During a decluttering phase in 2018 I found a deal that seemed too good to be true. A New Zealand based online store, Fishpond, would stock, advertise and sell my used games and give me a portion of the revenue. All I had to do would be post a box full of stock to them, they’d even cover postage and just take the costs from my first $15 of revenue. So a found a Hello Fresh box, filled it with almost all my remaining DS games, half my Wii collection, piles of DVDs and posted it to Auckland 5000kms away. The scheme was too good to be true and after 18 months, Fishpond emailed me to say that they were shutting it down and offered to post me back my remaining stock for the cost of postage. The DVDs could stay, but I asked for my games back. And then the world as we know it ended.
How did the dream die? Why was it too good to be true?
After sending the box to Fishpond they listed them all on their site. The initial listing price was pretty much the RRP, minus $5 or so. I emailed them about this citing some of their prices as “hopeful”, they didn’t respond. But early on I sold a couple of games and a movie, so the initial $15 postge was covered and I began to receive a few bucks of profit into my PayPal account. A neat trick of Fishponds that wasn’t exactly clearly communicated was that the 70/30 revenue split between us was after they applied a postage and handling fee. So not really revenue at all. If you see their website they promise no shipping fees because as it turns out, I was the one paying those. But hey, the amount was reasonable and I was in the black, I felt fine.
Every couple of weeks though, the listed price would reduce. As it would reduce, those handling fees took up a larger and larger portion of the sale price. I also noticed that they seemed to be inconsistent, how does it cost more to post a DS game than a DVD? They weigh the same. After challenging them on this they sent me a corrected amount of money as an apology. But by then it didn’t matter, the prices of my stock had dropped to under $5. It was just the games no one cared about anymore, or DVDs only purchased as an ironic gift to a blind friend. After handling fees, I was only getting 40-70 cents per sale. I was no longer excited to get an email about Fishpond paying into my PayPal account.
It turns out this wasn’t interesting to them either. Fishpond had presumably filled a warehouse with what is essentially landfill, paying rent on keeping copies of Dora the Explorer for Xbox 360 and Estonian language pornography films meant they were even losing money on their “handling” fees. The dream was over. And with a sniffle sending people to ICU in Wuhan, the call was made to shut down the programme. I got my email, agreed to pay postage for my games and forgot about it.
Flights are cancelled, cruise ships stranded, borders close. New Zealand goes into lockdown and Australia follows suit. even regional roads are patrolled by the military in Western Australia to ensure only the right people get through. Life had changed and I’d forgotten about the games I’d sent away almost two years ago, only for six to return.
But the post is always delivered, eventually.
A knock on the door, the dog barking, and the postie gives me a wave as pickup the small box he left on the verandah. New Zealand? Did I order something online? What can even fit in this box?
Inside I found six games. I’ll talk a bit about each, not so much the game, but what I can recall of the object.
I have no idea about this game. I don’t recall why I bought it. I don’t recall where I bought it. I don’t know. I’ve never played it. It looks weird and interesting. I guess it must’ve been cheap.
Commander: Europe at War
I think I actually bought this as the post office once? A true bargain bin pickup. The back of the box makes it looks like a hexagonal turn based strategy game. And serious. This isn’t advance wars. It says ‘Military History’ on the box in a sort of logo that resembles the History Channel. But it’s not, it’s just a label. I’ve never played it.
Here’s one I at least played. Or put into my DS and cooked a recipe off once. The recipe I remember making chicken boiled in broth with onions and some side dish. It was pretty good. My housemate at the time enjoyed it too. Published by Nintendo, this came out in that brief golden period of the DS where Nintendo were actively expanding the definition about what could be released on a video game machine and targeting the parents and grandparents of the children that presumably had the DS originally gifted to them. It was an ambitious strategy and it worked until the iPhone’s App Store blew a massive hole in what a phone could do and how much people were prepared to pay for software.
Ok so this was like, I dunno, it’s some sorta party game where you put the wii remote on a box and tap it to play games? Or something. I never played it. I own though, I guess. Infernal Monkey bought the game for $2 almost a decade ago.
Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip
Another one I’ve actually played! Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip was the half arse hand me down Wii version some publisher farmed off to the B-team to develop while they promoted the hardcore Xbox and Playstation version. Except this time, Road Trip was by far the better received game bother critically and commercially, making the top 20 selling games in the US the year it was released. All thanks to supporting the Wii Balance Board, which was the style at the time. I still have my balance board, so I might as well give this another whirl.
Update: I thought I had played that, but I just did a quick search of my Wii’s playstats and couldn’t find a single session logged. I’m sure I played it though, maybe on someone else’s machine?
Playstats confirms this one has definitely been played. 20 times in fact for over 20 hours of gameplay! I think one of my housemates really got into it for a bit. I mean it’s chess and the CPU was really tough and it had multiplayer and was only released in Europe but I imported it just because I wanted to complete the Wii branded franchise of games. Well, except for Wii Music.
So now. While the lockdown continues, I might as well give them all a proper playing. Maybe I’ll even write up some thoughts about some. I’m not the most reliable generator of internet content though.
2 thoughts on “All That Remains”
I adored Let’s Tap. I adored almost everything from the era of Nintendo (DS/Wii) where games could be as experimental as they wanted to be – so long as they held a certain quality (… but oh how the phrase ‘shovelware’ was thrown around, even at the good games).
I still have the game, and its soundtrack is still forever embedded in my head.
Let’s Tap’s soundtrack is indeed fantastic, so many bangers. I had Blast Corps too but didn’t like it too much, gameplay was ok but the customisation was almost too overwhelming. I barely remember what it was like though. That was such a creative time, with not just great original music but unconventional ways to play. I’m hopeful we’re sorta recreating that environment with Ring Fit and No More Heroes coming back. There’s also unfortunately more “shovelware” now than ever though, back on the Wii you at least had to be a fully functioning product.
Also man, the evolution of online stores and physical games is quite the journey. Hard to see myself ordering from Fishpond, ozgameshop or Play-Asia again when I can get digital.