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Rarity Key Explained

Rarity Guide ScaleWhat is the AtariAge rarity guide? How do we arrive at the values? This page will attempt to explain some of that, and give further detail to each of the numbers we assign.

First of all, this guide reflects the availability of cartridges from all sources: thrift stores, flea markets, retailers, and online auctions. In some cases, the games may be extremely difficult to find "in the wild", but they may be readily available online. For example, Telegames (not Sears Tele-Games) cartridges are quite hard to find at the local thrift store or flea market, but you can simply go to their store online and purchase them with ease. They may be more expensive than other games of a similar rarity, but not necessarily more rare.

Another thing to consider is that rarity does not explicitly dictate value. Popularity/notoriety of a game has much to do with it. For example, Chase the Chuckwagon and Guardian are both rated 8, but Chase the Chuckwagon consistently sells for more on the collector market. Why is this? Chase the Chuckwagon has a colorful history and has earned a certain degree of notoriety. Guardian on the other hand has no really interesting story behind it and is not as well known. On the low end, games like Pitfall! and Frogger may sell for more than others of a similar rarity because they are so much fun and are often the first games that new collectors seek because of their fond memories about the games.

We arrived at the ascribed values after much consideration and input from a great number of collectors. While we have been collecting for many years ourselves, we could not have put this together without input from others in the hobby. We realize there is always room for improvement, and if you feel that a particular rarity is inaccurate, we encourage to post about it in the Rarity Guide Forum where others may discuss it as well. If the consensus is that a value needs to be changed, we will take that into serious consideration.

Here are some further details about the Rarity Guide numbers:

# Title Description
Common The most common of all games. These are the titles that you almost always find when you buy a stack of games at a flea market or thrift store. Any longtime collector probably has stacks of these.
Common+ Almost as ubiquitous as Common, but may vary slightly from collector to collector. Even beginning collectors can find almost all of these without much difficulty.
Scarce Scarce cartridges are those that you don't find in every pile, but you will find them often enough. Although you may have trouble tracking down every Scarce cartridge initially, you can eventually get them all.
Scarce+ Getting harder to find, it may be difficult to track down all the Scarce+ cartridges if you are only hunting locally. For that reason, you may have to resort to online resources to track down all of these, although you should be able to pick them up inexpensively.
Rare You don't see these everyday, unless you're really lucky. We're just getting into the rare territory, and you will probably have to do some trading or online buying to acquire all these cartridges. Expect to pay in the $10-$20 range on the collector market for these titles.
Rare+ Ah, now we're talking. Dedicated cartridge hunters can find these in the wild with perseverance, but it will take considerable effort. If you must resort to Ebay, expect to give up $20-$30 each.
Very Rare Very rare, cartridges you will rarely run across in the wild.. You might even have a hard time finding these on Ebay, but they show up often enough that you should wait for a good deal.
Very Rare+ Worth bragging about if you find it in the wild. If you buy one of these on Ebay, expect to pay well for it.
Extremely Rare Extremely difficult to find, although these are attainable. Even veteran collectors of many years are excited by finding one of these babies in the wild. Consider yourself lucky for any Extremely Rare+ cartridge that you find.
Unbelievably Rare These games are almost impossible to find in the wild. Even collectors who have been at it for years may never run across one of these, and they often make up the showcase of an individual's collection. These rarely show up even on Ebay, and if they do there will most likely be a bidding war.
Homebrew Homebrew cartridges are programs that were written after the demise of Atari. The first homebrew cartridge was Ed Federmeyer's SoundX written in 1995, and new games continue to be written today. Sometimes there are special limited editions of homebrews, but most of them are available in some form indefinitely.
Reproduction Reproduction cartridges are newly manufactured releases of old games. Often these are reproductions of prototypes but they can also be games that were officially released.
Prototype Prototypes are games that were not released commercially, and they range from demos to fully working versions. Prototypes are generally very rare, although in some cases there may be dozens floating around. Beware of fakes. This icon refers to original prototypes only, not reproductions of prototypes.
Undetermined Undetermined These games have not been assigned a rarity yet due to insufficient information. This does not necessarily mean that they're rare. If you'd like to help us determine rarity for these games, please feel free to participate in our Rarity Guide Forum.


AtariAge Rarity Key