The 15 Most Expensive Video Games In History

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The most expensive video games list appointed a newly crowned king recently. A fact that proves two things; the value of retro video games is increasing, 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 because these are the most expensive video games in history.

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Most Expensive Video Games

15. Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo Prototype NES, $31,200

(Photo: Heritage Auctions)

In September 2020, Heritage 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 like a mess but 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).

14. 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 was 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 is only 12 copies were ever made and 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).

13. 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 was sold on eBay for $41,300 back in February 2010.

12. 1990 Nintendo World Championships, $100,088

Finally reaching our six-digit number, we have the 1990 Nintendo World Championships cartridge for the NES which was sold on eBay by user “mtnlife”. The cartridge was pre-owned but still in good condition with the front label torn off.

The cartridge comprises three minigames based on an existing NES title such as Super Mario Bros. where players must collect fifty coins, Red Racer where players must complete a race along a custom track created for the Championship, and Tetris where players must simply play Tetris and earn a high score within the time restraints. This was made for the competition specifically and was never made available commercially.

With 116 cartridges produced, 90 were made using the standard gray NES game cases while the others were used in gold cases like the Zelda games. With such a small amount, this one is sought after, and makes sense that it reached a high price of over $100,000.

11. 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.

10. Contra NES, $150,000

Heritage Auctions

A decent leap from the previous entry, we have Contra, a run-and-gun game published and developed by Konami and was originally an arcade coin-slot game.

The home version of the game was released for NES in 1088 along with ports for various home computer formats. The arcade was such a commercial success and became one of the top four highest-grossing dedicated arcade games of 1987 in the US.

And with it coming to homes on the NES, it just grew in popularity. In 2021, a Contra NES sealed copy made its way to Heritage Auctions with a Wata 9.8 A+ rating and was quickly growing in bids. The final price reached $150,000, making it one of the most expensive video games in history.

9. Super Mario Bros. 3 NES, $156,000

(Photo: Heritage Auction)

That’s not a typo. It 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. The game earned 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).


8. Final Fantasy NES, $204,000

Heritage Auctions

With a pretty big jump, we have the next entry of Final Fantasy for the NES marked at a $204,000 sale through Heritage Auctions in 2021. Final Fantasy is one of the longest-running series for Square Enix, or Square.

The franchise is a fantasy role-playing game and this is the first in the series, released in 1987. The sealed game has a Wata 9.8 A++ rating, one of the highest for this game. Heritage Auctions believes that this is the highest grading that we will see for the game, so it’s only fair that this game reached such a high bidding.

7. Resident Evil PS1, $264,000

Heritage Auctions

It’s interesting to see such popular titles today are still one of the most sought-after when it comes to retro video games. Resident Evil is yet another long-running series that still has several releases to this day.

The game is from Capcom, a prominent player in the gaming industry, and is a survival horror game where players must survive environments inhabited by creatures and zombies. It’s one of the most beloved games in the genre, a classic that most have played during their introduction to the gaming world.

And of course, Heritage Auctions saw one pass through their hands in 2021 with a rating of Wata 9.6 A+ for the PS1 in 1996. With a high bid of $264,000, this is one of the most expensive video games in history.

6. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, $312,000

Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions had a great year with this game in 2021, as one was sold in April while another was sold in October.

The October one did have a bigger value, however, because it was a sealed copy and had one of the highest ratings with a 9.8 A++. This NES game was released in 1987 and is a boxing game published by Nintendo. This game was an adaptation of an arcade video game, Punch-Out in 1984.

The only difference between the two is that there was an additional character, the undisputed world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson who was playing the final boss.

5. Super Mario World SNES 1991, $360,000

Heritage Auctions

Diverting back to the Nintendo world real quick, let’s check out the fifth entry today which is Super Mario World for the SNES released in 1991.

The platform video game was yet another installment to the ever-growing franchise and one that costs a pretty penny now to get ahold of, especially one with such a high rating of 9.4 A+. It doesn’t help that this Mario game is considered one of the best made in the franchise, as it sold over twenty million copies worldwide, also making git the best-selling SNES game ever.

It even led to an animated series sharing the same name. With such a great title, it’s no wonder this game is one of the most expensive video games in history, bidding at a high price of $360,000.

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4. Sonic the Hedgehog 1991 Sega, $420,000

Goldin Auctions

We’ve seen a lot of Nintendo games around here, but not enough from Sega. Thankfully, Sonic the Hedgehog is not left out.

Goldin Auctions had one of the most expensive video games in history sold there the 1991 Sega Genesis game with a rating of 9.4 A. Like its rival, Sonic is a platform game developed by Sega for the Genesis.

While Mario is much more influential and a favorite in every home, Sonic is also close to everyone’s hearts.

This is the first release in the franchise, and I’m sure the developers had no idea what a hit this one would be to gamers everywhere, and a legacy they were about to create.

3. The Legend of Zelda Sealed NES Nintendo 1987, $870,000

As the years go by, more and more incredible prices go up for retro games, like this astounding price for a Zelda game from 1987.

With Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom still front and center in the Zelda community, it’s shocking to think about other purchases. But thanks to those games coming to Switch, the need and want for retro Zelda games are coming back to gamers.

In 2021, Heritage Auctions sold this amazing retro find for a whopping $870,000, an incredible number that most of us wouldn’t dream of doing. Not only is wanting a retro Zelda game enough to pay this amount, but it also needs to be said that this is a unique variant that was only produced for a few months, meaning the number of copies of this specific game can be counted on one hand.

It’s an incredibly rare and unique Zelda game that should be cherished, as it’s one of the most expensive video games in history.

2. Super Mario 64 Sealed N64 Nintendo 1996, $1.56 Million

Heritage Auctions

Back at it with another Nintendo classic, Super Mario 64, we’re getting closer to finding out the most expensive video game in history. But first, let’s check out this Heritage Auctions sale that swarmed the news back in July of 2021.

For a short time, it was the most expensive video game, but quickly fell from its reign in August. However, for its short stint, the $1.56 million price tag shocked the world. The sealed game had a Wata 9.8 grade. The title has so much cultural significance, especially due to Mario being one of the most well-known, beloved, and influential games ever on the market.

This is the highest graded copy on the Nintendo 64, which also helps the value, as well as it’s the first 3D adventure with Mario, which is surely one of the many reasons why it’s such an ideal find.

1. Super Mario Bros., $2 Million

But after such a long list, I feel as though we’re all aware of the real winner when it comes to gaming franchises.

Nintendo dominates, let’s be clear, even though we all can’t get enough of Sony or Microsoft. And while almost every Nintendo franchise is known worldwide, the one that reigns supreme is our wonderful, 8-bit plumber who takes down a devious turtle.

Mario is one of a kind and is still going strong. With the most recent release of Mario Wonder hitting the Switch, fans still show their love and joy for the game. One such game, Super Mario Bros., hit a record-breaking sale at Rally in August of 2021.

While we were looking at amazing prices around a hundred thousand, two million is quite a steep price for a game, however, the anonymous buyer didn’t buy it out of pure collecting joy but from shareholders. This is because Rally is not a traditional auction site.

They sell shares of collectibles to investors and then when those collectibles are sold to buyers, the shareholders receive a return on their investment. It’s a weird way to do it, but if you look at it simply, it’s still one of the most expensive video games in history.

In Conclusion

Super Mario Bros. 3 proves that collectors see value where others see a glitch. Therefore any budding collector should keep a lookout 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 it? 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.

Video game collecting is challenging as each time you touch the box you’re likely losing a grading point (and ultimately its value). But if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to take part in some of the most expensive video game sales that are recorded in history.