subscription service where you receive a box with at least three video games from yester year for around £20 a month. When you sign up, you’re taken to a survey where you can tell the couple what consoles you own, what games you already have and the sort of games you want to get in your boxes. Don’t like sports games? Just let them know and they won’t send you any. This way, you get the types of games you want and don’t have to suffer the myriad of sports titles that infested the SEGA Mega Drive.
When looking at their Twitter feed however, one might be slightly trepidatious about signing up for this service. The idea is fantastic in principle, but when the their pinned tweet to promote themselves is, “My Retro Game Box: Some people love it, some people hate it and some people take the time to shit all over it on the internet”, you find yourself double-guessing your willingness to get involved. I feel nervy just posting up this review for fear of a Twitter backlash I might get from Katy, the female half of this retro game duo who manages their social media output. Scrolling down the page, My Retro Game Box’s Twitter profile feels more like Katy’s soap box to release her frustrations about customers as opposed to a platform to promote their service. “I may get shit for being unprofessional,” she tweets, “but the best part about this is that we don’t make enough money from it to actually be a profession.”
If anyone is angry with me that’s awesome really looking forward to dealing with that.
— Retro Game Box (@myretrogamebox) May 22, 2015
Fair enough, but this is still a service that people are paying for – and therefore it should come with a modicum of professionalism. Flickering Myth doesn’t pay all of my bills, but I wouldn’t use our Twitter account to get angry at people who don’t like my reviews.
In many ways, My Retro Game Box’s social media appearance is not too dissimilar to that of EasyJet, a company famous for showing their customers the least amount of courtesy when it comes to complaints, following the logic of ‘we’re cheap for a reason’. My Retro Game Box doesn’t take use the ‘cheap’ excuse, but they do seem hell bent on reminding people that they are doing this form their living room and they’re not making a career off this. And because of that, they feel like they have every right to say what they want to you, the paying customer.
What they are offering though is rather nifty service that caters to a niche audience. Retro video game players and collectors have been stung in recent years due to a rise in people selling stuff online at extortionate prices with the theory of, ‘it’s old and therefore worth money’. Not everyone does of this of course and you can tell the well-meaning sellers from those out to make a quick buck, but all it takes for prices to skyrocket is for some folk to see someone else selling a copy of Goof Troop on the SNES for £15 unboxed and copy them. Before you know it, everyone is trying to sell it for that price and before long, Goof Troop on the SNES is suddenly worth £15 unboxed when you used to be able to pick it up complete for a tenner.
My Retro Game Box eliminates that issue. They do all the digging, negotiating and buying for you, wrap them all up and send them first class to your doorstep. Furthermore, it allows the chance for you to explore games you might not have done previously. Retro gamers can often get stuck into the notion of going after specific games, thus missing out other titles they might not have paid any mind to because they don’t remember them as fondly. Everyone wants a copy of Ecco the Dolphin or ToeJam and Earl – not everyone wants to pick up a copy of Chuck Rock, despite being equally as good.
Do they send games boxed? Not always. They stress on their website that you need to have an open mind when signing up for this service – and that includes the actual quality of the product. If you’re aim is to have a complete and tidy boxed collection, then this might not be the place for you. This is for people who want to play the games, not display them on shelves proudly like some nerdy Indiana Jones.
So, I signed up – which is odd when you consider that I would prefer my collection to be fully boxed with the manuals when possible. However, I was interested in My Retro Game Box and wanted to give it a go. In this day and age, it is possible to buy boxes and cases separately (both official and reprinted), so this could be a new way for me to expand my collection while saving time and money.
Anyway, I got my first box yesterday. But what was it like?