"Super-rare" NES game from 1990 up for auction; bids now over $40,000

Want to own a piece of gaming history? If you’ve got some seriously deep pockets – or at least a credit card with a high spending limit – this could be your lucky day, as an extremely rare Nintendo game has gone up for auction on eBay.

The NES game is one of just 116 special edition copies of ‘Nintendo World Championships’ created in 1990. 26 of these were gold-coloured and given away in prizes by Nintendo Power magazine; the remaining 90 were grey and given away in a national gaming competition that toured the United States. But since the game never went on sale, even the grey versions are highly prized by game collectors.

The game cartridge was created specifically for the competition, and included Super Mario Bros, Tetris and Rad Racer; the latter also included a special course created for the contest. You can find out more about the cartridge and the Nintendo World Championships on Wikipedia.

Copies of the game sold at auction have previously reached prices as high as $21,000. The cartridge currently on auction – a grey version – is not exactly in the best condition, with a badly damaged label and ‘Mario’ scrawled on it, but that hasn’t stopped the bids from climbing rapidly.

At time of writing, the bidding stands at over $40,000, from an opening bid of $4,999, with 18 hours remaining until the auction ends. 

Source: eBay via BBC News | image via 'muresan'/eBay

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To the contrary. The data in the cartridge is what is making it valuable. you think it would be worth that much if it had some other game dwelling in its memory bank? look at that thing. The label has gone.

Nope, as you said you could just download the rom if that is what they wanted. They want the cartridge itself, the case and the circuit board. The missing label hurts the value a lot but it's still very rare.

The point i am trying to make is that the hardware, or the cartridge, it self is the same as all the other NES game cartridges. The fact that the cartridge has "Nintendo World Championships" installed is what is giving it value. With the label missing, this is even more true. if it had its label and it was a gold edition then i can kind of see why.

But ultimately, I don't get the concept of digital products artificially gaining worth over time. The thing in question is able to be replicated perfectly without degradation, and the understanding of supply, demand and scarcity that apply to the physical world decays. To me, It is just a testament to the ideological and imaginary nature of what we call value.

The early days of Nintendo, Nintendo Fan Club, and then Nintendo Power were just so friggen awesome. I miss how my childhood room was coated with Nintendo Power cut-out posters. I wish I would have preserved that. I had every issue except for the first 12 I think. But they were all in rough condition. Loved their "no advertisement" only inside info on Nintendo games approach. Their guides that showed the entirety of each level in the game were pretty epic too.

The buyer will probably make a bit profit on it down the road and if buying something that you enjoy collecting makes you a fool than I guess we all are. Just because you're poor doesn't mean everyone is, no doubt this is pocket change to the buyer.

If he can sell it for a profit down the road then that would only make him very lucky. As the price gets higher, the number of fools with that much money to burn gets lower. And at some point someone will be out of luck.

But don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that this transaction is a bad thing. If someone is so wealthy that they think nothing of spending $99,902 on a piece of plastic with old circuitry to stand over and go "Oooohhh", then it's a good thing that the $99,902 flows back into the economy and the buyer gets their crappy plastic. I hope they do enjoy it very much.

Why is it any different than buying a piece of cloth with paint smeared on it, an old outdated car or paying a fortune for an old nickel because the date is backwards? Does it make them all fools also? I don't think it's fair to insult someone for spending their own money on something they enjoy.

Edited by Rigby, Jan 26 2014, 6:30am :

$99,502. Seems like a fair price. To each their own.

If you have the Gold, there was only 26 made, they were contest giveaways from Nintendo Power.

Hello,

Holy ****....I have a similar cartridge that has dip switches and is gold. Im sure Mario is not on it but I do know it has 4 games.

If this is the money it gets, Im selling it ASAP.

riahc3 said,
Hello,

Holy ****....I have a similar cartridge that has dip switches and is gold. Im sure Mario is not on it but I do know it has 4 games.

If this is the money it gets, Im selling it ASAP.

It was probably one of these if it didn't have Mario games on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quattro_Adventure

They had DIPs to defeat the lockout chip on the console.

Wait, do you think it is this valuable because they really want to play it? lol

No one cares about playing the game, it is the rare cartridge they want. ;-)

I find the extreme reactions to this sort of thing very interesting from a sociological and psychological perspective. Would you still say the buyer threw away his money if he can get someone to pay a lot more for it down the line? Even if he doesn't sell it - what is money for? One would assume the buyer has the money to spare. They say money can't buy happiness but we do buy things that make us happy and which others might find crazy. Of what use is money if you just hoard it? Worthless pieces of paper. Would that make you more or less happy than if you spent it on something you wanted for whatever emotional or financial reason?

I'm sure the exact same content is available in some ROM collection floating out there. I don't get the "collector" mindset when this stuff can get replicated ad nauseam.

Some people like to own the original and not a cheap replica. That's just how it is and in any case what something's "worth" is purely dependent on whom you ask because it's so subjective. What makes gold worth so much more than silver? What if no-one cared about diamonds tomorrow - how much would they retail for? No point debating it and if the buyer thinks it's worth X amount who are others to argue what he does with his money?

_dandy_ said,
I'm sure the exact same content is available in some ROM collection floating out there. I don't get the "collector" mindset when this stuff can get replicated ad nauseam.

I can go out and buy a copy of the Mona Lisa for a few dollars too, or even download a picture of it to my computer for free. That doesn't mean the original is worthless. No one is buying this game to play it. They are buying it because they are collectors and it is an extremely rare cartridge.

Thrackerzod said,
I can go out and buy a copy of the Mona Lisa for a few dollars too, or even download a picture of it to my computer for free. That doesn't mean the original is worthless. No one is buying this game to play it. They are buying it because they are collectors and it is an extremely rare cartridge.

Thing is, unlike your Mona Lisa analogy, there's really nothing special about the bits encoded on that particular cartridge. It can be replicated at will and the copies won't be any different than the original. Even though there were only few copies of this particular game made, the manufacturing process for it was the exact same for this one as it was for any other random NES game. The plastic cartridge is the same as any other.

But then, I'm the guy who wouldn't give any more money for the original Mona Lisa than the original.

I understand that copies can be easily downloaded, but the issue is this, no one is buying it for the information on the cartridge, or to play the game. They are buying it because the cartridge itself is extremely rare. It was part of a contest Nintendo had and there were a very limited number of them made and relatively few of them are still known to exist.

Like buying a print of the Mona Lisa, sure it looks nice but it is not the real thing. The value comes from it being one of a kind and having been painted by Leonardo himself. Likewise just having a copy of this game is not the same as having the real physical cartridge that was used in the contest.

Although it seems like a waste of money, who knows what the price will climb to even further into the future. It could turn out to be a good investment.

I guess those hoarders aren't so crazy after all. Who knows when some of your old junk will suddenly attract the attention of people with more money than brains...

darkpuma said,
I guess those hoarders aren't so crazy after all. Who knows when some of your old junk will suddenly attract the attention of people with more money than brains...

In general terms you need a brain, and a very well working one aI would add, to make money....

Fritzly said,

In general terms you need a brain, and a very well working one aI would add, to make money....

Make money yes. Rich parents, inherit a family business, win the lottery, sugar mommy/daddy, win a lawsuit etc, not so much

A lot of the grey versions were actually never meant to exist after the competition. Whatever wasn't given away we're supposed to be destroyed. It's one of the reasons it's sought-after. There's people out there that have these worn/no-label versions that don't have any idea they are siting on thousands of dollars.

I had this, didn't know what it was at first because it never worked (i think i broke the dip switches because they were fun to play with). back in 1992, lol... i ended up trashing it

I do agree with some... I dont get it how people think when buying rare retro things/ art I'd never ever buy an art that would cost me millions of dollar even if I had trillions of dollar to spare, but then thats just me and my way of thinking.

Wow!!

Some one that still has some common sense!! Not many people left like that.

I know everyone has their own opinion of what they think is valuable and my wife thinks I was out of my mind to spend $13,000 on an old car that was in absolutely perfect and original condition, but, to each their own!

cork1958 said,
Wow!!

Some one that still has some common sense!! Not many people left like that.

I know everyone has their own opinion of what they think is valuable and my wife thinks I was out of my mind to spend $13,000 on an old car that was in absolutely perfect and original condition, but, to each their own!


At least you can use the car for transportation purpose. This NES cartridge game is nothing more than buying this and put it in a shell to collect dust.

Same with the Leonardo codex Bill Gates bought years ago, or a Chagall painting, etc. etc.
A collector enjoy sit in front of his/her collection and admire it.

ultimatescar said,
I do agree with some... I dont get it how people think when buying rare retro things/ art I'd never ever buy an art that would cost me millions of dollar even if I had trillions of dollar to spare, but then thats just me and my way of thinking.
1. Not everything that's bought has to have some "use" as macoman seems to believe. People buy things for various reasons including emotional connections, and who are we to put down someone else's purchase or try and classify the item as worthless when it's obviously not so to the purchaser?

2. Say you did have trillions of dollars to spare after buying everything you'd ever want. Why not buy this if too you feel like it? Hell if I was in that position sure I'd buy a few things I didn't even need just for the heck of it.

3. "Common sense"? What a joke cork1958. What's common sense is that many make these sorts of purchases purely as business investments and not because they want to "preserve history" or something equally altruistic, because they know the value will appreciate over time given demand and they can make a massive profit from it eventually. Clearly you lack that sort of common sense.

Like I said there are billions of people thinking in billion ways... I am not cut into it so thats why I said thats my way of thinking... why not do it ... well I dont like it thats why.... everyone has different level of sentiments and emotions for me I can never think of it that way but like you said if you had those trillion dollars you could me I'm a different story. You can never prove me wrong no matter what you say as much I can never prove you wrong no matter what I say.

It's almost touched $100,000 now. Insane!

Makes me wonder why the initial listing price was much lower than what the guy paid for it himself so many years ago?

Super rare item. Looks to have had a rough life. I would be ****ed if any game I owned was in that state.

When you want to expend $40,000 in a worthless cartridge game, it means to me that your life is basically worthless or you don't have a life.

macoman said,
When you want to expend $40,000 in a worthless cartridge game, it means to me that your life is basically worthless or you don't have a life.

When you want to comment on how other people spend their money, your life is worthless.

macoman said,
When you want to expend $40,000 in a worthless cartridge game, it means to me that your life is basically worthless or you don't have a life.
Their life is, at the very least, worth $40,000.

macoman said,
When you want to expend $40,000 in a worthless cartridge game, it means to me that your life is basically worthless or you don't have a life.

No, it means that some people have access to large sums of money and interest in collecting. Means nothing more. And I'm pretty sure you can't say anything about anyone's life based on their purchase of an old nes game cartridge.

aviator189 said,

No, it means that some people have access to large sums of money and interest in collecting. Means nothing more.

Reminds me of when people look at a Rothko or Pollock (both interesting artists) and say "pfft who would pay $20 million for a coloured square or some dripped paint? Art is a rip off!" - Well there's a reason it went from $20 artwork to $20 million artwork, and that reason is some chap with a wallet fatter than yours wanted to stick a red square on his wall and gaze deeply into it, happy in knowing that you can't. That privige is worth $20 mil? I dunno, ask the guy who bought it. Same with this guy, he's happy knowing he's got something you don't.

southparksam said,

When you want to comment on how other people spend their money, your life is worthless.


Yes because it is very smart to spend $40,000 in a cartridge game that will be in a shell collecting dust. Wow, what an amazing purchase!!!!

macoman said,

Yes because it is very smart to spend $40,000 in a cartridge game that will be in a shell collecting dust. Wow, what an amazing purchase!!!!

You've clearly never seen what these higher-end collectors do to protect the games. One of the guys who had the gold version had it sealed in an air-tight shell. There was another that had his own alarm system for his copy.

These people don't just throw down $40,000 then stick it on a shelf. They pay this much so they can do their part to preserve a piece of gaming history. It's rarely about owning something nobody else has. If you want to go after that crowd, then look into the ones who collect gaming prototypes or unreleased games. Now that crowd has the "lol I got this and you don't" idiots.

as long as the person who wins it doesn't destroy it, like those people that wait to buy a phone/console/etc... then get it and smash it up

macoman said,
When you want to expend $40,000 in a worthless cartridge game, it means to me that your life is basically worthless or you don't have a life.

You sound jealous of other people's wealth...

nub said,

You sound jealous of other people's wealth...

You mean 'envious'?

And $40,000 can be used for things that are much more important than a "super-rare" NES game.