A retro video game store sees a bright future during the pandemic

For decades, retro gaming has remained a strong and passionate pastime for millions of gaming enthusiasts. Despite the decline in the number of gaming-related retail stores such as GameStopRetro video game stores are always a prime environment for those looking for a fun, nostalgic atmosphere of like-minded peers, rare console titles, and aesthetic SEGA Dreamcast posters straight out of 1999.

Just north of the Champaign Transit Station in the heart of downtown, a small but highly detailed storefront invites gamers to browse titles from nearly every console generation ever created. Located at the corner of Market Street and University Avenue, Live Action Games is one of the only remaining video game stores in Champaign. While big box retailers carry the latest Xbox and PlayStation titles, Live Action Games remains the only place to find a PSP or Dreamcast system nearby.

The store, owned by Adrian Astorina, has been in business for over eight years. Astorina described the management of the unique establishment.

“Hey, that’s fine; retail sucks,” Astorina said. “No matter what you do, retail sucks. But it’s not that bad. I do what I want here.

Astorina oversees an inventory spanning decades of hardware, from the Sega Genesis to the last five PlayStation titles. As his favorite game is “Final Fantasy Tactics”, he has made it clear that the business is a passion for him. Weekly company updates’ Facebook providing fans with information on his latest and weirdest exchanges.

The pandemic has affected all aspects of the economy, and the entertainment industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors. Surges in tech consumption have driven up the prices of games old and new, and there are shortages of tech chips.

“Prices just skyrocketed, almost everywhere,” Astorina said. “We thought everything was going to be blocked, we would start buying a lot of things because people are not working, people need money. Buying stuff would lower the prices. The reverse happened, people started buying stuff.

Media senior Tim Witek has seen the impact of price spikes on his gaming hobby.

“I don’t think the consoles themselves have gotten too expensive,” Witek said. “They offer great entertainment value and all the big brands have more affordable versions if you don’t want to do it all. The games, on the other hand, have become a bit more expensive than me to like. But that just means I’m more careful about what games I buy and how long I wait after release to buy them on sale.

The surge in demand for games during the lockdown is a result of many people starting to play video games. This caused the recovery of used games and materials stops.

“It was a bit difficult,” Astorina said. “We (could) have trades at the door; people drop off their stuff and we handle it.

Once the blockages started to loosen, there was an influx, but not significantly. This led Astorina to use more promotions and tactics to drive sales.

“We adjusted, all we could really do,” Astorina said.

Despite the 2020 closures and market inflation, Astorina said the store has seen strong sales in recent months.

“We’ve seen growth,” Astorina said. “Both in 2020 and 2021. It’s early this year but we’re still ahead of last year.”

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