Video game actions are on FIRE! Just this weekend, a rare early copy of Legend of Zelda sold for $870,000 and a nearly pristine Super Mario 64 sold for a gum-swallowing $1.56 MILLION! This, combined with the fact that CGC is entering the video game collecting pool, makes one wonder. Is it time to start grading your video games?
If you’ve been keeping up with the record-holder for the highest video game sale over the past year, you know that the title has been changing pretty regularly. In July of 2020, a Super Mario Bros. sold for $114,000. November 2020 saw Super Mario Bros. 3 go for $156,000. In April of this year, a Super Mario Bros. grabbed the record at $660,000. The record-holders have each held their titles briefly as each of us waited to see which video game was going to finally break the $1 million barrier.
This past weekend, we got our answer. First, we saw a new record set by Legend of Zelda, which was impressive by itself. But then an unopened copy of Super Mario 64 swooped in and blew that figure out of the water, becoming the first video game to reach not just 1 million dollars, but a million and a half. It realized a massive record-setting 1.56M.
Neither game achieved such high sale prices because of rarity. Each has been rereleased and is easy to find if you’re interested in playing. They’ve realized these impressive sales prices because of the sentimentality they hold for nostalgic collectors and their scarcity in sealed, high-grade condition
Given how quickly these records are being set and dramatically exceeded, what does this mean to the casual video game collector? Is it time for you to grade your video game collection?
Record Setter: Legend of Zelda
Early last week, we learned about a super-rare Legend of Zelda coming up at auction that was expected to make waves, and waves it made. The 9.0 A rated game reached $115,000 shortly after being listed by Heritage Auctions. By the time the auction closed 19 hours later, it had set a record. The game sold for $870,000, including a 20% buyer’s premium. Now, this is a very rare copy of the game. Within a year of release, a revised version had hit the shelves, leaving this “No Rev-A” edition an incredibly rare find. In fact, the known count of these games to the collectible world is fewer than five.
Further, there is only one other variant preceding this one. The “NES TM” is the true first production run, but only one example of that edition exists. That copy may or may not ever appear at auction anytime soon. Therefore, this copy of Zelda is the earliest sealed copy one could have realistically hoped to own.
Other Legend of Zeldas (standard editions) have auctioned for decent amounts lately, but none have come close to the sales price we saw this weekend. A sealed WATA 9.6 A+ sold for $54,000,000 in late 2020. That price is note-worthy, but it doesn’t hold a candle to this weekend’s sale.
Zelda managed to hold onto the record for the highest sale of a video game for almost two days before being toppled by the indomitable Super Mario 64.
Super Mario 64 Breaks 1M
It’s happened. A video game has auctioned for $1.56 million, beating the previous record-holder by almost double. This one was sneaky, coming seemingly out of nowhere to steal the title. Now, this is not just any copy of Super Mario 64. This is a WATA graded 9.8 A++ sealed copy. It’s the highest-graded copy of the best-selling video game created for Nintendo 64. The pristine condition in which it’s been kept is something we may or may not ever see duplicated. It’s unplayed, unopened, and it looks exactly like it did when it was originally purchased. In the same auction, another copy of Super Mario 64 with a 9.6 A++ rating sold for a comparatively affordable $13,200.
Super Mario 64 was the best-selling game for Nintendo 64 and served as a game-changer for the video game industry. It marked Mario’s first move into three dimensions, distinct from his side-scrolling origins.
It seems fitting that Mario would be the character to first break a million, given the game’s cultural significance. Mario games are no strangers to world records, as seen above. As for Super Mario 64, an unopened 9.4 A+ copy of this game sold at Heritage for $38,400 in January. That sale served as Heritage’s highest sold price until this weekend.
Video Game Grading and YOU
Should you send in your video games to get graded? If you want to keep playing them, the answer is no. Once a video game is graded it will be encased in a plastic shell and impossible to play without nullifying the grade.
However, if you consider yourself a collector, now might be the perfect time to join the game. Just this past Thursday, it was announced that CCG would be entering the video game collecting industry by hiring video game graders. The grading behemoth’s entry into video game grading will complete a triad of competition with WATA Games and The Video Game Authority (VGA.) Given how explosive the collecting market has been over the past year and the results we’re currently seeing, it’s hard to imagine any of the three having a hard time finding games to grade.
It took 72 years for Action Comics #1 to break $1 million, doing so in February of 2010. Conversely, it took Super Mario 64 about a third as long to hit the same goal, at only 25 years. Those numbers are nothing to ignore and are most likely only the tip of the iceberg. For further comparison, the million-dollar barrier would be reserved for a comic like a 9.8 Superman #2. If we ever see one come to auction, that is.
As more and more people choose to grade their video games, we may see an increasing number of recordset headlines in the video game world. How many sealed, near-mint-condition games are sitting quietly right now in peoples’ attics? Or desk drawers, as was the case for a nearly pristine copy of Super Mario Bros that auctioned for $660,000 just in April. The game is ever-changing, and we’re all along for the ride.