Last week, a game cassette on The legend of Zelda sold for $ 870,000, the highest price ever paid for a video game at auction. But The legend of Zelda only held that record for a few days before it was figuratively trampled to second place. Over the weekend, a sealed copy of Super Mario 64 sold for $ 1.56 million at Heritage Auctions.
This moment has been approaching for a while, as video games and other nostalgic media have increased in popularity and regular appeal (and, more importantly, price) in the last couple of years. But experts in the preservation of video games and history were surprised to see super Mario 64 breaks that record, despite the pristine quality of the copy. Super Mario 64 is not a particularly rare game; Nintendo has sold millions of copies since its first release in 1
But most of these copies of Super Mario 64 does not have a 9.8 Wata rating – a score from the video game company which means that the quality is almost perfect, both in production and conservation. Seller Heritage Auctions called the sealed copy of Super Mario 64 the “highest rated copy” of the game it has ever sold.
Wata is a ranking service that specializes in retro video games. People submit their video games for review and certification. An assessment is important for these great ticket games as a way for buyers to feel confident that they are getting something of value.
Wata’s scale goes up to 10, and 9.8 is a very high score. Video games ranked 10 are extremely rarely, Wata boss Ryan Sabga told Polygon – only a “small handful” of games have been rated. (Sabga refused to say exactly how many) he said.
Sabga said that Wata has received “case-packs” of Nintendo 64 games – straight from the factory and intended for retail – that have never been in circulation or opened. “Even in these undistributed ‘case-fresh’ copies, the result often ends in two or fewer 9.8 seconds, and often none,” Sabga said.
Video game preservation expert Chris Kohler told Polygon that it is rare to find a copy like this, even for one of the most popular Nintendo 64 games. “There’s a bit of a gold rush going on right now, where people are trying to buy up the finest copies of things they can, and for whatever reason, money was no object,” Kohler said.
A copy of Super Mario 64, rated 9.4 A +, sold at Heritage Auctions in January for $ 38,400. Many others, with lower ratings from Wata, also sold in the past year – ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars in places like Heritage Auctions and elsewhere. But this weekend’s price jump to well over $ 1 million shocked some video game history and conservation experts. Kohler told Polygon he had not guessed that this would be the game to break $ 1 million. Others, such as Video Game History Foundation founder Frank Cifaldi, initially expressed skepticism based on the sudden jump in value.
“The price jump on these things is so sudden, and on such specific goods, that I do not think it happened naturally,” Cifaldi tweeted on Sunday. “Everything feels very suspicious imo.”
The video game history fund’s co-director and video game dealer Kelsey Lewin expressed a similar opinion. “Two really suspicious things about this: Despite the lack of population reports, there are many known seals Super Mario 64 first press, ”tweeted Lewin. “Auctions of other speculative items actually went relatively * low” this week, with a matte sticker Mario selling for only $ 3,600. “
Like Pokémon, which also has a boom in the value of trading cards, Nintendo likes games Super Mario 64 represents a time period that people have become nostalgic for.
“These are things that are going to increase in value over the next 10, 20, 30 years,” Kohler said. “This is not a bubble that appears tomorrow.”
Although prices are outlandish, they are not necessarily irregular. Comics and trading cards have recently had similar barriers, and the value of video games has increased rapidly over the past year.
In 2020, a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros., ranked 9.4 by Wata, sold for $ 114.00, a record at the time. A year later, a rare copy of Super Mario Bros.., rated 9.6 by Wata, sold for $ 660.00 – more than five times the price for 2020.
The price jump on these things is so sudden, and on such specific items, that I do not think it happened naturally. It all feels very suspicious imo. https://t.co/0MAhaWYF1H
– Frank Cifaldi (Unlicensed) .nes (@frankcifaldi) July 11, 2021
“We have seen a steady increase in the prices of games we approve and classify for some time,” said Sabga. “This is not new or sudden for us.”
The value is of course directly linked to the price someone will pay for something – and obviously someone really wanted this almost pristine copy of Super Mario 64. Several bidders participated in the auction to increase the price astronomically high.
This type of rapid increase is not necessarily good or bad for video game conservators, Kohler said. Super Mario 64 has been preserved; there are many copies of it, and on top of that some source code leaked.
“I do not think that this sale for what it sold for will have such a big impact on actual preservation,” Kohler said. It would be a problem to see such prices for unreleased games and prototypes – things that are captured on a single ROM cartridge, he said.
Cifaldi added in a tweet on Monday in response to concerns that high prices for retro games could affect their preservation, that the Video Game History Foundation focuses mainly on “information and context”, and places little emphasis on “archiving a pristine copy of A popular game. sent to Wata since September, is filed by the foundation.