You might have noticed that the retro games market has become absolutely insane over the past year or so. It started with sealed versions of old Nintendo systems games selling for millions of dollars. Most recently, a copy of Sonic the Hedgehog sold for $430,000, which is pretty good considering that not only is the copy unsealed, it’s got a big cut in the bottom corner. Still, it’s the best condition I’ve ever seen the game in, so I guess that has to count for something. However, there’s a dark undertone to the recent rise in retro game prices, and I don’t like where it’s heading.
This trend is forcing more people to buy multiple copies of games, keep one sealed, and even get them rated by WATA now. Their hope is probably that the game will be worth something when they’re close to retirement, but I don’t think that the market will be as good then. The main reason for this is that there are just more copies in the wild today than there were back then. There were also rare cover print issues and all sorts of stuff like that going on, so you’ve got much more scope for these ancient games to be worth something due to extremely unique defects.
The game that kicked this all off was a copy of Super Mario Bros, and it’s since been revealed that the person who purchased it was high up with WATA, the rating company. This feels a lot like artificial inflation for one key reason, it caused a spike in people getting their games rated. Think about it, the more old games sell for, the more business that WATA gets out of people hoping to do the same in the future. It’s a simple economy of scale, and now WATA is killing it. I saw a pack of Pokemon Oreos that’s been WATA rated on Twitter the other day, which is utter madness.
I don’t want the retro market to become inaccessible. Let’s push back against this by avoiding the extra waste in the world. If you want to buy physical, do it, but don’t let a copy sit sealed for years when someone down the street needs a used copy to play because they can’t afford a new one.