Have you ever wondered how far the rabbit hole of video game collectibles goes? The world of video game memorabilia is more expansive and expensive than many realize. From limited edition consoles to factory-sealed games, these precious gems can command exorbitant prices, often becoming an investment rather than a simple hobby. For some people, the thrill of the hunt, the pleasure of possession, and the prospect of selling a rare item for a hefty sum in the future are irresistible. Let’s delve into this universe and explore some of the rarest and most valuable video game collectibles in the world. Beware, these are some of the rarest video game collectibles you’ll need to take out a loan to buy!
Nintendo World Championships Cartridge
Originally distributed as part of a promotional contest by Nintendo Power magazine, the Nintendo World Championships Gold Cartridge is one of the rarest items in the world of video gaming. Only 26 copies of this golden cartridge, which includes modified versions of Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer, and Tetris, were ever made. If you’re lucky enough to come across one of these, be prepared to shell out upwards of $100,000!
Air Raid (Atari 2600)
Air Raid, developed by Men-A-Vision for the Atari 2600, is arguably the rarest game for that system. Known for its distinctive, bright blue T-handle cartridge, this game is highly sought after by collectors. Only a handful of copies have ever surfaced, and a factory-sealed copy fetched $33,433.30 on eBay in 2010.
Birthday Mania (Atari 2600)
Another gem from the Atari 2600 era, Birthday Mania, is a unique game designed to celebrate the player’s birthday with digital candles and a rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.” Its customizability and limited production run make it an incredibly rare find. The price? If you ever find one, it could fetch around $35,000.
Stadium Events (Nintendo Entertainment System)
This game is infamous in the collecting community due to its extremely limited release. When Nintendo purchased the rights to the game, most copies were pulled from the shelves and destroyed. Only a few escaped this fate, making them incredibly rare today. A factory-sealed copy can easily go for $35,100, and the highest recorded sale for the game was an astonishing $41,300.
Nintendo PlayStation Prototype
Arguably one of the most iconic pieces of video game history, the Nintendo PlayStation Prototype, is a relic from a failed collaboration between Sony and Nintendo in the early ’90s. This console, which plays both Super Famicom cartridges and Sony’s CD-ROMs, is the only known unit to exist. It was auctioned off in 2020 and sold for an astounding $360,000.
Kizuna Encounter (European Neo Geo Version)
It’s not secret that NEO GEO games are almost all rare and super collectible meaning that many that can be on a list like this. Kizuna Encounter is not particularly rare – except for its European Neo Geo release. It’s believed that fewer than 15 copies exist in the wild. The last known copy of the game was sold in 2011 for about $13,500.
Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn)
As one of the finest RPGs ever released, Panzer Dragoon Saga is already a valuable game in any form. However, finding a factory-sealed copy can be an epic quest worthy of the game’s narrative. Sega Saturn games were produced in limited quantities due to the console’s lackluster performance in the marketplace, making many of its games rare. But none are quite as sought after as Panzer Dragoon Saga. In 2021, a sealed copy sold for over $10,000.
Red Sea Crossing (Atari 2600)
Red Sea Crossing is a game that was most likely intended for Christian audiences and very few gamers even know this game was ever made. Created by programmer Steve Schustack according to Wikipedia, this Atari 2600 game, based on the Biblical story of Moses crossing the Red Sea, was sold exclusively through the magazine Christianity Today in 1983. It was unknown if the game existed at all, until a copy surfaced at a garage sale in 2007 and a 25-page thread was made by the buyer. Only two known copies exist in the entire world (with the second one being bought at a flea market), and one sold in 2012 for over $10,400.
The Legend of Zelda (NES)
Basically any version of this original cartridge in mint condition and sealed is coveted by collectors because well, it’s the first Zelda Nintendo game! The additional variations such as the gold version and the super rare test cartridges are even hotter items for collectors. In 2012, one of these test cartridges was sold for $55,000. As of 2021, a fully mint and sealed original version sold for an unbelievable $870,000 and surpassed Super Mario Bros. which was the record holder for most expensive video game ever sold.
Sealed Super Mario Bros. (NES) & Super Mario 64 (N64)
The original Super Mario Bros. game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is a highly sought-after item among video game collectors due to its historical significance, nostalgic appeal, and rarity. Released in 1985, it marked a pivotal moment in the gaming industry, setting the standard for platform games while establishing the iconic character, Mario, as a cultural phenomenon. Its collectibility is amplified by the rarity of finding the game in good condition with the original packaging and manual.
Over the years, intact copies have fetched impressive prices at auctions and from private sellers, indicating its enduring appeal and growing value as a collectible item. Yet, beyond its financial value, many collectors see it as a nostalgic piece of gaming history, a cornerstone in the foundation of the modern video gaming era. In April 2021, Nintendo Life shared The Verge’s report on an auction that closed at $660,000.
Currently, a sealed and graded mint Super Mario 64 went to to set the new record for most expensive video game ever sold by successfully closing on Heritage Auctions for a stellar $1,560,000!
Whether these are viewed as treasures or unreachable dreams, they are a testament to the rich and diverse history of video gaming. Collecting rare video games can be an expensive but rewarding pursuit. The thrill of the chase, the satisfaction of finding a rare piece, and the potential for future value can make it a worthwhile endeavor for dedicated collectors. However, for many of us, merely dreaming about these rarities will have to suffice. The real question is, who are the rich billionaire gamers that collect these treasures?