Doesn't look like much but this manila envelope is one of the most interesting and fascinating and convoluted limited releases of a video game of all time. Only 6,000 copies of this game, Diamond Trust of London, were ever made and only 2,123 sold. Around 1,000 of that number were converted into limited editions. That is an EXTREMELY limited release. Like, I honestly cannot think of a game with a more limited release. Actually 6k is the lowest amount of physical copies you can have published when developing for the Nintendo DS.
Up for sale on eBay right now is #1 of the limited editions by the creator himself. The limited editions were put together by hand at home by the creator, Jason Rohrer. Each limited edition contained four stamps, a coin, four diamonds (industrial-quality), and a copy of the game itself.
The diamonds came in the little envelopes.
Each limited edition was also signed by the Jason Rohrer and the music creator, Tim Bailey. Due to the DIY nature of these editions, the stamps and coins contained in each copy are unique with no two copies containing the same items. The same can surely be said about the contents of #1.
The exact story of this game is pretty crazy and inspiring. Jason Rohrer really wanted this game to come out. His initial working with Majesco in 2009 fuzzled out after numerous game design changes from a game about "divorce investigations" to a game about "blood diamond markets" but the nail in the coffin was the game's failure to reach preorder expectations. The initial Majesco-backed title received only 23 of the required 1,000 preorders for a physical release to be published by the company. From there Jason bounced around eventually working under Zoo Publishing's indiePub label. This worked well but in the seven months that Nintendo took to approve the game, the markets had shifted and Zoo Publishing did not have the finances to actually manufacture the game. Jason, not stymied by this major setback, opted to create the first Kickstarter-funded Nintendo title. With 1,305 (I'm one of them) backers, Jason managed to raise $90,118 and successfully financed the manufacturing of the game.
The game itself is hard to describe. It is a deception-based strategy game that uses agents and bribes to smuggle blood diamonds out of Africa before the conflict diamond trade is shut down. The game also got ESRB rated as "E for everyone" and has no content descriptors. Apparently the ESRB does seem to think the blood diamond trade is subversive. Also of note is that this game uses a unique music generator, ensuring that you never hear the same song twice. It is fun to play but wasn't received too well by critics.
What is interesting about this game is that it is a collector's game. Normal gamers have never heard of this game and even the niche, indie gamers are hard-pressed to recollect this game's existence. It was a blip on the release radar and while it did receive a lot of press coverage, only 2,123 copies of the game sold. This is the definition of a rare game. It can sell for around $100 new on eBay, despite the fact that the remaining 3,877 copies are still available for sale for $30 each on the game's official site and the game's code was made available for free online by Jason himself. Back in 2012, I shot Jason a few emails and he said that he didn't appreciate this game being only a collectible and that he just hoped people would play it.
In my opinion, this game deserves more. It deserves more attention, more notoriety, more players, and more love. It just fell flat and I feel terrible for Jason. He spent years of his life getting this out there and it just fell flat. It was a mixture of the market shifting to the 3DS, the decline in interest in strategy games, the strange and possibly offensive premise, the limited release, and the timing of it all that really conceded this game to the dustbin of gaming history but it has a great story behind it that I won't soon be forgetting.