Earlier this month, a sealed copy of Super Mario 64 sold for $1,560,000 at auction, a staggering price that nearly doubled the record set just two days earlier by an equally pristine specimen of The Legend of Zelda. The auctions could be just the start of even more dazzling video game sales. It seems very likely that Mario’s first 3D adventure won’t be the last game to gross a million dollars.
“I think we’ll see more million-dollar games, probably sooner rather than later,” said Chris Kohler, editor in chief at Digital Eclipse, a developer working on reissues of classic video games. The edge.
Collecting and selling stuff – both physical and virtual – for expensive prices has become a popular trend. pokemon cards are extremely popular. Some NFTs, a form of digital collectible, have sold for millions of dollars. And people have poured huge amounts of money into assets like cryptocurrencies and the stock of GameStop.
Video games remain hugely popular — more than half of Americans turned to video games during the pandemic — and retro games already have a recent history of collectibles. A little over a year ago, a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. claimed the record for most expensive video game ever to resell for $114,000, a sum that was huge at the time but is less than a tenth of what Super Mario 64 just auctioned off.
Kohler expects the next game to break the million dollar threshold a very early push from The . could be Legend of Zelda, like what sold this month, or any other Super Mario Bros. Danielle Smith, owner of Nerdy Girl Comics, agrees. “I think the market has spoken for itself and Mario is the king and Zelda is the queen of video games,” she said. Smith also said that Sonic the hedgehog because the Sega Genesis could potentially be a valuable title. It’s not just because of his cultural cache at the moment:Sonic the hedgehog sealed is really hard to find,” she said.
It’s not right Sonic. People who start collecting premium games may find that the supply is much lower than in other collectible markets. “I think we will continue to see record sales [in games]” said Deniz Kahn, president and founder of Wata Games, the company that evaluated both The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario 64 for quality before being put up for auction. “Ultimately, there just isn’t enough supply of these high-quality, high-quality, sealed vintage video games to meet the demand.”
That’s different from other collectibles. “In recent years, a lot of people have started collecting from other areas, like comics or coins or cards, and their markets are very mature,” he said. In comics, “at this point all copies of” Action Strips #1 have been flushed from attics into the hands of collectors. People in the [gaming] hobby – collectors, investors – we all realize that the populations of these sealed games are so incredibly low when you compare them to say sports cards or comic books,” he added. “There are not hundreds of them in a high, perfect rank. In some cases there is one, or 10, or five.”
Another thing that can drive up the prices is that the games are sold at a public auction, meaning anyone can see the price of any sale. Before that, according to Kahn, “when there was going to be a five-figure video game sale, which was a big deal four or five years ago, I knew about it and maybe 10 other guys knew about it. It all happened behind closed doors.”
All recent record holders have been sold on Heritage Auctions and the games sold have been rated for quality by Wata Games on a 10-point scale similar to what is used for comics. According to Kohler, the partnership between Wata and Heritage makes it safer for people to have confidence that the game they’re bidding on is of the quality advertised. “You don’t just buy it from shadyguy123 on eBay,” he said. “You know you’re buying from Heritage Auctions.”
“The sales that take place [on Heritage] are now almost an indicator of health,” Kahn said. “It’s a pulse in the market.”
The person who bought the million dollars Super Mario 64 hasn’t come out publicly, so it’s unclear exactly why they dropped such a huge amount of money on that one game. But Valarie McLeckie, video game consignment director at Heritage Auctions, said those who have bought ultra-rare games are driven by nostalgia. “The kind of people who buy these games look for immaculate examples of the games they played as kids,” she said in an email.
Kahn speculates that for some, Nintendo 64 games may hit that nostalgic sweet spot that encourages them to buy. “I think [for] the generation that is really heavily involved in alternative assets, the Nintendo 64 era, for example, resonates a lot more with that demographic,” he said. “I think that may also be why we’re all very surprised that the first video game over a million dollars was a Nintendo 64 game. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that. But it shows the power of emotion and nostalgia and how much of a role that plays, despite all the other factors driving demand.”
These record sales could have a positive effect on the preservation of video games, which is already a challenging problem because of the way technology changes and fare. If more people try to sell their video games to the market, buried treasures could see the light of day.
“What I think people don’t understand is that so many things, even to this day, get thrown in the trash,” Kohler said. “If there’s one really big positive impact that something like this will have – especially because it’s passed that magic million dollar number that everyone, the mainstream news, is all paying attention to – the beneficial impact that this has is [that] fewer people will throw away their video games.”