The 5 Most Expensive Video Games In History (2020)

By Duane Beckett
Credit: Pxfuel

The most expensive video games list appointed a newly crowned king recently. A fact that proves two things:

  1. The value of retro video games is increasing.
  2. And the decision to sell off most of my retro game collection (2011-2015) was idiotic:

(And I’m still a little bitter about it).

At the time, my crowning glory was a boxed (and later-graded) Super Mario Bros., which included a sticker seal:

I paid $30ish for it and with it came a broke NES console and a few loose cartridges (this was back in 2001).

By today’s standards, that’s a barn find.

The game sold for $623 in 2013. A similarly graded boxed version sold in 2020 for $1,440:

At this point, my one solace is that the games I sold didn’t end up being worth as much as the ones on this list…

(Those who think the $60 price tag for new video games is expensive, look away now).

CHECK OUT: Xbox vs. PlayStation vs. Nintendo, a simpler way of looking at the (hyperbole) console war.

5. Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo Prototype (NES) – $31,200

(Photo: Heritage Auctions)

September, 2020, Hertiage Auctions sold what looked like a broken unboxed copy of Kid Icarus on the NES. It wasn’t:

Instead, it was a Nintendo produced prototype for Super Mario Bros. 3. Built from a Kid Icarus cartridge.

(Talk about unique).

For Heritage Auctions it was the first Mario prototype they had sold, with its label torn, cartridge cut, and EPROM chips on show. It even had a hand-written ‘Super 3’ scrawled on the front.

It looks a mess but clearly has significant value. The big question is, does this prototype have any unique gameplay different from the final retail edition?

(This is a question we don’t yet have an answer to).

4. Air Raid (Atari 2600) – $33,433.30

Air Raid is the Atari 2600’s Holy Grail:

(Despite many saying that Gamma Attack is).

Sadly, no one knows the true value of Gamma Attack as the one copy that went to auction never sold because its owner set a $500,000 price target. It currently has an estimated value of $20,000 to $50,000.

On the flip-side, we know the value of Air Raid:

  • April 2010, the game and box sold for $31,600.
  • October 2011, the cartridge sold on eBay for $3,575.
  • October 2012, the game, box, and instructions sold for $33,433.30.

The reason it is so in-demand:

  • Only 12 copies were ever made.
  • It has an odd light blue cartridge with a T-shaped handle.

TIP: Explore the attics of friends and family. You never know what gem might be hidden up there (maybe even a copy of Air Raid or Gamma Attack).

3. Stadium Events (NES) – $41,300

(Photo: Bandai)

Did you know that Bandai beat Nintendo to market with a fitness gaming experience? They did so with the Family Fun Fitness Control Mat and this Stadium Events game.

The game was released in 1987 and by 1988 Nintendo had picked up the rights to the game and the mat. Re-releasing them both as WordClass Track Meet and the Power Pad Controller:

Upon the re-release, Nintendo pulled Stadium Events from the market and allegedly destroyed all copies.

However, 200-copies had already been sold. Only 20 are estimated to still be in existence:

This rarity makes it super-expensive. A box by itself is worth $10,000! A copy of the game sold on eBay for $41,300 back in February 2010.

2. Super Mario Bros. (NES) – $100,150

(Photo: Super Mario Bros. / Nintendo)

Back in February 2019, the most expensive video games list was topped by an unopened, test-market copy of Super Mario Bros.

What’s amazing about Super Mario Bros. collectability is that, it was one of the most mass-produced games of the 80s:

TIP: Don’t instantly think every boxed Super Mario Bros. is worth big money. You can buy an original boxed version from eBay for $10-$20 because of how widely produced it was. Look for unique elements like a seal, stickers, manuals, etc.

For example, this incredibly-expensive copy of Super Mario Bros. had the trifecta of collectible traits:

  1. Unopened = Money.
  2. Rare test market printing = Ridiculous money.
  3. A glossy Nintendo sticker seal = Ridiculous money doubled.

For more than a year it was considered the Holy Grail of video game finds. Until:

1. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) – $156,000

(Photo: Heritage Auction)

That’s not a typo. It really did sell at auction for $156,000 – as recently as November 20, 2020.

This unopened NES mega-hit was one of the most popular games on the platform when it hit the U.S. market in 1990. With the game earning Nintendo $500-million in just North America.

The opening auction bid was a whopping $62,500:

The real appeal behind this copy of the game, beyond its immaculate unopened condition is its rare cover art.

Instead of ‘Bros.’ being on the right, it’s on the left, making it a unique collectible (see below).

(Photo: Mariowiki.com)

CHECK OUT: SCUF Controllers – An Acceptable Form Of Cheating.

In Conclusion

Super Mario Bros. 3 proves that collectors see value where others see a glitch:

TIP: Therefore any budding collector should keep a look-out for one-of-a-kind production changes. As you just don’t know what will be valuable in two-to-three decades.

However, the big consideration should be: can you buy and NOT use?

If you can, rare and collectible video games will likely only increase in value:

(Yet, like vinyl records, if you have them, it is almost criminal not to play them).

So, if you’re like me and have to unbox, play, and fondle. Video game collecting is challenging as each time you touch the box you’re likely losing a grading point (and ultimately its value).