The chances of purchasing a counterfeit game are increasing day by day. It’s best to inform yourself to avoid a potentially costly mistake.
Buying a counterfeit game sucks. And as the retro video game market reaches a fever pitch, counterfeits become more and more commonplace. It has become so insanely popular and profitable that Gamestop has entered the market again after a 15 year hiatus. As the demand for these games have gone up, so have the prices essentially making the hobby a competition to see who has the deepest wallet. And with every popular hobby, there is an opportunity for scam artists to profit off of these collectors with cheap knock offs selling as the original thing. While collectors are skeptical and know a counterfeit game when they see it, family members looking to buy something for a collector aren’t as educated and get duped into buying similar looking items.
So how do I tell if my game is counterfeit? Aside from pulling the game apart and inspecting the board, there are a couple of things that you can superficially tell if the game is counterfeit. Of course this isn’t a sure fire method and as printers get better and video games get more scarce, telling if the game is counterfeit just by looking at it will become tougher and tougher. The only real way that you’ll be able to tell if it’s a counterfeit if you compare it side by side with the original and open it up to see if the board is legit.
So the first thing to check to see if your game is counterfeit is the label. Generally labels are the most obvious way to tell if a game is counterfeit. Nintendo games like Pokemon are some of the most counterfeited games out there so let’s focus on that. Below is a picture of a copy of Pokemon Ruby Version. Can you tell if it’s counterfeit or not?
Believe it or not the game is counterfeit. So how is that copy of Pokemon counterfeit? Well let’s compare it to the original copy of Ruby.
First off let’s point out one glaring mistake that the counterfeit game label has. The label states the game is licensed by Nintendo. Nintendo is the maker of Pokemon and therefore doesn’t need to license its own game. That alone should point out that this game is a fake, but let’s go further by looking at the official seal. Most printers that counterfeiters use cannot clearly print out “Official Nintendo Seal of Quality” and that should be your next clue that your game is counterfeit. There are other reasons why this copy of Pokemon Ruby is fake like for instance, the cart is opaque and not translucent like the original copy. Also the label on the original version is metallic and reflective, plus the Pokemon logo has depth to it where the counterfeit game is flat with the rest of the label.
While Gameboy Advance games have been easy to determine fakes, recent NES and Super NES counterfeit games are starting to pop up making it even harder to find original copies. The two biggest titles are Little Samson and Earthbound. This copy of Earthbound actually went on for sale at Half Price books and was spotted by Reddit user spencerrb. He alerted the manager and they removed it from the shelf. I would venture a guess that no one would want to pay $200 for a counterfeit game
As you can see, to the untrained eye, this is a really good fake. I even thought it was real until it was pointed out that the cartridge style was completely different from the actual game (Nintendo changed the cartridge style after they removed the peg to keep carts in place) The label on the back (not pictured) states the game was made in Japan which is incorrect as well because the game was made in Mexico.
Now you might be thinking, “Hey that’s good to know if I can view the game in person, but what about eBay and Amazon?” The trouble with buying online is that you can’t see if the game is counterfeit right away and if you do happened to get duped (the seller might send you a counterfeit even though the picture was legit) you’re out a chunk of money and have to go through eBay and Amazon’s return policy which takes time and you still have a counterfeit game in your hands. Here are some things that every eBay/Amazon person should follow:
If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.
This should go without saying. If there are plenty of copies of Earthbound on sale for 200 and the one you’re looking at is $75, then it’s prooobably a fake. eBay and Amazon really have evolved to a point where even the basic seller knows to research the price of what items are going for not to undercut the competition by 75%. This also goes for Pokemon carts. Sellers selling the whole lot of Gameboy Advance Pokemons should be met with suspect especially if they’re for under 10 dollars a game. If you’re unsure of the going rate for certain games, check out pricecharting.com for the average going rate of all games.
Err on the side of caution
It should probably be stated that video games, while super fun and awesome, aren’t a necessity. The ability to research a deal is paramount and if it doesn’t feel that you’re going to get a legit game, then it’s perfectly acceptable to walk away. This includes an item that lacks pictures or only has one stock photo, an seller with little to now feedback or one that is selling multiple copies of the same item.