The World's Most Expensive Game Has Just Been Sold
They say the oldest ones are the best. Another huge video game record has been smashed, as the world's most expensive game just went up for auction to claim the title. While 1985's Super Mario Bros. is an icon in many ways, it now has the honour of being the world's most expensive game thanks to an ultra-rare copy going under the hammer. Nintendo already took the crown last year when Super Mario Bros. 3 sold for a whopping $156K/£112K in November. Now, the house that Mario built is here to take over from its little brother.
Nintendo is churning out some of the most profitable game relics of all time, which comes in part to its games, peripherals, and consoles. While it'll still be a few years before your copy of Super Mario Odyssey will be worth anything, it saves to keep your old tech knocking around. We bet the new The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Joy-Cons will be worth a pretty penny in a few years and follow in the footsteps of that iconic Pikachu-themed Nintendo 64 from way back when.
What is the world's most expensive video game?
According to Heritage Auctions, a sealed "black box" version of Super Mario Bros. just sold for an eye-watering $660K/£477K. The description explains why this one should be worth the money: "This is only the fourth version of Super Mario Bros. ever produced, and its window of production was remarkably short. Just to paint a better picture of how short this really was -- the nationwide release for the console came in mid to late 1986, and black box games distributed for that release did not have the 'Game Pak NES-GP' code. It's worth mentioning that Nintendo managed to add the trademark symbol to the Nintendo Entertainment System on their game boxes by the beginning of 1987. That certainly doesn't leave much time at all for this variant to be produced in-between the two!"
Ironically, it was Heritage that sold the Super Mario 3 record-breaker in 2020. Speaking to IGN, Chris Kohler, editorial director at Digital Eclipse, said, "For Nintendo, it was just stuff they had to do internally, but collectors are using this information now. It’s not like a collector cares if there’s a “™” on their box or not, but it’s the ability to use that information to figure out what the earliest printings are". Added to this, the game rates 9.6 on the WATA scale - which is used to rank comic book value.
Kohler continued, "So if you’re an expert in comics, you know a 9.6 is very hard to get on the WATA scale, especially for black box NES games because those are so old. They really narrowed it down to when was this copy on sale, when did Nintendo start tweaking parts of the box?"
How did this become the most expensive video game ever sold?
Another reason why Super Mario Bros. has gone for so much money is because those who would've played these games are now in their '40s and '50s and might have more expendable income to throw around. Still, splashing out $660K on a video game either means you've won the lottery or know exactly what it could be worth. Kohler concluded, "The constraint of video game collection 20 or 30 years ago was that there just wasn’t a lot of money being thrown around. Stadium event copies would sell for $30,000 but because there would only be a small number who could pay that much. The fact that this [copy of Super Mario Bros.] sold for $660,000 means that there are at least two people who would have paid over half a million dollars for it, probably more".
The sealed copy has apparently sat in a drawer for the past 30 years, which is crazy to believe. Given the tiny release window of late-1986 to early-1987, the above game was always going to be a rare one. Last year, another record was set when the mythical Nintendo PlayStation prototype sold for $360K/£259K. The Super Nintendo PlayStation CD-ROM system was bought at a bankruptcy auction for just $75 and inadvertently landed its buyer with the rarest piece of video game history in existence.
Video games selling for silly money are nothing new. Fans will know a boxed copy of Conker's Bad Fur Day will set you back a couple of hundred pounds. It's admittedly a little off Super Mario Bros selling for hundreds of thousands, but just like there's been a boom in auctioning rare Pokemon cards, the trend of video games looks like it's one on the rise. Sadly, as the video game industry continues to push digital downloads, rare physical copies of games could become a thing of the past. Then again, it could make them even rarer.
Images via Nintendo | Unsplash