An unopened copy of the legendary Nintendo 64 game Super Mario 64 sold for a record-breaking $1.5 million at auction over the weekend.
Although Super Mario 64 is the best-selling Nintendo 64 game of all time, with more than 11 million copies sold, the auctioned cartridge was one of less than five sealed copies that has been graded by professionals as a 9.8, A++ Wata rating, which is an out-of-10 grading system done by a company called Wata Games.
“It seems impossible to overstate the importance of this title, not only to the history of Mario and Nintendo, but to video games as a whole," Heritage Auctions Video Games Specialist Valarie McLeckie said in a press release. “This copy is a true prize for any serious collector."
The idea of paying that much for Super Mario 64 still shocked many video game enthusiasts and historians.
“Well, I figured the first million dollar game was imminent, but I didn't think it was gonna be today... or this,” Digital Eclipse editorial director Chris Kohler said in a tweet Sunday.
A rare copy from an early production run of “The Legend of Zelda” was sold for $870,000 just days before.
Many speculated about what could possibly warrant such a high price point, considering there was nothing unique about the game besides its mint condition. Both games have since been re-released on the Nintendo Switch, but their high price points reflect a resurging interest in video game memorabilia sparked by the pandemic. Pokemon cards have seen similarly skyrocketing prices.
Kohler told Motherboard that collectors have started turning to video game collectibles because they “represent the childhood cultural zeitgeist of the 80s and the 90s, much better than comic books or things like that.”
He explained that collectors now look for historic games with iconic characters that are also in great condition. Investing in collectibles like this means they possibly think it could be worth even more in the future.
“This copy of Super Mario 64 hits on all of those requirements,” he said. “You're not going to find a nicer copy of Super Mario 64. So if you want to own not just a copy of Super Mario 64, but the nicest one in the whole world, this is it.”
Heritage Auctions is currently listing other copies of Super Mario 64 for between $2,000-$7,000, including another A++ copy that is currently listed at $5,520. A 9.4 A+ edition of the game has already reached $38,000 on the auction house’s website.