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This Video Game Just Sold For $114,000

Just a few days ago, a new record was set in video game history. Namely, one collector just set a brand new record for the largest amount spent on a single collectible video game. A few days ago on July 10, an original copy of Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System sold for a staggering $114,000. This figure dwarfs the previous record holder, which was another copy of Super Mario Bros. that sold at auction for $100,150 dollars in February 2019. 

The only other game to come close to this amount in the last few years was a super-rare gold copy of Nintendo World Championships that sold on eBay for $100,088. That was back in 2014 and it's worth noting that the copy sold was part of a limited run of only 26 units. Because of these figures, you may be wondering how in the world a copy of a common game like Super Mario Bros. sold for such a wild amount. Well, there are actually a few notable reasons behind this figure. The first is the condition of the item. It's in impeccable shape for a game and box that is over three decades old. It was graded at a 9.4, which puts it at an even better condition rating than the previous record-setting copy. 

As explained by the listing for the auction, the game box features cardboard hangtabs on the packaging. "What's the deal with cardboard hangtabs? one may, understandably, wonder," reads the listing. "Cardboard hangtabs were originally used on the US test market copies of black box games, back before plastic was used to seal each game."

As Kotaku points out, these hangtabs were used when the original idea was to hang these games on store shelf pegs, much like an action figure. It's wild to think how much things have changed in just the way that video games are displayed and sold at retail. These days, video games are typically in a lockup case in most retail stores. However, at the time that this game was first arriving in US stores, there wasn't really a set protocol in place for these kinds of items. This was still relatively early in the days of home video gaming. However, as Nintendo of America grew and took more of a hold on the market, it became clear that these had to be sold in a very different way from your typical toy.

However, adding to the rarity of the item is the fact that this particular version of the hangtab box is even rarer than the ones that are more commonly seen. According to the auction page, "There are four sub-variants of the plastic sealed cardboard hangtab box ... that were produced within the span of one year. Each sub-variant of the cardboard hangtab black box, produced within that timeframe, had a production period of just a few months; a drop in the bucket compared to the title's overall production run."

In other words, not only is the box (and presumably the game) in like-new condition, but the box itself is from a production line that didn't last very long. The odds of finding a box that was made quite like this in the wild is slim to none, and the fact that it's in pristine condition makes it almost one of a kind. As the auction listing notes, a copy of Super Mario Bros. with a cardboard hangtag that was graded at an 8.0 sold for $40,200 within recent years. The fact that this was in even better shape is likely what caused bidders to go nuts over it, with the winner ultimately paying more than twice that amount.

Fans don't mess around when it comes to acquiring their favorite games through regular channels, so it should come as no surprise that high price collectors have a similar approach. In fact, this is the second video game-related purchase that has broken a record this month. Earlier this month, a Chinese gamer spent $100,000 USD on a rare Counter-Strike: Global Offensive weapons skin. This smashed the previous record, which was around $61,000 USD. The expensive weapons skin featured four tournament-exclusive stickers that added to the item's rarity and drove the price up considerably. The fan who purchased the rare skin has already reportedly turned around to sell the skin, listing it online for $130,000.

In other words, the video game collector's market is alive and well. If something is rare enough, collectors appear to be willing to plunk down a good chunk of change to own a piece of gaming history.