What is last generation syndrome? Think of last generation syndrome as this: it’s when the new console comes out and prices start dropping on the old console. Eventually, the prices on the hardware and games from last generation will come back up. One example I can clearly think of is when the N64 came out. Stores started to focus on the N64 and began to move away from the SNES. Therefore, all SNES games started to drop in price, so by the end of 1996-1998, everything was getting cheaper for the SNES. This means a smart consumer could get Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, or any of their other favorite games pretty cheap, at clearance prices. This was every collector’s dream and somehow I missed out. This fairytale wouldn’t last long, by the end of the 1990s and into the early 2000s the SNES was now looked at as a collector’s item. No more cheap games. It was about time, and eventually the epic RPGs of the SNES era shot up in price. now even the consoles can fetch a premium as well.
A more recent example of the early effects of last generation syndrome can be seen with the PS2 and Gamecube with the release of the Wii and PS3, a lot of gamers are still playing their Gamecube games and PS2 games. Right now prices are pretty cheap for games for either system. But I imagine in a year or so if it hasn’t started already, a lot of the cheap games for PS2 and Gamecube that gamers take for granted will start to climb in price.
Handheld systems are not immune from last generation syndrom either. Now is the perfect time to pick up a PSP. Several big name retail stores have made sure their PSP stuff is on the clearance rack. Games might be a few dollars at most. Amazon is a prime example and has quite a few PSP games for less than $10. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, and 3rd Birthday are two good examples. How long will these discounts last? Just wait in a few years games such as Half Minute Hero, FF Crisis Core, Tactics Ogre and the 3rd Birthday will become highly sought after.
Another victim in the early stages of last generation syndrome is the Wii. Gamers may not want to admit it, but the system has started to show the signs of the initial stages due to the release of the Wii U. The price of consoles on the used market, from eBay to Amazon and Craigslist have tanked. Games are starting to hit low prices at big name retailers. Sooner or later gamers will be able to find Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, and other AAA Nintendo Wii games for less than $10.
There might be a way to avoid this or at least temper the effects of last generation syndrome. The re-release of games in digital collections have made some prices for the games even out. PSN releases and HD collections are great examples. The value of Ico has come down since the release of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. FFVII since its release on PSN has dropped in price. I imagine the original God of War games will still be cheap even with the God of War Saga Collection for PS3.
Last generation syndrome only benefits one person, and that is gamers. Want to pick up a lot of games cheap? Wait about 6 months after the new console comes out and the console from the previous generation and its games should drop in price. But you had better move fast as there is no telling when the console will shake off the effects of the syndrome and become a collector’s item.