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Chrono Trigger DS

You may know by now that back on July 2nd, Square Enix announced that Chrono Trigger will be revamped for the Nintendo DS and released in North America during the 2008 holiday season. This was followed by the opening of the official Japanese site on July 6, where it announced a winter 2008 date for the Japanese release.

This is an interesting case of how a new release of an old game will affect the prices of the original SNES version. Logic dictates that since Chrono Trigger fetches a high price because of it’s popularity, not its rarity (despite what many non collectors think) – it should drop in price. The logic of supply and demand seems to fly out the window though when it comes to retro gaming.

Chrono Trigger already has been re-released. First with a ported version by TOSE in Japan for the Sony PlayStation 1 in 1999, and then later repackaged with a Final Fantasy IV port as Final Fantasy Chronicles in 2001 – which we did get stateside. Despite the availability of this much cheaper version, sales for the original are still strong.

An original loose copy of the SNES cartridge sells for around $40 on average through eBay. You can score one for as low as $20.00 if you’re lucky, or you can pay as much as $75.00 if you want to hit a store BIN. A complete copy should run you from $125.00 to $200.00 depending on condition. A big difference from the $15.00 sealed copies of the PS1 alternative.

Before I give my prediction, I should mention my previous opinion of re-released games. When the Wii VC was first released, I anticipated a massive drop in retro gaming prices. I was incredibly wrong however. If anything, it got people more interested in the hobby.
The list of available VC games is chock full of solid $20.00 titles. These are games that are in demand, but not even remotely rare – your Zelda’s and Mario’s. If re-releases should have affected price, than these are the games that should have felt it.

I did have precedent for my theory though. First, you have the Playstation 1 release of Dragon Ball GT Final Bout. The original North American edition was released in 1997, a year after the premiere of Dragon Ball GT in Japan. Only 10,000 copies were produced due to the series being unfamiliar with audiences. Up until a re-release of the game in 2004, Final Bout enjoyed some of the highest collectible premiums a PlayStation game had ever seen (at the time, and to some extent today), with prices on EBay ranging from $100- $250. However, you can make the argument that this was a re-print, not a re-release and therefore a completely different scenario.

The example that I cite the most however is the 2006 release of Mega Man X Collection for Gamecube and PS2. This did affect the prices of the original SNES versions of X2 and X3. I know that I sold copies of these games for nearly $60.00 – $80.00 each around four years ago. Now the maximum you see either of these selling for is $30.00. In fact, you can pick up both with a copy of X as well, for only $60.00. To me, that’s a big change.

It seems though that this is the exception to the rule. What we are experiencing these days is obvious. Over the past several months I’ve made multiple mentions of how Grand Theft Auto 4 and Metal Gear Solid 4 have both caused price increases in both games and merchandise from their respective series. It seems that re-releases are for the most part, having the same effect.

It gets people excited about the series in general. At best case, this means they want to explore the series and play it on its original medium – causing a slight price spike if enough people feel the same way. At worst case it reminds those gamers who prefer to shun new mediums, to pick up the original to play or for their collection – keeping demand and prices the same.

Any opinions on this effect in general are appreciated.

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