Numerous counterfeit versions of Nintendo soundtrack CDs are currently being sold on eBay for up to hundreds of dollars, reports say.
A California rare goods collector stopping by Captain Breegull on Twitter has noticed that fake CD soundtracks for games like Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64 are being sold by users in at least the UK and Japan.
The user believes that Japanese resellers may be buying the pirated copies from UK sellers and then “flipping” them in their own eBay stores at higher prices, but VGC has not been able to verify these claims.
However, what appears to be the case is that the CDs sold are not official products.
According to CaptainBreegull, a certain UK user sold multiple copies of the Banjo Kazooie soundtrack for around $30, with each auction only showing a stock image of the soundtrack cover, so they decided to buy one to see if it was authentic.
When the CD arrived, it was a fake, judging by telltale marks on the cover (the “A” in “Kazooie” has a smaller hole, for example) and the CD itself.
After checking the user’s eBay account, VGC discovers that the same person has sold at least 13 copies of the Banjo Kazooie soundtrack for prices ranging from £16 ($19) to £53 ($62).
Five of these were purchased by a single user, meaning they may have been purchased for resale.
CaptainBreegull also notes that numerous Japanese vendors offer Banjo Kazooie bootleg CDs for around $300 (as seen here and here, for example). Unlike the UK seller, these listings actually show photos of the products being sold which are revealed to be fakes due to the logo design.
These sellers also have numerous other game soundtrack CDs that are selling for similar or higher prices, although some appear to be authentic, suggesting they may not realize that the banjo CDs are pirated .
“Sellers in Japan do this all the time,” CaptainBreegull told VGC. “They find good deals on video game soundtrack CDs and then sometimes sell them at a 1000% markup.
“I know [Rare developer] Huw Ward sold many of his soundtracks in 2020 (I was able to snag a few), and a seller in Japan won his sealed copy of the Donkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack for around $400 and sold it for a very high price. ”
Part of the reason for these high prices is Nintendo’s continued apparent reluctance to make official soundtracks of its game music widely available, either physically or digitally.
Japan is the only market where physical video game soundtracks are commonplace, forcing the rest of the world to import them at often exorbitant prices.
Meanwhile, the company has routinely issued copyright strikes to YouTubers who share their music online, and the overwhelming response from those affected is that there’s no official way to acquire them.
“Nintendo has every right to issue copyright blocks,” wrote journalist Mat Ombler in a VGC column earlier this year.
“The company owns the rights to its music and is free to choose how it can and can’t be used. But by removing YouTube uploads of Nintendo soundtracks, the company is leaving the millions of fans who want to hear its music with no viable way to do so.
“Indeed, Nintendo’s strict protection of its intellectual property has a counterintuitive effect, as it exacerbates accessibility problems and encourages music piracy rather than preventing it.”
CaptainBreegull echoed those sentiments, telling VGC, “The video game soundtrack market has really boomed in the last few years.”
Noting that some users are knowingly buying unofficial fakes, he explained, “A lot of pirate soundtracks are made by fans – pirates, not fakes, because they’re clearly not trying to trick anyone into believing they’re official.
“And the prices of [authentic] Official video game soundtrack CDs and cassettes have risen dramatically on eBay – although partly because all these sellers in Japan are hoarding the entire market and artificially inflating the price.”