8. Special Guests: Limited Run Games!
8. Special Guests: Limited Run Games! — and Diving Deeper into the History of Nintendo
Smitty and Erik sit down virtually with Limited Run Games founders, Josh Fairhurst and Douglas Bogart to talk about how they got started and discuss their challenges and successes along the way.
Plus, we check in with the Dogfathers on their most prized collectibles, and Erik brings us part 3 of Fire Flower, his ongoing series on the history of Nintendo.
Games You Deserve is a weekly podcast from Special Reserve Games that celebrates the digital art of video games. Join us for gaming industry interviews, insider perspectives, and interactive content. Production by Dan Vadeboncoeur. Music by Jesse Hamel. New episodes drop Sundays at 9:00 a.m. CST.
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Erik: Welcome to Games You Deserve, brought to you by Special Reserve Games. This week, we asked the Dogfathers about their most prized collectables. We also talk to Josh and Doug from Limited Run Games, and you'll hear part three of Fire Flower, my ongoing series on the history of Nintendo.
Erik: I asked a question of our OGs on the Discord server, what their most prized possession in their collection was, and I'll give my example before we even read some of these, because I keep looking over here, and I even told the guys exactly what mine was. I happen to have been able to get my hands on this Switch kiosk cartridge, and we only know of about 30 of them that have made it into the wild. They're not supposed to get out into the wild. They are typically a Switch kiosk when you go to, say, GameStop, right, or Best Buy, or whatever, and it's got the little screen and the Switch that's attached. You can't take the Switch off of the kiosk, right? It's all in there. It's got special software running, and sometimes there's a demo or a handful of demos on there. Typically, if they want to update those, those things get updated over Wi-Fi. They get connected to whatever Wi-Fi is in the store, and then it just sends the update to it, boom, does its thing. But, there are some circumstances where a Switch has a kiosk that doesn't have a way to do that, they don't have Wi-Fi wherever they're at. And so, you would be sent these little Switch cartridges. It's the same shell of a Switch cartridge, as a game. It's got a chip and a board in there, and with a Switch that has the right firmware, that has the demo firmware, you're able to insert the cartridge and it updates the firmware that's on there to have the new demo, whatever that new demo might be. And these unfortunately don't run in a standard Switch, you have to have that firmware. So I have one of these. I was able to get it from a seller that no longer exists on eBay. Don't know who they were.
Erik: I know. I don't know who they were, so I can't really out them for anything. But yeah, it's this cool thing that I was able to pick up, and there's a sticker on top of the sticker.
Smitty: You've set off an alarm, Erik. That's the illegal software alarm.
Erik: Yeah, they're coming for me. They're outside my house now.
Smitty: Erik, Erik, come out. We want your Switch cartridge that nobody understands what you're talking about.
Dan: I think it's cool.
Erik: Yeah, when you peel the front sticker off, which has some identifying marks on it, the one that's behind it, and I didn't do this to mine but I've seen a picture of this, the one that's behind it, instead of having the red label across the top that says Nintendo, it's in blue. So their internal stuff is done a little differently than what the customer gets, and that's another way they can identify it.
Dan: Do you know which games are on this, what demo games are on there?
Erik: No, I don't know exactly which demo games are on it.
Erik: At the time this was made available, we had found out of three or four different versions of it, and like I said, there's only about 30 of these that made it out into the wild. Clearly, whoever got a hold of these probably shouldn't have been selling them, but yeah, I was able to snag one, and I know a few other people that were able to snag some of them...
Dan: Very rare.
Erik: Yeah, which is really cool.
Erik: So, now, like I said, I asked this question of some of the folks in the Dogfathers here on our Discord, and we had some really interesting answers. You had some typical stuff where people just had this one thing, where they just really were attached to it, like Locke, he said Hyrule Warriors for the Wii U, it had some personal significance to that, but he didn't really share what that was. Coco said Shadow the Hedgehog on the Xbox and GameCube. Dan, I'm sure you're familiar with who Shadow the Hedgehog is?
Dan: Yeah, I know who he is, but I never played that game. That's interesting.
Smitty: He's Canadian.
Erik: He's Canadian, got a big maple leaf on his forehead.
Smitty: That's right.
Erik: Xhjon said King Dedede Amiibo, said there was a story behind it, but again, didn't share. But then we got something where they said why. MrGiraffe said the SIGIL Beast Box from Limited Run. Now, Smitty probably knows a little bit about the connection to this. SIGIL was a release basically of Doom, updated Doom WADs, by the man himself, John Romero.
Smitty: Yes, yes.
Erik: So, now that obviously has a big old-school connection, and I don't know if you guys have ever seen the artwork for this, but it's incredible, it's done up in the nice demon style with all the cool art...
Smitty: Yeah, I think Romero went to the LRG offices in North Carolina, I think, to personally autograph some versions or whatever...
Smitty: Right? And guess what, John still has his beautiful hair.
Erik: Oh, yeah.
Smitty: If you've ever seen great hair, go look at John Romero. He was the guy who established cool hair in the gaming industry.
Erik: That's true, that's true. Speaking of cool hair, Smangerang, I don't know if he's got cool hair or not, I'm just using that, Smangerang said that his complete in-box copy, childhood copy of EarthBound is his thing, which is cool.
Smitty: Oh, wow.
Erik: If you got something from your childhood, especially like that, where it's kind of an iconic game and you still have it.
Dan: Yeah, and not only that, but to have the box, none of us ever kept those boxes for the Super Nintendo games or any of those.
Dan: The cardboard got torn and beat up, and you just threw it out. You kept it in the Genesis Games more sturdy cartridge box or whatever. But, yeah to have that fully intact, that shows that he loved the game.
Erik: And EarthBound was actually a larger box than normal it wasn't a standard size box so...
Dan: Maybe that's why he kept it, right?
Dan: Maybe he liked that idea of it being a different box.
Erik: I thought that was cool.
Dan: Yeah, that's very cool.
Erik: This next one, I thought was really neat. Guymanstuff, that's his name, Guymanstuff said his prized possession is his StarCraft 64 cartridge. But it's not just that, it's signed. It's signed by...
Smitty: Oh, I saw that one.
Erik: Yeah, 6 different devs from the team. So you've got Mike Morhaime, Frank Pearce, Allen Adham, Chris Metzen, Samwise Didier... I'm probably butchering some of those names. But, he said that it's his favorite because he got to meet the team, got to know some of them, and even became friends with several of the Blizzard employees...
Smitty: Mm-hmm yeah.
Erik: ...which is really cool. Imagine the personal experience in that circumstance.
Dan: Just like meeting movie stars.
Erik: Exactly! Well, I mean, what's the difference now-a-days, right?
Dan: Nothing! They created a great piece of work and a great piece of entertainment that you love—
Erik: Let me lay out a couple more here... KingsleyCake... Good 'ole KingsleyCake said his favorite was his live decks Pokémon Omega Ruby game. The reason was is that, he took the time to catch every single Pokémon using only standard Pokéballs. That might as well be a foreign language to me... I am not a Pokémon person.
Smitty: Yeah, I didn't do that either.
Dan: I'm not either, but I understand that it takes a lot of time and there's a lot of work put into that. That's like getting a perfect game in bowling or baseball or something like that, where you want to remember what you accomplished with that. So I get that, like I don't think it's a particularly rare game or anything... But that fact that he went ahead and did that...
Erik: Yeah, I totally appreciate that idea. No, I just make the joke because I'm just not a person into Pokémon.
Dan: You know, my kids love Pokémon. My kids are into it, they love it and to me, I just miss that whole thing. Too old, for me.
Erik: This next one, was from NinjaGuyX. NinjaGuyX said that his favorite piece in this, the one that's near and dear, is a vinyl. It's a vinyl of Yasunori and Millennial Fair and it was the one that he wanted the most, at the time, when he was first getting into this stuff, it was impossible to find. Now, that's basically his white whale, at the time, right? He was hunting for this thing and trying to get this copy. I know from seeing a bunch of NinjaGuyX's vinyl collection, all this gaming audio vinyl that he's collected, he's got this incredibly cool collection of gaming vinyl, that he's lined up. Soundtracks and gaming vinyl for all kinds of games. It's a great eclectic mix of all of these. So I thought you guys would appreciate that one. DoktorAwesome said the BloodBorne Collectors Edition. He said he was going through a really tough time in life, essentially, and that game really helped him get through it. And that made me think, the emotional connection that certain games can have.
Smitty: Oh yeah.
Erik: It hits a person. We saw that with Gris.
Smitty: Oh. Dude, I felt it. I felt it with Gris.
Erik: Such an emotional game. And when you connect with something like that and you're playing with something like that... The right game, at the right time can truly—
Smitty: Especially when it catches you by surprise too. This is a horror game. You have expectations of a game, but when a game actually surprises you and then— Takes you a little into an emotional town really quick, good, bad, sad, whatever. It plays on your emotions.
Erik: That, to me, is one of the best things about that. So I can completely understand why they chose that game, if that helped them get through that. Imagine how you would feel...
Smitty: Well, you can also have a different emotional experience each time, as well.
Erik: Oh, yeah.
Smitty: I mean, that's kind of a cool thing that it's different. Kind of a similarity with music, but not. You can kind of experience it. These are great answers.
Erik: There's a couple more here that I'll share.
Smitty: I just thought it was all going to be Joust.
Erik: DangerDangerDanger said... He kind of brought it back to SRG and said that his copy of Downwell, because for them, they as a person who loves the simplicity in the design, the art style, the control scheme, they saw a beauty in that. I appreciated that. I thought that was cool. The last one that I have here was from Pandafyi because they have a signed copy of a game, also. So another autographed one from a game called Kero Blaster. And the reason that's important is that when they released that game, they only had 25 copies signed and they were randomly sent to the people that purchased. So he lucked out...
Dan: Oh man.
Erik: And happened to get one of those randomly signed ones.
Dan: Imagine opening that up and getting that in the mail and seeing that signature.
Erik: This was signed by Daisuke Amaya and Kiyoko Kawanaka.
Dan: I think translated, that is Smith.
Erik: Probably. Probably. It's probably that common.
Smitty: Jeff Scott.
Erik: If you think back about all the different reasons, there was a lot of things in here about various personal significance.
Dan: Mm-hmm yeah.
Erik: My example was more on the rareness and the value with some of that, but we also had a lot of people just connecting their personal experience to these. And that just tells you a lot about why people are valuing something, right? It's not, oh this is expensive, blah blah blah, that's cool....
Smitty: That's what I always say. What's that worth? And then they say, well the only answer, what it's worth is, it's what somebody will pay for it.
Erik: That's right.
Smitty: And that's it. That's what it's worth.
Dan: Yeah, exactly. It's not about the money, it's about the rarity. I mean, it's something to do with, I own this thing that's very rare and not very many other people own that. That's something to be said for that. But, I don't think it's about selling that rare thing...
Dan: ...in order to make money, it's just about owning it and having it that as part of your collection. But yeah, lots of personal collections, lots of people who are like connecting to games, through their experiences, lots of people to games through the people who created them, like getting the autographs of the developers and that kind of stuff. So those are some great stories from the Dogfathers. How can people join the Dogfathers? Tell us Erik.
Erik: How can they join the Dogfathers? Well, they send me a check with lots of zeros— no—
Smitty: That's wrong, that's wrong, wrong.
Erik: Oh! Us! Send us? A check? No— It's not that at all.
Smitty: No money.
Erik: If you are a member of the Discord and you want to be a Dogfather, then all you need to do is use your Discord Nitro Boost to boost the server and you will be bestowed the title of Dogfather. Being a Dogfather has various benefits, but really it's about showing us that you really, really love us and we, try to then show you that we really, really love you. And so sometimes the Dogfathers are privy to early information. Sometimes they might even get some early access to a couple of things. But, really, it's about sharing the love.
Smitty: All right everybody, we have a special interview today. Some great partners, some great pioneers in the world of physical collecting. Limited Run Games, one Joshua Fairhurst and one Douglas Bogart. Josh and Doug, from LRG. It's exciting to have you on this podcast. We can't see each other, we are all in different locations. I'm in Dallas, Texas, you guys are in Apex, North Carolina. I know you guys had a history in game development, we'll start with Josh on this. Josh, let me ask you. How did you get started as a developer in this crazy world? What was Mighty Rabbit?
Josh Fairhurst: So Mighty Rabbit was my game development studio that started in 2010, right as I was getting out of college and I didn't really want to join a triple A studio. I kind of had this dream of running my own game company. Looking back, probably not the smartest idea, but it worked out. We ran basically with no money for 5 years and towards the end of it when we were running out of work and we had nothing to do we kind of took a random Hail Mary at saving the company by starting Limited Run Games. Preserving one of the games that we had made in the process, which was an important thing to me, because we had spent 5 years building these games, and if we just went out of business and went under, eventually those games we had made would get lost. It was important for me to preserve them physically as a last hurrah for the company. It just so happened that that happened to be a financial success and it saved us in the process. We started Limited Run Games in 2010 and then switched to publishing in 2015 and now I'd say that all of my skills to actually make games have probably atrophied and I probably have no ability to do it anymore.
Smitty: They have evolved.
Fairhurst: That's what happens when you tend to fall into a business role. Eventually, you stop being able to do the things that are actually fun.
Smitty: I remember an actual conversation with Larry Harvey, rest in peace Larry, he was the founder of Burning Man and he made a comment, I'm paraphrasing a little bit here. To the effect of, when you go into the business of being an artist, when an artist goes into the business of being an artist, at that moment, you can probably only be 50% of the artist that you once were, because you have to spend the other 50% of the time being a business person. And then, I think, it's a weird thing, probably a question back to both of you, have you seen that business side of what you do out of passion, out of love, but have you seen the business side of it, jade you and affect you in the way appreciate the things that you normally collect that you don't make? Maybe that's a Doug question. We can kick it to you, Mr. Wall of Dragon Ball Z.
Doug Bogart: Oh, I mean, there's definitely changes in my attitude now from before. I see the important aspects of collecting more and judge things a little more harshly. I don't know... Sometimes, I can't tell if I'm collecting because it's like a need or if collecting because I actually want to...
Bogart: A lot of times, I buy things I actually want, but I find myself at times, buying things that I'm like, I'm never going to play this, why the did heck did I buy it. Just because it's like an impulse and...
Smitty: Mm-hmm yeah.
Bogart: I just try to balance that out by making sure the things that I'm buying on impulse aren't things that are costing me too much money because, again, if it's something that I'm like, oh I just want to collect it because I want a full set of something. I want to make sure I'm not spending too much money on it. I will say, to be more and more involved in the game industry and going to the publishing side, I start judging games in a whole different light than I used to. I used to be able to just play game and enjoy it. Now when I play a game, I play a game and I go, oh I wonder what kind of audience this would find and I start thinking about things. It was the same thing when I first started being a tester. I had these weird impulses to try to break the game. I know that's something Josh struggled with too. Yeah, so there are sorts of things, but I would say overall I still love video games, I surround myself with games. If anything, I feel more entrenched in it now and I'm happy to be in it and I'm happy to have the support we have and the partners we have.
Smitty: Yeah, I think being able to create what you guys do, what we're trying to do. We kind of create and preserve, to keep using that word, stuff that, to me, hearkens back to how I enjoyed a game when I got it when I was 14 or 15 or 16. All the simple things. Even all the boxes I would throw away, but getting to that instruction booklet, we'd check it out, I'd look at every single page, I'd get tips and tricks. We'd show things to our friend, I'd take the games to my friend’s house, if you had cartridge based games, you had the game, you took it over to your friend’s house and played it on his machine, because his mom wouldn't buy it for him. Those different experiences are gone now, for the most part in the way of digital download being first. I wondered about how your appreciation of physical goods had changed by being in the business, but at the same time, do you see that affecting the way design products and even the products sign, for that basic reason of trying to make people feel the way you felt when you were younger too. Letting this jaded — or the business side — how does that affect you on the positive in your design? I mean, are you just reticent about trying to make sure every single thing you do is perfect, because you want to give a great experience to all your customers and allow them to feel the same joy you did growing up? Is it that deep for you? Are you able to focus on that at that level still?
Fairhurst: There are a lot of products that we put out that we designed from a standpoint of wanting people to get a nostalgia trip back to something that they cherished in their childhood, like our Bloodstained Classic Edition. We went back and hired the original Konami cover artist to do something for Bloodstained that was similar to what he used to do for all these old Konami NES games and we put together a package that really brought back memories and feelings of being a kid and getting Castlevania or Contra or whatever other game for your NES. We kind of did something similar with Streets of Rage: 4 recently. We did an oversized Genesis case that holds your steel book and game inside.
Fairhurst: It's just kind of like having this packaging that really hearkens back to what you're nostalgic for. That's something that has been important to me, that I think is really cool and it's fun to design these packages that are like that.
Smitty: I know!
Fairhurst: In terms of kind of doing this impacting my appreciation of stuff, I feel like I kind of appreciate things more now. I've noticed that... I think a lot of people who don't work in publishing games... I would say like, 99.9% of people don't care about the box things come in. You kind of look at the box as like a free value ad or whatever they think the box has no value. Sometimes I'll get a box and I'm like man, this must be a really expensive box.
Fairhurst: And I just appreciate a box more than I ever would've previously, because I can get it and I can be like, wow, this is rigid box, this thing, if it wasn't from China, it's probably 10 to 15 dollars.
Erik: Well, you know what went into it. You know how much effort it took to do something like that, at this point.
Smitty: And by the way, can I just say? Contra. Yeah! One of the greatest games! Contra! When you said that, I was like, yes Contra.
Fairhurst: It's a good one.
Erik: Oh, one of the best. So, it's been a couple of years since I had a chance to talk to you guys on air and last time we were doing this, you guys were just about ready to put out Saturday Morning RPG digitally, at the time. Then, you were just finishing up, Thimbleweed Park, with the pre-order period and I was curious... Between now and then, do you view the Switch market any differently now than when you did when you first jumped in?
Fairhurst: I as a consumer, I've definitely found myself buying things much more impulsively than I was. I feel like I was, at one point, kind of buying every limited release almost impulsively, but I broke that habit pretty quickly and I feel like a lot of people have kind of done that. I don't think the market has necessarily shifted a huge amount when it comes to known titles and things that people are really excited about, like Gamezoid, established fan bases, like : Hotline Miami or Celeste, or Streets of Rage. Like, those games are going to sell. I think the market's kind of getting to a point that we saw PlayStation 4 get to, 2 years ago where people are starting to care less and less about buying physical releases of games that they're not necessarily familiar with. Which kind of sucks for smaller devs, because I really want those guys to be able to succeed and previously, these physical releases were great for them to make some extra money on this game that maybe got buried digitally. But, at this point, people are being very careful about what they're buying, they have to watch their spending, so they're only buying games that they really know, that they really recognize. Thankfully, we and you guys have this huge amount of access to these Devolver games. Devolver does a great job at creating these fan bases and that means that those games are always going to sell. You don't have to tell somebody what The Messenger is, they know about it, because they've seen it. They've seen the fan base talk about it.
Smitty: And to jump in on that too, you know Sabotage, as well. I mean, you're working with Sabotage on a project, too. One of the things, for me, on that was, to see the utter delight. I mean, the boundless delight that they had at Sabotage, of seeing a physical game, of seeing their digital game come to light, be accepted by the community, have great downloads. But once they saw the physical, you just know how it is, physical's different. That was like winning a prize, as developers. That they actually saw their digital product come to life into physical form, it just has a psychological effect the developers that's overwhelming and a great positive feeling for them too.
Smitty: It was really neat to see the developers have such an elation. And you saw that about 50 times last year.
Fairhurst: Yeah. Physical... Physical, that's when the game becomes real. A lot of people can take that, they can show it to their family, they can show it to their friends stop thinking, oh they just play games all day. They see that actual product and they're like, oh man, they actually make things, they actually made something real. Especially for people with developers with older parents, who just don't get digital download through whatever. Having that physical product really like legitimizes this career when you have older parents.
Smitty: What we're doing has a value that the games that we're putting out have a perceived value. They have an MSRP, what we're selling them for. But the perception of value is different to every single individual, whether they buy them or not. The only way I could equate that to, say explain it to my mother or anybody else was, well these are digital games, that are coming to a physical form. Before there was a digital download world, we were all a physical video game world on floppy disks 5 and 8 inch, right? We were having that conversation? Doug? What was your first game system, for you? When you go back to your childhood what was your first game system that was in the living room or in your bedroom and that was yours?
Bogart: Well, the first one in the house was an Atari. I'm trying to remember which one it was... But the first one that was physically mine, was a Super Nintendo and I actually got a Nintendo after that. The original NES, we found it at the apartment complex dump. It was just on the side, next to the big trash compactor—
Erik: You saved it!
Bogart: Yeah and the only thing wrong with it was that when you popped in the cartridge and clicked it down, it didn't stay clicked very well, so I had to use a Hot Wheel to keep it clicked in.
Erik: That's fantastic.
Smitty: A Hot Wheel.
Bogart: That was the only thing wrong with it and then I grew up with the Super Nintendo and that…God, I played Super Nintendo for a long time... I didn't get any other consoles for quite a while. That's where I started.
Erik: Ah man, all of those. What about you Josh? What was your first game system over there?
Fairhurst: My family had Atari 7800, but it caught on fire before I could actually remember ever playing it. It was weird. My dad was friends with somebody who was a sales rep at Atari, because we grew up in the Bay area, so Atari was kind of local. His friend gave him a very early production run of the 7800, because we were kind of smack dab in Atari's test market. This thing eventually just caught on fire because my dad would play it all the time. I don't know what he did, he might have spilled something on it. I don't remember playing it, I just remember occasionally I would stumble on a manual for a 7800 game or a cartridge lying around in our pile of VHS tapes. But the earliest console I can remember is the NES, which we tricked my mom into buying my dad for Father's Day once.
Erik: Yeah, it's for him! Sure.
Fairhurst: Yeah, he played the 7800 so much. We were like, he's going to want this thing. He's going to love it. It turned out the NES, was too complex for him since the 7800, it was just too much to take in. So it ended up just being mine, my brother, my sister's and we played that thing like crazy until we got a Sega Genesis later on, from our grandparents, probably in like '94... I think we got a Sega Genesis. Maybe '95... I don't know it came with a Sonic Spin Ball and we had Sonic 2. We played that a lot. I didn't get to play a lot of Super Nintendo because my brother hogged the Super Nintendo. He wouldn't let me play it at all. I almost got killed once, because I started a game of Super Mario RPG and realized too late that you cannot delete save files in Super Mario RPG. You cannot delete your save file. My brother was very easily able to tell that I had played his Super Nintendo. That was not a good experience. The first console that I actually owned, that was mine, like only I played it, was like a DreamCast. I actually sold a bunch Beanie Babies to buy one, which kind of dates that.
Erik: It's a good decision.
Fairhurst: I flipped some very rare Beanie Babies, Rightie and Leftie, which I think are worth maybe 30 cents now—
Smitty: Hey, I'll trade you some Pogs for your Beanie Babies.
Fairhurst: I got my DreamCast at launch and that has been my favorite system just because it's the first one I ever brought home that was mine. I could tell my brother, you can't play this thing.
Erik: There you go.
Fairhurst: That was a good experience and I loved the DreamCast because of that.
Erik: To this day, I still have to go back and say that Marvel vs Capcom 2 on that system is the definitive version. It's so close to the arcade being Naomi and the same backend. I just love it. You talk about being young and playing these games on both sides and getting so into what that was and now that you do publishing and developments, you have all these opportunities to work with great titles, with great IP, great developers. We were talking about how to honor the developers and I don't want to single anything out, but for example, let’s just say, the LucasFilm Properties, Jack and Daxter, Kevin Smith, John Romero... I know that Smitty and I struggle on a daily basis how to honor those developers, how to honor that I, that we happen to be involved with. I would assume both of you guys... Maybe we start with Doug on this one. I would assume both of you struggle with that yourselves?
Bogart: To live up to the name?
Erik: Yeah! How to honor that, how to bring justice to what opportunity you have.
Smitty: It has to be mind-numbing and petrifyingly scary, especially with something like Star Wars.
Bogart: Yeah, the thing about those properties, especially for us, is that we were huge fans and these were legendary IP's we're dealing with and especially like Star Wars, it's something Josh and I have grown up together seeing a lot of the prequels together, aside from Episode 1. We were really stoked and we have huge plans for them. The problem with those IP's, though is that you're always forced to work within their limits. Because they have outside partners or they have deals that restrict you from doing things. It is a little bit stressful, because you want to be able to work within those boundaries to make the best product you can that represents one of your favorite things ever. It was a lot of challenges initially, but I think we found a lot of common ground to get a lot of this done.
Fairhurst: Star Wars is an old franchise and because of that, there are people who have exclusives on the most obtuse types of things... If you want to make a Star Wars napkin there's probably somebody who has the exclusive rights to make a Star Wars napkin. When we were thinking of, what can we put in these collectors editions, what can we put in these things, we basically have to find out if somebody already has an exclusive on that type of item through Disney consumer products and if they do, we probably can't do it. It came to a point where basically we had to create things that honored the game, but could not exist as standalone products without the game being bundled with them. So initially we had these plans to do these really cool collectors editions that were going to have a little metal object that represented something cool from the game, but that had to get axed because Hot Wheels or Mattel had the Die-Cast exclusive. We had to cut back on... The folks at LucasFilm didn't have the bandwidth to approve new art, so we basically had to work with whatever art they had. Which is, believe it or not, not very much. I think the vast majority of the art created for these games is sitting in SkyWalker Ranch and has not been digitized. We had access to maybe one piece of key art for every title. We had to stretch that. We had to figure out, how could we take this one piece of key art and create a package that works for Star Wars fans and honors the IP in a way that we want it honored. It took me while to arrive at a spot where I was like, this is actually cool and we landed on those. I don't know if you've seen them, but we did these packages for the old retro games that look like the action figure cards, but with the cartridges on them. To me that was kind of like my aha moment for this because you can't sell the card back. That needs the game to exist. We didn't run into any issues there and it was the perfect play. To make this product new, but exciting and honor what a lot of people are nostalgic for with regards to Star Wars. Most people who grew up with it, they’re nostalgic for the movie and for the merchandise, the toys, the action figures. We figured out how to capture the nostalgia that we had and that fans have for this IP while working inside some pretty extreme limitations. I don't blame them for any of it. It's totally understandable and it makes sense. How do you relay this to a customer who thinks like... when we did our Jedi Outcast CE's they were like, oh there's so much of the same art that's being reused and it's like, man we were stretched. We were supposed to go to Skywalker Ranch and go into the archives and see what art they had in there. Because we found out through another partner that there is art for these games in those archives. Disney wasn't so sure, but then the pandemic hit and they closed the archives and they closed the ranch.
Smitty: I don't know.
Fairhurst: Basically, we've been kind of in a holding pattern, but hopefully we get a chance to access those archives and maybe our future releases can be more robust, they can have more art, we can incorporate more concept art, or design documents, things like that. Those are the kind of things that I think would be really exciting to work in there and I kind of hope that once we get that access, that we're going to be able to put together packages that are more exciting. I think with the limitations that we had, I think we did a great job and as a Star Wars fan, I'm very happy with what we managed to create.
Erik: I know that both Smitty and I have this great love for what came before with some of Romero's stuff, can you talk for just a moment on SIGIL?
Bogart: Sure, yeah.
Fairhurst: That would be a Douglas thing.
Bogart: Yeah, SIGIL was a fun project to do. For me, Doom was one of the first games I ever played as a kid, because my dad worked at a bunch of laboratories like CDC and stuff in Atlanta. Whenever he worked the night shift and whenever he would bring me in, he would just sit me down at a computer and he taught me DOS and taught me how to load up Doom. Pretty much every computer at the office had Doom on it. That was a really cool thing and it was one of the few things too, that I was able to do that I could tell my dad. Like, hey we're working with John Romero on an unofficial Doom thing and he went like, holy crap. That was the first time he ever acknowledged my job. Yeah. He came out here, John Romero himself, to sign the SIGIL boxes. We worked with him on how to produce everything and it was a cool experience and it wasn't something that when we started the company we thought we'd ever get to touch anything Doom related, even if it's considered unofficial, but Doom fans I think consider it canon because it's from John.
Erik: Smitty and I talk about this, kind of a lot and you think about what's gone on, people are at home, a lot of people wanted buy stuff to play so they went online. They pick whatever it was that was no longer for sale, which happens to be a lot of our markets. The crazy range of prices... You could see, I don't know... Let's just take DreamCasts for instance, Dreamcast might be on the secondary market from anywhere from a $30 item to a multi-hundred dollar DreamCast on there and these crazy price ranges and it's not just systems, it's games. You see that a lot in games, this big range of prices. Not just our games, your games and games in general.
Smitty: Physical games.
Erik: Yeah. Just physical games and systems and all that sort of thing. We talk about the prices and who sets that price and who's in charge of that. I brought up the old examples. If you guys remember the old magazines, the price guides, Wizard for comics or Beckett. I'm sure you had some of those growing up.
Erik: What's your take on the secondary market for video games and how that works and your thoughts?
Fairhurst: Just like anecdotally, there's a really good book, and I'm bringing this up for the second time on this call, so you can just kind of assume this is what I talk about all the time. Beanie Babies... There's a really good book on Beanie Babies and in the book, they talk about how the entire fad, the entire second-hand market, the craze, was devised and developed by three soccer moms in Chicago. They just decided, on a whim, they noticed that one of these Beanie Babies had some slight variation between another and another Beanie Baby had disappeared from the market. So they kind of discovered that products were retiring and because of that, they went around and hoarded all of these products that were retired and just decided, this one's worth, this much money. They started telling people that and people believed it. That's where the fad spawned out of. That's where the craze came from and all of a sudden, months later... you've got this one Beanie Baby, that's $5,000 because these 3 soccer moms decided this Beanie Baby's worth $5,000. Everyone said, okay. It's worth $5,000, I'm going to start my college fund by collecting Beanie Babies to sell down the road. It's my investment. So a lot of the time, I think it is just completely arbitrary. Somebody says, this is what it's worth. I think a lot of this recent value game has been played out in this way. I imagine pre-pandemic, you've looked at games on Amazon and you've seen like, okay, there's a whole bunch of this game up here for $10. But then, there's this crazy guy that's listed his games as collectable $60 and you're like, that's never going to sell.
Fairhurst: I think what happened during this pandemic is all the $10 ones sold out, the $60 one was the only one left—
Fairhurst: —and somebody said, I'm going to buy it for $60 and that set the price. From there, everybody sees the sold listings and they're like, I'm going to list mine for $60.
Fairhurst: That price that was crazy, becomes the new price. It was set by that random guy who was just like, I'm going to put this up for $60... Maybe somebody will buy it, who cares.
Erik: It's still crazy... I'm just going to throw that out there.
Fairhurst: Oh yeah. I was trying to buy some N64 games that I didn't have and I just kind of had to sit back and say, nope, not going to do it right now. Because, these games used to be $30 are now $90 or $70. Douglas was trying to buy Daytona USA for DreamCast and I was like, oh that should be 30 bucks. He's like, no, it's $75.
Erik: Oh my God, that's super common. What's up with that?
Bogart: I said no, for now.
Fairhurst: It's crazy right now. It's weird because are prices actually going to fall or will people continue to list these prices that are established right now? I think it's possible prices will fall, but...
Fairhurst: It's anybody's guess on when, because I do remember in 2007 or something when Crisis Core came out, Final Fantasy 7 spiked to be a $100 game. Just a used copy of Final Fantasy 7.
Fairhurst: And it's fallen, it's $25 again. But, that happened... It took 13 years for it to fall back down and countless re-releases and remakes. It's anybody's guess on what's going to happen with these values. I did notice Gris is almost $250-$300 now?
Smitty: Yes and even the signature edition, which granted, it has an autographed 4x6 watercolor of Conrad from Conrad Roset and the book. It's $1,024 and apparently some of them sold at $900. But the part that was weird and you guys see it too, even with : Hotline Miami. We both had Hotline Miami on sale, on April 21st, of this year and we both had a sell-out of our units, let’s just say in under an hour. Not to make it sound too... I think you guys were sold out in like 12 minutes. In under an hour, we sold all the units, but on minute number 2, there was already a copy of Hotline Miami up on E-Bay for sale, even though ours were still on sale, on our website! As soon as either of us sold out... Bang! That copy went four x in price.
Smitty: A weird phenomenon, right?
Fairhurst: It's crazy. We try to do what we can to limit it, because it makes our customers, pretty angry.
Smitty: Yeah, same.
Fairhurst: You know, with something like—
Bogart: We have a game called Blaster Master Zero on sale tomorrow, right? What day am I on? Yeah, Thursday.
Smitty: Today's Thursday.
Bogart: It's already on E-Bay and it's not even on sale yet.
Smitty: Yeah, it's a strange phenomenon. Because, you know that person has to buy it from you to fulfill the sale that they've made on E-Bay for themselves, but there's no way for us to stop it and then counter to that, I will say that PayPal, who is involved in modern transactions on both ways. At the same time, anybody that's a customer that uses PayPal to pay also has a lot of leverage over everybody, as we all know. If they don't feel that they got a game delivered. I feel like those people are going to get that product eventually. Are they going to get it in the state that it was sold? How would the person know that bought it on E-Bay that if it came in a Reserve box, with an art card and all that kind of stuff or was it just a shrink rat game. You don't have definitive proof of all that. There's some of those things too, where I don't accuse them of being a rip-off, but I just feel bad for the people buying these that they may not be getting the total value of what they could have gotten if they would have just purchased it from one of us. Or pre-ordered it from someone that they trust. I feel bad. I read the sob stories, the sad stories about, dude I really wanted that game and I'm going to have to pay $600. I'm like, no you don't! We'll do a second-chance sale! God-dang-it! Hold on! Just don't pay $600. Please.
Fairhurst: I feel upset sometimes because I'll look at values for some of our old games and they will be a game that didn't sell particularly well through us and it will be extremely expensive online and be selling. I'm like, how did we miss the audience for this game so bad that the people who want it didn't even know we had it? A good example for us is Outlast 1 and 2 for Switch. It didn't sell particularly well through us. I think we sold maybe 6,000 or 7,000 of each game, if I remember correctly. Now this game is like $150 or $200 for the 2 pack on E-Bay. How did we miss the Outlast fan base so much? How did they not know that it existed for the month that we had it on sale?
Smitty: But maybe you built the hype for it? Maybe the thing you're missing here, is maybe by you doing the physical, then it actually spiked it in such a way that you incentivized this new round of interest.
Erik: Gris was exactly like that. We got in and published that physically before it's second boom... I guarantee you, there were people that came after the fact and said, wow what an amazing product, what an amazing game, and I didn't even know about it until after I saw the physical land in somebody's tweet. They took a picture of it.
Smitty: You know what the testament to that too, was our second chance sale on Gris that we did where we had no games. We only had the art books.
Smitty: Very large, beautiful, art books... We had 125 or 150 and I said to you, I said, those will probably be the last things to sell because there's no game related. We have My Friend Pedro. Then boom. The Gris art books were the first thing to sell out. I think they sold out in like four minutes. Yeah, it's just what you're saying. How did we miss reaching out to the people who would appreciate this game? Whether it's a new IP or a beloved IP. Sometimes I think that you might, by preserving the art in a physical form and doing what you're doing, you're stimulating the interest for this. I think you're growing the market value for these games in physical form, of course.
Smitty: I just, I appreciate everything that you guys are doing and was going to ask you really quick, is there anything coming up for y'all? Whether it's personally or business anything exciting and fun and new coming down the pipe for the rest of 2020 that you want to tell a few thousand, million, hundred, people?
Fairhurst: We're going to start selling Beanie Babies.
Smitty: Beanie Babies! Hey, you know what? I wanted to tell you, I was a Cabbage Patch Kid, then I grew up like this so... I couldn't sell... Remember Cabbage Patch Kids, go look that one up kids.
Bogart: If you're hearing this now and you haven't already, you should go to our website and get Blaster Master Zero 1 and 2. We've got a vinyl, we've got collectors editions. June 23rd, we are working with our buds at Special Reserve Games on Mother Russia Bleeds.
Fairhurst: Woo Hoo!
Bogart: Yeah! I guess that's the most upcoming stuff that's all out there.
Fairhurst: I don't think we've announced anything for the following. For next week.
Fairhurst: I don't even know what next week is off the top of my head so...
Smitty: You know what it is? It's the transition into June! Helloooo. I mean, what is going on and it's my birthday. Next Friday is my birthday.
Bogart: Josh's birthday is coming up.
Smitty: Oh yeah? June 5th, over here. When are you, the 10th?
Fairhurst: The 10th.
Erik: I'm June 14th.
Bogart: It’s a Gemini party.
Smitty: Ah man, look at this. I think now I know what's going on. Because you know, oddly enough just look at the three of us. I mean, Doug, you're in this group too. But just the three of us, we're obsessed with collecting and different things. There must be something in the blood.
Bogart: My astrology sign is Aquarius and it's like very compatible with Gemini's.
Smitty: See? There we go and you can play guitar. I can't. But I do like guitar music. So there we go.
Bogart: What a great thing to say. I like guitar music.
Smitty: You know, just wrapping it up, I always appreciate you guys for the help and the advice extended to me personally and us, when we first got started. Then, just obviously appreciate what you guys do day in and day out because I know how hard it is. I know how passionate you have to be about what you're doing, to keep doing it at the level you are. And growing a great customer base and a great community for all of us. I just appreciate what you're doing, everybody needs to check these guys out. Of course, Limited Run Games, limitedrungames.com and then all the various social medias are probably listed on that site.
Smitty: Other than that, I look forward to sharing some good barbecue with you. I know we can fight over sauce or no sauce and other than that, that's probably the only thing we would disagree at the table, I have a feeling.
Bogart: You got to put sauce on it, are you a no sauce guy?
Smitty: I'm a no sauce guy. I'm a fatty brisket—
Erik: I don't know what's wrong with you. Yeah.
Smitty: Jalapenos and onions on the side, with a block of cheddar cheese is good as well. There are some similarities. We could probably agree on the sides, how about that? We can agree on the sides. Good collard greens, some good creamed corn, with jalapenos in it.
Bogart: Nope. You lost me on the sides too.
Smitty: Ohhh what to you do, beans?
Bogart: I mean, I'll eat beans, mac n cheese, I don't know.
Smitty: I'm writing all of this down.
Fairhurst: Hush puppies.
Erik: Oh yes, the hush puppies. Absolutely.
Smitty: Hush puppies? Look at you guys, you fancy pants. You guys have grease to fry stuff in? Well, I do appreciate everything. If anyone is ever interested in getting behind companies, Limited Run is definitely one of them. I appreciate you sitting in on our little podcast here. I know you guys have a cool podcast yourself. We appreciate everyone for listening and hopefully you learned something. But definitely give all the developers and everybody that you heard us talk about today, give them your love and support.
Bogart: Yeah, thank you so much for having us.
Erik: Last time on Fire Flower from Paper to Pixels. I discuss the quiet tenure of Sekiryo Yamauchi after the torturous past from founder Fusajiro Yamauchi and the sudden pivot towards what will soon prove to be the first of many expansions beyond playing cards, brought to Nintendo by its young, but ambitious new leader, Hiroshi Yamauchi. While the late 1950s partnership with Disney with playing cards was certainly a key component on Nintendo's success, the entrepreneurial Yamauchi, saw Nintendo as a more diverse landscape though the diet taxi service was ultimately sold off, its early success, fueled Hiroshi to continue his further departures from the company's roots. One of these early attempts was inspired by another late 50s invention, Nissin Foods, also based in Japan, launched a new product Chicken Ramen, in 1958. The instant noodles, invented by Momofuku Ando were an incredible success and inspired Hiroshi to launch a pre-portioned instant rice product under the Nintendo name. Unfortunately, the rice was not very tasty and the product failed. Unlike company leaders that came before him, Hiroshi's childhood was not quite as traditional. Hiroshi's mother Kimi, the daughter of Sekiryo and Tei Yamauchi, was left to raise Hiroshi on her own when her husband abandoned the family. Hiroshi was only 5 years old at the time. Raising the family on her own was an impossible task, leaving Kimi to seek the help of her parents. Hiroshi grew up under Sekiryo and Tei's strict, conservative guidance, shaping what eventually would be a very different leader when compared to his predecessors. Perhaps no example shows this better than any other of Hiroshi's failed business attempts than the love hotel. Japan's relationship with sexuality is a complicated one. From geisha houses in the 1600s to lovers tea houses or dai ochaya in the early 1900s. The practice of open solicitation wasn't exactly new. In 1958, after WWII, prostitution was made illegal and many brothels and prostitution establishments either shut their doors or evolved their ways of doing business. One of the more popular ways to evolve, was to become a love hotel. Though the name had not quite yet been coined. In the late 1960s, competition between love hotels grew fierce, with bigger, more lavish establishments attempting to one-up each other, as they were built. Some were decorated in wild exotic themes, such as castles, jungles, and even space. There is very little information published on what Nintendo's love hotel was like, but since Mario, Peach and Bowser has yet to be invented, it probably safe to say that plumbing and sewer pipes, were not one of the themes. Along the way, Nintendo's various ventures were not always quite as salacious as love hotels or even their various series of pin-up girl playing cards. If you've ever dreamed of having a six inch wide remote controlled vacuum cleaner, they had you covered. The Nintendo Chiritori was a battery powered vacuum cleaner released in 1979. It turns out that the Chiritori sucked more than it sucked. The device was a bit more a novelty toy than a real vacuum. What wasn't a novelty, was the Nintendo Copilas, a line of copy machines produced by Nintendo throughout the 1970s. Five different variations of the Copilas were made, including the photo Copilas, a photo copier that was banned by the Japanese government after it was found to contain hazardous materials. The Copilas line of copiers were smaller and less expensive than the traditional copiers of the time, making them quite popular. It was rumored, however, that Hiroshi knew the Copilas were prone to frequent breakage, requiring a Nintendo engineer for repairs and this planned obsolescence, was a money making scheme for the company. Nintendo even released the Mamaberika, a foldable, lightweight, and low-cost child stroller. As a sign of expansion. Hiroshi, put Nintendo through 2 key changes. In 1962, the company went public and was listed on the second section of the Osaka Securities Exchange and on the Kyoto Stock Exchange. Following that, in 1963, the company was renamed to Nintendo Company Limited. The name it would carry through present time. Arguably, the company’s most important development occurred in 1964, with the creation of Nintendo's Toy Division. That same year, the very first toy, the Rabbit Coaster, was released. The Rabbit Coaster was simply a plastic mold, with a track on a tilt, 6 individual lanes, and a few simple curves, along with a handful of plastic pill or jellybean shaped pieces that served as the rabbit's running down the coaster. The player would set each of the rabbits in place at the start of the track, then lift the gate, and all of the rabbits would slide down the track, with the winning rabbit, landing in the narrow slot at the end of the track. Over a half dozen versions of the Rabbit Coaster were released, each unique. Including one variation that could be built out of N and B blocks, but more on that later. Throughout this time, Nintendo continued to produce Hanafuda and playing cards. The very staple of their humble beginnings. No longer hand produced, large machines, were required to manufacture the cards and engineers were required to keep them maintained. One of these engineers, a 25 year old electronics graduate from Doshisha University, by the name of Gunpei Yokoi, was working in a factory, during a visit from Hiroshi. As Hiroshi was visiting Gunpei's work area, he noticed a strange looking set of extending arms with tong attachments at one end and handles at the other. Although, Gunpei feared he would be fired for playing with the contraption while at work, surprisingly, Hiroshi was amused by it and asked for Gunpei's permission to develop a new toy based on it. Later that year, the Ultra Hand was released. Selling over 1.2 million units and Gunpei was to continue to play a pivotal role in the years that followed. Not really sure how deep this next episode of Fire Flower is going to be. The further we get into this and the closer we get to real time, the more there is, the more depth there is into what Nintendo does. So I'm really interested in seeing what I'm able to share next time.
Erik: Big thanks to our guests, Josh and Doug from Limited Run. Always love talking to them, they're great people. Outside of that though, I think guys, we're out of coins. So this is: Game Over.