As you can see in the chart below. Resale prices for Earthbound have been increasing steadily for the last three years and sells for $200 in loose condition.
Will the virtual version of Earthbound decrease resale prices?
What happens to the price largely depends on who is buying the game and why they are buying it. Are they buying to play or buying to collect?
In 2009, Capcom released a download version of Marvel vs Capcom 2 on Xbox Live and PSN. Resale prices were cut in half within months and have never recovered.
It is evident that most people buying Marvel vs Capcom 2 were buying to play the game. They could download the game for a fraction of the current market price. The download wouldn't come with the disc, or box, or anything physical to own but if you just want to play the game that doesn't matter.
On the opposite end, a game that is being purchased buy collectors will not decrease in price even when it is readily available for download because people are willing to pay the premium for the physical cartridge.
Mega Man 5 for NES is a great example of this. It was released on June 2011 for Wii Virtual Console. Since then, loose cartridge prices for Mega Man 5 have gone up nearly 150%.
At the extremes, 100% of buyers could be purchasing to play the game or 100% could be buying to collect. In reality, the reason for a purchase falls somewhere in between. The extent of the price decrease or increase depends on where demand falls on that spectrum. Is Earthbound 80% gamers and 20% collectors, or 30% gamers and 70% collectors?
We will find out soon.
What do you think will happen to the price of Earthbound?