The New Old Game Mystery

27 03 2012

Going through various old game stores in Japan, I find a shocking number of unopened titles for the PC Engine (TurboGrafx) and Sega Saturn.  It was pretty cool at first, a little like panning for gold and finding your first little glint that hints toward the big one.  But as I’ve found more and more new copies of games that are 10, 15, and 20 years old… it got me thinking.  Where are these games coming from?

Recently, I stumbled on this listing on Yahoo! Auctions in Japan:

■新品■PCエンジン ロードス島戦記II 10ピース

That translates to “NEW: PC Engine Record of Lodoss War II – 10 pieces”.  The listing was accompanied by this picture:

 

That is a unopened case of of games shipped on December 16, 1994… 18 years ago, and it got me thinking.  I’m no stranger to the Super Potato line of stores, a variable must shop stop for retro gaming in Tokyo.  When you check out a Super Potato, if you look behind the counter, you can see boxes and boxes of games just like this.  Super Potato only carries old games at their retail locations.  That means that there must be hundreds, if not thousands of unopened games sitting in boxes, still waiting to hit store shelves.

I like to say that buying retro in Japan is like watching the ocean: there’s a high tide, and a low tide, and it’s cyclical.  During certain times of the year you can find an abundance of specific old games and old systems at decent prices, and other times they just seem to disappear and the prices for those that you can find being notably higher than before.   Then, a few months later, those systems and games return in abundance and prices return to “normal”.  My theory, and this is only a theory, is that stores collude with one another to control the market.  Working in the video industry in Japan, I know this to be a fact.  I’ve seen it.  So I don’t see why it wouldn’t spill over into video games as well.

 

Some of the new older games I've gotten for the PC Engine and PC-FX. I have more in boxes somewhere.

 

There’s actually quite a bit of old new floating around Japan.  New Famicom Disk Systems, new Famicom Disk games, I even picked up a brand new original copy of Final Fantasy VII once.  It all seems a bit strange to me.  Think about when the last time you saw a new NES or Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) game sitting on a shelf, waiting to be bought.  Did they really over produce that many games in the 1980s and 90s?  It’s hard to imagine they did.  So be careful the next time you’re on eBay or run into a chance to buy a new old import game that seems like a dream purchase.  Odds are, it’s there’s one… there’s bound to be a few hundred more.


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One response

5 05 2013
Mark Ernest

Yep, just like an unopened copy of Illbleed that’s worth $400…no, $99? No. $45…

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