If SNK went into full gear and officially rereleased Neo Geo AES carts, would the collector’s bubble finally burst or see unheard of inflation?
Is there more to the seemingly endless line of Samurai Showdown PS4 classic AES-style variant boxes than meets the eye? Could it be a market test to see the threshold Neo Geo fans are willing to shell out for an actual AES title rerelease? It’s pretty much a guarantee the Las Vegas EVO Dog Tag iteration of Samurai Showdown will fetch thousands in no time on eBay. Give it a few years at best. The countless AES reproduction carts/conversions on the market today selling for hundreds of dollars/pounds aren’t exactly a big secret. They’re trading hands 99% of the time without SNK getting any cut of the action.
A simple search on eBay for Neo Geo Reproduction Manuals will yield results for repro manuals selling for $35 dollars a pop. Just for an AES lookalike manual! No game, not even a Shockbox. Why would SNK not want to cash in on the action themselves? Limited Run Games’ officially licensed Metal Slug 3 classic collectors’ edition (featuring an AES style case) sold out within two minutes for both morning and mid-day sales. You really think SNK doesn’t notice these figures in front of them? Ka-ching!
Neo Geo AES reproduction carts/conversions are quickly becoming indistinguishable from the real thing. Sure, a laser jet printed cart sticker, different art, or lack of light reflecting gloss might be easy dead giveaways on earlier conversions. But the game has changed, conversions can pass the eye test these days. How many casual and even hardcore collectors are going to unscrew their potentially $1,000-$5,000 purchased carts to check the boards for authenticity? Not many, a minuscule percentage at most, and with good reason.
You can’t replace it easily and every minor finger print (forget opening the cart) makes it lose further value. Not to mention the expert level knowledge required in the first place to tell one board from another. A good portion of collectors purchase rare AES carts to display on shelves, not play. There’s MVS, current console ACA adaptions, and the Neo Geo Mini for the rest. Why take a chance with an AES cart you might potentially never replace, should something go wrong?
The Impact of official Neo Geo Rereleased AES Carts on the Market
SNK officially rereleasing AES carts would allow collectors to know they’re getting the real thing. Rather, than a homemade product. Of course, there’s nothing inherently ‘wrong’ with a reproduction/conversation cart if the maker/seller is upfront about it. It’s when a customer buys a conversion cart masquerading as an original for ‘original’ prices where the trouble starts. For many, a conversion is the only chance at owning an almost replica of the original. After all, how many have a real Metal Slug 1 AES? It’s a glaringly obvious yet untapped market of consumers for SNK.
The likely limited run nature of official SNK rereleases would have collectors competing against casuals against resellers looking to exploit the aftermath. The mental aspect cannot be ignored, those who missed out on the AES once will not want to miss out again to fall prey to resellers’ whims. Those who couldn’t afford the Neo Geo in their youth now have the dough, their wallets ready to empty.
Should the rereleases match the originals and be identical, the AES market would soon plummet back to Earth. Already mired in years of reproductions/conversions diluting what is original and what is not. Reproduction carts would have to significantly reduce in price to attract customers as a result. They might even not be worth the resources to produce in the first place. Casuals would naturally buy the new rereleases they truly want, rather than sport the same entry level Neo Geo AES games they could afford a taste of.
However, if the rereleases had any indication of being manufactured in their current year or other signifier… The AES market for the originals might rise to unheard of inflation! Original AES carts would comparatively become the highly desired EVO Samurai Shodown box x 1000, while the rereleases become mere modern variants. A current year signifier on a rerelease cart would practically guarantee the original releases rising in price… Until they are out of reach for all but the most vigilant of ‘Big Tymers.’