From my observation of the different price points popular games, accessories, consoles are sold at relative to the condition the items are in, the prices of each item (especially games and consoles) is considerably higher when the item’s plastic console shell, plastic cartridge shell, any other plastic components (such as buttons, controller shells etc.), silicone pads, screws, cartridge paper/foil label, and packaging (cardboard box or plastic case, cardboard tray, plastic insert sleeves, paper/cardboard inserts such as manuals) is in good condition or actually available (especially in the case of boxes/cases abd cartridge labels).
This prompted me to ask: Why are popular retro video game products significantly more valuable when the parts other than the game circuitry are sold with it? The answer I’ve come to, attested by the market data, is physical video game collecting is mostly about collecting art to display, mainly for one’s own satisfaction, to proudly show off your interests to others, or both and the quality of the OEM shells and plastic/silicone components for handheld consoles and controllers for functional feel.
For instance, when a person buys a legitimate, boxed, complete copy of Pokemon Emerald for the Gameboy Advance in 2021 on a resale site, I believe the motivation for most people is primarily to display the art and regards to playing, the feel of the higher quality plastic shell in the OEM cartridge just feels better to hold. If one simply wants to experience the game software on the handheld, there are cheaper options, such as buying a used, legitimate cartridge without a label/original packaging.
As someone who has been buying various retro gaming products for the past 7 years for my personal collection, I’ve been frustrated by the scarcity and the resulting high prices of good and complete products. I’ve thought about what can be reasonably done to meet the demand by companies, such as Nintendo, such as reprints of entire games/consoles/accessories.
However, after some research, it seems manufacturing old video game circuitry could be considerably expensive, as the machinery and chemical expertise to reproduce old technology would be cost prohibitive to obtain relative to the demand. An alternative could be to engineer equivalent technology (maybe an official FPGA implementation of console circuitry, such as what the unofficial analogue pocket is doing for the gameboy line at least), but this would have significant costs as well for the time being (I anticipate classic lines from Nintendo for all of their consoles from the Wii and Nintendo DS going back eventually though).
I have formulated a hypothesis based on the price points of retro game products and potential costs of remanufacturing products that the the most coveted (and, thus, most valuable) parts of retro games, accessories, and consoles are arguably the cheapest for companies to re-manufacture.
Therefore, I suspect that perhaps it would be cost effective for Nintendo to establish an assembly line remanufacture everything else other than the circuitry, as they likely still have the molds of the original products (suggested by the 17 year production run of the Nintendo GameCube Controller from 2001 – 2018 at the latest). You may ask, however, can Nintendo sustain such an assembly line for retro products along with it’s main console manufacturing? I believe the existence of the Nintendo Game & Watch Classic system, the various remanufacturing runs of the GameCube Controller, and the physical Replica Packaging for Fire Emblem’s 30th anniversary NES port to the Nintendo Switch, implies they can indeed remanufacture old packaging, plastic shells/components, silicone pads, paper inserts in their entirety, and even circuitry (based on the gamecube controller’s production runs) to an extent.
I’d like to propose to Nintendo to finally capitalize on the retro video game market and reproduce much of their most popular OEM quality products, with the exception of circuitry/screens if cost prohibitive. When remanufacturing old packaging, I would like to suggest they use the newer cardboard they’re using for the switch (as far as I can tell the cardboard of the Switch packaging is different from the cardboard of the Gameboy Advance for instance) if it saves in costs, and whatever the highest quality paper the have available for reprinting inserts/manuals such as with the Fire Emblem 30th replica packaging. I wouldn’t mind reasonable changes to packaging as well, such as with the change of western gamecube controller packaging from plastic blister packs to cardboard boxes.
For console shells, plastic/silicone components, cartridge shells/labels, again, I propose just manufacturing those with the same proprietary techniques and quality or superior modern techniques/quality.
For the time being, it seems injection molded plastic components cannot be matched in quality by 3d printing, so lower volume, not as popular items may not be cost effective to remanufacture at the moment, but perhaps in 10-50 years, as 3d printing matures, it will become viable.
Obviously manufacturing every retro part with the exception of the electronics at once probably can’t be done in the present, but based on the cursory reading I’ve done about this topic, they could possibly manufacture the parts in batches (for instance 100,000 GameBoy shells, then 100,000 GBC shells, then 100,000 GBA agb-001 shells etc.).
I believe Nintendo is aware of the potential of the physical retro game market to an extent, but perhaps because it is not cost effective with modern technology as of yet, they have chosen not to act. However, I believe they have all the reason to do so in the next 10 – 50 years.
(Why is my upper estimate 50 years and not sooner? I would like these works of art to be preserved and produced for anyone who wants them. If it takes that long, or even longer, for it to be cost effective to either establish the assembly line for conventional production or high quality 3d printing on par with molding to be achieved, then so be it)
If you or someone you know works at Nintendo, is a partner of Nintendo, consider forwarding the thoughts conveyed here to a person in the company with decision making authority (I’m mainly interested in reprints of gameboy, gbc, gba,nds, gamecube, and wii game packaging, console packaging, shells, labels, plastic/silicone components, and paper inserts among others)
Anyway, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and any rebuttals. Thanks for reading.
**F.A.Q (No one has asked me any questions yet, but I’d like to preemptively answer some):
1.I am a video game scalper who has invested thousands of dollars in a retro game collection so I can profit off artificial scarcity one day and I oppose this proposal as retro gamers will give companies such as Nintendo their money instead of me. What do you suppose I do?
A: Anyone who intentionally tries to profit from artificial scarcity is a complete and utter fool (i.e. buying artificially scarce products to resell), and you don’t have my sympathy once Nintendo and other companies are able to increasingly capitalize on the physical retro market. The majority of collectors do so for their own satisfaction, not to resell. I am not referring to people who just happen to have old product, whether used or new, on hand and decide to resell.
2. Who cares about anything other than the game software, this proposal is a waste of resources
A: Arguably, anything not necessary for survival is a waste of resources. I don’t believe this is a valid criticism of this proposal alone, but all of entertainment. In addition, like I stated earlier, the primary motivation for purchasing physical retro products is to have art for display and functional feel of OEM shells and plastic/silicone components in handhelds/controllers. This is in principal no different than someone purchasing a painting to hang on their wall, a figurine of a character/series they are a fan of or buying a high quality keyboard to type with on their pc.
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