A vintage Super Mario Bros. video game has sold for $2 million, a collectibles company announced Friday, breaking the record for the most expensive video game sale that was set just weeks ago.
The 1985 game, made for Nintendo’s original console, has never been opened — a rarity for old video games, said Rob Petrozzo, one of the founders of the collectibles site, Rally. An anonymous buyer purchased it, he said.
Demand for collectibles has surged during the pandemic, along with many other forms of investment, as people stuck at home look for ways to spend their money. People have spent millions of dollars for pieces of digital artwork — known as nonfungible tokens — like internet memes and video highlights of National Basketball Association players. Physical goods, including old cars and sports cards, have soared in value over the last year, too.
But video games are still a nascent market, Mr. Petrozzo said. Interest in buying old games has picked up some in recent years, but many vintage games have been opened and played, causing them to lose value, he said, and investors are often intimidated from entering an industry they’re unfamiliar with.
Recently, though, a pair of head-turning sales have jolted interest in the gaming space. A 1987 Legend of Zelda game cartridge that sold for $870,000 in early July was considered a record, until a 1996 Super Mario 64 game went for $1.56 million just days later.
“I think that we’re starting to see the natural progression of ‘What else? What are the things that have appreciated in value from my childhood that have that nostalgia?’” Mr. Petrozzo said.
The past two record sales were made via an auction. Rally uses a different system. The company buys physical collectibles, like comic books and cars, and invites people to invest in shares of the individual items as they would a stock. When someone makes an offer to buy one of the items outright, Rally takes that offer to the investors, who vote on whether to sell and cash out their share of the profits, or to decline.
Rally bought the Super Mario Bros. game for $140,000 in April 2020, and investors shot down a $300,000 offer for it last year. The $2 million offer from the anonymous buyer — a collector who is “making big bets in the video game space” — won the approval of three-fourths of the game’s investors, Mr. Petrozzo said.
Ed Converse, a graduate law student from Green Bay, Wis., invested $100 in the game last year and said he was netting $950 from the sale.
“I’m very excited about it,” Mr. Converse, 32, said. “It’s pretty crazy to think that I made an investment in it because of the nostalgia of playing the video game when I was a kid and now it’s selling for $2 million.”
Mr. Petrozzo thought that the splashy sale could be just the beginning for gaming collectors.
“In my opinion, it hasn’t reached the masses,” he said. “You’ll start to see a lot more people paying attention and doing research.”