Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

General and high profile video game topics.
User avatar
Retro STrife
Posts: 441
Joined: August 3rd, 2015, 7:40 pm

Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby Retro STrife » October 19th, 2016, 7:08 pm

Every Good System Dies Twice. Or if you're an optimistic gamer, Every Good System Gets Two Lives. Tell me if I'm wrong (i usually am), but I'm making up this phrase today and claiming it's Rule #1 of video game collecting, as it truly sums up the collecting market in my opinion. In fact, in 30 years or so, I think it will be very apparently true, but I think the industry is too young for it to be noticeable yet. Now, I don't claim to be making up the theory itself (as it's pretty obvious, IMO), but I think our impending gaming mortality is very often overlooked. Let me explain it and let me tell you why and when your beloved Nintendo and Sega are headed to their final death. And see what you think. I know this is very long, but hopefully worth the read and thought.

First, a background story. This past weekend, I was at a video game convention that had, among other things, dozens of vendors. The vast majority had heaps of NES, SNES, and N64 games, although Genesis, Playstation and other major retro systems of the mid '80s to early 2000s were well represented.... EXCEPT pre-NES systems. I got into a discussion about it with one of the very few vendors that did have a decent selection of Atari, Colecovision, and Intellivision games there. He was older (50s at least) and clearly had been involved in gaming and collecting for decades. He commented to me that the prices of loose games from the Atari era had gone stagnant and perhaps even dropped in value, but the value of boxed/complete Atari era games had continued to rise. I said: "That makes sense. The casual retrogamer that gets into it for nostalgia has aged out from that era and only the serious life-long collectors still remain. So the demand for loose games to play is drying up, while serious collectors continue to fight over the best stuff." And that my friends is how Every Good System Dies Twice.

PHASE 1: So, for starters, a system dies for the first time when it's commercial success ends, usually with it being discontinued and games no longer manufactured for it (but sometimes sooner); most commonly because it has been replaced by a new generation of consoles. This reminds me of a 1998 holiday edition of EGM that had a feature called "The Video Game Graveyard" where it discussed how the SNES, Genesis, and Saturn were now dead systems and it highlighted the life and best games of those systems. Right now, Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii are in that same phase. No one cares about them anymore. They're dead.

PHASE 2: Then there is the Revival. The systems get a second life among retro gamers, nostalgically longing for the games of their youth--particularly if the system had some commercial success. Retro gaming is a hobby based almost entirely on nostalgia. Specifically, it usually works something like this... In most cases, the person was a hardcore gamer of MODERN consoles during their formative gaming years, say ages 5 to 20. (As kids, we always prefer the newest consoles, not the old junk.) Then, if it's going to happen, the retro gaming bug strikes in the early adult years, say somewhere between 18 to 35. It almost always starts with the longing to play some game from your past... i.e., "I loved Super Mario World when I was a kid, I'd love to play it again" or it happens from pulling your long lost NES out of the basement. From there, there are other games you miss that you buy. Soon, you're not only buying the games you loved, but also the games you never got to play. Perhaps you even buy a few other older systems to try out. The craziest among them buy dozens of systems and hundreds or thousands of games. The 1985-2005 systems are in this phase right now, particularly those in the middle of that range. The systems are alive again.

PHASE 3: Eventually, though, the bug goes away for the majority of these people. They get bored with it...it doesn't interest them at 40 like it did at 25...they realize that N64 games aren't as great as they remembered when they were 7...they have families and careers and don't have time and money for it anymore...whatever the reason. These people have "aged out" of retro gaming. While the serious collectors might stick around forever, that era of gaming is no longer a prominent player in the retro gaming community. The dwindling number of gamers for the system relegates it to senior status in the community, and the vast majority of gamers could care less about it. Values stagnate or drop as supply outweighs demand, and only the more rare items continue to retain or gain value as serious collectors compete for them. Atari, Colecovision, Intellivision, etc. are all in this phase now. Atari 2600 created the retro gaming hobby!! It was the first to bring gamers back to their youth. Yet it has died its second death and it is never coming back. Because when your hobby is fueled almost entirely on nostalgia, you get no third life.


I'm generalizing here, of course, but you get the picture. And I hope it's not a bleak as I describe here, but, for the moment, it's more thought-provoking to look at it what way.

So what is the point of this long, rambling post? Perhaps nothing. Or perhaps it's motivated by my (admittedly unjustified) annoyance at the casual Nintendo-loving retro gamers that dominate the scene right now. See, they think--and too many other people think--that Nintendo is the power player in retro gaming and that it will lead the pack forever. No, sorry, Nintendo is not the power player: the age 20-35 demographic is the power player and it always will be. It just so happens that the current crop grew up mainly on Nintendo, as that age bracket stretches from youthful gaming years of about 1985-2005. And just as Nintendo has slowly been slipping with modern systems among hardcore gamers since the N64, so will it slip among retro gamers once the '80s and '90s gamer crowd are fully aged out. The Wii U will not inspire the same retro-gaming fandom as the SNES. Same thing with Sega--once the Genesis crowd ages out (say, 10 years from now), it will go the way of Atari.

I once saw a Pat the NES Punk video from 5 years back where him and Ian were discussing why NES was so popular now and how people loved cartridges and that disc-based collecting would never be as big. He didn't get it. The NES, as we speak, is slowly dying its second death. NES collectors are the elderly people trying to keep the up-and-coming PS2 gamers off their lawn. Their relevance is slipping, their gaming mortality setting in. The 16-bit to 64-bit eras are peaking right now, as those are the games that people in the 20 to 35 year old bracket grew up playing. PS2/Gamecube/Xbox are slowly creeping into the retro gaming scene. These people cannot wrap their head around the fact that in 30 years, no one will care about the NES and the Playstation 5 will be the biggest retro gaming console on the market. The NES will have died it's Second Death as a few 60 year old collectors straggling along with it, fighting over the last remaining copies of Little Samson (I'll see you there). Meanwhile, millions of 25 year olds will be laughing at them and their stupid antique Nintendos, before they go back to reliving Uncharted 7 on their Playstation 5. Because 2023 was the good old days, and in 2045 they just don't make games like they used to.

Sut
Posts: 607
Joined: April 8th, 2015, 4:23 pm

Re: Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby Sut » October 20th, 2016, 3:25 am

Very thought provoking read and completely true !
Noticed that phenomenon over here as well Spectrum and C64 games are now dirt cheap bar the rarer games.

But Saturn and N64 (even some PS1 games) are rising in price as they are now hitting that nostalgic sweet spot age you refer to.

Perhaps another affirmation of your theory: I'm a big fan of retro gaming podcasts mainly the sadly now finished Retro game squad, Back in my play and Retro Asylum.
The first two never go pre-NES. Sometimes label some NES games primitive. Now me.being in my late 30's when I think primitive I think Channel F, Pong, Studio II, etc.

The point being if 'retro' related media moves past an era like what is happening with the first and second generations. Then it is logical eventually the third and forth generations will also 'die their second death'.

User avatar
Rookie1
Posts: 697
Joined: August 6th, 2015, 7:42 am

Re: Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby Rookie1 » October 20th, 2016, 7:26 am

Ive always said collecting comes in waves. The biggest thing is that its generational. Give a system 20-30 years and the people who grew up with it now have disposable moneys and are trying to relive their childhood. Atari was huge in mid 90's. Prices were getting pretty crazy, however, you could get heaps of NES and SNES games for 25 cents a pop. Games that go for 4 digits now, couldnt be given away at that time. Fast forward to the 30th anniversary of Nintendo and those same games are selling like hotcakes, most for ridiculous prices.

You also have people that impulse buy based on pop culture. Star Wars is a good example. The vintage Kenner line is going for crazy prices now because star wars is back in the spotlight. Hell, even the 90's Power of the Force 2 figures are starting to pick up in price.

Give NES and SNES a little more time and the hype will be dying down and moving full swing in to the N64 and PS1 generation. N64 already has some crazy prices, but I bet PS1 will be even worse given that you just walk by one of those discs and its gets scuffed. Hard to find a PS1 game that isnt destroyed.

CharlieR
Posts: 199
Joined: April 23rd, 2016, 8:04 am

Re: Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby CharlieR » October 20th, 2016, 9:08 am

Very good thoughtful post and a worthwhile read.

Very interesting how you said that the industry is too young for your theory to be noticeable yet. All pre-NES stuff could be starting to die its second death... but only in the eyes of people that collect for everything after stuff like Atari, Intellivision, etc. There's people out there (and people on this board I would think) that still find pre-NES stuff great to collect for, while people in their 20's and early 30's might find that stuff too dated and primitive. So, it's all about perspective.

I knew complete in box copies of games were in higher demand or more expensive, but it sounds to me like the one vendor was almost saying that people aren't really looking for loose Atari era games, and are only looking for complete in box. This makes me wonder the same thing about NES (and to a lesser extent SNES and N64) collectors. Do they care about complete in box, or are they just looking for a wall of cartridges? I'm guessing by collection videos on youtube, and going into a retro game store and not seeing a ton of boxes for those games, maybe those collectors are ok with only having the cartridge? Of course, complete NES/SNES/N64 games are harder and more expensive to find complete, but I do wonder if people aren't as worried about the games being complete, although maybe the die-hard collectors are.

I think, to the maker of this thread, your second to last paragraph was interesting. I wonder if the kids that grew up with Nintendo (NES to N64) will ever look at it as not appealing anymore, and the market will dry out and games will lose value among those people. I think you are right about Wii U not getting the attention as SNES did among future retro gamers; it just wasn't as popular.

Excellent post.

bluenote
Posts: 74
Joined: August 14th, 2015, 5:16 pm

Re: Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby bluenote » October 20th, 2016, 12:30 pm

Very good post, but one thing to consider is this: The games from the Atari era were very primitive. Much different than the NES era. Most Atari games can barely hold your interest for more than 10 minutes. I can see people who grew up with Atari (me included) buy atari games, get a kick out of playing a game they haven't played in 30 years, then saying "wow, these games are really bad", and then moving on. I think that may be why people don't collect for Atari as much anymore as well.

NES games (or any 8 bit game and beyond) were much more entertaining.

So, I'm not saying you're reasoning is incorrect, but just something to consider.

User avatar
Rev
Posts: 1301
Joined: April 7th, 2015, 7:31 pm

Re: Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby Rev » October 20th, 2016, 6:26 pm

bluenote wrote:Very good post, but one thing to consider is this: The games from the Atari era were very primitive. Much different than the NES era. Most Atari games can barely hold your interest for more than 10 minutes. I can see people who grew up with Atari (me included) buy atari games, get a kick out of playing a game they haven't played in 30 years, then saying "wow, these games are really bad", and then moving on. I think that may be why people don't collect for Atari as much anymore as well.

NES games (or any 8 bit game and beyond) were much more entertaining.

So, I'm not saying you're reasoning is incorrect, but just something to consider.


I would have to agree with this post. My nephews are 6 and 7 and play a lot of older games from the Genesis, SNES era. If they become gamers like their uncle then they could very well want to pick up older games down the road. I don't think game collecting will ever go back down to the prices we were seeing in the early to mid 2000s as even when people sell their consoles and games there are people lined up to pick up the games after. I think over time the market prices will go down a bit (for a good chunk of games) but for every person who is selling their games there are 2 more holding onto them, limiting the amount that are coming back into the market. We'll see though... I think for certain consoles we can expect big drops in prices- such as 5th generation consoles which are very primitive compared to consoles today. However, games in the 4th generation were created at the peak of the 2D era so they are very friendly to play even to those who didn't grow up during that generation.

Time will tell though...

tortimer
Posts: 71
Joined: August 24th, 2016, 1:32 pm

Re: Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby tortimer » October 23rd, 2016, 12:19 pm

I agree this is a thought-provoking post. I don't have the same mindset as a more traditional collector as my purchases have mostly been about re-living the experience and less about having an object that will increase in market value. When the eShop debuted on 3DS that was a small turning point as now it was no longer necessary to have the accompanying console. I wonder if these 'classic console' systems with their built-in game libraries are another reason the demand for loose games has dropped in recent years...

User avatar
scotland
Posts: 1938
Joined: April 7th, 2015, 7:33 pm

Re: Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby scotland » October 23rd, 2016, 2:17 pm

bluenote wrote:Very good post, but one thing to consider is this: The games from the Atari era were very primitive. Much different than the NES era...NES games (or any 8 bit game and beyond) were much more entertaining.


Bluenote has a point here. Consider Pong. Pong may not be so collectible as its entertainment value is limited. Reminds me of Model Ts in classic car collecting. The cars are so old thats its past the nostalgic reliving a bit of childhood, and really unfit for many roadways. There comes a point where older collectibles age out for all but a dedicated few.

That second death is a doozy. At least good systems get the 2nd mini life, unlike systems like the Sony Vita which I don't see any significant second life ever happening.

The 2nd generation was influenced by arcade action, so simple gameplay and simple graphics can produce.lots of low interest games. Instead of Pre-NES, I would advocate a different phrase as many games, from Inty games to 8 bit computer games, began to move away from arcade action before the NES came to America.

However, I would forecast these more complex systems have the same cycle: mainstream and modern, much smaller nostalgic revival, finally just held by dedicated hobbyists and mostly a footnote.

borntorun
Posts: 9
Joined: March 26th, 2016, 1:40 pm

Re: Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby borntorun » November 5th, 2016, 10:43 am

I have long thought that this I true. I got into Atari collecting in 2007, toward the tail end of the Atari collecting era. In the ensuing years, I have noticed a steady decline in both interest and widespread availability of Atari games and systems. Atari is now an afterthought to many, and forgotten by the rest. Jaguar stuff may be the exception for collectors, as low supply keeps the value high. The 8-bit computer revival is dead as well. The NES-retro era is almost over, and the 16-bit revival will not last forever.

User avatar
scotland
Posts: 1938
Joined: April 7th, 2015, 7:33 pm

Re: Every Good System Dies Twice (a.k.a. Rule #1 of Game Collecting, longplay edition)

Postby scotland » November 5th, 2016, 1:34 pm

Good. Sign me up for all that atari and 8 bit computer stuff thats not hip anymore.

The counter argument is that sufficiently developed systems will always have a sizeable fanbase. Given the interest in the NES Mini and Atari Flashbacks, there stil seems to be interest in these games, but not so much in the original hardware.


Return to “Video Games General”