Repairing Old NES Systems For Fun and Profit // How I turned a Hobby Into an eBay Business

in videogames •  10 months ago

Games were my Life


Just over 10 years ago, fresh out of college with a B.A. in English, I turned my love of video games into a small online business that moved about $10,000 per year in inventory. Video games have always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From playing Pac-Man
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Pitfall, and Missle Command at my neighbor's house when I was six years old, to uninvitedly entering another neighbors house when they weren't home to use their old TANDY computer for Drug Wars. This was desperate behavior, but I didn't have a computer of my own (or a gaming console at that time), and other than a bit of electricity and some snacks, I really didn't hurt anything.
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Starting the Business

The business started out small enough. I began by purchasing lots of NES consoles and games on eBay, replacing the 72 pin connector--the part that fails in the front load systems and makes the console blink-- and then reselling the console and games at a premium. Back in 2007 and 2008, it was very possible to pick up a NES console that blinked, along with 10-20 games for about $100 at auction. By repairing the NES, giving it a good spit-shine, and pairing the console with choice titles like the Mario trilogy, Tetris, and Dr. Mario, I could turn the $100 investment into $150 or 200$ depending on the quality of the games in the collection.
It wasn't uncommon to pick up a collection with the whole Mario trilogy, break even on the reselling of that with the console, and have a whole stack of games leftover for profit. The main problem with the business was that it competed with my hardcore World of Warcraft playing, something that took 8-16 hours a day back then (I actually miss it. I played with a group of friends and we all made Gladiator status in the arena.)

WOW interferance aside, I really didn't know how to scale the business up without working at it full-time, and I ended up moving right as things were really getting rolling with inventory and sales and sold most of what I'd amassed in bulk, thus losing the individual premium I would normally garner.

I still sell on eBay from time to time when I need a few hundred dollars and have the patience to fiddle with the listing and shipping, but I miss those early days selling games and playing WOW. I made a lot less money than I do now, but I was doing what I loved.
Games have lost their hold on me these days. I rarely play for more than 15 minutes in a day with little about them holding my interest. In part, it is because I viewed them as a bit of a dead end. I always enjoyed playing competitively, and while I generally could get to the top of the games I played hardcore, I never was able to successfully monetize my play. During my early WOW days, when I was in the top 1% of players in the world, it was actually illegal to show videos of gameplay on youtube, and there was no other was for us to monetize except for professional play, and without a sponsor, we couldn't travel--even though we did beat one professional three-man team on our server regularly and remotely-qualified for one major event.

I actually miss playing a lot, but they just don't give me the same pleasure that they used to. Still, even just looking at these old pictures of mine makes me smile. Games clearly have shaped a large part of my psyche and continue to influence my view on the world (that it is boring and in need of games) even to this day.

Image sources: Giphs downloaded from, all other images are my own.

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I'm going to share this post on my Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook timelines. I know lots of gamers who'd love this post.


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i can freaking relate @lilrut bro and my siblings weren't blessed with game consoles growing up back then as well,we used to go to friend's and game centres for COD and FIFA..These days,there's no time to play only if i could make money playing then i'm all in.


Yeah the good old friends or neighbors who could afford to buy the new consoles and games. Same for me, no time for playing besides a little bit of the nintendo switch.


I've found that little games that can hold my interest for 10 or 15 minutes are the best option for me these days.


im exactly this same way these days, i want a 2-15 minute game..


I didn't own a console of my own until I was 12, so I hear ya. It was fun going to friends houses to play though, especially fighting games.


DUDE now that we have established a possible niche of video game consoles u should show how u can mod an old NES to play EVERY old NESD game plsu other old games by making urown MAME box or somethin maybe using rasberry pie or something

u should also show modded NES console projects liek with LEDs and have a Vaporwave NES or steempunk NES

u should have steem on an OLD nes by enabling a web browser on teh NES

or osmething rediculous like that

maybe build ur own steem browser on an old rasberry pi with LCD and make ur own steemit box i dunno

maybe make a STEEMIT box just a small computer with HDMI and u plug into an HDMi and u can just use a browser and use it to post to steemit! hah


Those are all great ideas. We will see how it goes.

"How much would you say you like video games?"

"To the point where I would break and enter so I could play at a neighbour's house."

Great post. The "normal" Nintendo was a big part of my childhood. I loved played Paperboy, Mike Tyson's Knockout, Ninja Turtles, and of course the classics Mario (especially Dr. Mario) and Zelda. Not to mention some of the Final Fantasy games I also enjoyed.

What's your favourite game from the NES console?


I liked every game you listed. Some of the ones that stand out in addition to those are Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Rygar, Castlevania (all of them), Werewolf, Basewars, and later Street Fighter and Clay Fighter on the SNES. Once the SNES came around, I was pretty obsessed with fighting games. Actually, fighters are among the few games I still play. I put in about an hour a week on Tekken 7, still playing Nina like I did in Tekken 3.

Thanks for the comment!

I think our childhood was the best time of all
I miss my childhood alot


It's a difficult thing growing older and learning how to accept and embrace life for what it is. After writing this post, though, I played Hearthstone for a couple hours, something I haven't done in nearly a year, so I think writing it was cathartic.


yeah exactly
and I collect HOTWHEELS :P

Seems like an awesome hobby!


Great hobby, not the best way to make money, though :)

Dream life!


The @OriginalWorks bot has determined this post by @lilrut to be original material and upvoted it!

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Thanks for the originalworks tag.


Anytime. 😀

Awesome story, it's a shame you moved away from gaming but life does move on. I did the reverse, mainly because when I was young nothing decent to game on had been invented. Nowadays everything plays games, and having two boys that love to game means I tend to get encouraged to join in even if I am far worse then them!


I also have two boys. I'm grooming them to be sparring partners (for me and each other) in fighting games but my oldest is much more in love with Minecraft than he is with Street Fighter.


It is a close call between my two, Minecraft or Roblox. I have to hand it to the Roblox designers - they created an incredible gaming environment that is 100% a money maker - everything about it needs extra purchase to upgrade character - access VIP - they are literally minting it in. The platform upgrades constantly and improves and runs really well so I don't really feel upset my 7 year old regularly needs a Robux hit to pimp up his character - but I feel compared to stand alone game manufacturers selling a one off game either physical disc or download - Roblox are on a constant money train - and even better they get other people to make the game environments for them - such a genius move it makes me wince a little in pain.

Wow what an amazing adventure you have been on I am so happy for you thank you for sharing this.

Shame games have lost your interest I still love them its just with my job I really dont have time for them much anymore I still keep up with games news but wow you were living in paradise with all them games wow @lilrut


Yeah, I really enjoyed just owning them and being able to look at them all. Any game I ever wanted as a kid I was able to get a hold of, even if just for a little while.

I used to love pacman!!!!! I would play that on atari forever and a day!!!! Fun post .. fun life you live .. SUNSHINE247


I used to play Ms. Pacman in this bar and grill across from a place I stayed as a kid. They had a raised deck where people would play music, and I would crawl underneath and find quarters and guitar picks. I don't know what I did with the guitar picks, but I know where the quarters went!


Too funny!!!! Fun times :) SUNSHINE247

Great post! I love reading ones like this

Ahh, the age old conundrum - do what you love for less or what you dislike for more.

I'm doing the dislike for more as well, but making plans to swap to the other soon enough.

Anyways, love when people have a side-hustle going on, even if you only do it occasionally now. You got yourself a new follower.


Thanks for the follow and support. I think it is a difficult thing to "do what you love," especially when those things seem to change throughout life.


I was always more of a Super NES than NES fan. That might be more due to my age, though- Super NES had long since taken over from NES when I got started with videogames.


"Oh, those graphics are so good!" Or something to that effect when I first saw the Super Nintendo graphics.


A lot of Super Nintendo Games still actually look really good today.


I was never quite as into it as you clearly were, but enjoyed many of the games you mention

Remember sharing a flat at college and we would play four-player Goldeneye for hours, going round and round shooting each other



Smashbros was the game of choice among my playing group. We'd get together and play three or four player Smash for hours.


Goldeneye is one of coolest games!

This post was very informative thank you for sharing
you have my upvote


I miss the companionship of playing with the group of people I played with the most.



Thanks for vote 100 and the resteem!


Congratulations! This post has been upvoted from the communal account, @minnowsupport, by lilrut from the Minnow Support Project. It's a witness project run by aggroed, ausbitbank, teamsteem, theprophet0, someguy123, neoxian, followbtcnews/crimsonclad, and netuoso. The goal is to help Steemit grow by supporting Minnows and creating a social network. Please find us in the Peace, Abundance, and Liberty Network (PALnet) Discord Channel. It's a completely public and open space to all members of the Steemit community who voluntarily choose to be there.

That is so special , dedication is worth it.

a tutorial on how to fix them would be an epic post!


I will try and put something together. It is actually pretty easy to do.

WOOO glad to see u on the front page of trending, with $165 !

dude u need tio now just make mposst abpout this, more detail about modding consoles!
i modded my xbox with modchip bigger hard drive and was able to mod halo 1 and play it online with xboxconnect and i was able to put new maps on halo 1 and yeah it was so crazy we even played online modded maps with people over xbox connect


Cool, I've never done any modding, only repairs, but I could probably do a mod if the instructions were clear enough.

great story man and very cool pics from all your games. Hey, starting a business is difficult but don't give up. Just try again and research /study on how to do it, go for it man.


It's largely a matter of energy these days. With a full-time job and a family, I don't have much energy left over for my small business enthusiasms.


its totally understandable. wow yeah that's a lot of stuff. It's all good my friend. Thanks again for sharing this nice project.

Wow, brings back lots of memories! Especially all the blowing into the games in order to get them to read properly!


When my games wouldn't work after blowing in them a few times, I would resort to slobbering on the contacts, which would usually do the trick!

I still have my older gaming systems. Atari 2600, Nintendo, Sega Genesis. Every once in a while I like to hook them up and have a weeks go at beating some games and remembering the younger days.


The platformers have aged pretty well. I can't play the old strategy games anymore. I used to love Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but the interface is so clunky that I couldn't manage dealing with it as an adult.

For some reason, games don't give the same pleasure they used to, still wondering why?


There are things I do in adult life that seem very gamified--like my finances with all the charts and graphs offered by lending and investment institutions, it seems very much like a game. I think I am just looking for something more directly related to life for satisfaction, rather than a diversion from it. I don't know. I game through my kids now, anyway.

Life of kid’s today have completely changed from what we used to live in 90’s. We had an awesome childhood!!

I thought you could repair each cartridge by simply blowing on it haha. The old legendary belief!

Nice pics. Mega Man really was my no.1 game for the NES back then.

Congratulations @lilrut!
Your post was mentioned in the hit parade in the following category:

  • Pending payout - Ranked 10 with $ 170,12

Thats awesome i glad to see this are still being used thanks for sharing. @rockybrookfarm

As the saying goes (I read somewhere), seasons change, life changes too.

All of us has a season in life even with different hobbies and different friends even, and as time goes by, directions can change all we need to do is keep moving forward.

At least you have a fond memory, and that is one of the important things in life.
Keep it up.


I now get some pleasure out of watching my kids play games. I limit it much more than the amount I played when I was a get, though. Thanks for the comment.