An old fashioned game collection is much more than just a simple exercise in nostalgia; It’s a hobby that potentially sees thousands of dollars changing hands. In fact, antique copies of highly coveted titles have grossed over $1 million, such as this copy. super mario 64 With a condition grading of 9.8 A++ – one of the highest grades for a game released by game certification company Wata Games. With so many at stake, it is easy to see why even the market collecting games is ripe for counterfeiting, with recent rampant counterfeiting with an estimated €200,000 ($204,254) in fake games.
That particular scandal centered around game collector and glamor photographer Enrico Ricciardi, who was accused of defrauding several other collectors. (Ricciardi did not respond to repeated requests for comment.) As reported by Ars Technica, several members of a community of rare PC game collectors known as Big Box PC Game Collectors (BBPCGC) Goes, has said that he believes some games he has bought from Ricciardi. are unprofessional. For his part, Ricciardi has denied any wrongdoing, stating that he was also a victim of counterfeiting that only passed with these games, a large portion of them allegedly coming from a businessman. Whom he simply called “Mr. X”.
Ricciardi’s investigation begins when collector Kevin Ng suspects fraud after examining his copy akalbethoThe first game was released by Ultima creator Richard Garriott in 1980, as well as the . also a Japanese copy of mystery house Since 1980 by Sierra On-Line. This was followed by several similar revelations from other collectors; Dominic Richard was the first collector Share your doubts publicly via Twitter, According to the FAQs regarding the status issued by the BBPCGC, many collectors have said that these items were purchased by 2015.
Photo courtesy of Dominic Richard
With retro games and their memorabilia becoming increasingly valuable, how could this apparent counterfeiting go undetected for years? Finally, there were several telltale signs, say collectors impressed. The hang-tab holes on the packaging of these discs resembled hand-cut discs, while some stickers were not cut perfectly round. In addition, the printed material had defects that appeared to be printed, such as dirt and creases, and CMYK dot patterns were found in places where they should not be, such as the sky in a black-and-white photograph printed on a package called an Ultima. of fake.
That said, these discrepancies were left undisputed, as the exchange of games was so rare that original copies were not always available to help verify them. “The games he was dealing with [were] Super rare, for one thing,” said BBPCGC founder Joel McCoy. “They’re good enough that you won’t question them at a glance. It’s not until you really start examining them that it’s obvious.” Plus, a lot of older games — like akalbetho – Were also handmade, which means that some aspects of the game’s packaging will have some flaws. McCoy explained that such games “predate the gaming industry”, with Garriott producing the first 20 copies of the game from his home. ,[These games were] Literally put together by hand on a kitchen table,” McCoy said.
The games being exchanged were so rare that original copies were not always available to help verify them.
However, successful counterfeiting involves more than just high-quality counterfeits. As an apparent distributor of many of these forged copies, Ricciardi reportedly requested that the purchases and trade in which he was involved be kept secret so as to reduce jealousy among other collectors. For example, Stéphane Amond, a writer who has published several guides for the Ultima series, collaborated with Ricciardi to produce a comprehensive guide on the works of Sierra On-Line. In an update to another Kickstarter project for Ultima guide, Amond wrote about Ricardy’s requests for privacy:
They had no problem offering you incredibly rare items because you were such a good friend. But don’t tell anyone. Keep it confidential. gave me a spare and you are the person I think you should have. Would be incredibly jealous because they’ve been begging for years to get it.
Ricciardi also had a reputation for being deeply knowledgeable about classic games, boasting about his extensive collection of vintage games, as well as his relationships with the developers. Like John and Brenda Romero, “Enrico [Ricciardi] He further deepened himself into a position of authority in the community by the company he kept. He was in regular communication with all the major collectors and many of the original developers. He also made it a point to collaborate with archivists, researchers, and writers like himself,” Amond said. And since Ricciardi was the ex-operator of communities like the BBPCGC, no one had reason to suspect that the games he did. traded, they weren’t the real deal.
“The only thing that makes a tiny hole in it is evidence. Mountains of evidence.”
,[Ricciardi] was Well-known for rare items, and the games I bought looked genuine,” Richard said. “He was a nice guy, very knowledgeable in rare Ultima releases” […] Often showing screenshots of previous eBay auctions of games they’ve won or auctions [of] rare [Mount] Drasho Box. He quickly declared us to be friends and kind souls in our collection. ,
For many in the vintage games community, counterfeiting has left a stain that would be difficult to wash off. “I was torn personally. On the one hand, it was he who I considered a friend for many years. On the other, his guilt was undeniable,” Amond said. “When he messaged me after his exile, I Went with his gut and played ignorant. I gave him every chance to come clean. What I found was his ‘old man’ rescue. […] This is a laudable defense. This is something that can set off some bad trades. The only thing that makes a tiny hole in it is the evidence. Mountains of evidence. His stories about ‘Mr X’ varied wildly with each narration.
“It wasn’t a nameless or faceless outsider like Mr X trying to make his way into people’s pockets,” Amond continued. “It was a respected member of the community — and a friend.”
The impact of these counterfeits was not limited to the BBPCGC community alone. “It is not certain at this time how many forgers there are,” McCoy said. “Just one or two fraudsters working long hours can fill the market with counterfeiters.”
Photo courtesy of Stephen Rackle
One buyer who has purchased games from Ricciardi is Stephen Rackle, a collector with a keen interest in game preservation. Rackle bought a copy of an old Apple II game called Chambers of Zenobia Through a middleman named David Bitton, who in turn did business with Ricciardi. Unlike most collectors, Rackle will usually create a disc image of the games they purchase so that it can be uploaded to the Internet Archive. This was the process by which he came to know that his copy of the game was not authentic.
“There’s someone in the community. His name is 4 a.m. He’s an Apple II archivist [and] Preservationists and what we’ve done over the years is that whenever I find something interesting because it hasn’t been archived, it hasn’t been preserved, that sort of thing, I’ll take an image of the disc and then I send it disc image,” Rackle explained. “And then he takes care of converting it, validating it, converting it into a file that can be used on emulators, [and] He puts it on the Internet Archive.” However, 4AM soon told Rackle that the disc contained a cracked version of the game—one that was already available online.
Rackle felt concerned that such counterfeiting might deter other collectors from sharing high-resolution scans of his games and other memorabilia. As the owner of an archival site called the Computer Gaming World Museum – which houses the digital issues of the now-defunct Computer Gaming World magazine – he believes that such information on games not only serves as a historical record but should also be freely accessible. public.
Photo: Jaap Arians/Nurphoto via Getty Images
Jason Scott, an archivist at the Internet Archive, believes that the rising speculative cost of vintage game collections in recent years has most hindered conservation efforts. “The huge increase in the cost of artifacts over the past 20 years is far more damaging to a conservationist than a hoaxer,” Scott said. “The narrative that your old stuff that has decaying digital artifacts and digital data on it is a kind of flippable asset, which can make you money and money, is 100 times more intense in terms of making preservation harder. ” He shared that he often receives requests to appraise the value of games so that owners can try to sell them in Internet archives. Because it is a non-profit, the Internet Archive refers to Scott as “speculative buying”, and it is only “one step above the dumpster”.
Rackle felt concerned that such counterfeiting might deter other collectors from sharing high-resolution scans of their games.
“If you’re at the point that you feel like you won’t be able to extract value from [a game], then give it to my group and we will do our best to preserve its contents and make sure it is in good condition. Otherwise not, I’m not going to sit here in a room, holding my hand up, bidding on something,” he said. Scott also pointed out that this counterfeiting case is similar to packaging piracy, as opposed to software piracy and counterfeit creations – the latter being an issue that would have a greater impact on protection.
Frank Cifaldi, a game conservationist and director of the Video Game History Foundation, echoed Scott’s sentiment. “In the past, there have been examples of fake prototype games, so games that aren’t in a box and sold to people … games that never came out, for example,” Cifaldi said. “There are some instances where people in the conservation world have pooled money and bought a prototype of an unreleased game, such as one from Japan, that ended up being a bootleg, so that’s something we’ve seen that goes against conservation.” affects the world.” Cifaldi also pointed out that private collectors are an essential part of the conservation ecosystem, and that doing high-resolution scans of old games will not be enough for conservation. He believes that a physical copy should also be submitted to a collection such as the Strong National Museum of Play so that it can be verified.
Brenda Romero recently suggested on my personal twitter account That developers who were active in the late 70s and 80s should consider sharing their content with reputable museums, rather than with individual collectors (such as Ricciardi, who had ties to many experienced game developers). “If a game collector approaches you as a fan of your early work, be aware that they may have a specific goal in mind that goes beyond simply saying they are a fan of yours,” she wrote.