One of the most recognizable properties of all time, Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros., released to great acclaim back in 1985. It’s no surprise, then, that gamers and collectors alike hold the title in high regard. However, we’ve just learned how high that regard really is.
According to a press release from Heritage Auctions, an unopened copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES just sold for a record-breaking $100,150. That’s right. This classic title set the highest ever price for a graded game sale.
Kenneth Thrower, a co-founder of Wata Games, spoke on the matter:
“Beyond the artistic and historical significance of this game is its supreme state of preservation. Not only are all of NES sticker sealed game’ extremely rare, but by their nature of not being sealed in shrink wrap they usually exhibit significant wear after more than 30 years. This game may be the condition census of all sticker sealed NES games known to exist.”
Collect ’em All
Wata Games is a company that collects all sorts of different video game memorabilia.
Because everyone wanted one, Nintendo made several rounds of copies of the game. In fact, from 1985 to 1994, there were 11 different kinds of the box. The very first two renditions released as “sticker sealed” and were only for sale in New York and Los Angeles. This was because of a test launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System that ran from 1985-86. According to Wata Games, the copy in question is the only known “sticker-sealed” version. Wata classified the game with a 9.4 “near mint” grading and provided a “seal rating” of A++.
A bunch of different collectors contributed to the purchase on February 6th. These names include Jim Halperin, Founder of Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, Rich Lecce, a coin and video game collector, alongside the owner of Robert B. Lecce Numismatist Inc in Florida, and Zac Geig, owner of Just Press Play Video Games.
Deniz Kahn, the President of Wata Games, issued a statement on the purchase:
“Super Mario Bros. is not only the most recognizable game of all time, it saved the video game industry in 1985. In terms of rarity, popularity, and relevance to collectors, this game has it all. Mario is the most recognized fictional or non-fictional character in the world, more so than even Mickey Mouse. I would have loved nothing more than to be a part-owner, and even though this game was already certified, I didn’t want the remote perception of any conflict of interest due to my position at Wata.”
A Rarity Unlike Anything Else
Zac Geig compared the rarity of this copy to that of the comic book, Action Comics #1. This game is equal to the “first appearance of Superman of video games”. Of course, finding a copy like this would be challenging. But, “to find one still sealed is something” he never could have imagined. Geig has been in the vintage video game business for over 20 years.
Lecce shared his thoughts as well, stating that “more and more collectors” from other mediums are “discovering how much fun it is to collect video games”. He goes on, claiming that “it’s a very exciting time” for the industry.
Wata-certified games have been breaking records ever since Heritage has been auctioning them off. A majority of titles sell for five-figure numbers, while this six-figure sale “shows that the hobby’s upward trajectory indicates no signs of slowing down,” says Kahn.
Halperin leaves us with his thoughts on the purchase:
“I’m very happy with our purchase of the Super Mario Bros., considering the impact the release of this game had on the world and continues to have. The first Signature Auctions featuring Wata-certified video games run this February 21-23, and while this copy won’t appear in this auction, it just may end up in an auction sometime in the future.”