Before Tetris and Ms. Pac-Man were staples of the App Store, they lived in bars and video arcades, played eagerly by quick-wristed teenagers.
But years after glory was achieved at the top of the scoreboard, some of these vintage games are sitting lifelessly in Southern California storage units – unable to be sold because they’re owned by the state.
Phillip Lanzafame is the director of economic development for the city of Glendale, where the video games are housed. He thinks the games aren’t doing much good while sitting in storage.
“We have a lot of charitable organizations that could have used them as a fundraiser,” Lanzafame said to ABC 7 in Los Angeles.
But the city of Glendale can’t do anything with the games just yet. It turns out that about three years ago, California used their Redevelopment Agency to purchase the old video arcade that housed the games.
That agency, according to the state’s website, was officially dissolved on Feb.1, 2012. Anything purchased through the now defunct Redevelopment Agency in California can’t be sold or moved until the state clears them for sale by finishing their paperwork.
“So here [the games] sit in storage,” Lanzafame said. “There’s probably a home for all of these somewhere.”
Dan Mastin’s job is to find those homes. As the general manager for Video Games New York, he sells everything from Sony’s brand-new Playstation Four to ‘Asteroids’ – which came out in 1979 for the Atari. But there’s a real lack of demand for arcade-style machines, he says, most likely because all the games are all available on different platforms nowadays.
“I don’t know too many people that will take these old machines,” Mastin said to ABCNews.com. “One of the last arcades in the city closed its doors for a year and just threw some of them out.”
However, Mastin thinks there is still a market for other types of vintage games.
“In the last three or four years there’s been a big explosion of people buying retro games. It’s nice to do but it’s generally for the people who grew up with them,” Mastin said.
Back in Glendale, Lanzafame says altogether the machines are worth around $40,000. He thinks someone out there would benefit from owning the games.
“You walk up and down and look at the machines and go ‘Yeah, I remember that from college, from high school, when I was a kid,’” Lanzafame said. “You come in and it’s a little bit of nostalgia.”