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Market Pricing: An Observation

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First off, I'm no speculator. When I buy a game, it's unlikely that I'll sell it. So any interest in what a game is "worth" is related directly to how much I need to pay to get it. Once I have it, it's just casual curiosity as to the market.


A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu. I'd played it at a friend's house a whole bunch in '90-'91. I really liked it. In fact, it was my first introduction to Jackie Chan, a few years before his big US breakthrough. The cheerful, pudgy little action-man in the game actually skewed my perception of Chan for years to come.


Anyway, last month, I was at my usual game-store haunt, and spotted a copy for $45. This place usually prices things pretty fairly ("market price", not forum prices). I was buying a few other things, they gave me a few bucks off, so I got it for $40. A little on the high side for what I prefer to pay for a cart, but it was on my longtime wish list, I never saw copies of it in the wild. I snatched it up happily -- knowing that it was about the same price online, for better or worse. I took it home, played it, my wife played it (and fell in love with it) and that was that. Nice addition to the collection.


The other day, I was cruising on that online auction site, and happened to randomly punch the game's title in to see how much it was going for. I think I was thinking about grabbing a copy of the Famicom cart. As you can see if you check the recent sold listings, something must have gone a little screwy, what with prices for the NES version suddenly up to over a hundred bucks!


I was confused. I looked at the sold listings (sorted "recent first"), and scrolled back to see if something had happened in the last month. And it looked like something happened on September 14th. The prices inexplicably shot up from roughly $45 to over $100. In a DAY. Luckily for a researcher, it's a relatively little-known game -- so any recent prominence and activity would be more noticeable in the media coverage than, say, yet another wave of nostalgia for Zelda or something. Easier to find.


And then I remember something I'd seen a few weeks earlier:



I check the date, and sure enough... the "James & Mike Play" overview of the game was posted on September 14th. The day that the price for this already-pricey cart jumped into "collectible cart" territory. *Blech*.


I certainly can't make any direct correlation, but I can't believe that these things aren't related. It was just so surprising that such a niche (but great) platformer could more than double in price (with a few aberrations) over such a trivial video. (The presentation, not the quality, being "trivial". It's a fun-but-light "Let's Play", not a heavy analysis or criticism or anniversary or some revelation about the development.)


What does the AA community think of an event like this? Am I just naive, and this happens all the time? I get it when enough people are constantly hyping something as a "hidden classic" and over time the price grows and grows, especially if it was a later game produced in smaller numbers. Little Samson and Bonk's Adventure seem like runaway examples of this kind of thing. Clash At Demonhead, to a lesser extent. It's a great game, one of my favorites, but it's not a $10 game anymore -- too many people have called it out as a "hidden gem" for it to remain hidden. But I feel like that happens over time.


I mean, I could also understand it if some major site did a big extensive retrospective of some "Can you believe it?" buried treasure and it would spike in price.


But is the current market still so volatile that even a casual video from a popular YouTuber can cause a price to spike so drastically? Do you think the game's price will fall, or now that it's been "proven" to sell above $100, is it up past that threshold for good? (Or until a bubble bursts?)


Or is it that maybe a case where a video really IS exposing a much wider audience to a great game that doesn't often show up on "hidden gems" lists?






[*Oh, and the fact that this is who it is will likely drudge up strong feelings about the AVGN/Cinemassacre. I happen to like their stuff, but in the spirit of economic analysis, let's not let it devolve into an "AVGN SUCKS/RULES" thread? It could have been any of those prominent retro gaming YouTubers whose video turned this into an overnight sensation. Or could it have?]

Edited by mikey.shake
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Media exposure drives up demand for an item with limited supply, hence a rise in prices. Basic economic principles in action. :)


Touche... I guess it's just that I've never seen it so clear-cut and to such an extreme degree over a game like this!

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I remember when my copy of Final Fantasy 7 was stolen just after high school. I bought a replacement for 20-30ish from Gamestop. Fast forward several years to the release of Advent Children... suddenly this beloved but fairly common title is over 100 bucks. It held that way for years... but checking it today, it's back down to the 30ish level again.


It's just the nature of things... I'm sure this game too will come back down once the video gets buried under newer ones.

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According to http://videogames.pricecharting.com/game/nes/jackie-chan's-action-kung-fu,

it's been very stable, slightly rising over the last couple of years, maybe double, which pretty much follows the trend of NES games on average.


Any bump is likely just temporary due to only a handful of sales per month because the 5 guys who saw that video and wanted it, all bid on one or two copies at the same time.


You've got to realize that any "market" value is based on which "market" you are evaluating. Ebay may be worldwide, and convenient, but it is by no means the whole supply; probably only a very small fraction of copies that are actually not wanted by their owners. It's just that those particular owners aren't thinking about it or just don't care enough to put the effort into monetizing it.


I guarantee if you started walking down the street in any big city and started knocking on doors, you would eventually find someone who had a copy to sell you for less than $40.


Oh, in case you come to my house, beware of dog.

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