Exposing Fraud And Deception In The Retro Video Game Market (Video)

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by Flamin Joe, Aug 24, 2021.

  1. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    45,657
    Location:
    Brisbane
    "Pirates" tend to save everything of historical value over and over again in the digital age. Hell, even Nintendo use a pirate file format on their official emulation devices, despite simultaneously telling us it's the end of the world on their legal page. Highly ironic.

    What's critical is that we still have enough of these devices functioning and in the hands of good quality emulation/FPGA developers now. That's the only way to prevent these things being locked up in a vault somewhere and rolled out only to be sold off to the next "investor" (read: sucker).

    As I've said before, FPGA is good enough for me now, and I really don't need most of my original consoles. But the idea of selling them off to people who just flip these things for profit doesn't excite me. I'd rather donate them to people who are interesting in improving the existing emulation and FPGA code bases to continue the incremental improvements they're making.

    Just about the entire library of mainstream 8 and 16 bit systems are covered by FPGA now. Arcade stuff is very well covered by MAME and slowly catching up in FPGA. There are folks actively working on Saturn, PlayStation and N64 FPGA stuff (the latter being a bit too large to fit on current affordable hardware, but the documentation work is being done to ensure the code is ready when the hardware catches up). And I honestly think that past that first 3D generation, software emulation is a better option for 99% of titles, particularly with huge advancements in graphics APIs like Vulkan.

    Again, as long as the handful of devices and games not yet documented and dumped get in the hands of open source preservationists before they get into the hands of profiteers, we'll be in a good spot.
     
    CRTified likes this.
  2. Daft_Munt

    Daft_Munt Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Messages:
    7,629
    Location:
    Hobart, The Federal Group
    That is one of the reasons I started getting a dupilcate of each as the CD/GDROM will die and could see prices starting to rise 5 years ago. Now I have ODE for each, but need PSUs (yes elvis I have the link form the OZ vendor). I hardly look at the market these days outside of this forum as prices started to go nuts. That was around the same time as collectors and others YT clowns started pushing the merry-go-round to push up prices eg MetalJesus et al.

    That one is going to be difficult I think due to dual CPU.
     
  3. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    45,657
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Not really, because the CPUs are identical, and they're Hitachi SH-2 CPUs which are somewhat common, and also in the Sega ST-V arcade, Sega 32X and Capcom CPS3 (Street Fighter III, etc), so there's plenty of interest and documentation around many different emulation projects.

    What's tricky about dual CPUs in software emulation is timing/concurrency, and trying to squeeze that all in fewer clock cycles to reduce lag. You get that "for free" in FPGA because of how you emulate the chips. If you can make one SH-2, you can make a thousand, assuming you've got enough logic units.

    The difficulty will be the same as FPGA simulation of any other console, where getting each and every chip and relevant IO correct is just a body of work that needs to be ground through.

    As it stands, the N64 seems to be the most difficult of that era, due to the sheer size and complexity of its individual chips (CPU, GPU compromised of RSP and RDP).
     
  4. CRTified

    CRTified Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2021
    Messages:
    374
    Location:
    Gone - thanks for having me :)
    I say with zero accusation whatsoever (coz I do it too with certain hardwares, and let's not even mention your 50,000 CRT's, elvis ;) j/k mate :) ), that this is also one of the reasons behind scarcity: we enthusiasts all need to have, not just one of the Very Rare Devices, but also a backup, and preferably also a few backups for that backup.

    We see the same principle play out with software collectors too - watch some LGR Thrifts and see how many times he finds some cool old game, then says "yeeaaah this is cool but I won't get it, as I've already got too many better copies at home".
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2021
  5. Daft_Munt

    Daft_Munt Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Messages:
    7,629
    Location:
    Hobart, The Federal Group
    Walsh developed systems to beat the betting companies in the late 90s (after being kicked out of casinos). So developing algorithms isnt innovative. He would have used some of UTAS IT infrastructure in its development (main campus is across the road from Wrest Point Casino).

    True. I was more thinking about how the original developers didnt fully utilize the hardware. <brainfart/>
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Flamin Joe

    Flamin Joe Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2001
    Messages:
    5,311
    Location:
    4300
    In the many PC Big Box groups I'm in I've seen plenty of examples of the this from other collectors. Everyone has there all time favourite games which they might obssess over a little and in the collecting scene I think some collectors go too far and just have to have EVERY SINGLE format/version that was released of that game. I've seen collections where literally one game takes up one shelf with all the different versions, then the next shelf is another game and so on.

    I'm a little guilty of this but I've purposely keep myself in check for not just space/cost considerations but because I really just don't need 50 million copies of the same game and am happy to leave the others for someone else to collect. I collect a lot of sealed games which one major downside is that you are unable view the contents without opening so my solution is to buy a second open copy of a different media (eg my sealed is 3.5" so the open version will be 5.25"). But again keeping a lid of my collecting this is only for my Origin Systems and LucasFilm/LucasArts titles, the rest which is the majority of my collection a single copy will do, sealed or unsealed I'm not fussed.

    So I can very much understand this collecting mindset of needing to have them all but at the same time I realise it's not good to be greedy and not allow or make it harder for others to enjoy collecting.
     
  7. greencamel65

    greencamel65 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2003
    Messages:
    672
    Location:
    Asgard
    I'm a bit guilty of hording hardware as well, My logic at the time is normally along the lines of "I just spent $250 on a flash cart to use with a$50 (at the time) console that's 30 years old. I should get another console as a backup incase the first console stops working and I've wasted my money on the flash cart. I don't have a large library of games pre-360 however I'm sure the same would apply to people with large libraries of games, perhaps more so as they legitimately own the games.
     
  8. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    45,657
    Location:
    Brisbane
    MUTMAN likes this.
  9. FIREWIRE1394

    FIREWIRE1394 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2012
    Messages:
    1,720
    That didn't Happen. That is not a real message.
    It is someone creating fake outrage for internet points of trying to be a good guy.

    It's like those stories you see on Reddit or 4chan where it's clearly made up bullshit and then everyone clapped. :lol:

    I just received this totally legit thing...
    No sources or persons involved, or proof or anything else that shows its not fabricated bullshit of the highest level, but I'll still post about it because I can gain something by pretending I am outraged!

    Pathetic really.
     
    wwwww likes this.
  10. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    45,657
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Bro, I know I'm cynical, but holy hell. Start the day with a strong coffee and a smile.
     
    MUTMAN likes this.
  11. flu!d

    flu!d Never perfect, always genuine

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    19,985
    Hardware hoarding is a real issue, there are those in every retro community that are literal hardware hoarders. There's one individual in the Commodore community with countless Amiga's and Commodore gear all haphazardly stacked on top of one another in various states of disrepair who blatantly refuses to not only inspect any of the items he has, some of which are very rare, but shamelessly gloats like a badge of honor that he'll never sell any of it as people will just add upgrades thereby destroying his 'pure' equipment...

    ...While Varta bombs leak everywhere and the individual in question does nothing about it.

    Unlike the USA, here in Australia a number of hardware items as well as certain machines never actually made it here. Furthermore, those that did weren't bought in huge quantities like they were in the USA as many just didn't have the disposable income at the time and a computer wasn't classed as a necessity and was therefore a luxury item - As a kid I had to buy my own gear (as well as BMX parts) second hand off Friends at school as my parents just couldn't afford the particular items I wanted. As a result, even the C64 and Amiga 500 is becoming scarce, especially when you consider how many were sent to landfill in the late 90's/early 2000's - And hardware hoarders with more machines than they need are making this problem worse resulting in inflated prices by creating a supply vs demand issue.

    I have one C64 complete with 1541, 1084S, 1351 mouse, and one spare C64 motherboard. I have one Amiga 500, I have one Amiga 1200 and I have one 600XL - All expanded with modern peripherals in some way. That's all I need. These people with 2 x 600XL's, 5 x 1200XL's (something I've never even seen in real life), 2 x Atari 800's and 3 x 800XL's are just taking the piss IMO - What are you going to do with all those machines? What's going to happen to them when you fall off the twig and family members see no value in them?

    In all honesty, it pisses me off.

    FPGA is good, I'm eventually going to buy an Ultimate 64 motherboard for my clear 64C kickstarter case as they're such a good motherboard. But there are FPGA implementations that aren't that good and probably never will be as the community behind the device isn't that large to begin with - An example of this is the A8 core for the Mister, as far as I'm aware it's not real great with no support for virtual devices like U1MB and SIDE2/3 which are almost must have devices and very limited networking support (I do more than just play games on my machines).

    I'm glad I got in when I did, as I got what I wanted at a reasonable price and in great condition - And there are still devices that are 'affordable' if you look long and hard enough (my 600XL as an example, but I waited a long time for the right one to pop up - One person wanted $600.00 for a 65XE and wouldn't budge on price). But it is a shame what's happened to the hobby. I can't believe I paid $50.00 for my 1084S off a member on these forums in about 2014, now such a monitor is fetching ~$500.00 and many aren't in real great condition with flybacks that are probably ready to fail any day now.

    If I could just find a BBC Master 128 or even a BBC Model B for a reasonable price from within AU! I know my high school would have thrown truckloads of them out complete with second CPU co-processors and Econet servers/Winchester drives in the day...Dammit.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2021
  12. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    10,139
    Location:
    4109
    give it a chance, its still a relatively new thing.
    the MiSTer project is only ~4 years young and almost all the devs have real life jobs and family that takes their time away
     
  13. DonutKing

    DonutKing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,500
    Location:
    Tweed/Gold Coast
    I know who you're talking about...
    See this is the difference between a collector and an enthusiast.
    I have no time for the former.
     
    flu!d and MUTMAN like this.
  14. wwwww

    wwwww Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Messages:
    6,410
    Location:
    Bangkok
    The problem with the medium is that videos can more easily use emotional influencing techniques rather than logical arguments. This video is a prime example of that in the way it shows selected information then asks you to make up your mind (based on the information presented only of course). This encourages biased conclusions (as you've been presented with biased information), and makes you believe it strongly because you feel you've come up with the conclusion yourself. To people who know about the collectables/auctions market it's clearly full of bullshit, but to people who just collect retro games without knowing about the market behind it, it provides a convenient explanation for the stellar prices which they don't otherwise understand.

    You've also repeatedly misrepresented my views and comments in taking the strawman approach. For clarity, my views are:
    - honestly marketing products to increase demand is not unethical.
    - other accusations against HA & WATA are unfounded and based on the argument that they can make short term gains by being dishonest, therefore they're being dishonest.

    In the interests of a civil debate, I will post some of my views on the issues raised in the video.

    Shill Bidding
    Auction houses literally pay my company for software to detect unusual/fraudulent/shill bidding. They don't like it. The claim that they have an incentive to allow it is just wrong and shows a complete lack of business sense. No company with strong brand value is going to risk their reputation for such small short term gains - brand value is everything in this industry (and also why dishonest people spreading accusations of shill bidding is extremely common). Those small short-term gains aren't even there like the video claims. Most shill bidding is done by vendors with fake details and prepaid debit cards. If this shill account wins the item, they don't pay. The auction house doesn't get any commissions. They don't know if it's a shill bid by the vendor or a fraudulent bid so it damages their relations with the vendor who they don't pay out. It makes them look bad because the item gets relisted. People make videos about it accusing them of shill bidding damaging their reputation further. Based on HA's volume, they'd easily lose millions of dollars per year to shill/fraudulent bidding so trying to claim they like it because it sometimes pushes up prices leading to higher commissions is just ridiculous.

    Accusations of shill bidding are common in the industry and generally come from competitors who are trying to claim that their competitors' strong auction realisations are fake. Unfortunately this is a negative sum tactic (the accuser may gain some market share, but the market size goes down as a whole).

    Often the accusations just stem from collectors who don't understand the premiums people are willing to pay for top grade items. They see uncertified items being sold as the finest known fetching a few hundred dollars, then the top pop graded items fetch a few hundred thousand dollars and it doesn't make sense to them. This makes them believe that the sale prices are fake and this video is taking advantage of their confirmation bias.

    That being said, HA employees do bid on items but they genuinely purchase them and the vendor gets paid out. Most people who work for these auction houses are collectors so this is hardly unexpected and trying to frame this as shill bidding is just wrong.

    HA Commissions
    The video claims 20% BP, 10% Seller's comm to try to argue for HA's incentive to allow shill bidding. Firstly they don't get these amounts if the item is won by the shill because the shill won't be identifiable and won't pay. Secondly, HA doesn't charge any seller's commission for large consignments and they'll even give part of the buyer's premium for to regular vendors. It's not particularly relevant, but it does show that the author of the video either doesn't know what he's talking about or is deliberately trying to deceive.

    Third-party graders (TPG)
    The video spoke of the boom in the coin market in the 80s and the video tried to claim it was the fault of TPGs and dishonesty from the current president of HA. When certification becomes popular, prices shift in the long term towards their true relative value (i.e. relatively undervalued items go up, relatively overvalued items go down). Population reports help to achieve this by giving an accurate representation of what exists in specific grades. This can lead to strong gains so people take advantage of it by securing genuinely underrated pieces then educating collectors on how they're underrated. Naturally, some of these predictions will be wrong. Even more naturally, some people will deliberately mislead to people to inflate prices of particular items. This has the impact of pushing the overall market up too high in the short term because everyone is speculating on what will go up (there's no incentive to speculate downwards). As the populations grow, what is genuinely rare and what not becomes apparent, prices for common items collapse, prices for rare items continue to grow. As common items tend to be more common than population charts show in the early stages (people tend to send valuable items so common items seem disproportionately rarer in the early stages), overall averages collapse. That's what happened to the US coin market in the 80s. It's happened in many other markets too. So yes, there are unethical people which push prices up, but trying to blame TPGs for this is just a correlation = causation argument. TPGs have had a massively positive impact on collecting.

    Displaying provenance on holders is normal for notable collections with all the major grading services. The video's claim that this is fraudulent or implies special treatment is ignorant or deceitful.

    The issue of WATA overgrading is a common one in the industry. You will always get a small error rate from grading services and so by selecting specific misgraded items, you can make any grading service look bad. What matters is that they're accurate most of the time, and that they provide financial guarantees for when they make mistakes. I don't know enough about WATA to comment on this, but I've seen this argument hundreds of times to discredit grading services. Generally aims to discredit grading services originate from dealers/auction houses who are trying to push their overgraded/doctored/fake material by trying to bring grading services down to their level. Again this is a negative sum strategy (for every collector they keep away from graded items, they alienate another collector from the market).

    WATA not providing a pop report is questionable, not because they have any obligation to provide it, but because it would increase the value they provide to the community so it makes no sense to not provide it. That being said, they're a relatively new service, so it's most likely that they will implement this but just haven't done it yet.

    Reselling on eBay
    Nothing wrong with this, though it doesn't really create value beyond bringing the products to a market who might not be aware of HA. In my experience this kind of thing is done more to find new buyers, rather than to actually profit from buying and selling because the latter is not sustainably profitable.

    Miscellaneous
    Regarding that dentist they claim is not an expert. Their argument here is ridiculous, every expert starts somewhere. He might've been a collector for 20 years and only recently decided to draw attention to himself. Just because he's only recently been in the public eye doesn't make him less of an expert. It's a relatively new field of collecting. Also:
    Nothing wrong with buying through a fund.
    Nothing wrong with a collector being the custodian of the fund.

    Simply put, grading services and large auction houses have the greatest incentive to improve and grow the market. They benefit the most from an honest and open market, and they benefit the most from the advancement of it. They also have the most to lose from negative brand publicity and for negative publicity about the industry as a whole. Trying to claim that they're willing to risk their brand image for what is, relatively speaking, a bit of small change should raise question marks to everyone, even if you're not directly involved with the market.

    The people who win from discrediting grading services and the auction houses which specialise in graded material are those who sell overgraded/doctored/fake material because, as happened with the coin market in the 80s, when grading takes off, the value of uncertified material drops to 0 (or bullion value in the case of coins). The people who benefit from grading are those collectors who hold quality items. Think about who you're siding with.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
  15. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    45,657
    Location:
    Brisbane
    In the name of interesting discussion, I call a truce. I agree there's been ad hominem and strawman a plenty in this thread. So I'm happy to stick to the topic itself, if we can all stop insulting the various groups involved (people in this thread, people this thread is about, "Australians", etc).

    I won't quote the entirety of your post, although I have read it and do thank you for your points. All very interesting, whether I agree or not.

    My main issue with the whole thing (again, I'm going to skip right over everything to do with the difference between written and video media, because I consider all of that off topic), and what I consider to be "the smoking gun" and evidence put forward by the accuser, is that WATA state point blank they do not allow employees to bid on titles they've graded, yet the accuser has put forward information that demonstrates WATA directors belonging to an "investment group" who bid on said games.

    I don't particularly want to argue the legal definition of shill bidding here, as those technicalities are becoming tiresome for me (not an insult to anyone - merely a reflection on my very low tolerance for arguments that end up in the minutia of legal definitions). Likewise if you want to argue directors are not employees and the smallprint is all still valid, I think we're getting into lawyer weasel words, and I'm nodding off (again, not an insult - this is a reflection on me, not anyone else). To me, that at the very least is an obvious conflict of interest - where a group involved in some sort of "official" evaluation of a thing then are involved in the purchasing of said thing - that raises red flags for me. Maybe it's my background in both large scale finance and more recently government, but there are some pretty hard and fast rules in those industries that I've had to sign legal documents about that state clearly if I'm involved in the creation/making/evaluation/documenting side of things, I'm very much not allowed to be involved in the buying/profiteering side of things.

    Is it "illegal"? I don't fucking know. I'm not a lawyer (see above - I have neither the patience nor the tolerance nor the interest for such things). Is it all a bit shit? Well yeah, but so are a lot of other perfectly legal things that happen every day, right? Can I be a bit miffed about it? Fucking oath I can.

    Beyond that, I find the practice of this high end doo-dad collecting and trading just as stupid as NFTs and anything else really. And that's not born of some "envy of the wealthy", that's my misanthropy kicking in and wondering how the hell we got to a position as a species where this sort of nonsense has value placed upon it instead of something actually valuable to society (where the definition of "value", as noted by renowned anthropologist David Graeber, has vastly different meanings when you apply it to society and finance). BUT, that too is off topic, so if one wants to argue that they're sick of hearing "elvis hates greedy humans" as much as elvis argues that he hates hearing legal jargon, then fair enough.
     
    power, JidaiGeki, MUTMAN and 3 others like this.
  16. flu!d

    flu!d Never perfect, always genuine

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    19,985
    I hate greedy humans.
     
  17. wwwww

    wwwww Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Messages:
    6,410
    Location:
    Bangkok
    Agreed

    They haven't actually presented any evidence that those people are employees (directors are not necessarily employees) but that's a pointless wording/legal argument which I'm sure you don't want to get into. From a virtue ethics perspective, what matters is whether they breached the purpose of that promise. The purpose of that promise is to ensure objectivity and no special treatment when assessing their items so what needs to be shown to demonstrate unethical behaviour is that they got special treatment. Given that images of the items are publicly available that shouldn't be a problem to prove if true. The video attempts to claim that they got a special provenance tag on their items but this is completely normal for items from notable collections. The video claims that an item was overgraded, another point I addressed in my previous point. So basically, there's no evidence they were employees, and despite the fact that all the information on how the items were graded is publicly available, the video author found no credible evidence that they used their position to get special privileges. This didn't stop them from calling fraud.

    New grading companies pop up all the time and while I always like to support new businesses, most of these tend to just grade their owner's items at inflated grades, so I tend to look at new grading companies with a lot of skepticism. In the case of WATA however - it might be new but it's part of a market where third party certification is only newly gaining traction so I would tend to give them the benefit of the doubt until I see actual evidence of wrongdoing.

    Unfortunately that just doesn't work in the collectables market. Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, "I'm going to spend years of my life learning to grade baseball cards and gaining a reputation in the industry as an accurate grader, just so I can be a professional baseball card grader" unless they already collect them. So inevitably, everyone who works in these firms are also collectors. This lack of regulation is made up for by the importance of branding.

    The high-end collecting market is basically another way for people to show off. It's no different from buying a RR Dawn or an Hermes Birkin bag. If you break it down to rational utility, neither of these are worth it, but they deliver a message, and that message is "I have money" (or in the case of the Birkin bag, "I spoil my wife, imagine how I'd treat my mistress").
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
  18. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    45,657
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Yes, I said the same above. They are definitely directors, but the legal nature of that is not one I'm familiar with in the region their company exists. It still smacks of "conflict of interest" to me. I'd expect this not to happen if it was fine art, property, rare cars, etc on auction, or anything where there are individual items sold for these sorts of price tags.

    The "it's just branding/marketing" line never satisfies me. Much like religion, all too much evil has been washed away under the guise of these labels as means to an end. And again, that's not a legal justification for anything. But I'm perfectly within my rights to be pissed off at things that aren't illegal, but are still shitty.

    This much I agree on. At this point they all appear to be ripping each other off. And that would normally amuse me, but it has onflow effects.

    I've heard a lot of justifications for this with people telling me that the wheelings and dealings of bored millionaires don't affect the rest of us, and we should let it go. But then you turn to eBay to purchase a game that has no other legal reprint or digital download service, and you're met with this:

    20210905_203903.jpg

    Compared to my friends in China:

    Screenshot_20210905-204126.png

    The great irony here is that the hyperinflated second hand market, where no original IP owner makes a dollar, is perfectly legal. Meanwhile the Chinese clone, itself a perfect digital copy with zero imperfections within the digital game data itself, is not.

    It's all so truly strange to me. People can write it off as "just human things" and "normal business/marketing" if they want, but I remain disgusted at the overall concept, and still convinced that what the accused are being accused of remains a very valid accusation. And the onflow effects are why I don't ignore it.

    And until anyone involved in the grading is completely removed from the bidding, I will remain convinced. That's precisely where I draw the line.
     
  19. wwwww

    wwwww Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Messages:
    6,410
    Location:
    Bangkok
    I'm not sure you're clear on what branding is. Branding is best described as protecting and growing your reputation by committing to your mission, vision, and values, and ensuring your comms and actions align with them. It's not the same as marketing but rather is a subset within the field (alongside research, comms, strategy, etc). It's probably the most ethical area of marketing. What I'm saying regarding branding in the collectables market is that one's reputation is what keeps businesses honest, as opposed to strict rules and regulations like in the finance industry.

    It's not other people's responsibility to ensure you can afford it. If you like something then buy it, if you're not comfortable spending money on it then get cheaper tastes. I like Monet's work but against my best wishes, I don't have $50 million spare, so I buy paintings from other impressionist artists of the era.

    If, like people hypothesize, it's an artificially pumped market, then just wait for prices to drop. If there genuinely is demand at these levels, well then you just have to accept that other people are willing to spend more for it than you are.

    Besides, there's nothing stopping the IP owner from making more to appeal to people who just want the software, if there's a genuine demand for it. Perhaps the solution for you is to get together with like-minded people to encourage the IP owner to sell new copies of it.
     
  20. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    45,657
    Location:
    Brisbane
    This is a false comparison to video games. Monet made single paintings which are impossible to perfectly replicate down to their most singular molecule. Same goes for houses or cars or other physical things.

    Software is not this. Software is intangible. Software is *perfectly* reproducible in such a trivial manner. Not "close enough". But perfectly, and in a way that is equally as trivial to prove in its perfection.

    Artificially attempting to treat software as a falsely scarce item is a huge part of the problem. Doing so is as ridiculous as trying to limit how many people are allowed to do the sum "1+1=2", when there is no limit to transferring or reproducing such a though process.

    We've all fallen for the false idea of scarcity in a "market" where there is no scarcity. There's no great cost associated in reproduction of software, and there's no limit to how many times we can reproduce any given piece of software.

    Putting software on a cartridge or disk or tape or anything doesn't change that. These are *all* copies, and a perfect reproduction in every way.

    Again, normally I wouldn't care what bored millionaires do with their time and money. And indeed, the problem here with all of this is less so the bored millionaires and more so the delusional few who are attempting to become bored millionaires. The folks driving up prices of old games, not as things to play, but purely as macguffins to profiteer from. And again, this in itself doesn't bother me, but the onflow affects do. "Why?" you ask. Allow me to gush for a moment.

    I value games as art (not art pieces, like the Monet above. But art as human expression). Plenty don't agree with me, and that's fine, but to me they're as important as music, novels, films, plays, or anything else.

    Again, let's compare. A first edition copy of "A Catcher in the Rye" can go for $25K. Does this bother me? No. Why? Because I can still walk into a Dymocks and pick up a perfect copy for $20.

    Same goes for many forms of art. Beatles White album original versus a reprint on CD. Original film stock of Citizen Kane versus BluRay remaster. Etc, etc.

    Where this differs for video games is at several layers. First there's the ineptitude of the IP owners. Many that knowingly own original IP don't know how to sell it in the modern world. Then there's the issue of so much video game IP being legally lost - so many titles, despite the medium being so young - are in a state where nobody knows who owns the IP, as the complanies that used to have traded hands so many times, the details are murky or entirely lost.

    Now, sure, this still has little to do with our bored millionaire friends at surface level. But combine all of the above - the false scarcity thanks to silly IP owners, the bored millionaire coin/comic collectors and their false inflation, and the eBay vultures and their short term greed, and now suddenly something that should be as easy as saying "go listen to this old song on Spotify" or "go watch this old film on Netflix" becomes either a legal or cost nightmare, and experiencing a story is impossible.

    I don't entirely blame the bored millionaires. And nor have I ever. They are, ignorantly for the most part, playing their part in a bigger issue of combined opportunistic greed in a market plagued by stupidity on all fronts.

    And again, if this was remotely physical - if we were talking coins or cars or anything where there was a physical reason for their scarcity, that's fine. But this is a medium where perfect reproduction is utterly trivial, yet doesn't happen for very silly reasons, and we miss out on an opportunity to share some ideas that (I think at least) are important to share.

    But the bored millionaires are playing their part. And in this particular case, making it worse by artificially (and in my humble opinion illegally) inflating that which is already at ludicrous levels.

    I'm happy that Japan is taking measures to fix this. The Japanese government is working on ways to free up the process of legally reprinting titles where a portion of profits are held for anyone who can successfully and legally demonstrate ownership of reproduced titles. But the US is still miles behind here.

    Copyright was designed to help artists and IP owners. But copyright itself has changed and morphed to help breed this weird artificial scarcity that our bored millionaire friends are further artificially inflating, and in the process the world misses out on a thing that should be so trivial to not miss out on.

    At the very least, you can still legally look at a Monet reproduction, or even LEGALLY buy a cheap reprint to put on your wall. I can list for you thousands of video games that cannot be purchased LEGALLY, and where their reproductions are illegal, despite it being so utterly trivial to reproduce them perfectly, down to the byte.
     
    danyell, Daft_Munt and FIREWIRE1394 like this.

Share This Page

Advertisement: