A case of Sealed Stadium Events is about to enter the market. Will it impact prices?
Up until about 6 years ago, retro video games were cheap and plentiful. You couldn’t go to a garage sale or thrift store without seeing at least a handful of NES cartridges for sale. The systems were about 10 dollars and it was clear no one really wanted them. Then the collecting craze exploded and demand for anything older than the PlayStation 2 grew too much for even the average joe to ignore. Soon articles on Yahoo started popping up about how old video games are the new baseball cards; hidden treasures that people thought were worthless could be worth thousands of dollars.
That’s when things started to get out of hand. The great retro boom caused video games to skyrocket and now there are some NES games that to for over a thousand dollars. These games are considered the rarest of the rare. Games that either came out in the last two years of the system’s life or in cases like the Nintendo World Championship cart – only 4 are known to exist and the last one sold for 25 grand.
When a video game cartridge costs more than a Hyundai Elantra
Then the most noted game that tends to fetch over 10 thousand dollars every time it appears at auction is Stadium Events. Stadium Events came out in a limited release and was pulled because Nintendo rebranded it as Track and Field. Copies are rare. Or so we’re meant to believe.
For the past two years, some people on video game forums that I frequent claim that prices of video games are artificially inflated and considered rare by a single group of people. Games are hidden away and then sold incrementally to drive up the prices of the rarest games. These people are usually written off as some conspiracy loons who feel entitled to great prices even though there are plenty of people buying these games for the prices that are listed. Known as the Fair Market Value or FMV, a video game is only worth what people are willing to pay for it.
Now some new information and drama over at Nintendo Age has started to come out that a private collector by the name of Tim Atwood has in his possession 1 case of six SEALED copies of Stadium Events. But that wasn’t really the big news. It was always known that Tim had these in his collection.
Pat the NES punk sums it up best: Tim doesn’t like how current elite collectors are cornering the gaming market and snatching up multiple copies of the same game to keep prices high. When the story was first discussed on Pat’s podcast on March 26th, Tim had made a veiled threat that he would be selling the box to random collectors who he felt worthy of owning them instead of the elite collectors who buy solely for bragging rights. During the podcast, Pat had illustrated that it wasn’t likely that Tim would ever sell.
Now 2 weeks later, we’re seeing that Tim is now going to sell those six sealed Stadium Events on eBay. According to his very basic website, which has since been removed, he has over 350 sealed games at his disposal just waiting to be sold. He will list the games on eBay as best offer and he will review each offer and sell to who he deems qualified to have them. Another interesting tidbit on his site states that he has already sold 12 copies and required buyers to sign an NDA.
Currently there is an eBay auction up under Tim’s user name for a poster of STADIUM EVENTS COMING SOON? with a picture of the box of Stadium events. Individually numbered and signed by Tim, the poster measures 8 and 1/2 X 11 inches and printed on a Canon MG5422. Currently the price is at $20.50
What is the impact of this sale of Stadium Events?
So why does this matter at all? Well, for the longest time it was believed that Stadium Events was so rare that all the known copies were already in the hands of collectors. When an undocumented copy of Stadium Events is revealed, it makes video game news and it sells for over five thousand for a loose and well over 10 thousand for a complete copy. The theory is that now that it’s known that there are six sealed copies available for sale, the price for Stadium Events will drop and those who have been artificially inflating the price of this game will be the ones who suffer.
Knowing that a rare game isn’t all that rare has caused specific games to go back down to realistic levels in the past but Stadium Events might not be affected by this price drop. Stadium Events still will be rare even with the revelation that 18 sealed copies are now in the hands of collectors. The fact that buyers of the previous 12 copies needed to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement suggests that the prices will remain just as high if they were never sold in the first place. Details of the NDA are non-existent so we can only speculate what it actually said. Perhaps these buyers are prohibited from selling their copies for a specified number of years or disclosing what they actually paid for them.
If the NDA does state that the buyer of Stadium Events cannot sell, then this event shouldn’t have any impact on the price at all. The fact that there are only a handful of copies available for SALE determine the price, not how many there are overall. Even if NDA stated they could sell but couldn’t reveal how much they bought it for, it still wouldn’t change the overall selling price.
Is the video game collecting bubble finally popping?
Sorry, thrifty collectors, you won’t be getting a copy of Stadium Events for 30 dollars anytime soon. There will be no video game bubble unless there’s a catastrophic influx of original games into the market. For there to be a significant drop in the price for the most sought after games, there has to be at least 500-1000 copies of one game at one time. The other way a game bubble would pop is there is a dramatic loss of interest in the hobby where collectors decide to panic sell off their wares to get the best possible price.
Right now there doesn’t seem to be anything to indicate that the hobby his headed towards that direction. As for the idea that there’s a group of collectors keeping the prices high, I’m a bit skeptical. On one hand it does appear that the elite collector pieces do seem to trade hands between only the top collectors, but for the other 99% of collecting, there doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary.
Video game collecting is hot right now and will be for the next couple of years. Older games will continue to become rare and re-releases will continue to renew interest in the retro titles. Unless Nintendo or other publishers announce the discovery of a warehouse of millions of copies of older games, the prices will continue to rise.