Thursday, July 5, 2012

They want HOW MUCH for Metal Gear?

Every once in a while I like to see what Famicom stuff is going for on Ebay. Because my Ebay searches automatically filter the results with the highest priced stuff at the top I get to see what the most expensive Famicom thing on Ebay is at any given moment.

At the moment it is this, the above CIB copy of Metal Gear for the Famicom. The price? But it Now for $19,999.95.

To put that in perspective, Mandarake in Tokyo put an entire set of Famicom carts - all 1051 of them - on sale for about $7000 three years ago. So in other words you could either buy EVERY Famicom game ever made almost 3 times over or you could buy just Metal Gear.

The reason it is so expensive is because, according to the listing, it is:

¨85+ Qualified NM+ Gold from the Video Game Authority¨

I know, I think so too. This is my copy of the exact same game:
I paid about $15 for it. Admittedly that is a bit cheaper than average but still, if you walk into Mandarake you could easily walk out with a decent looking CIB copy of Metal Gear for $40 tops. Just the shipping on this one alone (to Japan at least) is more than three times that (no kidding, $143.92 according to the shipping calculator).

As a collector I understand why condition is important. What I don`t understand is why anyone would pay THAT much of a premium for such a common game just because it is in near mint condition. I could sort of see some rich guy shelling out that much for one of those hyper rare Atari 2600 games that there are only like 14 copies of in the world, but for Metal Gear on the Famicom?

Since the grossly inflated price for this game is obviously 100% driven by obsession with condition, this raises a question for me: as a collector, what condition does it make sense to collect games in?

Personally I like to have reasonable looking copies of stuff but not mint stuff. Mint stuff sucks. You have to pay more for it AND you can`t enjoy it because once you have it all you are allowed to do with it is worry about keeping it in mint condition.

I generally prefer stuff that is in mid-range condition. Used but not abused.Like my copy of Metal Gear up there. I have no functional need for the box but I kind of wanted it anyway because it looks kind of cool. The one I have is a little beat up - its got rounded corners and a couple of dings here and there. But nothing so bad that it ruins the box`s visual appeal. The picture is still clear and it isn`t missing anything so I`m happy. Why in god`s name would I, or anyone even remotely sane, want to spend an extra $19,985 for the exact same thing just without the dings? I mean, I understand that in a collector:s market mint stuff should be worth more, but that much more? Really?

Same with carts. I actually kind of like carts that are in destroyed condition but for my `official collection` I just basically want ones with a decent looking front label and no major damage. Other than that I don`t care: scuff marks, kids names written on the backs, scratches - its all good.


  1. I do a lot of post-purchase cart cleaning, I want the label to be in good condition and not obscured, and I would like any blemishes to be on the back of the cart. Honestly however I'll take what I can get for a good price, the worst piece in my collection is a Super Adventure Island that looks like it went through a washing machine, but it was only a buck so I picked it up.

  2. I sometimes clean my carts too, at least if they are quite dirty. The front label is really the only thing I care much about, so long as it is in decent shape and the cart itself isn`t broken that is good enough forme.

    And a dollar for Super Adventure Island is a good buy no matter how messed up the cart is:)

  3. I saw this on ebay the other day as well. And thought to myself hmmm second hand car or game I will never actually be able to play.

    I love retro gaming but that price is just silly.

  4. Video Game Authority is such a goddamned ridiculous scam. Anyone and everyone should be laughed it if they take it remotely seriously.

  5. I collect Famicom carts that are intact and working - that's pretty much it. HuCards on the other hand I'm slightly anal about - have to have no yellowing, no scratches, and be in nice shape throughout.

    I try to never question the price people pay for their gear (value is in the eye of the beholder right?), but unfortunately the price itself often indicates a collectors perception of value. For me value is down to playability, how long I have been hunting, and how rare it is to come by at a price I am willing to pay. What I find with many retro collectors these days, is the higher the price paid the higher the intrinsic value - seems weird.

    Still 19k for a Famicom cart??? Maybe there was a typo when writing up the ebay ad. :D

  6. Dave - yup, a car would be a more sensible buy. 20K for a copy of Metal Gear is about as close as you can come to literally throwing your money away.

    Discoalucard - I agree. In all hobbies with grading services they seem to get most of their business solely based on the fact that people expect having their thing graded will inflate the value of whatever it is. It is economically very similar to a pyramid scam that will eventually collapse and that copy of Metal Gear will probably end up going for maybe $100-$200, which sounds about right for a mint copy of the game.

    Hollo - I agree with that, beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder and normally I wouldn`t question what someone would pay for a game. I guess my problem with this is simply that anyone who wants a copy of Metal Gear, even if they insist on having a really nice copy, can find one for a tiny fraction of the price this one is being offered for. Which suggests to me that beauty, interest in the game, etc isn`t what would drive someone to buy this. It would just be some hollow investment trophy. Not a very good one either, these things won`t hold these prices in the long run.

  7. I also think it's funny that this Metal Gear cart is going for more than the full Nintendo M82 Store Display Cabinet that comes up in one of the recommended auctions.

    But yeah, a bunch of my carts have writing on them or something. Whatever. Games were meant to be played.

  8. Have to agree that the whole VGA thing is a scam. It gets ridiculous when people are looking for a couple of 1000 dollars for something like a CIB Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog. Whats worse is I've actually seen these items sell. A fool and his money and all that. I know I won't be buying them.

    I also think the cases that those VGA games come in are a joke as well. It won't protect them from corrosion or light damage since they aren't UV protected or vaccuum packed. It's amazing how people think that a cheap piece of plastic will raise the price so much. I've even seen some sellers using just these PVC boxes with a inflated BIN value.

    Then there's my other peeve of inflated shipping prices. $60+ to ship a bare NES cart to Ireland. Jog on son.

  9. Why do people bother with this grading crap? All it does is make the game unplayable because they're stuck in a case. When I buy a game, I play it! I bought two Dreamcast games factory sealed (Maken X and Space Channel 5, to those curious). As soon as I got them, I opened them. I played them. Keeping a game sealed just because it might be worth SLIGHTLY more? Pardon my French, but SCREW THAT. Games are meant to be played, and people who waste their time with this are simply keeping future generations from playing, enjoying, and making memories with them.

  10. And the "good" version of this game is the original MSX one. The Famicom is a heavily altered port, made without Kojima's involvement.

  11. Nate - yeah, that sounds about right, the entire contents of a store for Metal Gear? Fair deal.

    Retr0gamer - very good point about the UV thing, I hadn`t thought of it. Sun fading on a label can be one of the worst types of damage a cart can take since it ruins its visual appeal. And 60$ for a single cart shipped to Ireland? I actually have the same problem with Ebay sellers charging ridiculous rates to Japan, the result being that I don`t buy from Ebay!

    Skyrunner - totally agree! You might find this guy`s `solution` to the graded stuff problem amusing. He is a baseball card collector but the same method would probably work with VGA graded games:

    Anonymous - I`ve heard that too. I have to track down a copy of that MSX one. Oh, and an MSX too:)

  12. Hahahahaha... ok now.. The only thing I could possibly think of that would benefit from VGA is a CRT PC monitor.

  13. God, I love people like this -- i.e., people who try to sell video games for, say, more than a hundred or so dollars. For me, a game would have to be encrusted in diamonds (or something similarly valuable) for me to even consider spending that kind of money on it.

    Personally, I only go for CIB games in great shape if they're cheap (which, for me, generally means $50 or less, depending on the game). Otherwise, I go for CIB in whatever shape I can find or "loose" (cart-only).

    That said, I do have a few $100+ games on my wish list, but there's only a couple of them and I have no idea if I'll ever actually splurge on them :)

  14. Not that it makes VGA any less of a scam, but they do offer UV-resistant cases now. For a price, of course.

    Would vacuum sealing really make much of a difference? Honest question.

    Under no circumstances is this any less goshdarn ridiculous, though.

  15. Stealth - yes, but it probably wouldn`t fit into their plastic cases:)

    Bryan - yes, they are amusing aren`t they? If I was rich there are definitely some games I would be willing to pay big money for, but CIB Metal Gear just because it is in mint condition is definitely not one of them. As I am not rich, like you I usually keep my budget to less than $50 or so per game:)

    Mercatfat - not sure about the vacuum seal making a difference, I guess for moisture damage or something?

  16. Sean: Just popping back in here to tell you that I'm never going to forgive you for turning me on to RF Generation. I'm obsessed! Also, I'm not sure I want to know how many games I own. I already know, though, that the entirety of my collection is smaller than your Famicom collection!

  17. Hey did you sign up? Have you got your own collection database up and going? It certainly is addictive, once I started mine (for just the Famicom games) I felt obliged to complete it, so 10 minutes of fooling around turned into several hours of hardcore searching for every game in collection.

  18. Good to see a whole page of posts to read through when I haven't been on the site in a while.

    Just to clarify a bit, VGA only grades brand new items, unless they might have been released new without other packaging in some cases. That would be why the price is so high, still I could never fathom spending that much money on a single thing (other than property). ;)