Why is this copy of Super Mario Bros. worth a record $114,000?


A sealed, early copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES sold for $114,000 Friday at specialist house Heritage Auctions, setting a new record for the sale price of an individual video game.

The online auction surpassed the old record set by a $100,000 sale of a “sticker-sealed” Super Mario Bros. early last year. At the time, the seller behind that $100,000 edition told Ars that it was “probably the wrong move, long-term, to sell.”

For context, the Guinness World Records certified the world’s largest video game collection sold at auction for $750,000 in 2014. That collection contained over 11,000 games, including over 8,300 in their original box.

Why’s it so valuable?

Heritage Auctions video game specialist and consignment director Valarie McLeckie, who helped shepherd this record sale, tells Ars that this “3-code variant” of Super Mario Bros. dates back to mid-1987. That makes it “slightly more attainable to find” than the very earliest test-market editions of the game, from late 1985 and early 1986, which were only sealed with a small circular Nintendo sticker (the earlier $100,000 sale came from that earliest batch). That also means it’s not among the very first shrink-wrapped copies of the game, which date back to mid-1986.

Still, the fact that this copy of the game features a cardboard hangtab inside that shrink-wrap, “speaks to a level of vintage” that puts it in a rarefied class. “I would suspect sealed cardboard hangtab copies [still available today] number in the single digits,” McLeckie said.

Remaining copies that are in good enough condition to earn a Wata Games certified rating of 9.4 out of 10, as this one was, are even rarer. “In this grade especially, it’s quite an impressive piece,” McLeckie said.

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