In the dynamic world of retro video game collecting, one company has been a source of both considerable acclaim and relentless controversy: Limited Run Games. This publisher, known for producing physical editions of digital-only video games, has been lauded for preserving digital art forms while also accused of manipulative marketing and exploiting customers' hopes of investment returns. This dichotomy recently culminated in their latest release: reprints of "The Three Stooges" for the NES and Game Boy Advance.
Limited Run Games has built a successful business model around a straightforward premise: offering physical editions of digital games in limited quantities. Their slogan, "preserving games in a physical format," resonates with many enthusiasts. To some, their efforts serve as a bulwark against a future where a digital-only approach may erase games from history due to discontinued services, licensing issues, or data loss.
However, I'd argue that the company's strategy goes beyond preservation and veers into manipulation. The limited availability of their releases, they contend, generates a manufactured scarcity that fuels speculative buying. Some collectors are drawn into purchasing these games not for enjoyment or nostalgia, but out of a belief that the games will appreciate in value over time.
The company's recent release of The Three Stooges, initially released in the 80s and early 90s, has fanned these flames. The game, which was not particularly well-received at the time and is widely regarded as one of the lesser NES and GBA titles, has been given a new life, devoid of any modern enhancements or special editions. This is evidence of Limited Run Games capitalizing on consumer hopes of future rarity rather than the merit of the game itself.
This release has also raised eyebrows due to the lack of any special editions or additions to the game, a common practice in the industry to increase the value of re-released titles. A special edition often includes bonus content, improved graphics, or even memorabilia. Instead, Limited Run Games has opted to simply reprint the original game, adding to the argument that they are more interested in exploiting the nostalgia and collector's instinct of their customers rather than providing a valuable product.
While the idea of purchasing games as investments isn't inherently problematic, Limited Run Games manipulates this concept to its advantage. They suggest the company is preying on customers' hopes of owning a game that may skyrocket in value, all the while knowing that the value of most games will not appreciate significantly, particularly those with lackluster reputations like The Three Stooges.
The question remains whether Limited Run Games is a crusader for video game preservation or a manipulative entity exploiting consumer hopes. The answer is likely somewhere in between, but it's important that potential buyers recognize what they're purchasing: a piece of nostalgia, a chance at a future rarity, or a game for its own sake.
Ultimately, it's up to the customers to determine whether Limited Run Games' practices are acceptable. Some might see the company as offering a valuable service, while others may feel it's simply exploiting their passion for profit. As with any collectible market, the potential for significant return on investment is balanced by the risk of overpaying for items that might not appreciate in value. Transparency and informed purchasing decisions are crucial in ensuring a fair and beneficial marketplace for all parties involved.
In my humble opinion, with this "The Three Stooges" release, it turns out that this Limited Run Games profit-driven nostalgia is just a scam business at the end of the day... But to each their own.