Lately, I’ve been finding the business side of the retro game industry to be very interesting. More on that later.
I was at my usual dealer (who gets me good deals because he knows that I am the master), when a couple came in. They asked about buying a brand new NES or Super Nintendo. Brand new meaning no one has ever touched it. The dealer explained to them that they could, indeed, buy brand new NES and SNES consoles in the shrink wrap but they would cost THOUSANDS of dollars. They were legitimately shocked by this. It was then that this couple began to realize the reality of retro gaming.
The reality is this: the supply is fixed. There will never be any new legitimate copies. Prices keep rising and rising and rising. The couple then bought Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2 and left.
What is going on is an interesting phenomenon. The children of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras have grown up and have children of their own. They then have a desire for their children to grow up with the experiences they did. So then they go buy a NES or SNES and get the meat and potatoes games for it. The meat and potatoes games for these consoles would be the Mario and Donkey Kong games. Incredibly, games like Super Mario Brothers 3 is extremely common with a huge supply yet their price keeps rising and rising due the never ending demand. Looking at price charting alone, we find Super Mario Brothers 3, within seven years, has gone from $5 to $15+. This is a 200% increase.
Seven years ago, Earthbound was $60. Today, it is $200.
Seven years ago, Contra was about $20. Now it is $40 and rapidly rising.
I don’t want to get bogged down in the prices, but the point is that 80s/90s kids want to buy the system so their kids can play it. This is why retro stores sell bundles of the system with the common Mario/Sonic type games. It’s hilarious to see this because the 80s/90s kids had to beg their parents to get a game console. Now, the parents throw the game console at them!!!
Here is an email I got that crystallizes the phenomenon:
Hi Master Malstron,
I’m a father of 2 small kids, and I use to watch their interaction with other kids in the family. And talk to the other kids too.
And I always ask what they’re playing, and which platform.
Basically: all mobile now. And Minecraft is the most played game.
Consoles? Well, few kids have them now. And only because the parents bought to them. When I was kid, I want to play in a console, DESPITE my parents. Now, parents buy consoles to kids, but kids want to play in mobile BESIDES the parents.
From what I hear, the kids are playing on the old consoles except for the Xbox (which they use solely for Minecraft). However, I am in America while the emailer is in Brazil so there might be some difference.
I don’t think kids want to play in mobile. If they have a choice between console or mobile, they’ll choose console (this includes handheld consoles).
The point is that how we perceive parents has and will change. The Wii was designed to get around the ‘mom’ obstacle. Parents have been seen as obstacles by game companies. Today, parents are now the ENABLERS and the game consoles’ best friends. It is the PARENTS who are pushing the game consoles now. This is a very, very interesting twist and a first one after half a dozen console cycles.
This largely creates the possibility of Everyone-Under-Roof-A-Gamer if Mom and Dad are already there. Imagine when the NES generation turn into grandparents! They’ll still be beating kids at Super Mario Brothers and showing them how to be good at ‘Nintendo Hard’. Don’t doubt me.