Wednesday, October 24, 2012

First Complete CIB Air Raid Found and Up For Sale

Back in 2010, an Air Raid for Atari 2600 sold for $31,600. It was so expensive because it was the only known copy to include the box. Until that auction, nobody was quite sure the box even existed.

Now a copy has surfaced that is Complete in Box WITH THE MANUAL and it is up for sale on GameGavel. Bidding is already up to $11,600 as of this article.

There is a good chance this will sell for more than the boxed version. It is not guaranteed because bidding on these rare games is quite volatile and prices can swing dramatically based upon who is bidding. If it does sell for more than the boxed version there is a chance it will be the most expensive video game of all time.

Backstory for CIB Air Raid

The story behind how this Complete Air Raid was found is pretty interesting. You can read the whole account on the auction, but the owner was a manager at a a drug store in the 80's.

A game rep for Men-A-Vision came in and asked if the store would carry a game called Air Raid. The manager asked if he could take it home and try it first, common practice with these sales reps according to the owner.

The sales rep gave the owner his last copy to try out. The owner said it wasn't anything they would want to carry and told the rep he could pick it back up. The rep said the manager could keep it.

The manager bought the game from the drug store and kept it in his closet. A week ago he saw an article about Atari history and the article mentioned Air Raid and how it sold for $31K. I remembered he owned the game and found it again after some searching.

While he was preparing some high resolution photos to send to AtariAge, his daughter found the instructions behind the plastic display case.

More Air Raid Complete CIB Photos

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Busy Improving our Servers

We recently passed 100 million price points in our database.  That's not much data compared to AT&T's call logs or Google's web indexes, but it's far more data than our systems were designed to handle.  We've spent the last couple months migrating to bigger servers and adjusting our systems to handle ever larger data volumes.  Here are some aspects you might care about as a user:

  • Improved filters for detecting and excluding bad auctions.  This means you'll see fewer mistakes in our sales records and more accurate prices when linking to eBay.
  • More scalable architecture.  This makes it easier for us to grow in the future in case we ever decide to track prices for other product categories
  • Restored Amazon links in Current Listings feature.  These had been disabled for a while due to some problems on our back-end.
  • Reduced database admin time.  This should give us more time to add new features to the site.
These server changes are also our first step towards tracking items in complete condition, an often requested feature on our current roadmap.  Once these server changes are done, we can get back to improving more visible parts of the site.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A 2nd Campus Challenge 92 Cartridge Is Found In Attic

Yesterday afternoon a second copy of Nintendo Campus Challenge 1992 was found and verified to exist. Up until now there was only one known copy, which was found at a now legendary garage sale in New York.

This second copy is owned by someone who is not a collector but was given the cartridge by Nintendo back in 1992 and forgot all about it until now. Here is how the owner describes it:

I was involved in a project where we received a range of games, a few consoles and this one [Campus Challenge 92]. We actually ran the project both in the US and in Europe. It was not the campus challenge itself. We built gear around it and was offered to keep a few consoles, games and the Campus Challenge which at the time was seen as more or less worthless.
I just found it in the attic when looking for other stuff and thought I'd google it to find info about it and... well it was a nice surprise :-)

Even though he felt Campus Challenge was "more or less worthless", I'm sure he's glad he kept it around. The only known sale for this game was back in 2006 for $4,000. Game prices have increased substantially since then (just look at our Vintage Game Index for evidence of this). I am sure the game is worth upwards of $10,000 today.

UPDATE: An owner of another Campus Challenge 92 cartridge contacted me and posted in the comments below stating that this game is more rare and less rare than previously thought. How is that possible? There are four copies of this game in existence now so it is less rare than my initial research led me to believe. But one of those copies is a Super Famicom version and the other two are NTSC versions. This new one is a PAL version for Europe.

So it is one of a kind, but also one of four. Thank you snesmaster for your update.
Below are some more videos of the owner starting up his Campus Challenge 92 cartridge and playing it for a while:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Used Game Market Increases New Game Sales

A professor at the Stern Business School at NYU has been conducting research in Japan on the effect of the secondary market in video games on new game sales. According to preliminary results from the study, the used game market actually increases sales in the new game market.

In Japan, the predominant location of the secondary market is retail stores (e.g. GameStop-like stores). Online auctions (e.g. eBay) and local swapping (e.g. craigslist) are not popular.

The study finds that new game sales drop rapidly after the initial product launch (Figure 1 Below). The rate of decrease ranges from 5% to 47% per week. For most games the sales of new games has virtually disappeared 6-8 weeks after launch.

In contrast, the used game sales takes off 2-3 weeks after the initial product launch (See Figure 2 below). In the situation the study describes, where the trading is mediated by for-profit retailers (e.g. GameStop), the quantity supply (trade-ins) is constantly greater than the quantity demand (sell-out) for the used games. As a result, the inventory level for the retailer increases monotonically over time.

Based on this statistical analysis, the study then simulates the situation if the secondary market was completely eliminated (Figure 3 below). Because gamers who buy new games no longer have the insurance to sell the game if they decide they don’t like it, they are less willing to take the risk of buying the game new. As a result, the elimination of a secondary market dampens new game sales.

(Note that although the sales increases become positive after week 20, the absolute volume is so small that it doesn’t change overall game sales in any meaningful way. Refer back to Figure 1)

The study was done using weekly sales data released by Famitsu magazine. The dataset covers 4 years but less than 40 titles of games. The low number of titles is due to the magazine only reporting the top 50 games. Once a game dropped out of the top 50 the entire series of data for that game had to be discarded. The 40 games are across multiple platforms including PS2, XBOX and N64. This is a bit of a problem with the study because unit sales are highly dependent on the number of consoles sold.

Even with this smaller sample size and flaws in the study, this study adds some more data to the debate about used games helping or hurting the new game market.

I know of one study being conducted on US data and analyzing all games for a particular console. Hopefully this larger study will be released within the next year so we will have more hard data on the subject.

In the mean time, what do you think? Does the used game market hurt or help the new game market?



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