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Seattle, WA, USA

Repro Carts are starting to enter the market

by intric8 Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:13 pm

Not sure how I feel about this. Repro carts are starting to enter the market at bottom-feeder prices.

On the one hand, you can get an ultra-rare cart for an old consolel system and actually play it on original hardware. The cart is basically brand new. And, since it's a repro, it's being offered at a ridiculously low price. For now.

On the other hand, some folks (myself included) have invested in ancient, original carts in the hopes of preserving their legacy, playing the games, and possibly reselling them in the future for the same $, if not a tiny bit more.

But with these repro carts entering the market, surely the value of the originals will go down - that's basic economics.

So from a game collector's standpoint - kinda shitty. From a player's standpoint (who doesn't want to use emulation) freaking amazing.

I'm torn...

From the Amiga and C64 standpoint, this would be like shelling out $100 for Monkey's Island 2, only to find out when you got it that the box was a reprint, the manual was a xerox copy and the disks were stamped "Memorex" and had home-made printed stickers on the disks. Everything still worked flawlessly (and probably more reliably) but ultimately this was a copy. A clone. A hack.

Then again, the code is the code. But from the Amiga side, if you want to grab an ADF and slap it on a disk, you can do that basically for the cost of a disk. So maybe it isn't a 1:1 comparison with a cartridge based system.

But what if the Earthbound repro was sold as "original" and for $175? It's like when you're in New York City and you buy that Gucci watch on the street for $25. You know you're not really buying a Gucci, because come on. But if someone on Ebay tries to go for it - and you know they will - man, that just sucks if you're a collector.
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Re: Repro Carts are starting to enter the market

by PhilsComputerLab Sat Jul 02, 2016 2:31 am

I can only speak for the PC. There are many projects to do with replicating vintage hardware. Especially sound cards.

It has done NOTHING to stop prices of original parts spiralling out of control :)

So I wouldn't worry about it. No collector is going to collect copies.

And let's be real, at the very high priced stuff, it's just collectors trading with other collectors. If you just want to play a game, you're not going to spend that much. So here the copies are quite a cool solution.

I'd still be looking for something more universal. A cartridge with a SD card that you can load games onto. Something like that.
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Seattle, WA, USA

Re: Repro Carts are starting to enter the market

by intric8 Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:01 am

You're probably right, Phil. I suppose I just worry about the day when the following disclaimer isn't part of the auction's description.
Disclaimer seen on a repro-cart on Ebay.
It will be interesting to watch the economics and see if/how things are affected, if at all.

By the way, have you guys heard the rumors about the new Nintendo console whispered about at E3 a few weeks ago? The rumor is that it will be cartridge based, which seems incredible if true. Perhaps the cost of chips (as seen with the Raspberry Pi, etc.) have become so cheap in recent years, cartridges may make a comeback. Or maybe its the rise of Dolphin, the emulator that can play games from the Gamecube or Wii (CD-based systems).
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Detroit, MI, USA

Re: Repro Carts are starting to enter the market

by Shot97 Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:35 am

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".
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Detroit, MI, USA

Re: Repro Carts are starting to enter the market

by Shot97 Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:54 am

I have heard about the new Nintendo console. Wouldn't be surprised, it's a good idea for them. Nintendo is suffering, one more lack luster console and they're gone...

They've relied on gimmicks for the most part of late, and going back to carts is just the sort of gimmick they need right now.

It will bring them something they've lacked for many years... 3rd party support... Indy games? You now have the one place you can get a real copy of the game. A game like Undertale? - This was the reason people were all excited, stupidly, for the Retro VGS/Colleco Chameleon. - Not only the old games, but new games which don't come on real media.

And yeah, I'm sure Nintendo can get a hold of very good deals for flash based memory OR create their own, and it should be enough to hold modern games. It's still going to cost a truck load, don't let them fool you... I don't care how cheap flash memory is now, this Nintendo thing will cost more than Sony or Microsoft. Maybe they're going for an Apple, convince everyone they need to spend money for this stuff.

All in all, smart move for Nintendo. - That new system could be worse than the playstation 3, ya know what I mean? Just like the Wii was big because of weird family based exercise games and stuff, they had a gimmick... Carts... They need a reason, because I doubt they're going to come out with something better than what's out there now, and even if they do, they will soon be destroyed by whatever Sony/Microsoft put out.

People will buy this new Nintendo even if they have a Playstation or X-Box or computer... They will want those carts...
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Seattle, WA, USA

Re: Repro Carts are starting to enter the market

by intric8 Sat Jul 02, 2016 10:06 am

I don't buy original games for profit. There are a lot of people on Reddit who do, and others who simply horde (they have entire rooms of shelving, like weird museums). I'm not at that extreme. I collect games because, like vinyl, I like the cover art, I like the original manuals and checking out whatever came in the boxes. The more complete the better.

But I won't go buy a game for $200 - never happen. I won't do it on principal. As a result, I don't own Earthbound. I've read a lot about it, but it simply isn't important enough to me personally to walk down that insane road. Now, I have some games that are "worth" a bit (today) like FFIII, but I got lucky.

The cart with an SD slot is an interesting one I hadn't looked into...
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Detroit, MI, USA

Re: Repro Carts are starting to enter the market

by Shot97 Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:47 pm

The only game I have where I know the value has gone considerably up is Wing Commander: The Kilrathi Saga. Its been worth a lot since shortly after it came out. It serves to only further blow my mind at how certain games can cost so much damn money when they offer little, if anything.

The Kilrathi Saga was simply Wing Commander 1-3 made to work under Windows 95, at the time. By that point Wing 1-2 were already running far faster than they were meant to on modern hardware, and all, including Wing3, required you to have knowledge of DOS to run. At the time, having none of those games for the PC (I had Wing1 for the Amiga and Wing3 for DOS for a little while until a situation forced my dad to send it and that computer back for refund) it made perfect sense for us to get it. But of course, most people already had those games for DOS, I don't believe it sold well.

But by the late 90's it was the only way to play these games without having outdated software. But they were far from perfect games. They did not feature "all" of the original manuals and sheets, it did have its own unique and cool manual which combined a lot of, as well as adding some of its own stuff, but it was not the original... Certain things were missing in-game, like the background color in space, like the planets and solar systems... There were glitches... The music was a "re-orchestration" where the Wing3 composer re-did the first 3 games music on his keyboards... Unique, but not as good as the original. -And, despite being labeled as someone that would be speed proof and not dependent on operating systems of the future, the thing had its own speed and running issues once things went to Windows XP.

But our 50 dollar compilation was going for well over $100 with just the cds... The price ended up going down a bit once DOS Box came around and allowed the original games to be played, but eventually they went back up again... It's now easier and better to run the DOS versions of all 3 games but the Kilrathi Saga still fetches a price. It's useless with todays operating systems without downloading many patches...

Now, owning the DOS and Amiga versions with good sound cards I haven't touched the Kilrathi Saga since like 2006, when it had already become far too much of a pain to be of use... But it's still worth money... And I'll never sell it.

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