Digital Distribution Driving Down Rare Game Values


Digital re-releases of classic games are undeniably good for just about everyone, but some collectors may be less than thrilled by the new accessibility of rare titles as it drives down the value of their games.

‘When you think about it, it’s actually quite predictable,” Racketboy owner Nick recently told Ars Technica. “Those that have the valuable games don’t like the trend for the most part. They feel like their collection is losing value, so they can be quite defensive.”

That “trend” is the explosive growth of digital downloads, and the resulting easy access to classic videogames that were previously both hard to find and prohibitively expensive. “Rez used to sell for about $50 for the Dreamcast version and $45 for the PS2 version through the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008,” he continued. “Ikaruga sold for about $75 for the Dreamcast version and $45 for the Gamecube port. Once it was announced that both games would be coming to XBLA in the middle of the year, the games dropped $5 to $15 in value, moreso for the Dreamcast version of Ikaruga… It seems that the Dreamcast games hold their value a bit more as it is more of a cult classic system, and they are also Japanese imports.”

In fact, Nick predicted as far as back 2006 that collecting videogames as a financial investment was a losing proposition. In a post entitled “Game Collecting: Don’t ‘Invest’ In Vintage Games,” he noted that the rise of emulators, the growing popularity of services like Xbox Live and Gametap and “reprints” of games that saw limited initial release would all inevitably drive down the dollar value of videogame collections. “Between the fact that interest in most original copies of older games gradually decreases and the number of game reprints (legal and illegal) are on the rise, I would strongly recommend that you focus on collecting games that you actually enjoy as opposed to looking to vintage games as an investment,” he wrote.

The dilemma facing “investment collectors” is one I hadn’t considered. I take a good bit of pride in my own collection (although it’s relatively tiny) but the monetary value of my games is something I’ve never really considered, except during those thankfully rare instances when I’m laying out the bucks for an old Origin game on eBay. I tend not to buy digitally because I enjoy the “extra stuff” – the boxes, manuals, bonus content, swizzle-stick and autographed photo of Buddy Burbank – as much as the game itself. But that’s my own particular gamer aesthetic at work, not some long-term investment plan. Do any of you buy rare games with the hopes of seeing a big return on your investment – and if so, is digital distribution making you nervous?

About the author