Vintage gaming is apparently a thing and features what seems to be a very vivid and volatile market and community. Gamers who enjoy older titles will spare no expense for a chance to get their hands on a video game collectible, judging by how the original Super Mario game just sold for a record-breaking price.
A copy of the original 1985 Super Mario Bros. sold through Heritage Auctions for jaw-dropping $660,000 on April 5, 2021, making it the highest-priced video game collectible to date. That’s $300,000 more than the previous record-holder, the Nintendo Play Station, which sold through the same auctioning service. But what made this particular game so special to warrant such a high bidding price? We have the answer.
From a collector’s standpoint, the Super Mario game is still in its factory-sealed packaging, whose condition is rated to 9.6 by Wata, a video game collectible grading company. That means that the packaging is in near-mint, almost perfectly preserved condition. It still retains its perforated hangtab and doesn’t have any NES Game Pack code, or any NES trademark, since it originates from a very low print run. This happened due to a myriad of reasons.
Firstly, the NES console was originally introduced in the US at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1985, featuring a very limited console release. The Super Mario game edition in question was part of a concise print run since it was released between September 13, 1985 and the console’s nationwide release in February 1986. In late 1986 Nintendo started issuing their games with NES-GP codes, something this particular copy lacks, hence the “No NES-GP” label. Secondly, Nintendo only managed to squeeze in the NES trademark to their game’s boxes in mid-1987, which is something this particular copy also lacks.
The lack of this code places the Super Mario game at a very specific and concise timeframe during which it was produced – somewhere between its release date and the early-mid-1986. The game edition’s narrow production window and its A+ exceptional conditions significantly ramped up the price tag of this otherwise common game from 1986 and 1987.
It seems like Nintendo’s IPs are gaining in value, considering that one of their 1st edition Pokémon cards sold for a considerable sum on eBay, just a few days ago. But that’s not all; another edition of the 1985 Super Mario Bros. game sold for $114,000 just a couple of months ago, along with a 1990 Super Mario Bros. 3, which sold for $156,000.
The 1985 edition of Super Mario Bros., the one for NES, was actually a successor to the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros. It was a massive worldwide success that popularized the side-scrolling platform genres. Its sale in the US started with a same-year edition of the game and sold over 29 million copies to date in the US alone. For a not-so-rare game, the 1985 edition sold on the auction might very well be the last of its kind in existence. In such near-perfect condition, it’s rarer than rare.