Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Complete U.S. Release Harry Potter Video Game Collection (All Variants)

How Many Harry's?

 Back in April when I was writing up the Pokemon post about catching them all I started thinking about all the people who collect just the Pokemon games, and then I then started to think about completing whole console sets. My wife has every Pokemon game in the main series, and while she likes games she would never dream about collecting a full console set. I don't think most people in video game collecting are looking to complete full system sets and the reasons for this are many: it's costly, it takes up a bunch of space, it means you are going to put games you never want to play in your collection, and it is not practical. What reasonable collectors do is go after subsets. These subsets can be almost anything, a particular publisher, a box type, a specific genre, a favorite game series, and on and on. With this on my mind, I thought it would be fun do go after a subset I haven't seen anyone display
before, Harry Potter.

How Hard Could It Be To Go For A Harry Potter Set?

I told myself completing this set should be pretty easy as there are only 7 books / 8 movies. I wasn't wrong, it wasn't that hard as the set was only 14 games (I would later find out that most of the portable games are vastly different than the console games). As many of the Potter games are cross platform I need to pick a system / systems. Making this a Playstation 2 / PS3 subset was an easy choice, because between the two consoles they contain all 13 14 games and I didn't want to cross pollute with Xbox, or Nintendo (At the time I made this choice, I did not realize Harry Potter Kinect was a physcial game, I thought it was a download only). Having the set narrowed down to just Sony made picking up all the games a snap. I already owned 2 of the games and getting the other 11 took me until May with very little effort. At one local shop I noticed they had 2 of the PSP titles, so I figured I would grab those call them extras and be done.

Picking up those PSP games turned out to be a pretty bad decision, because by the time I got home my collector brain / OCD was kicking into gear, curious what other Harry Potter titles were on the PSP. With nary a pause I went right upstairs got on the computer and began digging. My research would lead me to the list below,

This is not a huge list and they all seemed pretty easy to find, until I realize that the Lego Harry Potter Favorites can only be found if it is new and sealed. Why? Because this is one of the PSP favorites that just had a sticker slapped on the cellophane, once opened it becomes just a standard Lego Harry Potter PSP game. Despite that annoyance I found most of them locally and for cheap. The PSP Vita only had the one Potter title so I grabbed it too. When I decided in April to do this set I picked the week of July 31st, Harry Potter's Birthday, as the target date of release and it was only May 10th and I was done. With so much time on my hands I expanded the set again to include all Sony Harry Potter games. This expansion added only 4 games, 2 from the PS1(Sorcerer's Stone & Chamber of Secrets) and 2 PS2 titles (Order of the Phoenix & The Half Blood Prince) that also appeared on the PS3. This not being nearly enough games I decided to go for Sony variants as well, this would bring in the box sets, Greatest Hits titles and some other random variants.

The addition of all the variants accounts for 15 more games bringing the total to 39 games. Finding and identifying these variants proved far more challenging than the initial set of 14 and lead me further down the rabbit hole then I ever intended on going. I was in full research mode, so I decided I would identify and list all Harry Potter console games and their subsequent variants. "No harm in just listing them", I told myself.  Here is a confession, whenever I make a list I make sure each item has a box next to it so that I can check it when it's done or in my collection. Making a list of games is almost a sure fire way to trick myself into buying them. I cannot stand looking at an uncompleted list, it punches me right in the OCD.

Creating the list for the Harry Potter games was way harder than I anticipated. I mostly collect for classic systems, so I just assumed that modern games were all known quantities with good pictures, and tons of information. While that could still be true, it isn't in the case of the Harry Potter games. Every time I was sure I had the list set I would find another variant, or I would have to remove a game because that particular variant wasn't ever released in the US. Proving the existence of a particular game variant is only half the battle, and is doesn't compare to actually finding it and purchasing it. This uphill battle would continue into mid July, and truth be told I am still unsure about one variant.

Why Is It A Challenge To Prove Any Of These Harry Potter Games Exist?

 I know what your thinking and let me see if this covers all of it. "These aren't obscure or under produced titles, these are HARRY POTTER GAMES, one of the most well known and well loved series of all time, each game probably sold a million copies. How can this possible be hard? Oh and what about barcodes, and Google Images, or Youtube for unboxing videos, or game forums, and you know the whole fricken Internet." True, all of those things are real and I did utilize them, but the reality is that information on the Internet isn't neatly organized until it is. It becomes such when someone someone with a bit of gumption and reason takes action, it then requires that same person to post that information publicly to a relatively easy to access location. After this post it will probably never be difficult to find all the US Harry Potter games ever again, and I am okay with that. This whole process has opened my eyes to the difficulty of collecting for modern consoles. I actually plan to do a write up on that topic, but I didn't want to water down this Harry Potter post with something that should get it's own write up.

Insight as to why it was difficult to complete this set.
  • Cross Platform: This is a volume problem that expands all the other problems.
  • Barcodes: Barcodes specify a product but not always the variants of that product. Harry Potter Prizoner of Azkaban (Xbox) has a different SKU on it than Harry Potter Prizoner of Azkaban Platinum Hits (Xbox), but has the same sku as Harry Potter Prizoner of Azkaban with Movie Ticket.
  • Minor Variants: This has always been a problem, but now that tons of games are cross platform it's worse as each company creates different minor variants. Several Harry Potter games included movie tickets, but his didn't happened on every console or for every game. For instance Prisoner of Azkaban had a ticket on the PS2, Gamecube got them with Goblet of Fire, while both  the Wii and DS got them on Order of the Phoenix. Sorry Xbox, none for you.
  • Covers: This is mainly a problem for the Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4, This game used the same cover for the standard version of the game, versions with the DVD inside the case,  and a version with a separate DVD attached to the case.
  • Retailer Exclusives: Target had different copies of Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 than all the other resellers as theirs included DVD's. This also lead to a strange cardboard trifold packaging for the PS3 version, while the Xbox and Wii versions covers wear nearly identical. Another odd one is Walmart, they had a special Heroica Lego Harry Potter 5-7 DS pack-in.
  • Canadian Vs. US Release: The US releases have their title text in English only, while all Canadian releases have French text on the cover too. For example it will read Harry Potter, big and in English, and the Goblet of Fire, also in English, but it will have Goblet of Fire written in French as well. For some reason on US release of Order of the Phoenix for the GBA and DS version it has French and English text.Another exception is that the Order of the Phoenix that contains the movie ticket has no French text. It was a lot of fun figuring that out.
  • Stock Photos: Every game site, eBay, Amazon, and Google Images is just littered with stock photos. This is a problem one, because stock photos exist for products that were never sold. Two, when a game has many versions with the same cover you never know what you are going to get. Three, some stock photos are mock ups and don't reflect what the actually final product looks like. Bottom line, it makes finding exactly what you are looking for that much more difficult.

What IsThe End Result?

The end result of this process is a list that took over 3 months for me to be happy with. The finally tally stands at 98 games, with 14 individual titles. The first game, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone for PS1 and Gameboy Color, was released in the last quarter of 2001 and the most recent, Wonderbook: Book of Potions, was released November of 2013 for the PS3. Bonus items you can add to the list include 2 accessory packs, 1 promo download code, and 1 themed console box. The list covers 13 systems with, has 5 special box sets, 23 different version of Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4, and a bevy of portable games that are vastly different from their console counter parts but share the same title.

Thanks For Reading,

I am currently working on a video to go with this post, look for that on My YouTube Channel in a few days.

The Checklist

(Checklist will soon have Pics of Each Cover)

Odds and Ends
I am currently working on a video to go with this post, look for that on my youtube channel in a few days.

Harry Potter games on the GBC, GBA, DS, and PS1 are offer a different game play experience than the ones released on console. Most of them are so different it would be fair to consider them different games. It should also be noted that the PC games (not in this collection) are also not the same as the console or portable versions.

On consoles the first Harry Potter game released was Chamber of Secrets in 2002 while the GBC, GBA, and PS1 got Sorcerer's Stone in 2001.Console gamers would get a far different version of Sorcerer's Stone a year later.

Truth Time.
The timing of this post is no accident, the new Wizarding World attraction Diagon Alley just opened in Florida, as well as the Wizarding World of Japan, plus it's J.K. Rowling as well as Harry Potter's birthday. Harry Potter Mania is alive and well

Cruel Joke.
Several Wii versions of Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 contained the Sorcerer's Stone DVD, but the Wii can't play DVD's.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

World's Largest Video Game Collection, Sold? Does This Affect Us?

7/17/14 Update: Looks like the collection may not have sold after all. The top of his website also states this collection is still for sale. Unfortunately for collectors the damage is done as the publicity of the event cannot be taken back.

World's Largest Video Game Collection, Sold? Does This Affect Us?

I know I am late to comment on this but the supposed "World's Largest Video Game Collection" just sold for over $750,000. This entry isn't to describe minutia or details of the sale, if you want that the links above will give you access to all the particulars of the auction, bidding, contents etc.  I could dedicate a whole post to the contents of this auction and how misleading it is. Hell, I'd like to go on record and refute half the sets he calls complete, because clearly they aren't. I could do a follow up post to the one above about the nature of online auctions and how to even a barely trained eye this one looks like a sad grab at attention that preys on our hobby and is most probably fake. I am going to attempt to avoid the pitfalls of such discussions. To indulge in rants like those listed previously looks a lot like petty Internet jealousy, and even though I could tell you it isn't, that is exactly what it would look like. What I want to discuss is what this sale means for collectors, and I do think it affect us.

It's not often but every once in awhile the sale or a particular game, or this case games, grabs media attention outside of our little niche. You might remember the Gold Nintendo World Championship Cart that sold for 100k back in February, or the Stadium Events found at a Good Will that was immediately valued at 15k and least we forget the French collector that nabbed 1.2 Million for his games. These are transcendent events that seep into the general populous and alerts them, that HEY! video games are valuable. The trickle down of these events can be as innocuous as the random comments from your non-collector friends. It can also be seen in the positive upswing of new collectors on forums you visit. It may even lead to some less awkward family interaction, because they are going to call or email now that they feel they finally have something to talk to you about.

Those are some of the nice things that will happen, however, it will also lead to some not so nice things.  One thing that is sure to happen is an influx of resellers (annoying but not always bad). The problem with many new resellers is that they may not be collectors, which means you have to wade through their ignorance, explain what rare actually means and that no SMB/Duck Hunt is not in fact very valuable.Who can forget the 13k Nintendo from Storage Wars? YUUUUP it's NES-001, just like most of them. Another downside is that it more resellers and collectors means less product, less product means higher prices. Your local game store or favorite website might just not have the deals they use to, or less of them anyway. People on eBay will automatically list their games for more, people start over valuing their trades, and the incremental price hikes continue. 

We mustn't forget the scammers. As more money gets dumped into the hobby, so do more scammers. These people come in a few flavors but the worst of them are the ones who will join a community and just wait.They will hang out get to know the scene and after they build a little trust they take advantage of as many people as they can in one fell swoop. On eBay  and on the forums you get more people trying to pass off fakes as the real deal and then you also get more grey items like repros, custom boxes, and magnets. Grey items aren't all bad, and these people aren't always scammers but they are people who want to make money off of the hobby without selling the genuine article.

The whole buying experience of retro games changes when a transcendent event occurs. Do you troll Craigslist, your local paper, or Kijiji? Get ready for a bunch more ads stating " I buy Games for all systems, umm for my kids, so they ugh can, ummm, play the games that I grew up with?". For your kids, right, totally believe you. As if those posts weren't insulting enough you then have all the people who suddenly believe they are sitting on a pot of gold. These people putting up ads with a busted NES, 2 controller, and 3 games for $200. Oh shit, what a deal! Thank you for listing that.

I know I sound  all doom and gloom, but the reality is that video game collecting is a growing. With growth we have to be prepared for some things to get worse and take count measures to make it better. When big events like this happen people take notice and that notice comes with a cost.

Thank you for reading,

Stay Safe, Play Safe