Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Surging Price of SNES Games

Disgruntled with the prices and general quality of modern gaming, I decided to get all retro and rebuild my SNES game collection. Boy, I was in for a rude awakening. Have you seen the prices of SNES games lately? For the core games, they're outrageous. Check out this Amazon listing of Castlevania IV. thirty-four dollars for a used copy, and that's without the box and manual. I do recall buying that game from a Wal-Mart bargain bin for twenty dollars. Wtf?

That's just one example. A Link to the Past will run you up to thirty. Donkey Kong Country games will go for just as much. The pack-in game Super Mario World is a somewhat overpriced at eleven dollars. Pretty much any game you remember fondly will run you cost you far more than it's actually worth.

I ask again: Wtf? These games were the best-selling titles for the SNES. There are millions of them in circulation. We're paying -- or rather, not paying -- the fanboy tax. I know full well that there are Zelda fans that would pay $200 dollars for a loose cartridge of A Link to the Past with a ripped label. Why? Who knows what motivates the deranged minds of the fanboy element? I leave that to the Sigmund Freuds and Carl Jungs of the world.

I've been searching the web for some sort of answer to this apparent surge in SNES game pricing. Different explanations have been presented:

Nostalgia Increases Demand: That's definitely part of it. As I said, nostalgia motivated me to look into rebuilding a SNES collection. However, I know my old game economics, and that these things simply aren't worth the asking price. That brings me to my next point:

Not-So-Savvy Consumers: The prices should fall if people aren't willing to pay these rates. However, people are willing to pay these rates. Maybe it's the thrill of buying it now, but you should be able to find the same game at a flea market or yard sale for substantially less. I'm talking five to ten dollars tops. That's assuming you can't find Castlevania IV for less than $34 at a used game store, and I -- HOPE -- that you can.

Hipsters: Related to above. Do people really collect retro games to be trendy? Uh, apparently so. The core SNES games are apparently seeing more demand than they might normally due to additional consumers.

New Hardware: I didn't mention it, but when I tried to boot up my SNES, I realized that the fabled Black Screen of Death had finally come to claim it. Research revealed that fixing it may well cost as much as a new (used) SNES, so I decided to try out an FC-Twin. It's a Famiclone that plays NES and SNES games. Compatibility is not 100%, but it's pretty good, all things considered. Audio emulation is pretty spot-on, which is apparently uncommon for Famiclones, but I digress. The point is that this newer, cheaper, hardware is making it possible for those who are not nostalgic blowhards like me to make use of the cartridges. I've seen Youtube videos of little kids talking about the Legend of Zelda being "a great FC-Twin game." Heh! Well, at least they're playing the classics. ;)

In looking at it all, it's clear that there's quite a bit of demand for SNES games out there. More than you would expect from a twenty-two year or game console. That's for sure. However, I really do believe that the amount of cartridges printed for these games more than exceeds the amount of cartridges needed for everyone to have one... atat a price less that forty dollars!

But I really want to play some SNES games that I haven't played before, anyway. Not to be too hipster-ish, but I'm going to find some cool SNES platformer that neither one of us have ever heard of. :P

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