I'm with Phil. As the unashamed owner of several reproduction carts as well all in one flash cart solutions, I absolutely adore them and, much like computer software which can be easily reproduced, it has done nothing to stop the out of control prices. It's not even collectors trading amongst themselves, it's the worst scum bag opportunistic sellers who hoard up games, sell them on Ebay for stupid buy it now prices, and let it sit there for as long as it takes a sucker desperate enough to shell out the cash.
A game like Earthbound is going for almost 200 bucks now with a loose cart... The game Is NOT rare! Tons were made, many sold, many did not, but there's plenty of them out there... Not a day goes buy when there's not a unique one up on Ebay... I refuse to pay that much money because of rabid fans who don't care and resellers that pray on them.
The vast majority of buying/selling does not come from collectors, it comes from speculators. There was a STRONG case, back in the day, for shaming people into not pirating software. It was simply a terrible practice that did a hell of a lot of harm and I'm positive stopped many a good game from even hitting the drawing board...
It's over now... You can buy Super Mario for 2 dollars, Earthbound for 200, or steal it from the internet, Nintendo has made zero dollars off of all of those transactions. They'd much prefer you buy a digital download for 10 bucks, then perhaps you'd help get others to be made... But of course none of us want Nintendo's digital crap...
I do want a physical copy when I can have it, and it's reasonable... But I'm also conscious of space, and I feel no shame what so ever in getting some games I might have once had via the internet, or even some games I never had... They're old, it hurts nobody, and my real hardware soul feels good.
I've seen podcasts with managers of stores that sell old nintendo carts, they've said the same, emulation/reproductions do not hurt their business, if anything they make them stronger. You can thank emulation for Earthbounds stupid prices, as a lot of people who never played the game caught glimpse of it and needed to have it... Same with reproductions, playing it on the real system may convince a person they need the real deal... One things for sure in my mind, the people going to emulation/reproductions are not the kind of people who would have bought those games anyway... If I could ONLY get Earthbound by buying a real cart... FUCK EARTHBOUND!
As for collectors markets, again, I've yet to see any high selling game go down to a reasonable price in years of watching ebay. The prices just keep climbing... And I hope all the collectors out there are doing it for good reasons, that is, because they get something out of having the real stuff... It makes them happy.... Because if you're in it for money, you better sell them while you have the chance...
Sooner or later, emulation or reproductions be damned, the classic gaming market is going to crash. Demand will cease to exist as those who experienced those systems new get older and younger people who have no memories of them simply don't care. The things 30 year olds had when they were kids are now big... In the past our parents would have seeked out things they liked as kids... Perhaps old TV show memorabilia.... But much like the "oldies" station once played 50's music, then 60's... Now 70's and 80's... The market dries... There may be exceptions, perhaps an original Elvis record might go up in value, but the vast majority of 50's music can be had for dirt cheap because the people that care already have what they want and the younger people don't know what they're missing.
I guarantee the vast majority of computer/console games that we grew up with will once again be dirt cheap before we die. Supply/demand... And even if the supply keeps getting smaller, so do the numbers that are interested. So for any who are looking to turn a profit... Sooner, not later. It's not a house, and, as evidence in 2009 and for several years after, houses aren't even houses anymore! As with any investment, don't go into it unless you're cool with losing it all.
As for fakes being passed off as true, it's happened many times before. Most of the time vigilante watchers call those sellers out before the item is sold, if not, they tell the buyer about it so they can get their money back. But it's really no different than any other collectible market... Plenty of forged paintings and the like, those who are seriously interested should be able to spot a fake, and if they can't the chances are they're into emulation.
And the sad reality is that reproductions would not have a market if the originals were not going for prices far beyond what they deserve. "Collectors" (said with quotes because it's not collectors driving prices up, it's resellers" have only themselves to blame for reproductions coming onto the market and possibly hurting their chances of selling it again.
While I have great respect for those who truly want the original games because it brings them joy, I can't say I'll feel sorry for them if Earthbound goes down to 10 dollars. If anything it helps all of us who wish to collect.
And it's not a matter of simple supply/demand, just like with Napster I can not hold to a greedy record industries opinion that it hurt them in anyway. Either people who never would have bought the music downloaded music for free, thus increasing the chance they'd want a real copy should they learn to love it... Or people who already had the music downloaded it for another way to listen.
To this day I buy plenty of old AND NEW vinyl records. The old ones have never been prices terribly, in fact they're almost always far cheaper than they were new... And the brand new ones are still less than the inferior compact disc prices in the 90's. If I want a physical copy of music I'll buy the vinyl, I'm positive it will end up being the first and last true storage medium for music. It gives you something nothing else can...
Did the record companies suffer because of digital? Absolutely, too bad they were screwing customers and their own artists for countless years beforehand... In other words, I don't feel sorry for them... And not only do the big ones still make money, but the small ones have a chance they never had before. In 1998 I had to buy a brand new CD for 30 bucks... The CD cost 1 cent to make... Millions were sold... You can of course say supply and demand, but as long as one person is screwing another there will always be a market for something cheaper...
I mean, to bring it back to Commodore; What was Jack's big fear? Japan... All businesses approaching the late 70's were being destroyed by Japanese companies. The auto companies being a huge example. You opened up the market to the Japanese and they flooded it with cheaper goods... Sometimes the quality sucked, sometimes it was better... But better or worse, they never would have had the chance to take over if American companies were not screwing over the people at the time.
This is why I've always hated Apple and I can't understand why they're still around. They always had okay products, never the best, but they managed to convince a lot of people to pay prices that made you think they were the best... They brainwashed some people and they carved out a little market. But I wouldn't feel bad if they were gone... They exist on exploitation, I can't support them.
Jack told others to make a quality computer that he could sell cheaper and still make a profit. And that's "ethical" business everyone. You have something others are willing to pay for, you charge them a reasonable amount so you can make an okay living AND they won't be tempted to go else-ware. That's what the C64 did. Good computer sold for cheap, still made money... Made a lot of other companies understand they were stupid, and, the Japanese never did take over the computer market...
The Chinese are another story... They don't apply to any reasonable discussion on economics because it's a rigged system with far too many people willing to work for wages I'd be happier to die protesting than accept.
Not that Jack was purely ethical, he was ruthless and a bastard in many areas... But his "vision" was oh so right. The best you should want out of any investment is a modest return. In the case of old video games you'd notice Earthbound would never have had a single reproduction made if it simply sold for a tiny bit more WITH EVERYTHING than it did originally. And with just the cart? Less. An Earthbound cart for 30 bucks? No market for reproductions, which are always 50 bucks at cheapest.
I simply can't feel sorry for anyone hanging onto the old games to turn a profit. That's just not how I work as human. If someone wants my help fixing a computer? Well, I could give them real computer store prices... $100 to look at it, $100 to buy a $10 part, and $100 per hour to install it. So, I could charge them $300 to replace a $10 power inverter on a laptop, or I could charge them $50, maybe $45.... It's no sweat off my back, I've made 5 times what I paid, and I guarantee those people will come back to me. Not only when they compare against the stores, but when they compare against other freelance people. I've made 5 times what I put into it... And it's 300 minimum at a computer store... Which is why everyone says you should just buy a new computer... No, you should not... You should repair it, for cheap!
It's an insane world out there with computers... The American car companies had to adapt, they did. All sorts of computer companies are hard to do so... This is why we hear reports on desktops dying... They're not dying, it's just companies can no longer sell millions of them to people who wouldn't use them! The market for desktops are bigger today than it was the 80's and most of the 90's... But companies can't adapt because they got used to millions in the late 90's because of the internet. Now it's tablets or cell phones. They'd rather cease production of desktops than learn how to make a profit with less money.
- As always, I've gone off in many areas... Hopefully I've made a point of some kind in doing so, but I suppose none of it was truly necessary. I like "true" collectors, I HATE resellers, and I have no shame in getting reproductions or all in one carts so I can enjoy games on my real hardware. The real hardware is what brings me joy, not the box. We're all different... In many cases I love the real manuals, but the boxes I don't tend to care about for the most part. I'm not a market for collectors prices. I'll buy Castlevania for 3 bucks, sure... Start getting over 20 bucks and I'm sorry, I bought a lot of them used after only a year or two from their original release dates for cheaper than that!
I simply can not support the current ridiculous prices for many games. I'll go a step further and say they hurt collectors. They have only themselves to blame for creating a market where people who want the actual hardware must buy flash based solutions to play these games. There's simply not a single Nintendo game I believe deserves to cost over 50 bucks, most don't deserve to cost over 10 bucks, most deserve to cost well under 5.
IF prices went down, which, for some games, like Earthbound, THEY SHOULD, then reproductions would no longer be viable. But by no means will it make Earthbound prices fall or even stabilize... All it's done is made people who never would have bought it at those prices have a chance to play it on real hardware, OR, made people who were once into on emulation take that leap toward real hardware, buy a reproduction, and then, one day, be all the more determined to get the real deal no matter the cost.
In my eyes, it can only help "collectors".