In case you hadn’t heard (and how could you not?), EarthBound is coming to the Wii U Virtual Console in North America and Europe later this year. This is after years and years of EarthBound fans begging Nintendo to put the cult classic back where it belongs - in peoples hands.
As a super duper Nintendo fan and avid collector I was among the group that almost wet their pants when this announcement was made. Though unlike many potential EarthBound players I actually own the game on Super Nintendo. Finding EarthBound outside of eBay is a rare occurrence. Even though I already own it I always pray I’ll find another copy for five bucks at a rummage or garage sale. The collector in me wants another, heck maybe ten copies. My current copy has a few scuffs and my anal-retentive collector mind can’t handle that. With a few clever trade ins I managed to get the price down to roughly $65 dollars. It was a good day.
EarthBound is a wonderfully quirky game with a fun cast of characters and it’s easy to see why it has gained such a following. Most gamers, from what I can tell, play the title on an emulator, which is really the only option unless you wanna drop a few hundred on a legit cartdride. I saw a copy the other day at a used game store (in worse condition than mine. Whew.) and it was $80 more than what I had paid. It's been less then a year since I bought mine.
For reference, EarthBound sold roughly 140,000 copies in the US during it's original run. Compare this to Donkey Kong Country 2, a game that came out the same year and sold 2.16 million copies in the US alone. The number of EarthBound cartridges out there isn't tiny, but it's much smaller than most popular SNES titles from back in the day.
So my question is - How will EarthBound being released on the Virtual Console affect it’s original cartridge value?
Scenario One: Everyone loves and buys EarthBound on the VC and demand skyrockets, making the original more popular and worth much more.
Scenario Two: Everyone stops trying to find a legit copy of the original because it’s on the VC. Why bother? Demand goes down and the value of a used copy also goes down.
Scenario Three: All collectors who wanted EarthBound still want it, VC or not. Those who didn’t know of it and now love it are satisfied with the VC version. The slow upward trend continues, but nothing has really changed.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out from a collecting standpoint. You never know what’s going to be popular and what’s going to tank. Will EarthBound become more of a rarity after the VC release or will it fade away as a less popular physical title?