I’m going to talk to you about the potential of investing in video games and comic books. But there’s something I have to do first. Before I enter this lion’s den, I’m going to have to feed some of the lions. I can’t cruise right in because the anticipated attitudes and appetites are affecting my approach.
Knowing that I am walking in with an elephant at my side, I need to disarm the hungry snarls long enough to highlight the real meat hiding in the corners.
Putting Your Money Where Your Thumbs Went
I want to show you there are enormous price-tags in the video game world to talk about. Even their comic counterparts are silently sneaking up the hill to celebrate with them. I want you to be front row when this concert hits the crescendo, not back in the nosebleeds screaming ‘scam’. So I’m going to take you up a slightly different, albeit very credible path.
I’m not going to deliver you recent data on the 6-figure forefathers of the gaming world. Instead, I’m going to re-introduce you to their offspring. I’m not going to inundate you with record-breaking Wata results. Instead, I’ll provide you with record-breaking ungraded and VGA results that have thus far been omitted from the conversation. Together we can decide where these properties and this surging hobby might go.
Party On the Hill
On July 2nd of this year, a sealed VGA 95 copy of the inaugural Silent Hill for PlayStation sold for a penny shy of $20,000.00 on eBay.
Whoa! Wait!? What? Wasn’t it just a couple years ago that the record for the most expensive video game ever sold was a meager 30k, and that prestige belonged to a rare copy of the Godfather himself – Super Mario?
To be honest, it was actually over 4 years ago now. It was a factory-sealed hangtab copy of the earliest Super Mario release.
Placing the significance of that game aside for a moment, you should also know that the copy was ungraded. Seeing as I’m writing to a bunch of comic collectors, I don’t think I need to drive home the significance that time and grading do to your collectibles. If you had purchased a $30,000.00 raw copy of X-Men #1 (1963) four years ago – another hysterically undervalued property at the time – you would be holding one of the top % of all copies of that book ever found today. Anywhere from an 8.5 – 9.4. Imagine that! Your return would be enormous.
Forward, Back, Forward, Back Punch
Similarly, these 2 video game sales represent entirely different eras – nearly 16 years separates the release dates – and they represent entirely different gaming experiences, grading standards, and generations of players. They’re literally worlds apart. Yet one aspect (aside from being torn apart upon purchase) echoes throughout the ages – these games kick serious butt. So much in fact, that the initial software could never have contained the storylines. Each has since received a suitable Hollywood lifestyle, and each has spilled over into comic panels.
2 years ago you could have picked up a CGC 9.8 copy of Mario’s first panels in a comic book for around $300. That appearance takes place inside of an unassuming non-comic-looking-book called Blip #1, published by Marvel, which I’m sure you were as mildly aware of back then as you are today. The only difference now is that it’s going to cost you several thousand dollars more in top grade, if you’re lucky enough to ever find one.
Maybe you want to make one instead from a high-grade raw copy? Some potential candidates can be found online at this moment, with a fresh zero at the end of their bills as well. If you feel like a gamble before the new animated movie gains momentum and time pumps those rare non-comic-looking-books even higher.
Something To Read in the Dark
On the contrary, the first Silent Hill comic books were released by IDW Publishing in 2004 and can still be found in the dollar bins of the marketplace. The story concept in this series wasn’t well received and the artwork has been criticized as ‘unappealing and lazy’. It’s about as fun and unassuming as the cover of Blip #1. Still, there’s not an overwhelming amount of these first-series books available, and the price tags today are noticeably higher than they were yesterday.
If gaming is in your blood, will these milestones remain just another blip on your peripherals? There are currently no graded sales to quote data from. Are you ready for that, Player 1?
The Hollywood experience. I’ve felt that before. If my memory serves me right the Hollywood experience first occurred with a slightly older video game franchise. It was 1996’s Resident Evil that laid a large portion of the multimedia foundation (with Zombie flesh!) for the modern gaming genre.
So tight was the connection between mediums that Marvel Comics released a Resident Evil promotional comic in April of ‘96 that included 2 discount coupons for the purchase of the original game. It could have something to do with the number of coupons cut out (something familiarly frustrating in comic collecting circles) that makes this book a pricey investment in high grade.
Kill or be Killed
A 9.8 hasn’t sold for nearly a year, but we have recent data coming in from several other grades that shows a solid upward trend on this one-off. This is not a book to sleep on any longer if you collect across mediums. Again, look to eBay to secure a nice-looking raw copy to complement your gaming memorabilia, but be sure those coupons are in place to get the most from your investment.
As it turns out, we can only look to VGA to gain insight on what a graded and sealed copy of the original Resident Evil might go for. There are no sealed Wata sales of this game to navigate. Records for these VGA sales date back to a time that eBay has made unavailable to view from their website, but Gocollect has become extremely adept at verifying and storing historical data for your convenience. The record sale for any condition of this game was on January 2nd, 2019, when a VGA 85+ copy sold for $4,500.00.
There were a handful of other sales from VGA that year, all sealed and all in the thousands. But that’s where this game has taken an intermission for now. That was a lot of money back then for a game from a mid-90’s console. To what heights might the next graded and sealed copy grow?
The curtain might be lifting soon for this game. A sealed and ungraded copy of the inaugural Resident Evil for the PS1 just sold on October 2nd for $14,655.55 after 69 bids on eBay. That’s roughly 15x what the value was 4 years ago when Mario went up the pipe, and never came back down.
HALO: Franchise Evolved
Debuting in 2005 for the Xbox, Halo is already on the list of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time, landing in between Superman himself (est. $9.37B) and his DC Entertainment Universe (est. $6.48B) with an estimated $6.5B in total revenue! There’s no form of media this franchise hasn’t touched upon.
Master Chief John-117 of the Spartans has got you well covered (now run to this ship before it leaves our stratosphere)!
Looking at the comic speculation for this property we see an interesting trend that doesn’t happen very often – the Graphic Novel is by and large the best investment. This is unique but pleasant news, considering it is very gratifying to read and to look at, and there are some high-grade low-price copies to be found out there.
Yes Sir, I Need A Weapon
As far as graded copies go, CGC 9.8 sales of Halo: The Graphic Novel’s Preview have been doubling every time they land in someone’s cart. That’s happened 4 times in the past calendar year. A 9.2 sold about a year ago for $21.50. The FMV in that grade alone is projected nearly 5x higher in just 12 months. Blip, blip, blip…
When it comes to the original Xbox release that started it all, let’s talk Wata. Nearly all of the sales that have taken place have been graded by Wata. The crown currently belongs to a Microsoft Company Store example Wata 9.2 NS (No Seal) that sold for $6,766.66 on August 28th after 54 bids on eBay. Take the fancy sticker off the game and look at it how the general public got their hands on it, a Wata 9.4 B+ went for $4,200.00 at Heritage Auctions on April 4th. Two months later a Wata 9.4 B realized $2,500.00 on eBay.
Nothing seems fishy here. It could be that the gloss of the early boom is fading, but the market has shown definite signs of stabilizing values lately, especially when leaning into modern games. Nonetheless, games from the Xbox, GameCube, and PS2 era are teetering on the brink of major returns, and sealed copies are disappearing quickly.
Peeling Back the Seam
Let’s be honest. What are the chances you’ve had unopened, shrinkwrap sealed MEGA BLOCKBUSTER video games sitting in your closet approaching two, three decades now in perfect condition? Very, very, very, very, very low, I’m willing to wager. About the same chance that you have a forgotten copy of AF 15 or even Hulk 181 stowed away in your attic in mid-grade condition. It happens. They have to come from somewhere.
This is one of the reasons that the highest graded sealed examples of the most memorable games ever created are breaching 6-figures. Silent Hill is already well into 5-figures. That franchise is only 22 years old, and there were over 2-million copies of that initial game sold to the public. Resident Evil is now a 5-figure raw purchase. These prices won’t be coming back down no matter how hard you scream.
Other reasons for enormous price tags live in the world of controversy and speculation. Something all collectibles invariably experience as they overachieve their strides. If you’re simply going to live with the view that everything is a scam, I would recommend you avoid collecting comic books and video games for investment purposes.
Complete the Game, Complete the Box
Now, I would bet the chances of you taking really good care of your opened toys is a little more considerable. In which case, Wata is the grading company you’re going to want to send them to if you’d like to have them properly detailed. This isn’t a stab at VGA. Wata documents the interior components of a game differently, allowing the hunt for authenticity more precision when dealing with opened, complete-in-box games. That’s a bonus for collectors.
This means you can’t just go running off to purchase a manual here, a cartridge there, and the best-looking box to hold them in, or else you run the risk of purchasing incorrect parts. The purchase of raw CIB games is more perilous if you plan on grading them for a loftier return on investment, but it can be done. Never forget, there are literally millions of some of these games opened and circulating in the marketplaces of the world.
Shopping At the L’Oeuvre
Don’t allow the negative posturing to lead you away from investing in high-grade sealed copies of historic games you can still afford. I’ll recommend the Castlevania franchise – which also has a comic series flying Dracula-esque under the radar. Or find any one of the early sequels to the games I’ve listed here today. Find any other ‘firsts’ that came to be in video games and, if you believe in them, invest in them.
Just like comic books have reprints, facsimiles, and milestone editions – video games have a similar collectible landscape. Early production, Mid-Production, late production, promotional copies, and prototypes abound in this hobby! What we’re seeing is a heck of a lot of money being thrown around at the very top end of this hobby. Whether that’s the result of deep pockets, deep interests, scandal, speculation, or plain ol’ FOMO, we’ll only know over time.
While that unfolds naturally, remember this: every time a sucker is born a scammer gets their wings. Don’t become either, and we’ll all be entering our initials in the High Score box.