Prices for retro video games have exploded over the past decade. Games for console classics like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) are now a good investment. Now there’s a new frontrunner for the world’s most valuable video games!
When a copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES was auctioned off for $114,000 in July 2020, atechbook was already predicting that the million mark would be cracked sooner or later. This happened in the summer of 2021. A short time later, even the two-million-dollar mark fell. This time, not at auction.
- Place 1: “Super Mario Bros.” for 2 million US dollars
- 2nd place: “Super Mario 64” clearly breaks the million mark
- 3rd place: “The Legend of Zelda” for 870,000 US dollars
- 4th place: “Super Mario Bros.” for 660,000 US dollars
- 5th place: “Super Mario Bros. 3” for 156,000 dollars
- The retro market is booming
1st place: “Super Mario Bros.” for 2 million US dollars
A copy of the NES classic “Super Mario Bros” was sold in August 2021 for 2 million US dollars (about 1.7 million euros), as reported by the ” New York Times “. An anonymous buyer transferred the amount for the video game to the company “Rally”. This buys valuable collectibles and allows private individuals to buy shares in them. If an offer comes in for one of the collectibles, the owners vote on whether to sell. In 2020, they rejected an offer of 300,000 US dollars for “Super Mario Bros. At 2 million, they now sold.
It is an unopened, original sealed copy of the video game milestone from 1985.
2nd place: “Super Mario 64” clearly breaks the million mark
That was fast! Just two days after a copy of “The Legend of Zelda” fetched 870,000 US dollars at auction and set a new world record, it has already been broken again. This time, it was a game for the Nintendo 64. A shrink-wrapped copy of “Super Mario 64” in near-perfect condition from 1996 broke the million mark for the first time – and by a significant margin. 1,560,000 US dollars (about 1,310,000 euros) brought the game at an auction of Heritage Auctions, as the auction house announced. This is obviously not some kind of special edition, but actually the freely available game from the 90s in the US version. What’s more, it’s amazing that up until now, games for the NES, which is a few years older, have always fetched record sums.
????#HERITAGELIVE #WORLDRECORD!! Super Mario 64 – Wata 9.8 A++ Sealed, N64 Nintendo 1996 USA just sold for $1,560,000 at #HeritageAuctions, smashing previous mark of $870K, set Friday at Heritage for The Legend of Zelda! https://t.co/SUgiijkkzL#SuperMario #Nintendo #N64 #WATA pic.twitter.com/rHpTuZl95l
— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) July 11, 2021
“Super Mario 64” was the first game to feature Nintendo’s plumber bouncing around the gaming world in 3D. At the same time, it was the best-selling game for the N64.
3rd place: “The Legend of Zelda” for 870,000 US dollars
The auction house Heritage Auctions auctioned off the NES game “The Legend of Zelda” for an incredible 870,000 US dollars on July 9, 2021. The game dates back to 1987 and is still sealed. According to the auction house, the condition is therefore practically brand new. What a sum for a single video game! “The Legend of Zelda,” like “Super Mario Bros,” is one of the absolute gaming classics for the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short. What makes the game so special, besides its condition, is the fact that it is one of the earliest productions. It was produced for only a few months in the late 1987s before being replaced by another version starting in 1988.
'Legend of Zelda' Shatters World Record at $870,000 to Kick off Heritage Auctions Video Games Event.
Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) July 9, 2021
Place 4: “Super Mario Bros.” for 660,000 US dollars
The NES game “Super Mario Bros.” also crossed the auction table for a huge sum in 2021. In April, it was auctioned off for 660,000 US dollars. The jump-‘n’-run game even celebrated its 35th anniversary in Europe in the same year and sold a total of over 40 million copies worldwide. But how can a game that millions of people owned and still own fetch $660,000 at auction? It is an original shrink-wrapped copy of the game, in nearly pristine condition. The packaging type was also only used for a short time, which makes the game that much rarer.
— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) April 2, 2021
The story behind the game’s find is curious. The game was bought for Christmas in 1986, but forgotten in a drawer. There it lay for all those years, maturing into an absolute gem. By the way, it is not known who bought the game at auction.
5th place: “Super Mario Bros. 3” for 156,000 dollars
At an auction in the USA, another Super Mario Bros. went under the hammer for 156,000 US dollars. This was confirmed by the auction house responsible in Dallas, Heritage Auctions , at the time – incidentally also the same auction house as for the current record.
#heritageLive: WORLD RECORD!! Super Mario Bros. 3 – Wata 9.2 A+ Sealed ("Bros." Left, First Production), NES Nintendo 1990 USA brings $156,000 – more than five times its estimate and the highest price ever paid for a video game. #AuctionUpdate #VideoGames #SuperMarioBros pic.twitter.com/7v3wykH63u
— Heritage Auctions (@HeritageAuction) November 20, 2020
Super Mario Bros. 3 was released for the NES in the U.S. in early 1990 and is also considered a milestone in video game history. The jump’n’run around the animated plumber Mario sold over 17 million copies. It is the best-selling video game that was not sold together with a console. The auctioned copy is the first production series, which exists only in small numbers. The game is also still shrink-wrapped, so the condition is pretty much perfect.
Even then, the game increased tremendously in value. The move from $100,150 to $114,000 was remarkable. But years later, Super Mario Bros. 3 and the new copy of Super Mario Bros. surpassed the record by a long shot!
The retro market is booming
Whether Nintendo , Sony, Atari or Sega – everything is collected. The main thing is that the video games, consoles and accessories are old and rare. On Ebay old games already achieve top prices and the trend continues year after year. Not only well-known consoles like Super Nintendo or the Atari 2600 are popular collectibles. Even failed and thus rare devices such as Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, a failed foray into the VR world in 1995, are on the wish lists of retro enthusiasts. The latter goes for several hundred euros over the virtual counter at auctions.
Collectors not only pounce on cartridges, discs and hardware, but also on the cardboard slipcases and packaging that go with them. Nintendo, for example, only started using plastic cases with the release of the Gamecube in 2001. Before that, there was cardboard packaging, which for many ended up in the trash or in the corner with little care. This is exactly what makes them rare and therefore valuable. So if you still have the original cardboard packaging in good condition for a rare game, you can achieve a much higher sales price. It only gets even more interesting if these are also still originally sealed and have thus never been opened.
atechbook editor Andreas Filbig also owns a few old NES games and a console. In the following video he showed some treasures:
Also popular with fans are promotional copies, test units for retailers, prototypes and other games and consoles that never ended up on open sale. These easily generate revenues in the four- or even five-digit euro range. This was also the case with Nintendo World Championship, for a long time the most valuable game in the world, which was issued to the winners in a competition in 1990 in a quantity of 26. It was worth 100,088 US dollars (the equivalent of around 88,800 euros) to one buyer.