This project is an attempt to preserve as many catalog and circular ads for electronic games as possible.

There are several reasons I think this is an important project. The way games are seen and the language used to talk about them has changed significantly over the years, and advertising copy is a good example. These ads show how much games cost when they were new, and how quickly or slowly that price changed as the game became older. We can compare prices of games across stores and see how different stores pushed different games, we can directly compare disc and cartridge based game prices, and we can track what a typical big release cost at launch over time. Sometimes games have beta or mockup cover art.

This is also a fun nostalgia trip back to a time when you used to plan what games you wanted to ask for for your birthday or Christmas.

To be included the advertisement had to be from a retail store and it has to feature an electronic game or an accessory for such. Electronic game for our purposes includes consoles and games that are played on a television, handhelds with or without interchangeable media, computer games, and some miscellaneous gadgets that you can play games on, such as watches. All ads are from American stores and prices are in United States Dollars. I have a few from other countries I may get around to posting eventually. I came across a few examples of catalogs aimed at retail stores, made by manufacturers of software or hardware, those are not included.

The quality of these scans will vary considerably. Some have many watermarks, some are small, some were not scanned well, and some were in poor condition. I am including everything I could find in the name of preservation.

I currently have images from 1975 to 2020 and about 30 different stores. The ads are organized by alphabetically by store on each year page and by page number when applicable. When there are multiple catalogs or weeks of circular ads featured within a store section I have ordered them chronologically when possible. The amount of information I had about when the ad was released varied from exact date to nothing but the games featured.

You can click the images in the galleries to make them full size, press the left or right arrow keys to go to the previous or next image, and press escape or click outside of the lightbox to close it.

If you can find or scan any ads that you don’t think I have, please send me an e-mail at thespritecell@gmail.com, or message me on twitter at SpriteCell. I currently have posted everything I have from the United States.

 Current total images: 2759

1970s

1975 – 2 images – Montgomery Ward, Sears

1976 – 5 images – Montgomery Ward, Sears

1977 – 16 images – JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, RadioShack, Sears, Spiegel

1978 – 12 images – JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears, Unknown

1979 – 14 images – JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, RadioShack, Sears

1980s

1980 – 15 images – JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, RadioShack, Sears

1981 – 21 images – JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, RadioShack, Sears, Skaggs Drug Centers/Alpha Beta Food & Drugs

1982 – 42 images – JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us

1983 – 73 images – JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, RadioShack, Sears

1984 – 29 images – JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, RadioShack, Sears

1985 – 9 images – JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, RadioShack, Sears

1986 – 9 images – JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears

1987 – 25 images – Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, RadioShack, Toys “R” Us

1988 – 46 images – Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us

1989 – 29 images – JCPenney,  KB Toys, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us

1990s

1990 – 76 images – Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us

1991 – 159 images – Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, KB Toys, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us

1992 – 245 images – Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, KB Toys, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us

1993 – 168 images – Captron, Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, RadioShack, Software Etc, Toys “R” Us

1994 – 101 images – Best Buy, Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears, Software Etc, Toys “R” Us, Unknown

1995 – 107 images – Best Buy, Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us, Unknown

1996 – 67 images – Best Buy, Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us

1997 – 117 images – Best Buy, Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, KB Toys, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us

1998 – 28 images – Electronics Boutique, JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears, Toys “R” Us

1999 – 41 images – CompUSA, Electronics Boutique, FuncoLand, JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears

2000s

2000 – 20 images – JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears

2001 – 20 images – Circuit City, JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears

2002 – 16 images – JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears

2003 – 15 images – JCPenney, RadioShack, Sears

2004 – 21 images – Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Fry’s Electronics, JCPenney, KMart, Kohl’s, Sears, Target, Walmart

2005 – 22 images – Best Buy, Circuit City, JCPenney, KMart, Kohl’s, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2006 – 24 images – Best Buy, Circuit City, GameStop, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2007 – 40 images – Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, FYE, JCPenney, KMart, Kohl’s, Microcenter, RadioShack, Sears, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2008 – 53 images – Best Buy, Circuit City, FYE, GameStop, KMart, Kohl’s, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2009 – 40 images – AJWright, Best Buy, GameStop, JCPenney, KMart, Kohl’s, OfficeMax, RadioShack, Sears, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

 

2010s

2010 – 34 images – AJWright, Best Buy, Fred’s, GameStop, Hastings, KMart, Kohl’s, OfficeMax, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2011 – 36 images – Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, GameStop, Hastings, KMart, Kohl’s, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Sears, Shopko, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2012 – 35 images – Best Buy, GameStop, Hastings, KMart, Kohl’s, Microcenter, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Shopko, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2013 – 49 images – Best Buy, eBay, Fred Meyer, Fry’s Electronics, GameStop, Hastings, KMart, Kohl’s, Sam’s Club, Sears, Shopko, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2014 – 46 images – Best Buy, eBay, Fred Meyer, Fry’s Electronics, Gordman’s, Hastings, KMart, Microcenter, Newegg, Sam’s Club, Sears, Shopko, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2015 – 37 images – Best Buy, Five Below, Fred Meyer, GameStop, Hastings, HHGregg, Kohl’s, Micro Center, Rakuten, Sam’s Club, Shopko, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2016 – 40 images – Best Buy, BJ’s, Circuit City, Fred Meyer, Gordman’s, HHGregg, Kohl’s, Rakuten, Sam’s Club, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart

2017 – 79 images – Best Buy, BJ’s, Fred Meyer, Fry’s Electronics, GameStop, Kohl’s, Newegg, Sam’s Club, Shopko, Target, Walmart

2018 – 230 images – Best Buy, BJ’s, eBay, Fry’s Electronics, GameStop, Kohl’s, Newegg, Shopko, Target, Walmart

2019 Part 1 – 212 images – Best Buy, BJ’s, Fred Meyer, GameStop

2019 Part 2 – 213 images – Gamestop, Kohl’s, Newegg, Sam’s Club, Target, Walmart

2020s

2020 – 30 images – GameStop, Target

 

Sources

Christmas Catalogs & Holiday Wishbooks has hundreds of text searchable catalogs.

Hughes Johnson has personally scanned a number of catalogs for his site and blog. His scans are available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license . No changes were made to his scans.

Video Game Art & Tidbits has personally scanned a number of catalogs, as well as other art & tidbits. The individual tweets are: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Black Friday Archive has many ads from many stores from late November.

Weekly Ads has many weekly circular ads from many stores.

RadioShackCatalogs specializes in RadioShack catalogs. Some of their scans credit AlliedCatalogs.com.

Totally Target has many Target weekly ads.

Archive.org has all sorts of miscellaneous items. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 , 9

GottaDEAL has a lot of ads, especially for Black Friday.

BFAds has a lot of ads, especially for Black Friday.

Kotaku by way of reddit user Sketchbreaker.

BassGuitari from AtariAge contributed the Spiegel 1977 scans.

Bored Panda

Retro Junk

AusRetroGamer

imgur user trolling4soup

imgur user ProfessorPancakes

Reddit user m08inthem08 (same as previous, this particular catalog is easily the most commonly posted)

Reddit user isaynonowords

Reddit user Dedennecheese

ResetEra user Deleted member 3321

Nintendo Times

Mental Floss

Tumblr user lenimph

BuzzFeed News

Twisted Sifter

Brad’s Deals

Consumerist

Warosu’s archive of a 4chan thread.

TecheBlog

Mother to Earth on Twitter thinks that this image is from Earthbound Central, but I couldn’t find it there.

Earthbound Central via “a fellow by the name of Mother_fan”

Vintage Computing took credit for scanning a Toys “R” Us ad which I got from somewhere else.