In another case of "so bizarre that clearly no one could make this up,” a group of people were interrupted from living a lifestyle of the rich and famous for 14 cases of felony counterfeiting. What could they have been counterfeiting that had anything to do with video games? The answer to that is stranger than you'd think.
Six people, including a woman, her son, and her ex-husband, were arrested in Santa Clara, California for forging arcade cabinets. This might sound bizarre, how can you forge an arcade cabinet? It's simple enough however, you just load it up with games that you haven't paid a single cent for. The group of six people in Santa Clara were putting anywhere from 60 to 3,000 counterfeit games on their arcade cabinets. What probably helped their case was the fact that they were operating out of the same city as the Bandai Namco headquarters. All of the games that they had been putting into their cabinets had been Bandai Namco games.
The group of people called their company CoinOpStore, and they're all facing massive legal trouble. They could be sentenced to a maximum of 11 years in prison, have to pay fines, and all of the money they made from their phony business might be seized. This includes all of the glorious things they bought with said money, which includes a 2012 Mercedes Benz, a 2015 BMW, and five (count 'em) properties. That doesn't even include the $1.2 million dollars in cash the group had stashed away.
It's insane to think that simple arcade cabinets could make someone that much money. The ones CoinOpStore were selling included classic games like Galaga, Tank Battalion, and differing versions of Pac-Man. If you're looking to get your old school gaming fix, it's clear that you'll want to check your sources a little closer from now on.
Retro gaming is seeing a huge resurgence in popularity. All of the mom and pop beercade locations that closed down in the late 2000s/early 2010s are seemingly coming back. I can't even count how many times an industry meet-up I attended in the past few years took place in small arcades that offered alcohol and food. They're fantastic places, and I'm super happy to see them coming back. It was a huge let-down when all the ones in my home state of Minnesota seemingly shut down overnight. As soon as I knew they were there, poof! They were gone.
With the revival of this type of gaming venue, it would seem there are those opportunistic vultures who want to prey on those who don't know any better. Counterfeit games have been an issue as long as counterfeit films have been. When you're looking at video games or movies from a seedy booth in the mall, you can look for the signs. Does the jacket for the film fit in the case correctly? How's the quality of the case? Does the printing on the DVD or BluRay fit into the disc correctly or is it slightly skewed? These are the telling signs that you're trained to look for when sussing out counterfeits in the game purchasing world.
No one ever told me that I was supposed to be careful about arcade cabinets! Truthfully, I never realized there was such a thing as counterfeiting them. But I suppose that in the same way video games are faked, so can the titles contained within a shiny arcade box. It's hard to recommend sure-fire ways to avoid counterfeited arcade boxes, other than reminding you that you should check reviews and do your research. If something sounds too good to be true, as cliché as that saying is, it usually is. At the very least, I'd say if you have the opportunity, you should see the cabinet you're going to buy in person first.
This is a truth is stranger than fiction story of a group of people who lived the high life through dishonesty. This might appeal to some people, but the masses may find ourselves on the opposite side of the table. We have to be cautious in our purchases, especially with things that we buy online. You just never know who's on the other end of the line promising you things that you really want to be true. If I knew I was fueling a millionaire lifestyle for someone who wasn't telling the truth, I would definitely think twice before I bought that arcade cabinet.