Are Video Games Valuable to Collectors?

Last month, a sealed copy of the 1996 Nintendo 64 video game “Super Mario 64” sold for $1.56 million USD.
Last month, a sealed copy of the 1996 Nintendo 64 video game “Super Mario 64” sold for $1.56 million USD.

Since its release in 1996, nearly 12 million copies of Super Mario 64 have been sold – suggesting that there are plenty of copies of the classic Nintendo 64 game still out there. So it's hard to explain why a pristine, factory-sealed copy of Super Mario 64 sold for an astonishing $1.56 million USD at a July 2021 auction. The sale was not only a single-copy record for a video game, but it nearly doubled the price paid for a copy of The Legend of Zelda just a few days earlier. Some argue that the astronomical fees paid for the games are part of a trend that encompasses everything collectable, from baseball cards to comic books.

Deniz Kahn, the CEO of Wata Games, said one reason this particular Super Mario 64 was so highly valued was its perfect packaging, a rarity for the game. "There are discussions of how many first-print sealed Mario 64’s may exist, but no matter what the number is, there are certainly only a tiny fraction in 9.8A++,” Kahn said, referring to the condition grade level that translates to nearly completely undamaged. "We often receive factory 'case-packs' of N64 games where all six copies included have not been circulated. Even in these undistributed 'case-fresh' copies, most often the results end up with two or fewer 9.8s, and oftentimes none."

Still, most experts are at a loss to explain why the game, even in nearly mint condition, would sell for millions of dollars, when previous record high prices were in the tens of thousands.

Plugged into Super Mario 64:

  • Gamers who collect all of the stars in the game can climb to the roof and get 100 lives from Yoshi.

  • Nintendo gave up on a sequel, Super Mario 64 2, after its intended device, the Nintendo 64 DD, flopped.

  • Most of the games for the Nintendo 64, including Super Mario 64, used only 32 bits, not 64.

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    • Last month, a sealed copy of the 1996 Nintendo 64 video game “Super Mario 64” sold for $1.56 million USD.
      Last month, a sealed copy of the 1996 Nintendo 64 video game “Super Mario 64” sold for $1.56 million USD.