Monday, February 02, 2015

Classic Video Game Price Gouging

Back around 2008-09, I got back into collecting physical video games again, after a decade of playing classic games exclusively via PC emulators. I think it was the arrival of Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console that reminded me of just how much fun it was to play the actual video games and systems connected to a picture-tube TV. At that time, Sega Genesis cartridges and Saturn discs were dirt cheap, and barely any title ever creeped above $10. I passed on a lot of titles that, frankly, weren't worth that kind of money. They were "rental games" at best.

So what the heck has happened? Across the board, classic videogame prices have skyrocketed to ludicrous levels. It's becoming difficult to find anything under $20, but what's really shocking are the large number of games being sold for $100 or more. And we're not talking about extremely rare, limited-edition cartridge games. We're talking about videogames that sold very well, are available in ample supply, and often available on modern formats, including XBox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and Steam.

My guess is that Ebay sellers and retro game stores are caught in one massive circle jerk. The first joker who successfully sold his mint copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga for over $250 inspired everybody else to furiously jack up the prices. Hey, if that guy on Ebay is selling these games for $100, I can too! And so everything except sports games (which, thankfully, are still dirt cheap) gets priced through the roof.

Perhaps the younger Millenium Generation hasn't been taught the value of old computer hardware and software. And perhaps they haven't been clued into modern digital services. And certainly nobody has informed them that every classic videogame ever made is freely available on the internet. I have over 300 Sega Saturn games copied onto CD-R, and this ridiculous price gouging will only inspire me to burn more.

In any case, this is becoming a joke, and if retro videogame stores believe they're sitting on a gold mine of Sega and Nintendo titles, they're in for a shock. No, Galactic Attack on Saturn is not worth $70, Gaiares on Genesis isn't worh $100, and Mortal Kombat 2 is definitely not worth $150.

My advice for consumers: Don't believe the hype, and don't feed the trolls.

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