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Tips for Buying EarthBound

January 17th, 2013 | EarthBound, Videos

The price of EarthBound cartridges and other MOTHER games have been rising over the years, and it’s only natural that fans aren’t happy about it. I stumbled upon this video where a fan tries to express his anger and his reasons for said anger:

I don’t want to add too much more to it, but I do think it’s important to point out a few things:

  • Although EarthBound sold about 140,000 copies in all, that was over the total lifetime. In the first year – which is most important – it sold somewhere around 70,000. After that it was mostly just a bargain bin game, if you’ll recall.
  • Nintendo spent a lot of money on EarthBound, thinking it would be a huge hit. They even used the guide as a loss leader, as well as a $10-off coupon. Meaning they actually wasted money in the hope of making money in the long run.
  • Games cost a lot of money to translate, reprogram, test, produce, market and distribute. Nintendo spent two million dollars on EarthBound’s marketing alone. Again, factor in the cost to produce and print the guide (that they gave away for free) and it all adds up to a LOT of money spent. That 70,000 or so copies sold probably wasn’t enough to recoup these costs or if so, just barely made any profit. Personally, my bet is that the game lost money for Nintendo.

So that’s my take on why EarthBound was deemed a failure by Nintendo and why “140,000” wasn’t that great. For more details on SNES RPGs and sales numbers, there’s a great interview with Ted Woolsey on the subject here.


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35 Comments to MOTHER Series Pricing Rant

HpBoost said on Jan. 17, 2013

It’s Nintendo’s own fault that they lost money on the game. Timing, adverting, and packaging were the main issues. Unfortunately, this also kills chances of any Mother series games ever being released outside of Japan. I’d welcome any surprises, though.

LadyStarstorm said on Jan. 17, 2013

The prices of ALL cartridge games has spiked significantly in the past 3-4 years; For the most part, it’s scalpers taking advantage of a down economy, figuring the only way they’re going to get any money off things like this is from collectors, and they must be willing to pay top dollar, so why not charge absurd amounts? It’s unfair and really, quite a shame for those who actually want to collect retro games because they LIKE PLAYING THEM and not just hoarding/reselling them.

NorthofOnett said on Jan. 17, 2013

I can see why this kid is mad, but I can tell that he obviously isn’t trying hard enough to find a good deal. You don’t EVER go to Amazon or LukieGames or wherever to buy it, because they always over-charge for it. He should have checked eBay, where the prices are significantly lower for all of those games

From what Ive seen, this is the average for what the games are going for right now:

MOTHER – $30
MOTHER 2 – <$20
MOTHER 1+2 – 60 (this one has gone up recently, not sure why)
MOTHER 3 – $70 (that's if it's BIN, if its an auction it rarely exceeds $50)

I'd say EarthBound is the only game that remains absurdly expensive, as it's hovering around 200 right now. Which is double what I paid for my copy. So I can understand why this kids upset, but if wants the game he should be searching for a good deal.

Ness1985 said on Jan. 17, 2013

It’s a damn shame that things are like this, at least we have emulators.

EmeraldWind said on Jan. 17, 2013

It should also be noted that the fact only 140000 copies sold in the US that we have a rather limited supply of the games floating around.

You also got to factor in how many were damaged, lost, don’t work, or are in permanent stasis. That said, we don’t really know what the actually amount is at this point. Just that there seem to be plenty of buyers. This is a pretty typical supply/demand thing going on. The more people want something the higher you sell it for, right?

Mr Hargett said on Jan. 17, 2013

The question comes down to demand. There might only be 30000 copies of a game in existence, but if nobody wants it, the price will remain very low, not due to it scarcity, but due to how many people want it.

Earthbound is a game very much in demand due to its perennial status at the top of nostalgic gaming lists. The price is driven high by those of us who are willing to pay the price asked. If the market didn’t support the price, the price would fall.

Couple this with inflation over the last 5-10 years, the reduction of supply due to gamers wanting to hold on to their copies or copies falling into disrepair as they break down due to age, and I anticipate that until (if) the Big “N” decides to launch the game in a legitimate digital format, the value of these carts will continue to climb at a quick pace for a while.

Halloween said on Jan. 17, 2013

I almost expected this kid to break down and cry “LEAVE EARTHBOUND ALONE!”

JeffShotFirst said on Jan. 17, 2013

I think it’s because we are just too awesome of fans. Our dedication to this game must have been sniffed out by the carpetbaggers of ebay. Damn them. Damn them all.

SamWibatt said on Jan. 17, 2013

HpBoost is right. Nintendo may have spent a bundle on advertising and all, but the way they went about it – “This game stinks!” – was rock stupid.

Apple Kid said on Jan. 18, 2013

I don’t think earthbound sold bad either, but, take it from someone who owns Earthbound (U.S.), Mother 1+2, and Mother 3, they are not cheap. I think when someone said, “Nintendo must’ve lost money on this game.” It got twisted into, “this game sold poorly.” However, this kid seemed very uneducated on this subject, ebay is much better than amazon (for most products, not just Earthbound). At least he doesn’t know how much Earthbound 64 would cost.
How much would you estimate it would sell for? I want it so bad.

Bucky said on Jan. 19, 2013

Why do I feel like this video is on here because it features EC? LOL

If anything, a seller would see this and raise their asking price. The fact that people are willing to pay high prices for SNES games, instead of downloading them in retaliation, only means that the greed will continue.

Alex said on Jan. 19, 2013

I like the mother series alot but the earthbound game alone should not cost more than $50. People stop getting ripped off by buying earthbound overpriced online and really when people stop buying earthbound game for insane amounts of $ you will see the price of the game drop where it should be and that is below $50, so please stop encouraging these high prices by overpaying for earthbound.

SmaMan said on Jan. 19, 2013

Looking on the bright side, I think this highlights how awesome Mother fans are.

So many classic games are downloaded and emulated these days, yet the fact that eBay sellers and others can price this game so high, *and still sell it,* shows just how dedicated we are.

And yes, the downside is people can take advantage of us that much more… and that’s just wrong, but sadly, not much any one person can do about it.

micheal said on Jan. 19, 2013

I am so glad I have 5 earthbounds
2 big box’s
3 guide’s
5 earthbound carts

Porky said on Jan. 19, 2013

^ but no air freshener, so not complete.

Pigmask Private said on Jan. 19, 2013

EarthBound didn’t come with an air freshener, you had to get one through the mail-in contest.

Porky said on Jan. 19, 2013

^ Right, but the power was in the owner’s hands; guess that smell and postmark it. Thus, it was optionally part of the package. If it wasn’t done, tough luck- set not complete.

Pigmask Private said on Jan. 19, 2013

If you think a freaking mail in prize is part of a complete set then you’re completely insane.

Xi said on Jan. 20, 2013

If only Earthbound had come out when everybody and their dog had access to a million different gaming boards and fan sites. Everyone would have an air freshener.

Porky said on Jan. 20, 2013

^ Pigmask Private, only a JCL would say that. Sounds like you missed the boat. Too bad 4 u.

Pigmask Private said on Jan. 20, 2013

You are an absolute and total ass.

Pigmask Private said on Jan. 20, 2013

Nobody likes you and you’re going to die alone, Porky.

SupraMedical68 said on Jan. 20, 2013

I’m not sure why, but toward the end of that video I literally wanted to jump through the screen and punch that kid in the eye. I guess that’s probably not healthy…

Porky said on Jan. 21, 2013

^ Why so hostile, Pigmask? Did you forget to mail it in? :snicker:

Pigmask Private said on Jan. 21, 2013

I have a Mach Pizza air freshener, actually. But still, considering a mail away prize part of a complete set is like saying a year’s subscription to Nintendo Power is part of a full set since ever Nintendo game came with the subscription application.

Porky said on Jan. 21, 2013

Thinking about it, I’m not so sure ‘Pigmask’ is a good name 4 u, more like ‘Unmasked’ (JCL).

Anonymous said on Jan. 21, 2013

Yo Porky, quit being a moron. You were wrong, so accept it and move on to trolling someone else.

Porky said on Jan. 21, 2013

^ Is incorrect.

Anonymous said on Jan. 21, 2013

the way this guy keeps calling you a johnny-come-lately like it actually has any weight as an insult is pathetically hilarious

i almost feel bad for the guy, it’s like he’s a lonely old man and all his friends from the netscape era have died so he has nothing better to do but troll small-name websites and act like it’s cute

Haha said on Jan. 21, 2013

^ “My friends and family may be dead, but thanks to my pile of mail in air fresheners I’ve still got the hutspa of the angry young man I used ta be!”

Porky said on Jan. 21, 2013

^ You all seem a little too obsessed with death. There is a plot waiting for all of you in the top-left corner of Threed.

Anonymous said on Jan. 21, 2013

The hell is going on here

ZeroSquared said on Jan. 16, 2014

The video is removed (?).

ZeroSquared said on Jan. 18, 2014

Does anyone know the channel name?

Ness said on Jan. 24, 2014

To all the people arguing above me….


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