Instant Rarity: Are Those "Rare" Games Really Worth the Money?

We've all been there before. You anxiously await an upcoming title for months. Then, on the day of the scheduled release, you go to pick it up -- and it's not there. "We're out of stock," they say. Or, perhaps, "The release date's been pushed back." It hits you like a punch to the gut, and it leaves you with no choice but to go home defeated and empty-handed, without the game that was so nearly within your grasp.

Granted, in most cases, you'll get your game eventually, one way or the other. Stores restock, delays don't last forever, and if all else fails, there's always eBay.

But what if the game you want is permanently out of stock? What if a reprint never occurs, and what if used copies on eBay are more expensive than the retail price of a sealed copy? Well, friend, for any number of reasons, the game you want has become rare, and you're in for a world of hurt. In recent months, gamers have had to pay exorbitant prices at online auctions for titles like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, and the limited-edition version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. For these and many other games, secondary market prices often shoot up past the $100 mark within weeks of initial release, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. Fortunately, however, the commissioned reprinting of rare titles has recently become a common occurrence, and with a little smart shopping, you might just be able to avoid taking a financial hit due to the phenomenon that is instant rarity.