Riddle Me This: The Economics of Out-of-Print Board Games
The murky world of out-of-print board games is where the simple hobby of tabletop gaming meets the complex world of supply, demand, capitalism, and the timeless question: Why can’t I get that rare game for a reasonable price?
Fear not, my friends, for I shall embark on this rollercoaster ride with you and unpack the mysteries of the out-of-print (OOP) board game market. So grab your popcorn and hold onto your meeples—it’s about to get real.
The Basics: Supply and Demand 101
Just as our fine friends in the comments have pointed out, it all starts with a little thing called “supply and demand.” One can argue that the fundamental principle of classic economics is in play here—if a game goes out of print, and gamers still want it, its value will naturally increase.
But it’s not just simple supply and demand at work here. It’s more of a messy and convoluted love affair between scarcity, nostalgia, and the irresistible urge to catch ’em all (you know, kind of like old Pokémon cards).
The Collector’s Conundrum
The tabletop gaming community is known for its fair share of collectors who scour the earth (or, you know, the internet) for their precious gems of cardboard and plastic. Out-of-print games are like a siren’s call to collectors, tantalizing and irresistible. As a result, sellers who happen to own a rare game have a captive market willing to shell out the big bucks for their treasure.
Epic Duels and Tides of Iron—just a few examples of out-of-print games that continue to evoke excitement and desire from eager collectors. These games have a certain mystique about them, and buying an OOP game can feel like unearthing a long-lost treasure, which only adds to the allure.
More About Epic Duels:
More About Tides of Iron:
Slightly Shady Practices (and Some Greed)
Now, it wouldn’t be a true story without some villains, and the world of OOP games has its fair share of shady characters. Some sellers may try to artificially inflate the value of their out-of-print games by charging exorbitant prices—praying on the desperation of collectors who are determined to fill that last, gaping hole in their collection.
And let’s not forget that some folks see the opportunity to cash in. They’ll strategically purchase multiple copies of a title they know will be in high demand or become rare, with the sole intention of selling them later at a high markup. And while we may grumble about these greedy souls, the truth is, well, they’re playing the game, too.
So, What’s a Fair Price?
This is the million-dollar (or, in some cases, thousand-dollar) question. How do you determine a fair price for an out-of-print game? The nuances of this question could fill a novel, but in essence, it comes down to a combination of factors like rarity, condition, demand, and what the market will bear.
The table has been set—like a high-stakes negotiation in Game of Thrones, buyers and sellers are in a dance where the winner takes the spoils (or the out-of-print game, in this case). It’s important to remember that there will always be people who buy and sell out-of-print games at high prices—capitalism in action, my friends.
Given the diverse and passionate voices on this topic, it seems that the concept of what’s fair in the OOP game market is as relative and contentious as the politics in Westeros.
But in the end, it comes down to a simple mantra: If you want to play the game, you have to be willing to pay the price.
There’s Always Hope
While the world of out-of-print games may seem like a treacherous landscape of overpriced cardboard, there’s always hope for those who are patient and persistent. From reprint announcements to exclusive trades or even stumbling upon a hidden gem at a local flea market, getting your hands on that rare game isn’t entirely impossible. And as my extensive research (aka, scrolling through comments) has shown me, the journey to finding an out-of-print game for a fair price can be an adventure in itself—full of thrills, chills, and collector camaraderie.
So, my fellow board game enthusiasts, keep up the good fight in your quest for affordable and rare out-of-print games. And in your darkest hours (like when you see that ridiculous price tag), remember to keep things in perspective: It’s all just part of the fun of the hobby. Happy gaming!