The value of a rare item is dependent on it actually being rare, though. As such, I doubt any title that is available on steam or other online store will ever reach cult status. Collectors often don't just buy it to own it, but also to take pride in the knowledge that only a limited number of it actually existing. And video games never had the status of being unique (you never actually BUY "the original game" in the same way one could buy "the original painting". You always buy "a copy", no matter how original and limited said copies are), so that hinders too.
I certainly agree that video games will always be worth as much as collectors value them. I just think they'll stop valuing those old games at one point or another (at least at this price range).
: I really can't comment on any of that discussion. I hate to be the "that can very well be but vinyl STILL sounds better!" kind of guy, but I have no other way of saying it.
Once again I bring up the painting example. There are millions of photographs, posters, scans and reproductions of the Mona Lisa, but there is only one Mona Lisa and it's that one that has actual collector's value attached to it.
Seeing that you don't like the painting example though, relate that to rare cars instead - those too were manufactured in large numbers, but some models became increasingly rare over the years and as such became valuable. The cars that use original
parts are expotentially more valuable than those which use third-party components - the reproduction is always less valuable than the genuine article from the epoch. This applies to any collectible - the original, especially if available in limited numbers, is valuable. Of course you can't make a car digital, that's not my point.
There can be millions of digital copies or reproductions of the gold Nintendo World Championships
cartridge, but there are only 26 legitimate cartridges in existence and as such, they are praised and expensive. I'd like to point out that ROM's and emulators have been around for decades and they did not impact the price of such rare items negatively in any shape or form. The reason for that is very simple, they're only the software component - it's the complete article that's valuable. There's nothing special about the game itself - it's its rarity and cult status that make it desirable for collectors, you can't "dump"
that, it's irreplicable.
That, and we're completely overlooking the sentimental value of collecting real cartridges which cannot be measured in bits or dollars. Some people just like
the cartridges, they put them on shelves as decoration even if they never actually play the games on them. It's the same reasoning that draws people to buying books rather than resorting to eBooks which are cheaper and accessible at the click of a button, the craving for a physical manifestation of a given work.