The unopened 25-year-old copy of Super Mario 64 was among the highlights at Heritage in Dallas on July 9-11.
Above all, video game collecting is about packaging and condition. This survivor – the first video game ever sold for more than $1m – wins on both counts.
Dating to 1996, it is among the first issues of the best-selling title made as the Nintendo Entertainment System was launched in the US. At the time, small revisions were being made to packaging regularly, with this early variant retaining the cardboard ‘hangtag’ used to sell the very first test market copies but in fact sold wholly wrapped in plastic. It may have had a production run of just a few months.
The game is also the highest-graded example of its type, given the rating 9.8 A++ by grading authority Wata. With the buyer’s premium of 20% added, the price was $1.56m.
The price came hot on the heels of an early production copy of the first game in the groundbreaking Legend of Zelda series that had sold for $725,000 (£537,000). It, too, was a variant only produced for a few months in late 1987 and the finest known of the surviving unopened examples graded 9.0.
Both results underline the bubble that is growing in the market for professionally graded video games. It was precisely a year ago (July 10, 2020) that Heritage sold an earlier late 1985 copy of Super Mario graded 9.4 A+ for ‘only’ $95,000 (£73,000) – a sum that was unmatched at the time.