How Much is a Sealed Video Game Worth? [The Real Value of 3 Retro Games Breaking Sales Records]

Super Mario 64 Box Art

Sales at auction of sealed video games have been making headlines for years now, thanks to the unbelievable sales prices that they are achieving. However, their true market value may surprise you. In April 2021, a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) went for $660,000, despite being the system’s best selling video game at 40.24 million copies sold. 

A few months later, The Legend of Zelda (NES) took the top spot as the most expensive game ever sold, after it hit $870,000 at auction. Be sure to check out the interview we did with The Legend of Zelda designer Tim Girvin, following the record breaking sale. Surprisingly, Zelda’s reign didn’t last long, as  it was soon supplanted by a sealed copy of Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64 which sold at auction for $1.56 million.

What seemed like a speculative rush, has caused some gamers to question the outlandish prices. Those who found it odd included YouTuber Karl Jobst, who dug deep into the auction house that was selling the games as well as the company that was grading the sealed copies. He laid out a very compelling case for fraud and it’s hard to ignore the points he’s making. 

This leaves collectors begging the question, of how much are these games really worth? Well, these games are still rather expensive, but if you thought your Super Mario 64 may be worth a million dollars, you need to come back to earth.

To determine how much Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario 64 are really worth, we reached out to retro video game retailer Game Over Videogames. Owner David Kaelin said that “prices tend to vary greatly by location, date, condition, inventory on hand, time needed to find a buyer, etc, so [it’s] always difficult to put a specific price per item out there”.

However, he did note that “pricing on retro games has definitely shot up lately over the past year or so, but at Game Over Videogames, we always do our best to pay a fair price for buybacks and sell for a fair retail price in all of our stores”.

Online video game retailer JJ Games was able to provide a more concrete way of determining market value. Their representative Eli stated that their pricing strategy follows marketing trends as determined by sales data from the video game price tracking site pricecharting.com, which itself derives it’s values from the final sale price of ebay auctions. “We have always sold our games with a little mark up… so [our price is] whatever Price Charting says for a sealed Mario Bros. plus about 20-30%, depending on the condition of the seal”. The markup covers operating costs, website administration, employee salaries, and insurance in case of  loss or damage. They also offer the assurance of a company that knows “how to handle retro and valuable games”.

According to data collected by Price Charting, the sales made by Heritage Auctions are orders of magnitude beyond the market rate, even when comparing the highest recorded sales price of graded games.

Super Mario Bros. (NES) Value

Loose PriceComplete PriceNew PriceGraded PriceBox Only PriceManual Only Price
$10.50 +$0.24$196.43 -$19.03$625.19 -$3.39$12,100.00 $0.00$13.42 -$0.02$16.15 -$0.15
volume: 1 sale per dayvolume: 1 sale per dayvolume: 1 sale per monthvolume: 2 sales per monthvolume: 1 sale per monthvolume: 1 sale per week
Record Sale via Heritage Auctions: $660,000 (5400% over market value)

The Legend of Zelda (NES) Value

Loose PriceComplete PriceNew PriceGraded PriceBox Only PriceManual Only Price
$30.01 +$2.11$162.49 -$16.83$1,381.27 -$94.73$12,471.88 +$22.94$78.76 -$0.03$19.99 $0.00
volume: 2 sales per dayvolume: 1 sale per dayvolume: 2 sales per monthvolume: 1 sale per weekvolume: 1 sale per weekvolume: 3 sales per week
Record Sale via Heritage Auctions: $870,000 (69,000% over market value)

Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64) Value

Loose PriceComplete PriceNew PriceGraded PriceBox Only PriceManual Only Price
$27.32 +$0.87$129.76 -$31.48$6,573.88 $0.00$20,000.00 $0.00$64.44 -$6.80$7.98 -$0.74
volume: 2 sales per dayvolume: 1 sale per dayvolume: 1 sale per monthvolume: 1 sale per monthvolume: 1 sale per weekvolume: 3 sales per week

Published by Tim Santens

I am a gamer and autograph collector. I love writing about both and sharing the stories I find.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: