I collect retro video games, specially for the original Nintendo and all the PlayStation consoles. It's very cool to go back and play these games as they are intended. Lately, though, a disturbing trend is starting to appear in the collector world. People are now "investing" in a video game in hopes of receiving a huge return on said investment by artificially driving the price up. This is really bad for the collecting community and seems to border on being illegal.

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Last week, a, yes, rare and sealed version of Super Mario Bros., with a WATA rating of 9.8 (basically perfect) sold for a whopping $2 million. Wow! Here's the thing, this seems really scummy and seems to really push the boundaries of legality.

How it came to this price was a company called Rally bought this rare sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. for $140,000. They turned around and got a group of people to "invest" in the game. Rally turned around and auctioned it off and got this inflated price of $2 million for it and each "investor" got a huge return in their investment just like the risk you'd take in the stock market.

Rally does this for other rare items as well including sports memorabilia, baseball cards, books and other rare or collectible items. Maybe it's not illegal, per say, but it does seem like a pyramid scheme or some kind of legal money laundering scheme. It's not unheard of for the people that put the item up for sale to do nothing more than get their friends or cohorts together and bid on the item themselves to drive the price up artificially.

If this can be done, then why wouldn't I get my sealed copy of Persona 5 on the PlayStation 3 (seen below) graded by this WATA company.

Michael Gibson / Townsquare Media
Michael Gibson / Townsquare Media

Say it comes back with a 9.0 rating, which is pretty good by WATA's standards. Now, I ask ten listeners to pitch in $100 each. Then I take this to an auction site and those ten listeners who put in $100 start bidding on it and the auction ends with a price of, say, $50,000. Those ten people will end up with a substantial return. In other words, money laundering.

This is bad for people in the collecting community like myself. Now anyone with a copy of Super Mario Bros. or Contra or Castlevania will think it's worth big bucks when they're actually only worth $5, $40 and $50 respectively. eBay is getting just as bad nowadays, too, all because someone thinks they can make a quick buck. It's shameful and only hurts the people who truly are collecting for the pleasure of it.

Michael Gibson's Nerd Cave

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