Sega made nice jewel cases for its video games, providing ample space for manuals and a nice thick spine for shelf display. But they cracked easily, and Sega's departure from the console business meant fans went for many years without an easy replacement source. But then there were two – in competition.
Sega collectors can finally rest easy, knowing that they’ll now be able to get replacements for their shattered cases from multiple sources—whether that’s Limited Run, or VGC Online, or from hypothetical bootleggers in China. It still remains to be seen whether the demand for these replacement parts can sustain multiple businesses.
One of the surprises in the story is the cost of molds required to make jewel cases. The simultaneous emergence of two competitors, each making big capital investments in the same generic product for the same tiny market, puts both in trouble from the outset. But one spent $150k to make perfect molds in the U.S., whereas the other spent only $8k to crank them out in China. Mr. $150k banked, unwisely, on the assumption that he'd have the market to himself and would never have to worry about cheap competition for his high-quality replicas. Mr $8k just wanted to make cheap Sega cases available and didn't care about third shift copies – but the results are apparently pretty rough, so enthusiasts may well opt for the more expensive alternative.
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