It wasn't always this complicated.
Being an eager, fresh-faced fan of videogaming during the birth pangs of the industry didn't carry any particular connotations of fanaticism. People who liked Pac-Man just played it in the arcades until their pockets were empty. Likewise, home computer owners who found themselves enjoying the antics of Monty Mole or Sabreman simply made sure they owned the latest installment of their adventures. At most they may have chopped a poster out of a magazine to cover a bare patch on the bedroom wall, or written a letter to Ultimate to beg some free stuff. Dizzy had his own collectible cards and a mug, but that was something of an exception. These early attempts at merchandising were closer to a mail-order sideline than a genuine business operation.
In the 1990s, all that changed.