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Thread: Collectors are stripping Japanís rare-game paradise bare

  1. #1
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    Default Collectors are stripping Japanís rare-game paradise bare

    http://www.wired.com/2015/09/akihabara-4/



    Visitors to Akihabara, Tokyoís famed home of nerd culture, looking to mine the districtís renowned cache of mint-condition classic videogames might be disappointed. As game collecting continues its meteoric rise in popularity around the world, Akihabara is being scoured clean, and whatís left commands astronomical prices.

    A visit to the delightfully named Super Potato (mascot: a potato with a face), one of the districtís most well-stocked and delightfully decorated classic game emporiums, turned up many empty shelves. In particular, the growing popularity of the TurboGrafx-16, known in Japan as the PC Engine, has virtually cleared out that section of the store.

    Meanwhile, the storeís locked glass cases, which in better times showcased the most collectible and elusive titles, are filled with games you used to find lining the shelves. Iíve been hunting for copies of all three Motherócalled EarthBound outside Japanógames for a friend, and arrived in Japan confident of bagging my quarry easily and relatively cheaply. But given the seriesí growing popularity, every copy Iíve seen has been locked behind glass, selling for $60-90 each.

    And the first game, the original Mother? Given that the publisher recently re-released it on the Wii Uís Virtual Console download service, I figured some players would be letting go of their physical copies. Nope. If anything, the re-release seems to have had the opposite effect, as I cannot find a single complete-in-box copy in all of Tokyo.

    The disappearance of games from Tokyo isnít difficult to understand. The stores in Akihabara historically have been well-stocked because the classic games never really left the city; collectors would buy them, then trade them in when they were done. Over the years, eBay has grown more popular, and far more people around the world are collecting games. The games are leaving the Tokyo ecosystem, heading overseas to foreign buyers.

    In general, Akihabara has been shifting away from games anyway; many smaller stores have closed in the last decade, replaced with stores dedicated to anime, manga, and trading cards, or to maid cafes, cat cafes, and other such otaku pursuits. But now the games are drying up, and the singular experience of game shopping in Japanóof walking into a single store to find the entire library of any game console laid out before youómay be on its way out, too.
    This article seems a bit sensational to me, last time I was in glorious nihon and I went to Super Potato 4 years ago there were cheap consoles and games all over the place, I picked up a mint condition gameboy for 3000 yen. Which stores did this guy go to that are supposedly "scoured over" like this, or has the game market really changed so much since then

  2. #2
    Strawberry (Level 2) sfchakan's Avatar
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    There might be some amount of truth to this. I have I think four people on my Facebook friends list that make some amount of income buying up Japanese games and selling them worldwide. I'm sure there's more.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Niku-Sama's Avatar
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    I went about 7 years ago and picked up some common but fun famicom and fds games with a famicom twin system for about •12,500, but i believe it. Games have anyways had ups and downs and this time it's a big up and there will be a bigger down.

    I've really noticed prices for import games in general have jumped quite a bit. I remember picking up extra systems for supper cheap plus shipping but now a crappy famicom goes for at least 20 bucks before inflated shipping costs.

    I haven't imported any thing for months

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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    Well I have seen the occasional game even going back further, but usually its not in system font but something drawn larger to accommodate it so that really doesn't fit the need here.

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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    I'd say it's mostly true, but it also breaks down into dirt cheap imports, and selective pick and choose on stuff to jam up in value just because it maybe a piece of a franchise we got hosed out of. The thing is the stores aren't picked over always, they'll refill on stuff as a ton of it was made in the 80s, 90s and earlier-mid 00s on popular formats, but there is also only so much to go around.

    I've noticed in the last couple of years certain games from Japan that fall into that, such as F-Zero Climax on GBA have gone from a $20-30 CIB game to a $40-50 loose cart on ebay from both Japanese selling over there and US resellers who live locally and ship worldwide. It's infuriating but expected since domestically things have been wrecked. When one resource gets tapped out, you have to go and screw your neighbor out of theirs too. It's not games in that sense though, it's anything. You'll see people fighting over water rights out west drilling into deep cavern wells and people going diagonal to steal it as they used up their allotment on their land as fast or faster than it naturally refills.

    I mean you could argue, just don't buy it, but some other clown won't care as they are a collectard and must have it immediately not thinking of the value or repercussions which is why I mostly tapped out entirely on this stuff awhile back until sanity returns.


    All said though I've had luck and ignored stuff since summer started. From one seller which I love as they have decent prices, they give free green tea with each order, write a little thank you in both english and japanese on the receipt, and pack it well is ryoplanshop. That one I got Samurai Shodown 3 GB for $15 shipped which is good. I've also dealt with yamatoku classic, got a CIB Lupin GB and Tekkaman GB combined for $30 for the pair (Lupin was far less oddly.) And there's even some sellers who start at a penny and do free shipping like webwebo which I got an immaculate Beatmania GB CIB for $11.50 shipped. And just arrived an hour ago from France I did this no-picture listing but translated it and it appeared to say CIB, it is, box is smooshed(don't care) but for $8 shipped I got Asterix & Obelix XXL for GBA -- the only 3rd person 3d platformer for the system and it plays great.

    It's all really a crap shoot, but the stuff people try to jam up there, they're going to get away with it. You just have to be smart about it. I can point out a trio of decent US based Famicom/Super Famicom sellers if you like, they tend to match what usually the prices are out of Japan shipped on average and they're pal52, retro_saikou, and shisochou. They're all friendly, fast and have 99.8/99.9% ratings.

    Try the names I've listed, you may do alright. I did some decent digging for awhile when I found these various people (not the french one, that was luck) and they're solid.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) delafro's Avatar
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    Last edited by delafro; 09-27-2015 at 07:41 AM.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) delafro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goatse View Post



    This article seems a bit sensational to me, last time I was in glorious nihon and I went to Super Potato 4 years ago
    Well, that's the thing, isn't it? I was at Super Potato on Saturday and the PC Engine and Disk System sections were stripped bare. In particular, there were probably only 20 Disks in the entire store, the majority of those were extra copies of the same games. Most of the Dreamcast section isn't games or hardware, but a bunch of Dreamcast-themed mugs. Trader's been cutting down on their selection too, with several shelves now devoted strictly to imports (that is, US and European games). They also only had about 10-15 disk system games. Also Trader's Saturn section was stripped down bare, but hey, you can still buy a bunch of JP Mega Drive games in the case for tens of thousands of yen.

    It's all getting fairly sad, actually- even compared to four years ago, never mind the glory years when there were tons of small shops stocked with great stuff.

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    It was bound to happen. As more and more people begin realizing how awesome and reasonably priced Japanese games are (or used to be) they will naturally become harder to find and more expensive. Makes sense that PC-engine games are in such high demand, turbo grafx games and turbo cd games especially are close to impossible to find outside of ebay.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Niku-Sama's Avatar
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    your telling me. I had found a TG 16 in the trash complete box and everything minus a controller and keith about 10 years ago. it took me until last year to find a controller and it was at PRGE and then earlier this year when I got secret santa'd a tg 16 game....a pretty awesome one at that.

    I was poking around again on the ebays for imports and I found a few I wanted at decent prices, this sort of thing is going so much like the stock market

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    I just like that on the main forum page, this topic is abbreviated as "Collectors are stripping..." in my browser.

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    Errr..... as far as I can find all over the internet, the only one this seems to be about is apparently in Akiba alone or something.

    There was this one twitter thread from the Japanese end about the lackluster stock selection in Akiba as well with a pic of one of the shelves in Super Potato, along with how most of the retro games seem to be brought out of the country.

    Along with that, I've read some commentary from some places, youtube especially, but given the record of how far off those comments can be, take it with a pinch of salt, that the situation is just occurring in Akiba, with shops outside of Akiba still having plentiful of stock.

    Anyhow, I could be wrong, but that is all I managed to gather about this situation.

  12. #12
    Cherry (Level 1) Yamazaki's Avatar
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    I had several discussions about this topic with Japanese retro collectors AND the author of that article.

    Also with friends who just came back from Tokio/Osaka.


    the main impression is: YES, at least Akihabara is getting stripped of it's retro stuff with gaijins swarming the place like locust together wit the resellers living there and Japanese retro collectors.

    most of the good and rare stuff has now moved to the internet (that is Yahoo Japan).

    of course it is stil cheaper to buy stuff from there then Ebay (but not always!).



    But I have myself realized last year in Akihabara AND Den Den Town that a lot of retro games are sold to foreigners outside of Japan and I think this trend will continue.


    so maby in 10 years we will really look at a barren desert when it comes to retro gaming in Japan.



    PS: no pointing at someone special - it's everybody's fault - foreign collectors, resellers and Japanese hoarders.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadaoBob View Post
    Errr..... as far as I can find all over the internet, the only one this seems to be about is apparently in Akiba alone or something.

    There was this one twitter thread from the Japanese end about the lackluster stock selection in Akiba as well with a pic of one of the shelves in Super Potato, along with how most of the retro games seem to be brought out of the country.

    Along with that, I've read some commentary from some places, youtube especially, but given the record of how far off those comments can be, take it with a pinch of salt, that the situation is just occurring in Akiba, with shops outside of Akiba still having plentiful of stock.

    Anyhow, I could be wrong, but that is all I managed to gather about this situation.


    Yeah - this mainly concerns Akiba as a tourist magnet - but places like Osaka etc. are appearantly also feeling the loss.
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    Eh, it's kinda hard to be sympathetic. It's not like the games are ceasing to exist. They're just getting more spread around the globe. And as long as they eventually end up in the hands of people who want to play them, it's all good. And with this increased availability outside of Japan, it seems like prices are only getting more and more balanced out with Japan, so at least foreigners aren't getting heavily gouged on imports quite so much anymore. As an American, it's not like I feel like I have any kind of claim over all American retro games, expecting them to stay in this country and remain easily available to me. If it's a brand new American product still on store shelves, then, yeah, I definitely expect it to be available to Americans, but anything goes with an old product no longer available at retail. I would venture to guess that there are more European gamers importing US releases than there are the other way around, but that's fine by me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    I would venture to guess that there are more European gamers importing US releases than there are the other way around, but that's fine by me.
    Aside from exclusives, oh definitely because you know, PAL. :P

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    Yeah, and even with games where PAL isn't a factor, it still seems to be the case. Like with this generation and the one previous, I hear all the time about Europeans importing games from the US that either aren't getting localized over there or are digital-only in Europe.

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    This is pretty much true, everything is ultra over-priced. I basically only go to Super Potato when I have friends visiting because they have the coolest stuff, eg. Super Famicom Box, Sharp SF-1, Virtual Boy Kiosk, Vectrex, etc. Trader is pretty much the only place left in Akihabara that I can find deals at, their bargain bins are usually pretty good as I often find Megaman 2 and 3, and some Mario and Kirby titles in there. Just this past Sunday I found a CIB game for the Commodore Max, called Jupiter Lander, and it only ran me 2600 yen.

    Hard Off also has some pretty good stuff these days, mostly cheap PS1 games and promo discs, but I sometimes find SCPH-1000 PlayStations in there.

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    so heres something I am wondering about.

    what about stores in japan that are selling European and American games and systems? has that taken off at all?

    I remember seeing a few of these shops, one notably close to the KFC that was outside the train station in akiba, this was about 7 years ago now though.

    I've noticed that some of my ebay sellers in japan have had a few American titles pop up for NES and Genesis lately

  19. #19
    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    I've noticed a lot of japanese citizens and americans over there upping their online inventories on ebay too. But some kind of parallel when I was out in CA earlier this year in June I went to 2 different Book Offs (one in LA county and the other the solitary one in San Diego) and damn they were grossly picked over too when it came to import games, the volume is just shot, most of what they had was overpriced second hand US games so they were clearly playing in the mud now pricing off the higher tier of ebay which is a real loss. I'm glad I don't live there anymore as that would be far more depressing. Between two places the only thing I could walk away with was GBA Tetris Advance the only good GBA Tetris which THQ denied us for that broken Tetris World abomination.

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    I was really psyched about getting to go to Book Off next spring, but I guess I'll be in for a massive disappointment too...

    Though I'm basically just looking for old-ish stuff related to HAL Laboratory and Gyakuten Saiban. My personal holy grails at the moment are art books for Kirby and Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright. Considering the secondhand prices for those online, I don't expect to get a great deal on them... but I can dream.
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    Strawberry (Level 2) delafro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niku-Sama View Post
    so heres something I am wondering about.

    what about stores in japan that are selling European and American games and systems? has that taken off at all?

    I remember seeing a few of these shops, one notably close to the KFC that was outside the train station in akiba, this was about 7 years ago now though.

    I've noticed that some of my ebay sellers in japan have had a few American titles pop up for NES and Genesis lately
    I think that you're referring to Game Hollywood, which sadly closed doors several years ago.

    Trader still has some western stuff from time to time (especially for the newer systems), so there's that.

    Also there's a small store (well, booth or stall is more accurate) called Kadenken (http://kadenken.com/) which seems to have western Master System and NES stuff. It's actually pretty close to the Game Hollywood location, so I'd like to think that they're carrying on the mantle of Game Hollywood in a way.

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