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

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

  1. wwwww

    wwwww Member

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    The value to these collectors isn't just the software. It's the full product including its original packaging. If it was just the software then why would people get them graded and authenticated? By virtue of wanting the original product, it's impossible to replicate. You can get perfectly appearing Monet prints but people won't pay millions of dollars for them because they want originals.

    There were 13 copies of the original US constitution. Those words can be copied and reprinted a million times, that won't take away from the scarcity of the original documents. Collectors don't want copies, they want originals.

    Great, I respect that, but it doesn't make your desire to buy them more important than someone else's.

    Everyone has different tastes, calling people stupid and greedy for making purchases that make them happy just because you won't make the same purchase is beneath you. Nobody's tastes are superior anyone else's.

    This argument seems not specific to software but rather to individual titles. Consider a book that never got republished so only first editions exist with 20 examples extant. You really want to read it but all copies have private owners and they value them very highly. Are you entitled to read that book assuming it's still under copyright protection? It's up to the copyright holder if they want to authorise more copies and if they can't be contacted, then it's up to the individual book owners if they want to share it with you. The same goes for software. You do not have an intrinsic right to other people's property just because it's easily copied.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2021
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  2. FIREWIRE1394

    FIREWIRE1394 Member

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    Happy the conversation at least became civil.
    49eg.png


    I'll chime in. What a load of wank that video was. There were a couple of good points that got drowned out by the one sided viewpoints.
    We aren't being priced out of our hobby, it's people's own greed that we want everything good for literally nothing.
    I'm guilty of paying too much for things from time to time... Simply because I wanted them.
    Sure, I would have loved and still would love all the games I've ever wanted for nothing, but the world doesn't work like that. If something is good enough you'll justify the cost, if you CAN'T justify that cost, then you can jump up and down about greed and fraud and how it makes you so angry, and it's your right to feel that way. Buy games you can afford, there's only a few million of them at this point. Or pirate them, it's also easy enough these days and invest your time rather than your money if the wallet is the issue.

    Just because someone is using a sealed copy of Mario 64 as a money laundering operation, or spending trillions on a piece of shit Atari game that's 5 of a kind doesn't mean it's the world being evil and it certainly isn't depriving ANYONE of their hobby...
    It's only entertainment.
    But "gamers" historically have a habit of taking shit WAYYY to seriously.

    The video does raise a serious issue, and the people involved should be looked into, and people should be aware of their practices, but the blatant poor little me attitude that they can't afford collections shown in that video... WELL SELL YOUR GAMES TO FUND NEW ONES YOU GREEDY FUCKING HYPOCRITES.
    You don't give a shit about gaming, you want trophies on a wall, but now people smarter than us capitalising on our (gamers) continued idiocy and greed have finally realised there's money in it! surprised that didn't happen 30 years ago.

    I let it be known I am a hoarder, but I've always maintained a small collection of games at any one time (it's under 150 physical games across a handful of platforms ATM) I don't have 405 of each console JUST IN CASE! When I've had my fill of a bunch of games, off they go USUALLY at auction, and I buy new games. Over the years I've owned at a guess 5000 games, but they're not all sitting behind me on a shelf so I can have bragging rights on youtube about how I'M A REAL GAMER BECAUSE I HAVE A FULL SHELF.

    I certainly appreciate that collecting does feel great, as does picking up a bargain. I still remember picking up a sealed copy of Grandia 2 on Dreamcast for $15 or Jet Set Radio for $5 (Both opened SORRY and both fantastic games) and recently, finding nice CRT's for less than 8 million dollars feels nice.
    This is where I will admit to my own greed, I do have quite a few more CRT's than I need, but I want them for the light gun games that I like.
    And this is just it, I can fully admit that having 3 68CM TV's and a handful of 19" monitors is greedy. But I can justify it, and so can the people who pay $30,000 for a videogame that want it to be worth 2 million dollars.

    Most of the games I've purchased became worth a lot less over the years (oh well), some have become worth more (particularly Nintendo Stuff) which is why I like selling at auction, because you get an ACTUAL value of the things you are selling, not a hypothetical 3 million dollars... Some items are worth much more to me than their dollar value, most less.

    A point raised in the video that I can agree on is about shill bidding. It does suck, and people doing it should be taken off any platform they do it on. But I'm even biased on that because I've been a victim of it on ebay and I ended up having to pay a lot more for a game than I wanted to, but still less than the maximum I was willing to.

    And now I've said my piece, I'm off to play some old games rather than getting angry about prices.
    Maybe people need to look inwards a little more when talking about how shit costs too much.
     
  3. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    The "value" (in the financial sense, not the social sense, which I cover above) is the exclusivity, so yes, that necessarily means items of limited quantity. The problem is how that relates to the software, and the "value" of that in the social sense. That problem is constantly and entirely ignored when these sorts of things are defended in the name of commercial rights, taste, or other highly isolated concepts that ignore the link between all of the factors, and the deeper onflow effects.

    I covered this above. This is a problematic comparison here when "original" and "copy" are meaningless in this specific industry, and scarcity is 100% artificial.

    The counter argument is, of course, "but the box". And the problem is, once again, the onflow effects of how artificially inflating the price of one has a direct effect on the availability of the other, due entirely to market stupidity at numerous points (not just "collectors" - and let's be frank, these people aren't "collectors" in the true sense. Merely opportunistic sellers).

    I think my message has been misunderstood. The above goes back to the false conclusion of artificial scarcity, which I cover above. It insinuates an "either-or" result, where either I can have something to the exclusion of others, or they can have it to the exclusion of me. And neither scenario is what I'm talking about here, again as covered in previous posts.

    I'm not calling them stupid because of what makes them happy. I'm calling them stupid because greed is a flaw. It's Maslow's hierarchy of needs that has been warped and broken by a wide variety of modern factors. It's the disease of the modern world. Ask any psychologist just how broken and stupid it is.

    Happiness is a very noble goal. Greed does not result in happiness. Exclusion does not result in happiness.

    Also covered above, and in post number 3 of this thread where I link to a previous thread where we had lengthy discussion on this, how this is flawed as a system, and how these flaws result in exactly the goings on documented by post number 1. The previous thread linked in post number 3 also predicted this back in 2018 when the discussion sparked last time.

    I claim no such right. I've spent the last decade of my career working with artists in the field of commercial art, and what I want to see is artists duly compensated for their creative works via the availability of adequate distribution. Where this falls down is when the larger artificial system around those works eats its own head, collapses, and destroys the ability to do that.

    What all of the counter points to this demonstrate is that if you pull apart the individual pieces of this picture, and look at them all in isolation, assuming at every stage that no single part has influence or effect on another part, then everything seems fine at face value. My point was at the beginning of this thread (and the previous thread) that doing so misses the bigger picture, and fails to see how all of these individual, smaller acts of human stupidity from all the players (like or not, they are stupid - and this doesn't come from a position of superiority, as there are many, many things I am stupid about too) negatively affect the outcome for all.

    And again, I've covered this, whether this satisfies you or not. Software as art and software as an intangible idea are concepts I have lived and breathed for most of my life, through my career spanning the industries of finance, open source, commercial art, and now as I am involved more and more in the commercial side of digital art and digital heritage preservation for a number of museums, governments, and other public organisations. I didn't happen across the video in the OP and knee-jerk an emotive response to this. This has been my life and my career for decades.

    What this thread illustrates to me is that the problems humans face with both the want to control information and art, as well as the mental illnesses we face around the encouragement and celebration of greed and exclusion, are still no closer to being fixed than they were thousands of years ago, let alone what has happened since the power war boom and the exponential explosion of the stockmarket in the 1980s.

    And again, I've covered all this in both this thread and the one I linked to previously. I may from here on out just start pasting URLs to things I've already said that counter attempts to justify the individual parts of this problem in isolation, and ignore the resultant negative sum whole.

    One interesting side note - hardware is not covered by the same rules as software, so we don't have this problem on that side. Patents expire in sensible amounts of time, and we now have legal emulators and FPGA clones of original hardware to prevent the abject loss of the ability to experience this art. I'd love to see copyright on art follow the same common-sense approach in time frames (instead of the ludicrous extensions we saw in 1976), and then this conversation is entirely moot from my side.

    Art can be entertaining. Art is not "only entertainment".

    Video games are no different in the breadth and variety than music, novels, plays or film. Plenty of those exist that are far more than mere entertainment.

    If this is your global conclusion on a group of people who go out of their way to share stories and experiences through a specific medium, I feel you've missed out on a large and wonderful piece of what's on offer from both the community and the art.

    And honestly, that viewpoint surprises me, when you're such an active participant of these subforums, and so clearly enamoured with exactly this - people sharing their joy of the art form with each other.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2021
  4. flain

    flain Member

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    Karl posted last week that he has another video on this coming up because it apparently is a lot worse than what was shown in the first video. He also says the FTC is investigating soon. I guess I'll stay tuned.

    Posted 5 days ago by Karl:
     
  5. wwwww

    wwwww Member

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    I understood you correctly, I was arguing from the point that collectors want the full product and there is genuine scarcity there. I think the difference of opinion here stems from you wanting the software and collectors wanting the full item. For what collectors want, there is genuine scarcity. For what you want, the scarcity is artificial. It sucks that their collecting habits are making it expensive for you to pursue yours but that's not their fault, they have the right to collect what they want. Likewise, the artificial scarcity is driven by the IP owner, they have every right to do that (though I suspect it's more out of unawareness of demand than anything else). So really, it's like a gold coin collector being upset by the rising price of gold - it's nobody's fault because nobody has a responsibility to support your collecting habits other than you.

    It's not the exclusion of others that's desired, many collectors loan their pieces out to museums so everyone can share in them. Collectors love showing off their collections, they love talking about them. It's the same as owning a prestige car or watch, the happiness comes from other people seeing them or in the case of a car, often from sharing it with them.
     
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  6. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    No, it isn't. Once again, like previous examples put forward, gold is a physically limited commodity, and nothing like this. These comparisons are not valid for this case, and do nothing but confuse the issue through unlike comparisons.

    I repeat once again, we covered this in the 2018 thread linked earlier, particularly the parts where IP ownership is often a mess (Frank Cifaldi's lengthy and excellent GDC talks on this very topic are cited there, and several times in other discussions here on the same topics). My thoughts on that are already contained within those posts several times, so I won't repeat them here.

    In this case, it is. It's quite clear that these individuals are here for the financial gain derived from exclusivity. Not a single one of them is "sharing with museums" or anything like it (happy to be proven wrong, if someone can link me to a WATA director who has bid on WATA graded items that are currently sitting in a museum). Grand sweeping claims about what "most collectors" do are fine, but these individuals are not that.

    Neither myself nor the original author are "attacking collectors" at large here. These accusations are pointed at specific individuals, not the "collecting community" or any such diverse group.

    And, more aptly, now the FTC are investigating these individuals. The claims made by the author in the original video have now attracted US federal government consumer protection group's attention and warranted an investigation. That now nullifies the "baseless accusation" comments, as the FTC don't investigate frivolous claims willy-nilly.

    I don't really think this warrants any further repeated points from me, and quite honestly this discussion above is now just rehashing points I've already made dozens of times. Like others, I'm fascinated to see what further evidence Karl Jobst has to present, and more specifically what the FTC find. Folks are more than welcome to continue defending the accused, of course, but my interest lies with the conclusions of the authorities.
     
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  7. flu!d

    flu!d Never perfect, always genuine

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    [Picturing the bank robbery scene from Heat where they just steal a Mario Bros cartridge. Perhaps they could make a new Mission Impossible movie out of it? Complete with lasers protecting the cartridge].

    When you think of it, the whole debacle really is quite laughable.
     
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  8. mAJORD

    mAJORD Member

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    How did collecting suddenly become evil ?
    And what's it got to do with the core issue in the OP
     
  9. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    It hasn't.

    The rebuttal presented thus far was that the accused in the OP are nothing but innocent, good-willed collectors. However collecting and secretly driving up the price of your own items to get investors to throw cash at things you already own aren't the same thing.

    And the evidence presented appears to have enough merit that the FTC are now involved. That may very well prove that these people aren't "just collectors".
     
  10. flu!d

    flu!d Never perfect, always genuine

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    I wonder what would happen to the price of gold if you could duplicate it at quantum level, down to the atoms that make up that gold bar, making it indistinguishable from the real thing with the exception of the stamp in the top of the original gold bar? Gold's....gold. I'm tipping it'd become as worthless as dirt overnight no matter what the stamp in the top may state.

    Software can be duplicated as to be identical to the source, to it's very binary zero's and one's. So packaging aside, a game is not worth this kind of money unless you're driving the price up deliberately. I think this is the point Elvis is making.
     
  11. FIREWIRE1394

    FIREWIRE1394 Member

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    It's not a global viewpoint, I am discussing the video. Maybe I didn't explain it properly. I know some people who have MASSIVE collections, including someone with a full N-Gage and Gizmondo collection (Which I can't see the point of at all personally, both were shit lmao, but impressive dedication none the less) but the difference is they can justify how much time, effort, and money they've spent without turning around and saying... OH, I'M BEING PRICED OUT OF MY HOBBY!
    They are not turning around and saying "greed and fraud and deception are preventing people from collecting" while having a a literal tonne of games sitting on a shelf.

    That's the problem with the video, and many collectors views. Because they're exposing something because THEY want to benefit from cheaper prices. possibly due to a sense of entitlement... Actually Strike that, it's CLEARLY a sense of entitlement. EG: "I AM A REAL GAMER, so I should be allowed to have a sealed copy of Super Mario brothers for $5, They are not a real gamer, they only want to make money!"

    The collectors want to benefit from having the games. And so do the investors, albeit for different reasons.
    My personal view is that a sealed game is a travesty. Much like a car that doesn't get driven, or a book that doesn't get read.
    but this is going to happen whether I like it or not.

    Where we get into games as art is where it becomes difficult because games are interactive. You can enjoy the Mona Lisa without touching it, you can enjoy Beethoven's 5th without touching it, you can enjoy Citizen Kane without touching it.
    Can you enjoy Super Mario without touching it and having Mario stand at the start of the level till time runs out? I can't, but many people do.
    The issue is that collectors don't want games to PLAY, they want them to OWN... And now that more and more people also want the same thing, it's really easy to turn around and cry foul.

    Like you've said many times Dan and know full well, it's just a bunch of zeroes and ones, and it's all just copies of perfectly replicatable data.
    If the hobby is PLAYING games, then you're not going to have an issue because so many people (including myself) do care. If your hobby is COLLECTING games, like a shit load of people like to do, then I have some bad news.

    Still talking about the video here. I'm clearly affected by the whole situation, and I wouldn't have spent the time making my first post or this one if I didn't care.

    I'm sorry if my points got mixed into my examples.


    Collecting hasn't become evil. But certain collectors are accusing other collectors of being evil by being dicks about doing some shady shit to increase the value of their collection.
    The people at WATA are collectors, but they're collecting games to make money, whereas most game collectors are collecting to own things.



    I'm going to ask some non gamers what they think.
    (When I say non gamers I mean they still play poker or maybe chess from time to time or see me playing forza and maybe join for a race)
    I actually think their opinions on this matter will be more valuable than most of the views expressed in this thread as we're all a little close to it and are letting feelings interrupt a level headed take on the situation.
     
  12. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    but they're the ones that are there to grade only. not own trade sell buy etc...
    this is problem #1

    problem #2 is heritage - they've been in shit for the same practices before. fined millions of dollars

    I'm not anti money in the slightest, but a level playing ground is essential
    you guys defending this situation confuse me.
     
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  13. FIREWIRE1394

    FIREWIRE1394 Member

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    You seem to be confusing defending the situation with not rabidly salivating over it.
    The problem with grading in general was mentioned in the video. It's all subjective. And of course people who grade things are going to take an interest.

    Please see my first post where I said: "The video does raise a serious issue, and the people involved should be looked into, and people should be aware of their practices"

    Where in the hell will you find people who grade stuff that aren't interested in it? Would you rather children who have no interest in it grade items? A BILLION DOLLARS!
    I can grade and value my own collection at $560,000,000.... I can also attempt to sell my collection for $560 million.

    If ANYONE is stupid enough to pay that, it's their own fault. :lol:

    edit: to further clarify, I am glad the information is out there, even if I don't agree with how it's presented so people know not to buy graded games... but people still will, because they want them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2021
  14. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Where are you seeing these responses? I've not seen anything like this. Please link me to examples if you have them. I really am interested in seeing the general public's views from both sides on this. (So far I've only seen this on "nerdy" sites, which doesn't paint me a very even picture).

    Thus far in my travels I've seen positions on both sides, but not to the levels you've mentioned above, so I'm curious to see that demographic in action.

    My hobby is celebrating, studying and sharing games as art and culture, which includes playing games. I don't have an opinion either way on collecting because that's not what excites me about games (and no criticism of anyone who does like collecting - more power to them).

    My issues with this is how a very small volume of people - literally a handful of people in a market of BILLIONS - are driving up prices of ALL old games. What we're seeing is a price rise of content inconsistent with other markets. Second hand music, film, books, and other media are not rising at the same levels that old video games are, and that's even considering that video games outnumber many of those other media for sales volume.

    You comment that "being priced out of the hobby" is a rather shallow problem, and perhaps I agree in a "first world problems" kind of way. But again, I value the art - the stories and the messages games convey in a way that is unique to games, and it's something I want to share with the whole world, not an elite group of wealthy few. To me, this would be as much of a shame as a poor kid not being able to read a classic novel because they only sold for hundreds on eBay, instead of being available at reduced costs in schools or free at libraries. These are all things we're missing in the very young artform that is video games. And sure, that's not 100% the fault of the accused in the OP - it's happening because of a number of factors. But I'm equally annoyed at all of these factors too, not just the ones this thread is about (see the link in post number 3 for more discussion on the other causes).

    The counter argument is "just pirate, it's all ones and zeros". And you know what, I do. But I also feel a need to keep this industry legitimate, because at the other end of this are the artists who need to be paid for their work to ensure there's incentive for their work to continue. I've posted at length about my feelings on this in the 2018 thread linked in post number 3, and my thoughts on whether or not a second hand market is necessary to ensure the short term high costs of the first hand market. That's a bit of a grey area for me still, but I'm resolute that million dollar copies of games help nobody actually involved in content creation, and now I'm seeing direct correlation to games skyrocketing in price as other people are fooled into the hype of greed.

    This is a complex topic, no doubt. But I say again - the people accused are now under investigation from the FTC. So the claims against them have at least passed the first milestone and have attracted federal government attention. The accused are, of course, innocent until proven guilty. But the accusations appear to have merit.

    Very much this. This is the basic of all ethics in business. The author of the video has even stated this point blank - there's no intention or desire to stop collectors collecting, nor to stop people trading games nor profiting from the sale of old games. The only intention from this is to ensure that everyone is buying and selling fairly, and that the free market is also free from artificial manipulation.

    As I said above, I'd expect the same from any market, not just video games. And the fact that "bad shit happens everywhere all the time" isn't justification to ignore it happening here. If it happens in other markets, it should be stopped in other markets too.
     
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  15. breech

    breech Member

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    Channel 7's about to run a story on selling old games for profit :sick:
     
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  16. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Was that on tonight's news or something?

    [edit] bwahahaha check out the "Gameboy" at 1:03 :lol:

     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2021
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  17. Daft_Munt

    Daft_Munt Member

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    Like elvis, I was pissing myself at the 6 button gameboy.
     
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  18. cdtoaster

    cdtoaster Member

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    "in 100 years time it could almost be a retirement package"

    ???
     
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  19. flain

    flain Member

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    Karl gets interviewed by a collector - it's a long one. Worth the watch though.

     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
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  20. hutts24

    hutts24 Member

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    Sorry Elvis, but I need to disagree with this statement. The terms 'original' and 'copy' do have meaning in terms of games. The difference between them matters not to people like you and me who are happy to purchase a new legal reproduction for the original system or download a copy of the ROM and launch it in an emulator for the purpose of experiencing the game, but to collectors it means a lot.

    Humans have this funny desire to possess things of rarity. Think of diamonds and wedding rings. Everybody knows the scarcity of diamonds. Let's for now ignore the fact that their scarcity has also been known to be manipulated. You can't do a lot with them, but as a naturally occurring substance they are fascinating and that scarcity creates an undeniable perception of value. A wife may interpret the value of the diamond in her wedding ring as a reflection of the value her husband ascribes to her. At least that's my philosophy.

    Similarly, a game collector perceives value in an 'original' copy of the game that a modern reproduction does not have. When the game was released, many copies were produced and sold and at some point they ceased to be produced. Those copies would be deemed 'original' and therefore 'special' compared to modern reproductions produced subsequently. The degree of 'specialty' is likely going to depend on how many were produced and how many of those were not destroyed, and the amount of time that elapsed between the end of original production and the advent of modern reproduction.

    Let's be clear that I'm talking about original media. Nevermind the original box - that'll add value too obviously. If the media is certified as the original produced in 1985 or whenever, then that media is distinguished from a modern reproduction and collectors will pay extra money 'just to have it'. They may not even use it, just like bottles of wine that sit in collector's cellars never consumed. Both the original game copies and the bottles of wine were produced in a limited quantity. Likewise, an investor is going pay extra money for an original game copy with the hope of selling it to such a collector.

    With that all said,
    - If the game IP owners aren't willing to reproduce a game that there is demand for, then that sucks, but there's not much we can do about that.
    - If investors are inflating the price and scarcity of games by purchasing them in order to sell for profit to other investors or crazy rich collectors, then that sucks, but there's not much we can do about that.
    - If players in the market e.g. auction houses or investors are artificially inflating the price of games, then that sucks and it is fraud and deception. This kind of behaviour should probably be illegal and punishable by death, but as wwww pointed out - nobody is forcing anybody to pay $2000000 dollars for Super Mario Bros or $3000 for Firefight. To what extent should law makers/law enforcers be responsible for preventing people from paying crazy prices for second hand items?

    It never hurts to be optimistic!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
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