If you've got any mint-condition retro games lying around, it might be time to revisit the attic, because a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES just sold for $100,150. After the owner sent it for evaluation, the chief grader at Wata Games marveled at the NES cartridge's "supreme status of preservation" and stated that similar products often display extreme wear and tear after more than 30 years. The copy is now in joint custody of three people, who split the bill to procure a piece of gaming history.
The NES cartridge was part of an extremely limited "test market launch" for the NES from around 1985, and it has stood the test of time well. Deniz Kahn, the CEO and cofounder of game-grading service Wata Games, estimated that only around 2,000-1,000 copies were made for each game's test-run, and only a few dozen exist with an intact sticker seal, a form of packaging that was quickly upgraded to simple shrink wrap.
The test copies were released between October 1985 and March 1986 in markets across New York and Los Angeles.
Wata Games gave this sealed copy's foil sticker seal its highest rating, an A++, making this product worth its weight in gold, given the notoriety of the title. Kahn called it "a holy grail" of sorts for the sealed collector's market. While the seller didn't want to be identified, Kahn said that he's “one of the largest collectors of sealed video games" and "well known" among top collectors.
After Wata's grading process was complete, offers came flying in, but the title's owner would accept no less than $100,000, according to Jim Halperin, owner of Heritage Auctions and one of the three buyers. Zac Gieg, owner of Just Press Play Video Games, also took part in the sale.
The three decided to store the game in Heritage Auctions' vaults when not displaying it at conventions and events. The new owners want to show it off as much as possible, wowing collectors while educating others about their hobby.
$100,000 is a lot, but Heritage Auction's PR director believes it's just the beginning.
"When a story like this gets out, everybody turns to their collection," he said. Word spreads quickly, and once people look at the quality of their purchases, "the flood gates start to open."
It turns out that piece of plastic left in the attic for years could be just what you need to buy a new summer home. Start searching!