Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Collecting Games When Digital Rules

As the current console cycle begins to slow down and the new onslaught of next-gen releases begins soon, more and more developers are moving to a digital download format for their game releases. And why not? It’s lower overhead cost versus production of a physical disc and box, and one less company to deal with that handles said printing and stamping of the discs. It also means more money for the developers. Do you honestly think that the price of game sales will go down as more go digital? Heck no. That $59.99 (probably $69-89 when the new consoles are out) price tag will remain. It means a larger cut for the devs when they go digital.

So what happens to those of us that still want the disc format? Lazygamer talked to a game collector about this concern, and as someone who also hobbies in the art of gaming, it was interesting to read another point of view. Jason Ashman is an Australian collector and developer who’s collection spans decades-worth of material. His major concern is with the state of Collector’s Edition boxes. The value and worth of such products are going to go down as more content moves online. Even now we see CE versions where the content is completely digital. Spend $20-30 more and you’ll get a digital comic. Um…yea? The value of the product almost feels lessened when we pay for a physical item but get a digital one instead. What’s interesting is that Ashman supports the digital movement. It’ll mean some of the rarer cartridge games will become less valued, easier to grab, and more people will join the collecting world. That would be great, and could potentially open up more stock reserves that were not on the market before.

My concern as a collector is that some current products that have a value may decrease over time. Something that I paid $80 today may only be worth $50 tomorrow because less people are interested in the product. Less interest equals less value. Less value means less people willing to get into the collecting field. Less people in the field completely screws up the pricing range of what does exist on the market. A lot of collector’s buy vintage games for a change to play again. We buy to play. Now I’m the type of collector who likes to keep things in their original casing, preferably never been opened. My signature pieces are from Final Fantasy, Mystic Quest (FF), and Dragon Quest. With more people going online, including retro games, less people are willing to put stock into the physical formats.

It’s a catch-22. Part of what makes people want the physical item is nostalgia. The feeling of an SNES controller in your hands, blowing into the cartridge to get rid of extra dust and help give the game a jump start, even though it really doesn’t work. So there will always be a market for collector’s, but it will start to diminish over the next few years.

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