A sealed game’s story
In December of 2005, right after its release, I had ordered an NTSC-J copy of Bleach: Tasogare ni Mamieru Shinigami for Nintendo GameCube. In those days, options for importing games were fairly limited, and being a geeky and excited sixteen-year-old, I was checking the family mail more frequently than reasonable. Suffice it to say, I was disappointed when after two months of waiting, my game still had not arrived.
After some correspondence with Lik Sang (still miss those guys), I quickly learned that the entire shipment had disappeared without a trace, me being just one of many anxious gamers. Credit to Lik Sang for quickly sending a new copy my way, which arrived several weeks later – this time perfectly on schedule.
So here I am, months later, having long finished my replacement copy of Bleach TNMS, when the thought-to-be forever lost copy number #1, suddenly pops through the mail slot. And that is how I ended up with my first sealed game, which has now been in my possession for over fifteen years.
There are a bunch of these stories out there, often going something along the lines of: parents buy their kid a game for Christmas, then some other family member has the same idea. Now there’s an extra Duck Hunt up in the attic, sealed and forgotten like an ancient relic.
Why it might not be worth it
Folks who buy games with the intention to play them – especially in the case of retro games – will not necessarily benefit from buying a sealed copy, lest they crave that unboxing-dopamine hit (yeeeeeaaaaah). Buyers who buy sealed retro games, or who buy new games and keep them sealed, will most likely do so with hopes of turning a profit sometime in the future – and that is where the problem for gamers arise.
Now, don’t get me wrong – everyone should do with their games as they please. I’ve got more sealed games that I’m unlikely to unpack, than I dare admit (most often because I end up playing some HD remaster on Steam instead). Still, if hordes of buyers start keeping games sealed, then less loose or CIB (complete in box, but opened) games will rotate on the market; ergo, prices for loose and CIB games will go up, to the detriment of gamers who just want to play games. What’s the fun in sealed games rotating between collectors?
The same case could be made for grading games, of course, but the topic of grading is worth an article of itself. So, at the risk of sounding Aristotelian:
Games are made to be played.
At the same time, more sealed games on the market also means that sealed copies go down in price, more or less beating the purpose of keeping them sealed in the first place. Sealed games are awesome because of the great stories behind them, and because it is (or was) so unique to see an old game still in its original factory seal.
So maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t further encourage the sealed game culture, and play more of our games instead!