Last week, Nintendo announced the release date for The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D and unveiled the New Nintendo 3DS Majora’s Mask Edition XL. The special limited edition New 3DS then sold out so fast that it became extremely difficult to find. Just like the Majora’s Mask bundle before it, this lead to bidding wars on eBay that doubled the MSRP value.
This type of limited release has become common in the video game industry as of late. This then, obviously, causes many people to go to great lengths just to be the proud owner of certain collectibles or items, turning what should be a cherished keepsake into a rush of greed and madness.
The continued success of a series is great for the industry, especially when the revenue from the IP and its merchandise can further both the growth and development of video games as a whole. Themed consoles, collectible bundles, and figurines are nothing new in the release of popular games, from the Pikachu Gameboy Color to the Call of Duty: Advance Warfare Collectors Edition. Never before in the industry have we seen such a need to own these items. It breeds a need so strong that the love of the game is transformed into a lust to possess, by gamers and those just looking to make the biggest profit possible.
Profit. That is the biggest thorn in the side of this issue that is causing limited editions, and their lack of stock, to destroy the gaming community. Not profit for the parent company, but for personal gain. Ideally, when someone buys a collector’s edition, they are looking to never open the item and instead immortalize it in their collection. Failing that, they intend to actually use it and let it become a tangible testimony for their love of a series. Others want the best of both worlds, and will buy two copies. And occasionally, you will have those who will purchase for the chance of a profitable resell. There is no “right” reason to buy, but when people start buying as many copies as possible to horde for money, things get greasy.
The current state of any video memorabilia collection has turned into a predictable cycle of pure nonsense. A limited edition of –insert title here- is announced, and pre-orders go live. Within 24 hours to a week, depending on popularity, the item is sold out before it has a chance to hit shelves or ship. This is then often followed by a flood of Craigslist and eBay postings selling pre-orders or items for huge profit margins. You have gamers fighting other gamers for a chance to own said item, and people who know nothing of games fighting to sell it to gamers who genuinely desire it.
A perfect example is the announcement and release of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix Collectors Edition. It sold out extremely fast with no guarantee Square Enix would restock, leading people to sell copies of this limited edition on eBay for over $200, when the item was originally $99.99.
We, as gamers, shouldn’t have to put up with this foolishness, but we do. On the other side of the coin, companies should acknowledge these issues and take remedying action. Nintendo releasing a considerable amount of Marth amiibos back into the market, after seeing the need and greed caused from the shortage, was an excellent move. It drove down the online prices and stopped people from frantically trying to get their hands on the latest limited edition.
Should gaming companies stop selling such bundles and items? Of course not! Should we stop striving to fight for our favorite series collectibles? Of course we shouldn’t, but others will be right there waiting for their chance to make a quick buck from something we love.
How can we work together to stop the prices of these limited edition boxes flying into astronomical figures? Well sadly, there’s little effective action we can take. The world’s economy is built upon goods being demanded in one place, then supplied in another. When someone wants something, they buy it. If everyone wants something and there isn’t enough to go around, the price will invariably increase. We see this pattern in product sales every day, from precious materials like gold to the practice of devouring fish eggs. Games are not exempt from this.
Unless companies take protective measures to quell ridiculous markups, all we as a gaming community can do is try to avoid buying from scamming resellers – the ones on eBay or other auction sites expecting you to pay a 300% mark up on a special edition copy because the buyer heard it was rare. Failing that, just wait until the price drops after release. No reseller is going to keep hold of an item for too long; it’s just going to cost them money.
Make sure they don’t cost you over the odds.