Cheap handheld games in eBay. Legit?

I’ve been browsing eBay for GBA and DS games for the past few days, and I’ve noticed that there’s a huge number of really cheap titles for both systems (especially the GBA). And they are not used either, but brand new and often unopened, english versions.

Most of the sellers of these really cheap games are based in Hong Kong, so I started wonder wether the price level over there is really so much cheaper, or are these pirated copies? Anyone have any information or educated guesses about this? Also, does anyone know if there’s any way to check the authenticity of the cardridges assuming they might be professionally manufactured bootlegs?

Dude, it’s Hong Kong. That’s the biggest possible tipoff that they’re pirated.

Usually, bootleg copies will not have “Nintendo” on the shell or somewhere near the connectors, but some go so far as to get the shell right too. Other tipoffs are usually labels and manuals, which range from being trash/black-and-white photocopies to nearly perfect.

Don’t know what the deal is with DS games. I’d be surprised if they’ve managed to pirate those to salable gamechips or whatever, but again, it’s Hong Kong.

My rule of thumb is that anyone who’s had less than 99% positive feedback should be avoided. Even good sellers can’t avoid the occasional pissed-off-at-nothing asshole, but if you can’t keep 99%+ happy, you’re doing something wrong. If you look at the specific feedback of the Asian/pirate sellers, and scan for the neutral/negative comments, you can usually get quick confirmation that they aren’t selling legitimate goods.

I would not recommend buying cart-only games from eBay bulk sellers - I picked up Game N’ Watch Gallery 4, cart-only for GBA from a (in retrospect, I realize!) somewhat suspect source, and the save game corrupted after a few weeks. The cart didn’t look overtly suspect, but I’m pretty sure it’s a substandard boot, and this is the reason the save went byebye.

I wouldn’t feel so confident with random sellers from Hong Kong on E-Bay but can testify that I’ve had nothing but good experiences with the mail order folk www.play-asia.com and www.lik-sang.com who are both located in Hong Kong…but then again, come to think of it, Lik-Sang is one of the leading sellers of GBA ROM burners and such (only for legitimate backups, of course, cough cough).

Thanks for the advice everyone. I’ve been going through the sellers’ backgrounds a bit more carefully, and some of them are pretty easy to identify as bootleg sellers while others seem pretty trustworthy. What bugs me is that some of these sellers are obviously (by looking at both item descriptions and feedback) selling illegal copies, but they sometimes have thousands of transactions and eBay shows no sign of shutting them down. One would think that Nintendo would be very aggressive against these bootleg sellers, since their combined volume of sales seems huge and they must be aware of the situation. Is is really so difficult to prove guilt and shut the user accounts down? Sure, they can create new accounts, but at least they would lose their positive feedback which makes them seem reliable.

My first DS game from a Hong Kong seller just arrived, and that at least seems authentic, despite its price.

A flashable cartridge for a GBA is a must! Lots of legimate uses for that one, most important being putting several games you own on a single cartridge.

I tend not to big on any GBA games from eBay unless the picture shows that the game is sealed, or with all the components. I don’t even bother with stock picture listings.

If you see a game that is loose that you want, you should try emailing the seller for a scan of the game. You’ll notice that all legit GBA games have a number of some sort engraved into the front label of the catridge. And actually, every generation of Gameboy games have used them. Though, sometimes you can’t really see it until you hold it up to the light, but it’s there.

I’ve been lucky enough not to get a bootleg GBA cart, but I’m told that the numbers are missing on quite many of them.

I too, only bid if the seller has around 97% of higher positive feedback, and make sure to not only read what the negatives say, but how the seller responds to them in the process. I’ve seen a few people with 99% feedbacks be complete jerks in their responses, to what appeared to be honest complaints. And I wouldn’t deal with them.