Collector culture has just hit a milestone, this time for video games. According to a report by Kotaku, classic video game experts are now naming a recent transaction involving a brand-new, sealed copy of the original Super Mario Bros. game as the “highest-priced video game ever.” The “first-run copy of the Nintendo Entertainment System game” sold in a private exchange for a whopping $100,150, the first six-figure video game sale of its kind.
The reason behind the sudden jump in value has do with a rare sticker on the copy of the game. Per the Kotaku article, first-run NES games produced in the US were not completely shrink-wrapped like modern games today; they were only sealed at the top using a black circular sticker emblazoned with the Nintendo logo. These limited run copies were sold before the NES officially rolled out nationwide, and were sold separately from the consoles.
The authenticity of the game was determined by Wata Games, “a company that authenticates and certifies gaming collectibles.” Impressively, Deniz Khan, the president of the company, states that this is the only known copy of Super Mario Bros. that still has an intact sticker, thus validating the astronomical asking price. In a press release by Heritage Auctions, the video game was bought jointly by three individuals: “Jim Halperin, the founder and co-chairman of the collectibles auction company Heritage Auctions, coin dealer and game collector Rich Lecce, and video game store owner Zac Gieg.”
According to Khan the sale was legitimate, and the seller is an occasional advisor of his, though he chose to remain anonymous out of privacy concerns. A collector himself, the unnamed seller did not actively seek to sell the copy, since he apparently would not part with it for less than 6 figures. He often fielded offers that were half the eventual sale price, but did end up agreeing to the winning buyers’ collective amount.
The $100,000 price tag may pale compared to other items that have graced the popular culture auction scene, but it represents the increasing value of video games as a medium. Video games have now existed long enough for them to be considered an integral part of pop culture history, and rightfully so. Khan believes that “it’s only a matter of time until a video game sells for a million dollars.”