You've seen the headlines, no doubt: Unsuspecting homeowner is cleaning out the garage, attic, or storage building, stumbles across a dusty box of old video games, and discovers a goldmine of valuable rarities that nets them tens of thousands of dollars.
Easy money, right? Not so fast. The odds of you accidentally owning a game worth anywhere over $1,000 are obscenely low. The world's most expensive games are either decades-old esoterica, little-known relics from the NES or Atari 2600 era that were created in extremely limited quantities, or bizarre import titles that you've probably never even heard of.
But what about more modest -- and far more common -- finds? It turns out there's a handful of relatively well-known games from the last few generations of consoles that fetch surprisingly high prices on the enthusiast market. Here's a few that you may actually own:
Halo Triple Pack (Xbox)
Price range: $80 - $150
Halo 4 might be on everyone's mind right now, but this old compilation could be substantially more valuable.
Bundling together Halo 1, Halo 2 and Halo 2's multiplayer map pack, the Halo Triple Pack was released for the original Xbox. Its high price -- about $80 upwards, for a used example -- reflects the fact that both games will play just fine on backwards-compatible Xbox 360s, keeping the triple pack in demand from new Halo fans who want to see where the story started.
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II (PS2/Xbox)
Price range: $25 - $100
The second in a terrific hack 'n' slash console series based on the even better PC Baldur's Gate franchise, Dark Alliance II retains a surprisingly high value on both PS2 and Xbox.
Pristine copies can be worth as much as $100. Two main reasons underlie its continued popularity: it had a fairly small initial print run, and its co-operative, Diablo-style gameplay still holds up today.
Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence: Limited Edition (PS2)
Price range: $100 - $500
Are you the kind of gamer who likes to snag collector's editions versions of popular games? If you picked up this particular version of Metal Gear Solid 3, your extravagance could well pay off for once.
It includes a DVD containing the game's cut-scenes edited into a three-and-a-half hour movie and remains hugely popular with the many fans of the series. New versions fetch a good $500, while used ones go for more like $100. Still, not bad for a six-year-old game.
Final Fantasy VII — Black Label (Playstation)
Price range: $50 - $500
Classic role-playing game Final Fantasy VII is the polar opposite of rare. In fact, it was one of the best-selling games on the original Playstation, moving over 10 million copies around the world.
But it remains in high demand: even used copies can fetch decent funds, while mint-condition, unopened examples of the original 'Black Label' release (rather than the green 'Greatest Hits' re-release) can be worth hundreds. Bet you wish you'd never played yours, eh?
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (Playstation)
Price range: $50 - $300
Weird name, awesome game -- and even more awesome treasure.
Originally released on the Super Nintendo, the Playstation port of the tactical role-playing game Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (fun fact: the title is an homage to the rock band Queen) is highly sought after by fans of this superb series. Used copies routinely sell for around $50, and new ones run well into the $300 range.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning -- Collector's Edition (Xbox 360)
Price range: $500 - $1,000
It was the game that killed baseball star Curt Schilling's game development studio, but if you landed a copy of the collector's edition of 2012 RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, it could be your ticket to a fortune. A small fortune, admittedly, but more than you'd think.
Bundled with a limited edition troll statue, signed lithographs, and assorted other goodies, the scarcity of this curio (only 700 were created) pushes its value as high as a thousand dollars, depending on condition.
Steel Battalion (Xbox)
Price range: $100- $700
Shipping with a vast, 40-button custom controller, this mech combat game was a slow seller at its 2002 release. With a price tag of $200, tepid reviews, and gameplay that was decidedly niche, it's hardly surprising.
But if you were one of the few to take the plunge, you're onto a nice little earner. Even a well-used example will fetch a couple hundred over its original asking price, and unopened, intact games will bring in substantially more.
Gamecube component cables
Price range: $100 - $150
Wait, what? Yes, believe it or not, component video cables for a Gamecube are worth a surprising amount of money. They were only ever made by Nintendo (no third-party alternatives exist) and in small quantities, and they're the only way to get high-quality video out of a Gamecube. So enthusiasts are prepared to pay considerable sums to get their hands on a set, often to the tune of well over $100.