The market for vintage video games is booming.
Heritage Auctions bought an unopened copy of the 1996 Nintendo 64 game Super Mario 64 on Monday for $1.56million. According to Heritage Auctions, 16 bids were received, and the final price was the highest for any single video game. Over the last three years, the vintage video game market has seen a boom, particularly during the pandemic. However, this sale price has left seasoned collectors stunned and scratching their heads.
Donald Brock Jr., the Columbia Comics collectibles website owner, said that he was just as blown away as many others in this industry by these results. The collectibles market has exploded since the pandemic. It would be reasonable to expect that money will tighten, but it has done the exact opposite.” Brock points out that Action Comics #1 was the first comic book to sell for $1 million. This issue featured Superman’s debut. The comic was published in 1938, so it was 72 years old when it sold for a million dollars. The T206 Honorius Wagner was the first baseball card to sell for over $1 million in 2000. It was printed in 1909, so it was 91 years old at the time. Super Mario 64 is only 25 years old, and it still soared past $1 million during Monday’s auction. Brock stated, “It takes a short time to reach this pinnacle.”
These are just a few of the many trends contributing to this surge in vintage video-game speculation. For example, many comic-book enthusiasts have moved into space in recent years to diversify their investments. It seems that cryptocurrency investors are more inclined to cash out and collect video games. SideQuest Games’ owner Josh Hamblin said that there are a few times when crypto is performing well. Sometimes it goes down a bit, and you see some increases in purchasing games. He used to sell games for fun, but now he finds that collector’s items are a massive part of his business and take up more of his time. Hamblin said that collectors are typically people in their 40s and 50s who grew up with these games and had the money to spend on collectibles.
These are Nintendo games that were released in the 1980s or 1990s. This includes the NES consoles from 1983. The most sought-after titles feature characters from popular franchises such as Super Mario, Zelda, or Pokemon. Super Mario 64 is Mario’s first 3D rendering. However, the character has appeared in many console games before that. Donkey Kong was his first appearance. Many collectors are confused by this and the fact that Super Mario 64 is one of the rarest titles. Hamblin said, “It’s shocking that it was this video game.” Hamblin stated that N64 Mario gets a bad rap from many collectors because it isn’t a great game.
Given that Super Mario 64 has sold for over a million dollars and there are likely to be more valuable games, it’s unlikely that this will be the only seven-figure video game auction. “If this is the accurate price, there are The Legend of Zelda copies that should sell for much more. Brock stated that a Mario sticker seal of very high quality should sell for much more than this. Brock said that there are many copies of older games of popular franchises that should sell for over $1.5 million if the trend continues. It is because there are not that many unopened versions. Video games are not like collectibles such as action figures. Most people buy them to play, and they don’t need to be kept in original packaging. There is currently a more significant imbalance in supply and demand for vintage games that are not sealed.
What do you do when you have a video game worth hundreds of thousands or more of dollars? It’s unlikely that these collectors play these games. They keep them as trophies in private collections or wait to resell them later for a profit. The games must be in perfect condition in both cases. Companies like Wata Games grade copies that are up for auction based on their situation. Wata Games evaluated the Super Mario 64 cartridge in Monday’s auction. Collectors often keep their games in good condition by keeping them in safety deposit boxes at banks or in a plexiglass case. Protecting games from the sun’s UV rays is essential. They can damage the packaging and reduce the value. Since oxidation can be a nightmare for collectors, it is best to keep them in dry and controlled rooms. Hamblin, for example, recalls purchasing 200 sealed PS1 games in Georgia. However, the humid climate caused some rusting to the staples holding the manuals together, severely affecting their condition. Mario might not be Bowser’s greatest enemy, but moisture.