After years of prioritising digital games, my physical games collection is starting to blossom again. Spurred by the realisation that Angry Birds Star Wars (remember when Angry Birds was everything?) had been quietly delisted for digital sale, I decided to start collecting physically instead.
It’s become a bit of an obsession, evidenced by the questionable purchase of a Duke Nukem Forever Collector’s Edition. Hey, it has to be worth something to somebody at some point in time, right? On that same note, Crazy Frog Racer for the PlayStation 2 will inevitably need to be preserved in a museum so that humanity can never forget what they did.
I’ve also tried to bolster my Switch collection, purely because I find it’s much, much more convenient with the cartridges not eating up the Switch’s meagre storage space. It was around this time that I discovered Super Rare Games, a Switch-centric distributor of rare print games, those games that may never otherwise see store shelves. Also known as limited print games, in a time when your favourite game could just disappear forever without warning, people are flocking to businesses like Super Rare Games to save a slice of gaming history.
I wanted to learn the process that goes into selecting and then making rare print Switch games, so I recently had the opportunity to chat to Ryan Brown, PR at Super Rare Games, to find out more.
What is the very first step for selecting a game for a rare print release? The very first step is that we take a look at the games we’d like to see ourselves! We’re gamers and collectors, and we definitely have our own personal wishlists of titles we’d like to see on our shelves. Our eyes are always glued to new indie game releases and reveals, and we’re always listening to fan demand. We also get pitches directly from developers who want to see their work get a boxed release.
Of course, we have to take a look at our schedule and what fits in, what makes sense for us and the developer and all that stuff too, but that very first step for selection can take many different forms.
Is there data you evaluate — like digital sales to date, social reach — to see if a rare print is feasible, or something that would be worthwhile? Absolutely – our personal biases and wants, as well as heavy fan demand, can really help dictate which games we end up picking, but we also evaluate which titles make financial sense. Digital sales, social reach, developer expectations and all that financial stuff plays a big part behind the scene. At the end of the day though, if we really want a physical copy of a game, we might just make it happen, haha.
So how does production begin? Do you contact Nintendo? After we’ve arranged everything with the developer, we start by getting together all of the art assets and then approach Nintendo with all of the key information for the release. Production usually begins around 3 months before we announce a game, but of course discussions with developers can begin a long time before that even!
How does ordering packaging, sleeves etc work? All of the designs are done in-house, but we work closely with a company based in the Czech Republic who assemble the inlay, box, and wrapping of the games.
How closely do you have to work with Nintendo on production, if you do? Our relationship with Nintendo is probably similar to most third-party publishers. We work with Nintendo to make sure we’re following their guidelines, so they look over all of our assets we use in the physical package. Nintendo directly manufactures the cartridges, but everything else is handled elsewhere.
Have there ever been any major production issues? Thankfully, we’re always way ahead of schedule and have releases in hand by the time we announce them, so no issues end up affecting the customer.
But for RIVE and Toki Tori, we bundled a lot of content into the release, with effectively three games on each cart. Toki Tori contained Toki Tori 1, 2, and also the original Game Boy Advance version in ROM format. RIVE contained Swap This! and an unreleased demo called Three Tribes. It was awesome getting all of that together for the releases, but it of course took longer on the production side than usual.
I’ve recently become somewhat addicted to collecting physical games. Why do you think so many people find themselves drawn to a physical collection? I think the growth of digital media means those of us who like physical products, who want something tangible and permanent in our hands that we can form a physical connection with, have become even more serious about collecting.
The comparison I often make is that it’s a bit like the difference between having a piece of art hung in your home and having a picture on your phone’s camera roll. We’re humans, and we naturally make connections with physicality and touch. Important things aside, like the knowledge of permanence, ownership, and the ability to lend your game to a friend, there’s nothing quite like having a copy of a game you loved on a shelf. I want every game I’ve ever enjoyed to be easily and permanently accessible, and building a displayable collection is just plain fun.
Do you have any tips for new collectors? Apart from to shop at Super Rare Games, of course! Darn, that’s my number 1 tip gone! If you’re serious about collecting physical games for modern consoles like the Nintendo Switch, make sure you’re signed up to company newsletters. They often go out just before social posts, so you’ll be looped in on releases a tad earlier, which for rare print games can make the world of difference.
Explore foreign stores – there’s an awful lot of physical games out there that only get released in certain regions. Japanese-only releases are the obvious ones here, but even countries like Spain have physical releases that simply don’t exist in any other country.
And finally, is there a “white whale” game among you guys that you’d love to set up for a limited release? I can only speak personally, but the PixelJunk Shooter games are probably my absolute number one choice. No joke, PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate is in my top ten all-time favourite games, it’s just utter perfection and I need a physical version in my life.
I’d like to see Derrick the Deathfin and NOBY NOBY BOY get Switch ports and the physical releases they deserve. Off the top of my head, PAN-PAN, BoxBoy + BoxGirl, Mom Hid My Game, Shinsekai: Into the Depths, and Untitled Goose Game are some of my personal Switch picks.