Today's marketplace for yesterday's games

Talk about all aspect of Japanese games.

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Today's marketplace for yesterday's games

Postby Ganelon » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:30 pm

At 1 point years back, I could buy games on eBay and expect 50 transactions in a row to end up smoothly. As of today, 4/5 of my last eBay won game auctions have ended up in failure. These failures include passing a fake item off as real, passing a used item off as new (twice), and not sending the item. That's not even counting goods damaged by shipping in paper envelopes.

Outside eBay, someone in Japan even tried to pass an obviously used game as new. And another store in Japan closed, with my last orderツ―you guessed itツ―missing items with nobody to contact. As for general etiquette, not being informed that a game is a sample copy or another region's version (the PC market is flooded with European releases) is also commonplace now.

Prices for older games are rising as a whole. Not every game is at a high but many are higher now than they've been in the past decade. Amazon and numerous auction BIN sellers leave their items with exorbitant prices for the desperate, clueless, and/or careless to buy. Higher fees aren't helping either as with fewer sellers, there are fewer deals to be had.

Sealed game collectors on the rise, as well as game condition rating agencies. More people actively look to buy rare games rather than games they want to play. A recent example is the US version of Dragon Quest V on the DS, which quickly went out of stock in its initial run and spiked in value. When Amazon first had them back in limited supply, players were gushing with excitement. And now, in normal stock, it's just another boring non-deal.

Game forums with marketplaces once known for affordability now sell at higher-than-eBay averages. Chances are low you'll find anything good offline because more folks are aware that they can profit by buying multiple copies and offloading online without consideration for others. Akihabara's supply has run surprisingly dry where you can't even pay double to get a hard-to-find game because the stores there don't have it.

But still, it could just be a coincidence within my own experiences so others are free to chime in. Do you agree that the market for buying older video games is worse now than it's ever been? I'm often thankful that I got most of the games I really wanted years back so I'm not incredibly disappointed by the dismal market that I'm seeing today.

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Postby CTN » Sat Aug 20, 2011 10:48 am

I think it really depends on the gaming platforms.
I see a higher demand for all things famicom than 10 years ago. On the other hand are the prices for the 32-bit platforms decreasing (most STG are now less expensive than at the beginning of the 2000s - or I am better informed) as well as all things SNK(the tentpoles like Metal Slug exculded).

I think, and I know this is old news, that the prices reflect the current taste in the collectors community and therefore you can still find games for a reasonable price if you buy against the current trends.

For example:
Fujita has lots of MVS games below 1000Yen
Hyper NeoGeo sets can be bought for less than the shipping charges

Even I, without a connection for the cheap games in japan, made some nice deals in the past year like a Metal Slug MVS cart for 22 Euros (shipping included) or Real Bout Special and Samurai Spirits V for 500 and 1000Yen.
Maybe these games could be aquired even cheaper?

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Postby brentsg » Sat Aug 20, 2011 4:22 pm

I think this is a commentary on the general state of Ebay today, as well as one on society as a whole.

Ebay is just a fucking mess now. You can pretty much expect to get screwed if you buy/sell there much at all these days. And seriously, there's a dishonest person around every corner with Craigslist and the like.

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Postby Ganelon » Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:01 pm

Let me address some of the points based on what I've seen. Note that I've been keeping track since about 1999 so I'm only privy to the prices since then.

Console shooters are on the whole cheaper than what they were in 2000. But arcade shooters are on the whole more expensive than what they were during the same time. The difference between the late 90s and the late 00s is that it's not newer games that are suddenly being desired but rather older less circulated titles.

You're right that Neo Geo is a big exception to the rule. MVS game prices died down a few years back and never rose. AES has died outside the tentpoles you mentioned. Hyper Neo Geo 64 was never worth anything. Even SNK's console ports have suddenly become worth lessツ―perhaps because of later ports with more accurate mechanics. Only the NGP has remained relatively constant but it was never expensive in the first place and isn't related to the Neo Geo. It'd be interesting if someone ever analyzed the situation and see what happened. Emulation, a new supply of AES, the "Neo Geo feel," etc.

But what's happened to Neo Geo hasn't happened anywhere else, except a few small markets. Just take a look at the PC game market and a lot of older games have risen considerably. MSX in particular has essentially become the anti-Neo Geo in terms of pricing where everything about it is insane.

As for the 32-bit market, I don't see prices lower now than 5 years back. The situation is certainly better than a decade ago though, when any uncommon game went for $80. But the middling, more valuable games are now more expensive and the cheap stuff is still $10.

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Postby Gaijin Punch » Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:54 am

I don't think you can pinpoint (blame) any one thing. All your points are very valid.

-Ebay is a mess... their shit policies for sellers will even contribute to higher prices since they are taking on WAY more risk now than 10 years ago
-Lack of character in sellers (many not in the hobby out for a quick buck... some just don't know the value of repeat business)
-Shit economy
-YJ Proxies
-Shift in taste/availability
-A younger common denominator in the hobby. Face it, we're not getting any younger.

If people are playing console games and not collecting, it means they "make the rounds" and eventually demand tapers off. Of course, this doesn't always happen, but it has to account for some.

The YJ proxies have been a game changer though. As early as 1999, I was buying games in lots and selling them on Yahoo. Eventually it got to where I had to selectively buy games and then sell, then eventually that wasn't profitable b/c I was holding on to too much stock. I make far less per item through my proxy, but I only hold stock when people don't do their shipments in a timely fashion (which is often, but a friendly nudge usually gets them going. The item is sometimes paid for in full by that point anyway).

Take the age thing as you will. There are certainly ass clown in my age box, and there are stand up guys in their early 20's and even younger. But, broad sweeping brushes are sometimes accurate, and when it comes to the internet in general, young people are usually less respectable.

On that note, the human element has always spelled great business for me. I think most people are generally happy to deal with me even though I may be late getting a package out b/c I've got a good track record. Even Ebay feedback doesn't tell the whole story.
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Postby Magic Knight » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:44 am

I used to live on ebay, mostly as a buyer but also as a seller, especially when I came to Japan. The fees went crazy, I think I had to pay 19.5% to them, including the 4% for Paypal. There is no risk to them, only profit. Then they said that even those of us outside the US had to abide by the new shipping rules if selling to the US. So the shipping on a game cartridge could only be $6, but I can't send even a small cart to the US for that, nevermind a Neo Geo cart. Yes you can specify special shipping or whatever, but the hassle...

And that's the main problem, the hassle. Working out shipping costs to Brazil for guys who never end up buying, dealing with incomprehensible questions (usually from native English speakers I might add), having guys argue about price or shipping; and on the buying side: receiving bootlegs, broken items, incomplete items, outrageous "packaging" prices for a box from the supermarket.

When I started selling on ebay from Japan, the exchange rate was 116 yen to the dollar. Now it's about 76. Never mind Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi etc., even I can't make money at that exchange rate.

I never mind if the seller is honest and tells me that something is wrong. Recently I've bought faulty PCBs: Ninja Warriors, Out Run, Power Drift, Speed Racer and a Spectrum 128 with a faulty keyboard. Because I knew their condition and how they could be repaired, I have no problem with buying from their respective sellers again, and we all ended up happy with the deal.

I've pretty much given on console games etc. though. Last new games I bought were Space Invaders Extreme and Arkanoid DS in 2007. Only home games I've bought in the last 12 months were Arkanoid: Doh it Again for Super Famicom (cheap) and Monkey Island 2 for the FM Towns (don't even ask how much that cost). It's pretty much all PCBs for me now.

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Postby Macaw » Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:15 am

Most of the stuff I buy these days is old computer games, both Japanese and Western, and a lot of the stuff is so rarely seen that no one really has any good idea of what exactly the stuff is worth, at least until they finally for sale and at least 2 determined people battle it out.

On the Amiga, I'm yet to see the big box versions of Shadow of the Beast 1 & 2 complete with the t-shirt ever show up on ebay, so who knows if those would be in the over $100 region. Comparatively, for some other incredibly obscure games I want like Deathbringer I except to pay next to nothing, just because its so much less popular. Seems heaps of the unknown Amiga stuff just sells for nothing.

On the Japanese old PC's though like the 8801 or x1 whenever the fully obscure stuff appears they usually go for over 10,000 yen. All the more famous games generally sell for nothing though like the Falcom stuff.

MSX is fucken retarded on YAJ because of that satopin guy who's flooded the section with a massive chunk of the msx library, yet all at ridiculous prices that no one is going to pay. YAJ needs a fucken filter option to filter out his auctions so I can actually browse the shit normally.

Console stuff doesn't really seem all that exciting from a collecting standpoint because practically any console game you search for on YAJ has multiple copies and usually at low prices. A lot easier than the PC stuff where you have to wait 3 years for a game your looking for to come up for sale.

I know each console has the exceptions though like Alien Soldier for MD, Rendering Ranger on SFC or Darius Alpha on pce. I've never come across super valuable/rare games on the Famicom though so could someone fill me in on any of the crazy titles for the system?
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Postby Magic Knight » Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:53 am

Gradius (Archimendes)
Z Gundam Hot Scramble
Kyoro Chan Land
Akumajou Dracula
Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa
Miss Peach World
Guevara
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Postby CTN » Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:01 pm

The skyrocketing of the prices could also be attributed to Websites like gamengai or hardcore gaming 101 which are helping in spreading the word when it comes to rare / obscure games.

I have actually once met a guy who told me that he is buying his games on reccomendation on what is rare or expensive. Later on he also told me he is going to buy a stand-up cabinet with Shock Troopers installed for 700 Euros and thought this as a steal.

It's really a combination of the possibilities of information the internet gives us and the constant overpaing by oblivious people.

You can't blame a seller profiting of this.

And besides with paypal a buyer has no problem getting the money back when he/she got a bootleg or non working items.

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Postby Ganelon » Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:47 pm

I definitely agree with the website influence. Sometimes, after an HG101 article about a game, there's a noticeable spike in the game's value . One of the greatest examples was Segagaga where a game that consistently went for $20-40 on Ebay for years (normal jewel/Amaray versions) suddenly started selling for $60-80. Then, once that article was old hat after about 2 years, the bottom fell out on Segagaga and that game went back to what it was before.

Of course, if you just go by BIN prices today, it seems like the game is still at the higher price point. Anyone remember that 7-8 years ago (before the very first ripoff JP BIN sellers), BIN was normally only slightly higher than normal auction prices and a reasonable way to get games? Now, its reputation is widespread as the haven for ridiculous price gouging for the desperate.

Having new players buy games they just heard about and are interested in is normal. It's just unfortunate that many new folks don't do proper due diligence when it comes to determining what a game is worth, either out of carelessness, laziness,and/ or ignorance. It took at least 5 years for games like Dragon Ball Z Shinbutohden to slide back to a normal depreciation curve of $20 from having waves of late 90s DBZ fans propping it up at $70. I wonder if this phenomenon is specific to gaming or if it's representative of human nature in general.

I'm not saying that eBay is flat out horrible BTW. There are still opportunities for deals but the chances of coming across an amazing BIN or an auction that others didn't notice seems much harder, probably requiring more time than at penny auctions.

And again, I'm not saying that this issue is specific to eBay; remember how places like Shmups used to be the best place to get shooters (Mk II era and the beginning of the current iteration)? This was a period when even Japan's shooter prices were often higher(outside the biggest names) because the Japanese valued shooters more. Now, not only do the sellers there not pay a fee but many of their item prices are still higher than the usual eBay auction. Don't get me wrong; there are deals there from reliably fair sellers, but not many on harder to find (not necessarily expensive) titles. This trend isn't specific to Shmups either but to most large forum marketplaces. You're one of the mainstays of fair pricing, GP, and I respect you for that (otherwise, I'd probably leave this forum :D).

Anyway, I don't necessarily mind prices spiking since I, like many of you, would be sitting on a gold mine, but this sort of climate isn't good for sensible buyers and would make me forget about rebuilding if my games were ever destroyed in a fire.

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Postby Shou » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:41 am

I've been looking at the market since the mid 90's from managing a Die Hard franchise to importing cabs/PCBs to the States before the term Candy cab even came about so I've seen a number of trends over the years which have been shaped by the maturity of the internet globally.

It comes down to 2 things:
- information
- supply

What I've found in the West is that as information about gaming has permeated through fan sites, databases and emulation, the demand in platforms have changed. In the 90's, hardcore gamers were mainly looking at importing for the then current gen (SS, PS, N64) and leaving the past gen stuff behind. Saturn was really where it was at when looking at the valuation of games due to the exchange rate and supply available in the West. As we get into the later 90's there was a shift into looking at 16-bit retro which resulted in a big boom for PC Engine pricing. Certainly, some PCE games are more expensive today than a decade ago but I would say overall pricing has dropped just like it did with the Saturn. Moving from the consoles, as MAME and other emus developed, a clearer picture developed as to what was available in the arcade coupled with the desire for 100% accurate games in competitive gaming spaces (especially fighters) drove the push for arcade PCBs. (I remember selling new VF4 and Tekken 4 kits for $1000s without purchasers batting an eye) I don't believe competitive level shooter play became common in the West until advanced emulation of modern arcade titles and the advent of video sharing services like YouTube and Niconico where super plays could be shared easily. From there, you can easily chart the pricing of arcade PCBs, especially shooters, going up to levels not seen since each game's respective release as collectors hold onto their boards and stock is continually exported away from Japan.


This is just off of the top of my head, I could write a book on this.
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Postby Macaw » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:45 am

I would buy that book
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Postby SuperDeadite » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:49 am

The recent MSX prices on ebay are shockingly high. I bought my Salamander complete in Osaka for 2,000yen. The local SuperPotato wanted 7,000yen for it lol. And on ebay it's always over $100. :?
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Postby Shou » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:57 am

SuperDeadite wrote:The recent MSX prices on ebay are shockingly high. I bought my Salamander complete in Osaka for 2,000yen. The local SuperPotato wanted 7,000yen for it lol. And on ebay it's always over $100. :?


MSX has taken up the torch from Neo Geo AES and Mega Drive. The games are seriously overpriced and I don't see that many people buying so I'm sure the bubble will burst like it did with AES.
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Postby Macaw » Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:54 am

Speaking of MSX, has anyone ever seen a copy of 'A Life M36 Planet' for sale? So fucken obscure, I wonder how much it sells for when found.
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Postby SuperDeadite » Mon Aug 22, 2011 11:06 am

Macaw wrote:Speaking of MSX, has anyone ever seen a copy of 'A Life M36 Planet' for sale? So fucken obscure, I wonder how much it sells for when found.


Nope, but it's real at least. One I've always been curious about is "Zanac 2nd Version." Some people on the MSX forums claim it's real and that they've seen the cart, but none of them have ever produced a picture. I've also never seen it even mentioned on Japanese sites anywhere. If this was an official cart, was it actually released in Japan? Compile's own game list doesn't even mention it....
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Postby Macaw » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:50 pm

SuperDeadite wrote:Nope, but it's real at least


Oh I'm aware of that, I'm currently playing it in an emu and completely going insane. One of the hardest and most punishing games I have ever seen, and if you ever run out of lamps in the center of the planet your eternally stuck in complete darkness and the game becomes impossible. Of course its the crazy atmosphere and wanting to know what happens next that keeps me coming back.


As for Zanac 2nd version, theres a rom floating around and the title screen shows 1987:
http://www.generation-msx.nl/msxdb/softwareinfo/2914

Maybe the cart was just some kind of promo?
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Postby SuperDeadite » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:53 pm

Macaw wrote:
SuperDeadite wrote:Nope, but it's real at least


Oh I'm aware of that, I'm currently playing it in an emu and completely going insane. One of the hardest and most punishing games I have ever seen, and if you ever run out of lamps in the center of the planet your eternally stuck in complete darkness and the game becomes impossible. Of course its the crazy atmosphere and wanting to know what happens next that keeps me coming back.


As for Zanac 2nd version, theres a rom floating around and the title screen shows 1987:
http://www.generation-msx.nl/msxdb/softwareinfo/2914

Maybe the cart was just some kind of promo?


Yes the ROM is freely available. But all the "MSX leets" over on that one forum claim it was the real sequal to Zanac and was a normal release, which I doubt seeing as neither Compile nor any of the Japanese MSX sites mention it. Even talked to one collector who said he had a full Compile MSX collection, after asking about this one, he stopped responding to me. I just want clarification if it's a promo, normal japanese release, or some weird euro only thing is all. :conf:
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Postby Shou » Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:39 am

I believe there are 2 releases of Zanac, 1 for the MSX and 1 for the MSX2.
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Postby SuperDeadite » Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:58 am

Shou wrote:I believe there are 2 releases of Zanac, 1 for the MSX and 1 for the MSX2.


Yes I have both of those. But there is also a rom for a third game "Zanac 2nd Version" for MSX1. People claim it's a normal release, if so, I'm guessing it's some weird Europe thing.

http://www.generation-msx.nl/msxdb/softwareinfo/2914
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Postby Shou » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:23 am

SuperDeadite wrote:
Shou wrote:I believe there are 2 releases of Zanac, 1 for the MSX and 1 for the MSX2.


Yes I have both of those. But there is also a rom for a third game "Zanac 2nd Version" for MSX1. People claim it's a normal release, if so, I'm guessing it's some weird Europe thing.

http://www.generation-msx.nl/msxdb/softwareinfo/2914


Isn't that when put the MSX2 cart in a MSX1? It becomes Zanac EX if it's in the MSX2 IIRC.
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Postby SuperDeadite » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:35 am

Shou wrote:
SuperDeadite wrote:
Shou wrote:I believe there are 2 releases of Zanac, 1 for the MSX and 1 for the MSX2.


Yes I have both of those. But there is also a rom for a third game "Zanac 2nd Version" for MSX1. People claim it's a normal release, if so, I'm guessing it's some weird Europe thing.

http://www.generation-msx.nl/msxdb/softwareinfo/2914


Isn't that when put the MSX2 cart in a MSX1? It becomes Zanac EX if it's in the MSX2 IIRC.


Really? I've never heard of that, interesting. The MSX2 box clearly states "MSX2 Required" on it, so if that's true that'd be quite cool. I only have a Turbo-R though, so no way to test.
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Postby Gaijin Punch » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:37 am

This kind of goes w/ the "information" bullet point above, but I also think lack of information is what fueled that price bubble of 16-bit stuff in the late 90's (like the PC-Engine pricing Shou referred to). When I was buying games in bulk, flipping them on Ebay, and keeping a few for myself, most of the turds would sell for at least SOMETHING. Anime cover? Cool -- that's at least $5. Maybe they were weabos. Who knows. But, the internet was still pretty budding at this time, and not a lot of information on the obscure, and what was there, wasn't easily searchable like it is now.

There was also a decent portion of games that were good, but never localized in the west, which kind of made "import collection" a fun sub-genre of the hobby.

I also think back when I started, I was the only one doing it directly out of Japan. I knew some people buying on YJ and selling on Ebay. Adol, for one (classic LOLs there... totally made white people look bad) and a seller on ebay known as Yawara. Both were geographically abroad though which meant their prices went higher. It was a fun little arb though, and even for me, there was a ton of unknown treasures... 10 and 20 years old. Now, most of that stuff is well-documented... in English even.

I try to keep the prices respectable. Yeah, I need to make some dough for my time, but I'm not going to do it selling "RARE!!!!" 500 yen games for $39.99.
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Postby Shou » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:50 am

Maybe we should get views from people like us who did arb at the time and collect their opinions in a book? :D

Besides the Adol twins, Matt from Wolfgames and a few others I know were also buying from YJ at the time to flip stuff, many did well for a time until the things we mentioned above came into play.

I think you have to also factor in that anime was then taking off commercially in the States at the time (in its own sort of bubble) so like you say, the weeaboos (sp) were buying whatever was out there as compared to now where the anime/manga industry in the West particularly, the US, are floundering as fans only want free downloads (ie digital fansubs and scanlations) and don't want to pay for anything.

To give perspective, my Die Hard store also carried US commercial anime and authentic CDs/artbooks from Japan which brought in a significant amount of revenue to the store even though we had a policy of discounting 20% off retail for the US stuff. At one time, we were shifting so many VHS tapes that we were the #1 independent retailer with our distro who was one of the big anime distros at the time. We even had pro football and hockey players buying Urotsukidoji. lol

I'm sure brentsg remembers those good ol' days as he was one of the many regulars.
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Postby Gaijin Punch » Tue Aug 23, 2011 2:04 am

There was a couple "all in one" shops in Dallas as well. Anime tapes for rent... games for sale. This was before I went to college though. At least that's when I knew of them.

I found a very short-lived import games shop in Austin (maybe it was a Diehard?) which kind of rekindled the gamer in me. I remember buying Magic Knight Rayearth and a PAR for bout $70 each. The game was awesome though... and it was mainly imports from then on out. I was broke, too!
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