My eyes literally widened when I first caught wind of this story. As you may recall, we discussed the sale of a Super Mario Bros. game in a previous post. That game sold for $600,000 back in April 2021 and set the record in the process. A record that has now been surpassed by yet another vintage video game that dates back to the mid-1980s. 1987 to be exact. After doing some digging, I was able to put together a clear picture of the sale and why this particular video game was able to sell with such a high price tag.
The sale of this Legends of Zelda was so popular that the story even made into this month’s Robb Report, which only reports on stories that have to do with luxury and big bucks. The buyer is still unknown, but whoever he or she is, I would like to come back as them when my time comes to respawn.
With that, let’s get to the richness, so to speak, of this story.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this game was first released back in 1987, when Nintendo was the be-all-and-end-all for gamers. Back then, games were thick and square, which is why they are dubbed cartridges to this day. Anyone over the age of 30 should be having a blast from the past moment right about now.
Legends of Zelda is probably one of the most popular gaming titles ever to be released. So, it’s easy to understand why someone would want to buy/sell a piece of old-school gaming history for their collection. But, why and how could this particular game sell for $870,000 on the auction block? Well, it turns out that numerous elements played a role in that regard.
First, the ‘cartridge’ was found to be in pristine condition, as it was still wrapped in its original factory packaging. That’s right, just like the Super Mario Bros. game, this cartridge was purchased and yet never opened. Even after 30 years, the game has never been exposed to the open air. Speaking of packaging, that’s another reason why it is so rare.
Shortly after the game was released, Nintendo made the decision to change the way games were to be packaged. The same goes for the actual cartridge itself. Once the packaging and cartridge were altered, this particular game became even rarer. A 1987 copy of this Zelda cartridge inside an unopened, discontinued packaging all leads to an $870,000 price that was 34 years in the making. Who knows, perhaps the first owner was making an investment of some sort. Or, similar to the Mario Bros. story, they bought it, stuck it in a drawer, and forgot it even existed.
No matter what the reasons, Heritage Auctions was happy to add it to their list of goods and must have been just as excited as the seller when they dropped the hammer on such an earth-shattering figure. Some have even dubbed this the ‘Holy Grail’ (a term used rather loosely in situations like this) when describing the game and its perfect condition. Heritage Auctions even wrote up a listing for the game before the sale began. In that description, they stated: “Essentially, this copy is the earliest sealed copy one could realistically hope to obtain.” So, perhaps it really is a Holy Grail...at least in the eyes of one vintage game collector with deep pockets.
If you could, would you pay close to a million dollars for a vintage video game? Let me know in the comments below. If you can currently afford to pay that much for a video game, PLEASE tell me your secret.
Update: As I was putting this post together, another story popped up. It seems that this Legends of Zelda game was only able to hold the spot for the most expensive video game ever sold for a short time. A really short time, actually. Just about a day or two after the Legends of Zelda sale, a Super Mario 64 game from 1996 sold for $1.5 million dollars, setting a new record. You can find more information on the sale here.
Until we meet again,
Vince The Prince