Mom Was Wrong: Video Games Earn Top Dollar at Auction

Remember when your mom told you video games were a waste of time? That they’d never help you pay your bills? She was wrong.

We’ve seen a huge uptick in the value of vintage video games recently, with new records being set every few weeks for the cost of these games at auction. In fact, you may want to go grab that box of video games you’ve been saving since high school out of your closet.

A 1987 copy of The Legend of Zelda set the world record when it sold for more than $870,000 in July of this year. That record was eclipsed just two days later when a sealed copy of Super Mario 64 from 1996 sold for $1.5 million. And again, in early August when an unopened 1985 copy of Super Mario Bros sold for $2 million.

Why the sudden interest in collecting video games? It seems to be one more thing we can attribute to the pandemic. Collectors tell us video games give them a sense of nostalgia, and who isn’t wishing for a time when our smack talk centered around who could reach the highest level on a game rather than mask mandates and vaccine rollouts?

A study by shows the average price of a retro video game increased by 33% from March 2020 to March 2021, with prices of the most popular titles increasing much more.

Video games are also an indoor activity you can enjoy while quarantined or socially distanced from other people – which makes it a nearly perfect pandemic pastime.  

We recently hosted a video game auction with nearly 200 lots of games, consoles and accessories.

The top seller, a factory sealed Nintendo Entertainment System Darkwing Duck game from the early ‘90s, sold for $800 plus the buyer’s premium.

How can you know what your games could be worth? Currently, the highest bids are going to classic games from the most popular franchises, for instance, Mario, Zelda, Pokemon and Final Fantasy games.

The condition of the packaging also has a huge impact on price. Experts estimate opened games are worth roughly half of those that are still factory sealed.

If your game has been opened, having the original box and instruction manuals can increase its value.

Other factors that will contribute to the final price of a video game include how many were produced, the region where the game was released and the condition of the game and its packaging.

One more quick tip. Make sure to store your video games somewhere inside your home. The Arizona heat can damage your games if they’re stored in the garage or attic, as can water leaking in from monsoon storms.

If you’re wondering how much your video game collection could be worth, consider contacting a certified appraiser or taking advantage of a free appraisal fair to get a better idea of the value of your collection.  


Erik Hoyer owns EJ’s Auction & Appraisal in Glendale. 

Contact him at, or 623-878-2003.


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