Retro video game collecting has skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade. More and more people want to relive their childhoods and return to the classics that give them a healthy dose of video game nostalgia. However, with hundreds of older games demanding incredibly high prices, many gamers want to know the most expensive video game ever sold.
To answer this question and more, Fair Game Retro has put together some of the most valuable games ever to grace a home console.
Fair Game Retro is Sacramento, CA's premier destination for retro video games, consoles, and accessories. We reunite classic gamers with the titles of their youth, allowing them to relive some of their favorite retro video games that time forgot. Whether you’re a hardcore video game collector or a casual retro gaming fan, Fair Game Retro has something for you.
What Makes a Retro Video Game Valuable?
Many people believe a particular copy of a game’s age determines its value. Although many older games sell for high rates, age isn’t the biggest determining price factor. The video game’s condition, rarity, packaging, and more affect the price.
Retro video games fall into several categories that often dictate their prices. However, the most prevalent classifications are:
Complete in Box (CIB)
Graded video games are typically the most expensive and controversial within the retro collecting community. They are unopened video games assigned a package rating by a grading company enclosed in an unopenable plastic casing.
To have a video game graded, you must send an unopened game in its original packaging to a grading company like WATA to rate the game’s seal. The company evaluates the video game and gives the seal a rating between zero and ten. Games in unblemished, high-quality packaging receive higher ratings than games with seal damage or loose packaging.
Simply put, the better the game’s original seal, the higher the rating and value. However, unlike sealed, CIB, and loose games, rarity doesn’t always affect a graded game’s price.
Many common video games demand thousands of dollars or more if they receive a high rating. You also can't remove the game from the casing once the company encloses them in the plastic containers (unless you break the casings). The exceedingly high prices, unopenable casings, and inconsistent ratings make graded games extremely controversial.
Sealed games are unopened retro video games still in their original packaging. They are harder to find than CIB and loose games (depending on the game’s print run and popularity) and usually demand higher prices. The sealed game’s rarity and market demand often dictate the price.
Complete in Box (CIB)
Complete in box games are opened games featuring the original box, paperwork, and accessories. They are the most common retro video game type to collect for and can cost a few bucks to thousands of dollars.
Condition and rarity are the biggest determining price factors for complete in box games. The physical game, box, paperwork, and accessories must be unblemished and intact to sell for the highest price. However, if any of these features suffer damage, the game’s value drastically declines.
Incomplete games are titles missing the original paperwork, accessories, or box but still have at least one of the original features. Most disk-based incomplete games come in the original box but don’t have the paperwork and/or the accessories.
Loose video games are titles missing all their original features. They only feature the game and are the most affordable retro video game variation, but some still demand a small fortune. Loose disk-based games typically come in second-hand boxes, while loose cartridge-based games don’t feature packaging.
It’s crucial to understand the differences between graded, sealed, CIB, incomplete, and loose games and how the packaging affects their value before starting your collection. Many scammers try to sell incomplete games as complete to unseasoned collectors, causing them to overpay. Always research each category and the game’s value within it to determine its real value.
What Is the Most Expensive Video Game?
Again, to determine the most expensive video games ever sold, you must specify the packaging category. For example, an exceedingly common game like Super Mario 64 might sell for hundreds of thousands if it's graded, while an incredibly rare game like Hagane: The Final Conflict might sell for less than $1,000 loose. Since graded games demand the most money in the current market, we will focus on them in this list.
However, it's important to note that video game prices constantly fluctuate. As time goes on, some of these games will dip in value while others rise. Keep that in mind before spending your life savings on a graded game collection.
9.6 A+ Graded Resident Evil Ridged Longbox (PS1)
Many people consider Resident Evil for the original PlayStation as the game that kicked survival horror into the limelight. It was a revolutionary game that most horror fans hold dear to their hearts. Although an ungraded CIB Resident Evil ridged long box carries an expensive price tag, it pales in comparison to the 9.6 graded version.
A graded Resident Evil ridged long box sold for $264,000 in October 2021. WATA gave the game a 9.6 A+ rating, making it one of the highest-rated graded Resident Evil long box titles.
9.8 Graded Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out (NES)
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out allowed gamers to take on the iconic heavyweight champ from the comfort of their living rooms. The game still holds up today and is beloved by millions of retro gaming fans across the world. However, few gamers will pay over $3,000 for a 9.8 A++ graded Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.
In October 2021, a 9.8 A++ WATA Graded Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out sold for $312,000. It’s the highest rating WATA has given the game and is incredibly sought after by graded collectors.
9.4 A Graded Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis)
Sonic is one of the most beloved retro video game characters of the 16-bit era. The speedy blue hedgehog got his start in the 1991 platformer Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. Although a loose copy of the classic title costs less than 20 dollars (at the time of writing), a 9.4 A graded version will set you back over $400,000.
A 9.4 A graded Sonic the Hedgehog sold for $420,000 on Golden Auction’s webpage. Although it received a lower rating than other titles on the list, it’s still one of the most expensive games sold in the graded category.
9.0 A Graded The Legend of Zelda (NES)
Few franchises reach the level of stardom as the Zelda series. The first game, The Legend of Zelda, was released in 1987 for the NES and received worldwide acclaim for its terrific gameplay and captivating storyline.
Upon The Legend of Zelda’s release, Nintendo produced a No Rev-A box art in just a few months before switching to the version most NES gamers remember. A 9.0 A graded copy of the No Rev-A box The Legend of Zelda sold for $870,000 in July 2021. It’s the most expensive graded copy of a Zelda game to date, making it very sought after by graded game enthusiasts.
9.8 A++ Graded Super Mario 64
Many mid-90s Nintendo fans have fond memories playing Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64. Released in 1996, Super Mario 64 brought Mario into the 3D realm for the first time and quickly became one of the most beloved games for the N64. Despite Super Mario 64 being the best-selling game for the system and readily available at most retro gaming stores, a 9.8 A++ graded version will cost you over $1.5 million.
A 9.8 A++ graded Super Mario 64 sold for $1.56 million in July 2021 and is the only copy to receive the esteemed rating.
9.8 A+ Graded Super Mario Bros
Super Mario Bros became a worldwide an icon after the release of Super Mario Bros. for the NES in 1985. Although it sold over 40 million copies, a 9.8 A+ graded Super Mario Bros sold for $2 million in August 2021, making it the most expensive mario game ever, at least in the graded market.
Contact Fair Game Retro for High-Quality Retro Video Games, Consoles, and Accessories in Sacramento, CA
Fair Game Retro is Sacramento, CA’s source for everything retro gaming. Our team will teach you about the most expensive video games ever sold while connecting you with some of the best classic titles of your childhood. Give us a call at (916) 944-4263 today!