If you are a child of the 1980s or 1970s, you may have grown up with a Nintendo Entertainment System, commonly known by its abbreviation NES.
The video game console was a landmark development in the fledgling years of gaming and published some of the most iconic titles in the history of games, including Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda.
Those games you have such fond memories of are much more than a nostalgic keepsake these days. In fact, these old video games are worth millions of dollars.
In 2021, an unopened, factory-sealed copy of the 1985 NES Super Mario Bros. game sold for a world record price of $2 million dollars on Rally, a platform that makes it possible for you to invest in collectibles like rare bottles of wine or, in this case, video games, allowing individuals to profit once a buyer purchases items in which one holds shares.
The buyer of Super Mario Bros. offered $2 million for the copy—which is factory-sealed, professionally graded, and part of a limited print run—and the sale was approved by shareholders in the NES game, it was revealed.
“That’s Rally’s business; investors can purchase shares of expensive collectibles, like vintage baseball cards, comic books, cars, and dinosaur skulls instead of buying them outright,” reported Michael McWhertor of the gaming website Polygon. “Collectibles that sell at a high price through Rally can result in a return on investment for shareholders. In this case, investors reportedly received a roughly 900% return on their shares.”
The sale had beat a record set less than a month before when a sealed copy of Super Mario 64 from 1996 was sold at auction for $1.5 million. Two days prior to that sale, a copy of the 1987 The Legend of Zelda had set the record after selling for just under a million at $870,000.
Old video games are becoming worth millions of dollars as perceptions of technology shift
Needless to say, the market for vintage games is booming. Buyers perceive these games as cultural artifacts akin to relics or rare objects discovered from past civilizations.
As technology and gaming become more and more advanced with their visuals, storytelling and gameplay are more frequently compared to art and even described as a new art form. Collectors believe that the origin of gaming will be seen as having introduced a modern art form and that these games will hold a supreme culture significance when it comes to understanding human beings’ relationship with technology.
“They really show us how technology evolves with the kinds of tastes that we had years ago in gaming,” said Roberto Dillon in speaking to CNN.
Dillon is the founder and curator of the James Cook University Museum of Video and Computer Games in Singapore. The museum, which archives the history of video games, currently boasts a collection with four hundred items of gaming collectibles.