Pc game

Inside the $100,000+ counterfeit scandal raging in PC game collecting

Enlarge / Beyond the adventure hides… the counterfeit?

Collage by Aurich Lawson

Prior to last month, Enrico Ricciardi was one of the most respected members of a niche community of classic PC game collectors, with a virtually unrivaled collection of rarities he brags regularly on on social media. Today, he’s an outcast in that community, the central figure in a high-profile alleged forgery scandal that has changed the way many collectors view their hobby.

At least seven PC game collectors have publicly or privately identified dozens of alleged counterfeits they say Ricciardi traded or sold as early as 2015 and as recently as last month. Collectors estimate that these trades and sales include games that would be valued at over $100,000 in total on the open market if genuine.

Ricciardi told Ars that he was also a victim who simply unknowingly passed on suspicious collectibles without checking them thoroughly enough. Be that as it may, the overwhelming evidence suggesting that there are numerous counterfeits circulating in the world of rare PC games has shaken the trust of this community.

“It’s like finding a double agent in an intelligence organization,” collector Dan Chisarick told Ars. “He knows the holistic value of classic games and the kind of damage fake copies can cause.”

A break in the community

The world of PC game collecting has yet to attract the kind of mind-boggling seven-figure sales seen with some rare Nintendo games. Still, a community of committed collectors has grown up around older PC titles, some people pay thousands of dollars for intact discs, packaging and materials from computer games of the 70s, 80s and 90s. Collector Stéphane Racle told Ars that games that used to sell for tens of dollars now regularly sell for “hundreds” on sites like eBay.

“Collecting PC games is a niche, but it’s growing because console collectors are finishing their collections and looking for the next frontier,” said Joel McCoy, founder of the 6,000-member strong company. Big Box PC Game Collectors Facebook group (BBPCGC). “And there are few games as rare as old PC games.”

“You kind of assume that everything you get is legit.”

PC game collector Stéphane Racle

Members of the BBPCGC group are “usually friends,” Racle said, and they’re happy to share their great finds and arrange trades or purchases with other members (McCoy made it clear to Ars that the group ” takes no responsibility for transactions “among members,” however). buying from random eBay sellers,” Racle said. “It’s not just about the money…You [sometimes] get two people agreeing on a trade, and no money changes hands… You kind of assume that whatever you get is legit.

Collectors have told Ars that is an assumption they will no longer make. On May 30, the BBPCGC published a extensive Position of documents describing evidence of forgeries in the collections of three members, all related to trades and sales made by Ricciardi. Ars also looked at similar evidence recently published by Racle (who was coincidentally investigating some of his own items without knowledge of the wider BBPCGC investigation) and provided privately by other collectors, some of whom asked to remain anonymous.

Speaking to Ars, McCoy clarified that while all of these alleged forgeries went through Ricciardi, the BBPCGC cannot say for sure that Ricciardi was the one who actually made them. McCoy said the group’s investigation focused exclusively on whether Ricciardi was “selling and trading fake games.”

“It’s been proven and that’s reason enough to be kicked out of the squad,” McCoy said.

“I believe [Ricciardi] should have been able to spot the counterfeits,” he added.