Some video games have become as much a part of pop culture as they are actual entertainment. Nintendo’s Super Mario franchise is one of them. The red hat-wearing plumber is recognized around the world and is the face of countless spinoff games.
Mario has also been around for decades. When “Super Mario Bros.” launched for the NES back in 1985, it became an instant classic. The game sold for $25 at the time. Now, a sealed copy has sold for $660,000 dollars. Unsurprisingly, that is a new record for the most expensive video game ever.
The idea of keeping a video game sealed for nearly 35 years might seem absurd. Unless you forget about it, that is. According to Ars Technica, the anonymous seller of this sealed Mario title did just that. In an interview, he told the publication, “It stayed in the bottom of my office desk this whole time since the day I bought it. I never thought anything about it.”
Now, that forgetfulness has turned into a massive payday. A total of 13 bidders competed for the rights to own a piece of video game history before the unopened copy eventually sold for $660,000.
That figure smashes the previous record for the most expensive video game ever sold. Of course, this isn’t the first time a Super Mario title has sold for six figures. A different pristine copy of “Super Mario Bros.” netted $100,150 in 2019. Last year, an unopened copy of “Super Mario Bros. 3” sold for $156,000.
So, what made this particular game so valuable? For one, it received a 9.6 out of 10 on WATA Games’ quality scale. This means that it is in near-mint condition. That’s an impressive feat considering its age.
Meanwhile, the game has an intact hangtab as part of its packaging. According to Ars Technica, this means that it “never had its seal pierced for hanging it in a store display.”
Making the title more valuable is the fact that it was part of a limited-edition publication run in 1986. This specific copy was part of “Super Mario Bros.’” fourth edition release.
Heritage Auctions’ video game specialist Valarie McLeckie told Ars Technica, “I would suspect sealed cardboard hangtab copies [still available today] number in the single digits.”
The unlikely combination of factors noted above led to the game’s record-breaking price tag. However, that isn’t the only reason a Super Mario game was able to sell for more than half a million dollars.
Around the world, interest in collectible items has skyrocketed over the past few years. Whether it’s video games, sports cards, Pokémon cards, or rare pop culture items, people are paying premiums to get their hands on a piece of history.
The same can be said in the virtual realm thanks to the emergence of NFTs and the current hype surrounding them. Although most people can’t fathom spending six figures on an unopened video game, there are plenty of buyers in the market.
As such, this collector craze isn’t likely to end anytime soon. So, if you have any old video games lying around in pristine shape, you might want to think about calling up an auctioneer.