As I’ve pointed out previously, the rarity of Nintendo’s Xenoblade Chronicles game has now pushed average eBay prices past $100. So….now, guess what. Reports are coming in that GameStops nationwide suddenly, coincidentally, have a massive inventory of used copies of Xenoblade Chronicles. Used copies with prices in the $90 range. Used copies that are suspiciously pristine, scratch-free and fresh with the new-game smell. Most damning is that the Club Nintendo codes inside have never been used. There’s really no doubt what’s going on. This is a reprint that GameStop raped. It’s gouging, plain and simple.
It’s important to note Nintendo is not the one being hurt here. Contrary to most of their used game practices, GameStop already bought all these copies new. All that’s left is to sell them to customers for a profit, and normally, it would be illegal to set the price above MSRP. But due to the legal loophole they’ve exploited for years, if they open the cases and sell the games under “used” status, they can charge whatever price they want.
The question you might be asking is, if GameStop can really get away with this, then why doesn’t it happen all over the place? Why aren’t our prescription aisles filled with open bottles of Excedrin labeled “secondhand” and marked up to $500? Because there’s more than one place to buy those things. GameStop is the only retailer selling Xenoblade.
If capitalism was really working the way it was designed to, another store would start selling their copies of Xenoblade for much less than GameStop is selling them for, forcing GameStop to lower the sticker back to a reasonable level to compete. But GameStop has the monopoly on this game, proving for the billionth time that monopolies are a bad thing which people must resist, boycott and fight. All a corporation needs to take advantage of you is the chance to get away with it and they WILL do it.
But ay, here’s the rub: without GameStop, North America probably wouldn’t have seen legitimate copies of Xenoblade sold at all. Nearly every other retailer was resistant to stock the game, and Nintendo didn’t have enough confidence in JRPGs given the declining sales numbers of the genre. If GameStop hadn’t agreed to partially fund a US printing, we would have all modded our Wiis to play the European copy years ago. I was this close to doing it myself when the announcement finally came.
Without a specific national chain focused on games, a lot of the more niche titles would not have a sales outlet to justify their printing costs. If GameStop ever went under, the likelihood of another chain taking their place in the digital age is small. It would mean you could only buy the latest Disgaea or Atelier Girl’s Name as a download, if that.
Anyhow, what this news means for the collector is that since EVERY new copy of Xenoblade will be open from this point, a sealed copy will be worth even more in the future than it is already. A sealed Xenoblade must never be opened; it must be VGA-laminated and locked in a safe within another safe. This will drive up the price even more, making GameStop raise their own prices to $150, making the sealed copies worth $200, causing GameStop to raise them to $250….until finally the world blows up.