Just because there aren’t many folks selling certain items on eBay doesn’t mean they should be worth more money. Seriously, I could take an old drawing of mine from middle school, put it up for auction, and start the bids at $100 under the justification “this is the only one that will ever exist on eBay!”
In a way, this is exactly what some sellers do with old video games.
Looking at my rather tiny library of Atari 7800 games, I decided maybe it was time to poke around and see if there were any deals on games I still wanted. For instance, what about the original Mario Bros. game? I looked up some prices on eBay and here’s what I found:
Okay, wow. First of all, these entries are grossly overpriced according to stats at RarityGuide.com (which are usually quite spot on). Second, the $35 loose cartridge listed under “good” is the lowest listing there is. And third, AtariAge specifically lists this game as a scarce 3 in their rarity category, which usually go for about $10-15 anyhow. Putting each figure together from other sources, it’s easy to conclude that this item is simply being overpriced because of an exclusive eBay scarcity, which especially sucks if you live in an area where GameStop is your only secondhand option aside from thrift shops.
Oh, but it gets better. One individual believes they have a really unique find:
And how much should we expect to pay for this hidden gem?
It sounds like this seller didn’t even try researching the price or significance of this item, and instead is hoping someone just offers something in the hundreds. Atari was notorious for all kinds of label variations and operating different manufacturing hubs, so a single cartridge with a reversed label and “unique” production location doesn’t seem huge. I have some 7800 carts with top labels that are a bit more glossy than others I own, so should I sell them for $50 a piece even though they’re traditionally $5 titles? Oh, and you better not try offering anything below $20 — keep dreaming.
Case in point, I own a copy of Realsports Baseball with the same supposed upside down “problem” and I’m pretty confident (after searching a bit too) it’s worth no more than the $2 it usually goes for.
Pointless inflation is all too common in the public online marketplace, and especially with “abandonware” video games. You have someone who thinks they have something potentially unique, but they mark it up like it’s Air Raid or the Nintendo World Championships without even pretending like they checked the price. I expect this from misinformed craigslist ads, not seasoned eBay sellers.