How Digital Downloads Affect Values of Collectable Games

When the digital distribution model started taking off on services like Xbox Live Arcade and PSN, I had a feeling that we would start seeing affordable downloads of cult-classic games that have previously been expensive collectors pieces.  So at the end of 2006, I started tracking a handful of games that I thought would be candidates for digital re-releases.   Three years later, I decided to chart out the results of the tracking and see how affordable downloads of the popular games would affect the values of the original physical releases.

Below you will see the trends of three popular games that were re-released on Xbox Live Arcade and/or Playstation Network.   On each of the simple line graphs, I’ve highlighted the dates where each of the re-releases were rumored, officially announced, and then actually released on their respective platforms.  I think you will find that the results are relatively similar for each of the titles.   I’m also guessing that these results shouldn’t come to a surprise to most collectors, but I still think it is interesting to see the actual results graphed out.  BTW, values were determined by averaging the closing auction prices on eBay (for auctions that received bids) for a given month.

Rez (Playstation 2)

rez-values-b

The PS2 version of Rez has always been in strong demand as a cult classic, but since more copies were issued by GameQuestDirect, the values did dip quite a bit in early 2007.  I’m not quite sure if it’s a coincidence that the values of Rez spiked just as the HD release for XBLA was officially announced, but it did dip quite rapidly after that.  You’ll also notice that the PS2 version has had a few peaks in recent months.

Values:

Marvel vs Capcom 2 (PS2, Xbox, Dreamcast)

mvc2-values-b

The prices for all three versions of Marvel vs Capcom 2 practically went into freefall with the announcement that MvC2 was being ported to PSN and Xbox Live.  The PS2 version is still the most expensive, but it’s still nowhere near it’s high point in February 2009.   Less than a year later, all three versions are almost in the same ballpark value-wise with the Dreamcast version recently making a bit of a comeback.

Values (Average of Ports):

Ikaruga (Gamecube)

ikaruga-values-b

Even though it was not especially rare (and having a Japanese Dreamcast release), collectors were hoping that Ikaruga would follow the footsteps of it’s predecessor, Radiant Silvergun and its values of $200 to $300.   However, once the XBLA version was announced, the disc-based version of the game has been in a constant decline and has headed below the $30 mark.

Values:

Lessons Learned

The good news is that if you are a game collector that is at least partially in it for the money, you can avoid losing too much money in your investment if you stay informed of upcoming re-releases and act quickly.   Most buyers on eBay and Amazon don’t seem to pay close attention to announcements, so the values only dip slightly on rumors and you have just a little bit of time to sell off on a high price after an official announcement.   However, it is quite clear that digital re-releases do have quite an impact on the values of the original physical copies.

  • If you aren’t especially attached to the game, you might want to sell on a strong rumor of re-release
  • Values will start to tumble right after an official announcement
  • Prices won’t bottom out completely until it is actually re-released
  • Physical copies of rare/popular re-releases can lose around 50% of their peak values.
  • If you would still like a copy of the game, buy it a few months after the re-release as it might get a slight bump

Of course, your milage may vary from game to game, but even though I haven’t reported all major releases here, other games like Final Fantasy VII have seem similar trends.


26 Comments

Z-Gradt says:

This reminds me of the rumor that Atari took a container or two of unsold E.T carts and buried them in the desert. I just collect games that I like, and I don’t sell, so I don’t concern myself with pricing so much, but I did buy a couple Halo 3 Legendary Editions and socked them away when they got down to $30 new 😉

I’m also a big fan of emulators. I’d much rather fire one of those up than dig out a console and cart, although that probably says more about my organizational skills than anything else…

eBay is pretty annoying though. I picked up Panzer Dragoon Saga for $10 at a pawn shop 10 years ago. A few months later, he was telling me about how great this thing called eBay was, and I couldn’t get any good deals from him since. Also, always be sure to hit up Craigslist before bidding on eBay. I was looking to buy a dreamcast and found a guy locally with a bundle that included MvC 1 and 2, with an average price of $2 per game…

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