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Suruga-ya and empty shelves, the twitter battle: What's your take?


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Posted (edited)

Time Extension posts an article referencing Oliver Jia's tweet about Game Hunting in Japan:


https://www.timeextension.com/news/2024/04/the-tourists-have-taken-everything-laments-japanese-resident-as-retro-runs-dry
 

The response was pretty funny: 

Oliver responds on twitter:

And on Time Extension again: 
https://www.timeextension.com/features/the-truth-about-retro-game-hunting-in-a-post-pandemic-japan

I found this back and forth pretty funny for numerous reasons. First, claiming that Mercari is off limits to Americans like myself is absurdism. My collector friends and I order from there, constantly. On YAJ, I often find that I'm bidding against an account called Buyee#####. I recently lost an auction to about 8 different Buyee### accounts bidding on the same thing, almost no local accounts appeared to even be trying. The other funny thing is that he's an American doing a time-limited PhD, so... there's a good chance he'll be exporting all this if he returns to the States anyway. At the end of the day, we live in a global economy, so people are going to buy what they want, regardless of what country it was created in. I don't see any issue, other than an American who used to enjoy lower prices is now whining about higher prices because of competition. 

Anyway, I didn't see a discussion of this, so I thought it would be interesting to bring up. 

Edited by DarkKobold
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Posted (edited)

I'm biased since I like to import a lot of games, but I personally don't see an issue with importing itself. If you just want to shop around for yourself, then you're allowed to buy whatever is for sale

Flipping stuff and hoarding stuff is scummy, but that isn't really something exclusive to imports (though I've seen a decent bit of it with imported games)

If you're smart about how you search, then you can find a decent deal in most of the world within a month if you just search five minutes a day. Stuff might've gotten harder to find, but there's always going to be something worth buying. It might not be what you initially set out for, but coming up with reasonable goals is part of collecting

Also, I've spoken to collectors from at least six other countries, who all somewhat regularly imported games. If you really can't find something good where you are at, then the computer is right there

 

Edit: Also, I remember a seller on Xianyu who went out of their way to put a welcome message for buyers using agents. Seeing that I think emboldened me to use agents even more

Edited by Ankos
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There were mountains of games available when I was in Japan recently. Most were at decent prices or even really cheap prices, I had to stop buying games because I was running out of room. No idea what this guy is crying about.

The days of hard to find games costing 100-1000yen are long gone, even before the pandemic. 

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<< The tourists have taken everything. I don’t bother shopping for retro games in big Japanese cities anymore. >>

All places selling good games at good prices will eventually be sucked dry. We know something about it here in Hong Kong and Taiwan. So even if I agree with you, it's called hypocrisy, because both you and me were happy to "take everything" before "the tourists" came (physically and then virtually).

Also, it would have been less cringey if said by an actual Japanese guy. You know, not a Kyoto-based American researcher.

Really, big news, super cheap super rare Japanese games have become hard to find and expensive, partly due to non-Japanese guys buying them en masse from Japanese stores and websites. Try buying a complete Japanese 1st print SotN now. It used to be 2-3000 yen at most, now incomplete copies in shit-dipped condition are 3 times the price, and complete in good condition well over 10,000 yen. I blame the tourists too, but what else did you think was going to happen?

Besides, Yahoo and Mercari now have HUGE banners promoting proxy services. They are happy to sell to gaijins, they make-a more moneis. Average Japanese Joe is not happy, me neither, coz about a trillion Japanese games I didn't buy 15 years ago are now way too expensive and show up way too rarely.

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What @DefaultGen said, what do you want, segregation?  I mean marxism wants that, some loud mouths in social and politics want this now to control others so the thought isn't something foreign even if it's fairly evil.

There is plenty of stock if you're wise and do not shop the 1M plus cities most thristy scalpers and nerds go to to get games you can find a ton of games, handhelds, consoles, accessories, etc cheap, quite cheap individually or in bulk but that also requires more work than hitting up the akihabara etc.

I import, that's clear from my posts, but I'm not getting hammered.  I've seen a price increase but not some horrid hot mess of one you find with the whining involved and it's nothing as bad as the western garbage prices scalping, investing, and shelf queen collecting has caused.  There are no shortages, just shortages of dollar to five dollar (converted) finds, and that's just that.  What Tyree said, if you're local you're not too pleased if you are a buyer because the market got a whole lot more active from outsiders, but it is what it is.  I'd say be happy their prices are not our prices, that's something at least.

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This discussion came up last year, and it was even something that had been discussed back around 2014 or 2015 IIRC on Sean's blog. Not sure how this is much of big news, I guess is my point.

I agree with the author on a lot of the points. The whole situation is shit, and while some stuff such as boxed Dragon Warriors might still be available cheaply and with frequency, a lot of other titles have become much, much harder to find, and that is not even taking price into consideration.

A lot (most?) of the guys here on  VGS aren't the ones going into shops snapping up tens of hundreds of games, then flipping them on eBay and whatever for a buck as they'd rather do that or an OnlyFans than enter into some sort of traditional job, and with that I don't find there to be as much of an issue; however, when people just start clearing shelves of crap they don't want just that other people do want, just to resell it, it comes across as scummy to me. And there's a lot of people that do this, and with some foreign currencies and salaries being stronger and larger, the locals then get priced out of being able to purchase nostalgic things from their childhood and formative years. There's nothing inherently wrong about this, as it's just how capitalism works, but it ultimately hurts the hobby and leads to other things such as people wanting to purchase 1:1 reproductions and things like that.

 

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I watched this video recently on this topic and it was pretty good.  He lumps in some political views at the end which I don't want to sound too overly negative about, but I'm not sure fit in a video about buying and collecting.

Anyway, this guy's walk through the history was pretty enlightening.  It went basically like this

Before 2008 - no one was interested.  Only business travelers working in technology would bother buying Japanese retro games.  Japanese companies would also routinely re-release new versions of games for old systems

After 2008 - The smart phone increased travel to Japan, more and more tourists were able to go and buy for themselves.  Akihabara changed

Pandemic - Even Japanese stores that previously resisted were forced to shift to online sales.  Ebay becomes easier to use in Japan etc.

 

He suspects that many games are being purchased by "westerners" but there is likely a lot of interest from China as well.

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, wongojack said:

He suspects that many games are being purchased by "westerners" but there is likely a lot of interest from China as well.

This I am sure.

Edit: Okay thought I'd start watching the video. Wait, what? No one was collecting these things or cared about the, until around 2008? At first I thought maybe the author was talking about Japanese gamers / collectors, but then I heard him drop the words "Atari". We're not off to a good start here, such inaccuracies and we're not even five minutes in to the video.

Edit 2: Wait, he mentions his suspicions about Mainland Chinese buying the games, then in the next sentence references Hong Kong and Taiwan. Wut?

Edited by fcgamer
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Posted (edited)

Well I'm catching a cold and should have been in bed an hour ago, but decided to watch the video that @wongojack posted in its entirety. 

As someone who was collecting games from around 1998, the video just didn't do anything for me at all. It was filled with inaccuracies and assumptions, bad takes and then at the end it got extremely preachy to boot. If a thirteen or fourteen year old could access Famicom games without issue back in 2000, without having a credit card or PayPal, and having a very limited amount of income, then a lot of the author's conclusions just don't hold water imo

Back in those days there were online shops (and some shops in malls and magazine even sold imports) selling and importing Japanese and Asian games to Westerners. Similarly, a lot of western gamers were collecting or playing Famicom and other imports. It later fell out of favor though around the NA era, and then that's where we had that big situation of people reproing and selling Japanese games as NES cartridges, circa 2008-2014 or so. Only after NES prices exploded in the 2010s did some people start switching back to Famicom for games such as Lickle (Little Samson). 

I guess as someone who has lived through the era and experienced it first hand, the inaccuracies and poorly drawn conclusions just tend to annoy me.

Edit: Another thing I think the author should have touched on further was the effect that YT / IG had on the market. I've seen a lot of people come and go in the hobby (either collecting or purchasing and playing old games on old hardware), and for every person that is quite serious about it, there are a ton of people who come in just as a fleeting interest, almost as a fashion of sorts to get likes on FB or whatnot, before then purging the collecting and disappearing after burning out.

Edited by fcgamer
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Yeah, there definitely is a phenomenon of "Collecting didn't start until I started" that finds its way into a lot of these videos.  At least, I think this guy acknowledged that he didn't know much about collecting pre-2008 (sorta).

BTW - this is the only video by this guy I have ever watched.  I have no idea who he is (besides the context from this video).

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Just hearing anecdotally from folks who have visited Japan recently, it sounds like in the big cities there are less deals than there were in the past.  But if you got to smaller towns you may find better prices.

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2 hours ago, CT said:

Just hearing anecdotally from folks who have visited Japan recently, it sounds like in the big cities there are less deals than there were in the past.  But if you got to smaller towns you may find better prices.

This is pretty much it. Akihabara is essentially a living museum now, the prices are a joke. I was seeing some stuff priced 2 or 3 times eBay. It’s fun to browse and look around the city though.

But I went to a lot of other cities and there were deals to be had. I went to a book off and there was easily a quarter of the 3DS library right there. One Surugaya had a whole aisle of PS2 games, most were like $3-8. 

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2 hours ago, Brickman said:

This is pretty much it. Akihabara is essentially a living museum now, the prices are a joke. I was seeing some stuff priced 2 or 3 times eBay. It’s fun to browse and look around the city though.

But I went to a lot of other cities and there were deals to be had. I went to a book off and there was easily a quarter of the 3DS library right there. One Surugaya had a whole aisle of PS2 games, most were like $3-8. 

When my brother and I went to Japan (my second trip to Japan) around 2018, it was incredibly hard to find FDS games, especially boxed ones, CIB Famicom titles were more limited to just common crap no one wants, etc. 

It wasn't even about prices, tbh, just trying to find stuff as a whole was it's own struggle. I mean if you're collecting PS2,or Xbox, that's different, but I'm not seeing trendy collecting videos on that stuff either.

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8 hours ago, wongojack said:

I watched this video recently on this topic and it was pretty good.  He lumps in some political views at the end which I don't want to sound too overly negative about, but I'm not sure fit in a video about buying and collecting.

Anyway, this guy's walk through the history was pretty enlightening.  It went basically like this

Before 2008 - no one was interested.  Only business travelers working in technology would bother buying Japanese retro games.  Japanese companies would also routinely re-release new versions of games for old systems

After 2008 - The smart phone increased travel to Japan, more and more tourists were able to go and buy for themselves.  Akihabara changed

Pandemic - Even Japanese stores that previously resisted were forced to shift to online sales.  Ebay becomes easier to use in Japan etc.

 

He suspects that many games are being purchased by "westerners" but there is likely a lot of interest from China as well.

 

 

 

I saw this video, but couldn't sit through it. It felt like pure conjecture with very little data to back up what he was saying. I find myself agreeing with fcgamer, that it seems like he just kind of pulled it all out of his ass. I like his game hunting videos, but this one didn't set well with me. 

I've only visited Japan once as a collector, but I found the experience in Akihabara and greater Tokyo to be... lacking. For example, I really wanted a SuperGrafx on the trip. There was  boxed one at Super Potato for a pretty ridiculous price. I hemmed and hawed, and eventually decided to pass. It was just too expensive. I came home, and went on YAJ, and bid on a boxed system and all 5 games through my proxy, and got the system and entire library for only slightly more than Super Potato wanted for just the system. Back in 2015, there was still a difference between YAJ and eBay.  You could get games off YAJ for around 1/3rd their eBay price. Now, sometimes, you find (J) games on eBay for less than YAJ. But even in 2015 Akihabara was basically just eBay prices. 

 

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Le sigh. I hate dealing with therapists that make an effort to understand my variation of Asperger's/Autism, and how it makes dealing with depression a chore. (Which I will not go into because combating it makes me a "villain" here.) Especially one that talks to me about subjects like this one. 😑

@wongojack is correct to point out the fact that a lot of buyers are from China. Mind you that my trips to Akihabara happened in the years 2012, 2015-2018, and 2023. With 2017 being when I did my first Dragon Quest hunt while doing all the available events. And 2023 being the year I attended Tokyo Game Show.

The difference between 2015-2018 was not really different from how it was in 2012. Where as 2023 had me spot a ton of Chinese tourists buying PS5s in bulk. As well as both rare TCG (mainly Pokémon; some One Piece) being the biggest commodity in parts of Tokyo. And the biggest change in Akihabara.

However... In a 2021 article, a Japan born Famicom completist said that foreigners buying select games (mainly Contra) was an issue for him since his start in 2011. The main take from that even he acknowledged that those stores had reasons to raise prices. While also stating that the same brand of stores that did not get tourists had their prices be reasonably lower.

Which had me go from my "Dragon Quest quest" in 2017 to "I'll just collect Switch games and call it a year" in 2023.

So if they are talking about anything ranging from Mega-CD to Sega Dreamcast, I would not be surprised if those tourist heavier hit stores have more Chinese collectors than Westerners. With me only pitying those who think they could go to Super Potato for a good deal. And I say that for a number of first-hand experienced reasons.

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Y'all are missing what I consider the most insidious thing going on right now - Japanese resellers that don't even own the products they're selling - Take this Mercari listing for a complete copy of Top Rider. 

https://jp.mercari.com/en/item/m45853683383

You'll note here's an eBay seller that lists that same thing, using the same photos for substantially more money.  ($321 usd vs $478)

https://www.ebay.com/itm/386747503546

But wait, here's yet another seller for even MORE money!! Using the exact same photos, again 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/404783626384

So, these are Japanese sellers, hoping to sell to Westerners to just directly profit. They're hoping for rubes to buy things, and then they purchase them from Mercari. It's hard to blame Westerners for this sort of capitalistic action. 

Edited by DarkKobold
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1 hour ago, DarkKobold said:

So, these are Japanese sellers, hoping to sell to Westerners to just directly profit. They're hoping for rubes to buy things, and then they purchase them from Mercari. It's hard to blame Westerners for this sort of capitalistic action. 

To be fair though, we don't know if those sellers are Japanese or Westerners living in Japan doing this crap. 

Edited by fcgamer
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6 hours ago, fcgamer said:

To be fair though, we don't know if those sellers are Japanese or Westerners living in Japan doing this crap. 

Who cares, scum are scum using the proximity of the product to grab it locally already at a puffed up price to puff it up another $100+ USD to make a cut off it after getting it from the original actual owner.  It's like trying to trick people behaving like zenmarket/buyee themselves with far nastier inflated prices.  Problem is, enough people aren't sharp enough to catch it so they have an easy meal ticket off suckers. 😕

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