Does The Recent $100,000 Nintendo NES Cartridge eBay Sale Mark The End For Collectors & Retro Gamers

NWC-Sells-For-100kThe value of video games is rising. This sobering fact is something both old and new retro gamers are unfortunately having to adjust to, making the hobby we know and love another ball in the budgeting juggle we all have to face. While we know the likes of the early Zelda and Mega Man classics are doubling in value, one recent sale of a competition exclusive Nintendo NES cartridge has shocked us all after reaching a final price worthy of a mortgage.

If you’ve been paying any attention to large media outlets as of recent, you may have noticed many have homed in on and reported the recent sale of a Nintendo World Championships cartridge on eBay. This wide spread coverage was mostly written up by non-gamers (and most definitely non-collectors) who have been whipped up into a frenzy after seeing this title fetch a considerable flurry of bids.

Unfortunately for retro gamers, what most of these stories failed to mention was any reference to past sales and any perceived market value this Nintendo NES holy grail may have held. For example, previous Nintendo World Championship Cartridges - at least in better condition - have historically been selling for around $5,000-10,000 upwards when placed up for auction. With these basic facts in mind it does raise the question as to how and why a ripped label biro-ridden cartridge in ‘acceptable’ condition has managed to attract a winning bid of $99,902 - a value just pennies short of a six figure sum, and one almost twenty times larger than it has been previously.

So what happened here exactly?

If you think something doesn’t add up here, you’re absolutely correct. Just mere moments after the final bid was placed, Muresan, the seller of this very cartridge posted on the NintendoAge forums that he had received a troubling message from the winning bidder.

“Top bidder backed out already… Claimed their 2 year old placed the bid without their knowledge”

Source: NintendoAge

As we all expected, the auction was indeed hijacked with countless bogus bids and the end result presents a rather ugly future for game collectors and retro gamers. (And no it’s not one where toddlers are outbidding us on everything!)

The Auction’s Aftermath

Several days after the final bid had been placed, it would appear that nearly all of the original outlet which reported on this auction have left the story behind. Unsurprisingly there has been no follow up which updates their readers that they were indeed duped into a watching dodgy sale. Why would they write such an update though? The glitz and glamour of a headline stating a video game has sold for nearly six figures is going to gather much more attention, pageviews and advertising revenue than one discussing their lack of research and/or knowledge of the subject.

Big media aside, the problem from here on now lies with the exposure this very auction has given to the value of specific video games. Those uneducated in the video game aftermarket and those looking to make a quick buck will no doubt be looking our way from here on - if not more than ever before. If you thought collecting video games was tough, get ready as it’s about to get much more difficult.

Generally speaking, at least until now, the majority of second hand sellers and car boot dealers have been somewhat ignorant to the value of video games - apart from those who do check prices on eBay beforehand. Many of us have been lucky enough to capitalise on their shortcomings, often coming home on a Sunday afternoon with a boot full of bargains. Given that just about everybody has now been exposed to the fact a video game has ‘sold’ for $100,000, the chances of us seeing another bargain below market value is slimming. We all face financial difficulties and may look to the lottery to resolve them, however, you may find that many with this thought process will instead be looking to their lofts hoping it could contain a fortune. What would normally be sold for a mere fiver to a local second hand shop or brought down to the nearest flea market is most likely about to arrive on eBay with an added - and unrealistic - premium.

This, however, may only be the beginning of our problems. There is no guarantee that readers of these original news stories paid any attention to the content within. At a quick glance, you could almost argue that a blank cartridge with ‘Mario’ written on the label is worth a fortune, potentially signalling to skim readers that all Nintendo NES games have rocketed in value. “Does this apply to ZX Spectrum tapes and Mega Drive classics too? It has too… surely!?”.

Although this style of thinking will most likely result in several humorous eBay auctions over the next few weeks, the problem we have on our hands will become a bit more widespread than our favourite auction site. Take for example that elderly woman working at your nearest charity shop; the one tasked with the job of pricing up media based items. Will she raise the value of everything coming through the door now because her general manager told her “old games are worth money now”? Although it’s doubtful that any charity shop will demand a similar figure for any donation, chances are video games will either be priced much higher from here on, or will never be seen again due to each firm’s secret eBay accounts.

While this does indeed sound like we may just be facing an unwanted rise in prices nobody is willing to pay, all it takes is for one individual to actually follow through with one of these purchases and the havoc begins. Whether or not that single purchase will resculpt the playing field for an individual game's future valuation is something only time will tell. A future we'll all be watching all too closely.

Are high prices here to stay?

I guess what I’m trying to convey here is that this exposure to something false is potentially going to raise everybodies awareness of the hobby and its incorrectly perceived value. While everybody does deserve the right to know how much their belongings are worth and what they can get for them, it’s a shame that the correct information has not been relayed worldwide, and as a result countless individuals are now rubbing their hands together while uncovering their old systems (or hunting for them in the wild).

From here on there is going to be a lot of heartbreak for both buyers and sellers as the market is about to take a trip down a rocky road. So if you've been holding back on that one purchase you wanted to make, now might be the best time to dig deep into yours pockets before it's too late.

Last Updated ( 28 January 2014 )  


Better known as Adam offline, Cauterize is one of RetroCollect's final bosses with an unhealthy addiction to pixels. When he's not out searching the web for the latest retro gaming news or creating content for RetroCollect, he'll will most likely be found working on his Sensible Soccer skills.

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+1 (Link to this comment) Adam Hoare 2014-01-28 19:13
why do people put bogus bids in ???
(Link to this comment) RYTRO7t7 2014-01-28 21:37
I dont collect nes but I saw another member posting about this auction and I had to check it out and I knew immediately that there was foul play and it was a rigged auction,perhaps not to begin with but I mean please, who has 0 feedback or purchases on ebay and then is just happens to bid on a $99.000 game? it was a set up and ive been overcharged a tonne of times(not for anywhere near this money but same principles apply in any auction) by crooked sellers in organised with someone else bidding up the sellers items through greed. It happens all the time so i rarely go for auctions anymore because of it and its always someone anonymous or new to the site that does it through greed. does anyone know how this actually ended? was the game paid for? this should not be allowed to stand and its such obvious lies that a "two year old placed the bid" such b.s., i would want it investigated if i was the buyer and both parties (seller and bidder who retracted the bid) should be banned for deceit.
+1 (Link to this comment) cusser 2014-01-28 23:08
Thats pretty bloody awful. I can just see the trashy newspapers picking up on this and over exaggerating the value of games. Its bad enough with already over inflated prices on ebay and shops. Collecting retro games is indeed becoming very expensive.
(Link to this comment) Ajg29 2014-01-29 02:01
Great article! Im a huge nintendo collector and have been for 20 yrs now. it gets so frustrating seeing the increase in price on vintage games just because of people like this on eBay! Also seeing people game hunting at swamp meets and thrifts stores not for collecting purposes but to turn around and try and sell them for 3 or 4 times what they payed for them. Drives me insane!
(Link to this comment) Mayhem 2014-01-29 10:07
Someone I know did legit sell a grey NYC for $17k in the furore of this one. So it IS possible... I guess all the fake bidders went to the publicised one. Jealousy, trolling, and the fact there is very little comeback all amount to why.
(Link to this comment) NES4Life 2014-01-29 13:35
Retro on eBay is terribly inflated in price. It makes me laugh when I see people attempting to sell 'vintage' and 'rare' NES for £80 or more. The only way we can keep our retro collecting habits affordable is to buy and sell in the forums at 'reasonable' rates (trading is an even better option). But then that's a pretty idealistic view. I fear we may just need bigger pockets in the not so distant future. I'm attempting to reduce my costs by being very particular in what I collect: PAL-A NES carts only. Removes the need to seek out these crazy rare carts and all the exclusive PAL-B carts ;-)
(Link to this comment) Welshwuff 2014-01-29 17:47
im not too worried with a bump of inflation as i believe it can drop as long as sellers are aware. Most sellers i've encountered check their prices by ebay, but not by what's currently in bid but for what has sold, as long as buyers are realistic and patient then prices will level but buying any game at a high price sets a bad example for other sellers. Any item can only sell as high as people are willing to pay for it and with that it becomes part of the buyer's responsibility to be frugal. Yes there will be every dad with an attic full of old NES carts "giving ebay a go with nothing to lose" putting mario 1 up for £50 but im sure they will shortly get frustrated and just forget about it a week later.
(Link to this comment) KaiAnduin 2014-01-29 17:48
Yes, it was me who linked it. It seemed to be totally legit. You need like 30 people with ebay reputation to do the show. I mean check out the bidders.
(Link to this comment) ChuckieDoll 2014-01-29 19:06
No. Stop scaremongering with those provocative headlines. Good games that sold a million copies will always be affordable while niche titles like this will always have stupid value for other reasons.
+1 (Link to this comment) JulianHillUK 2014-01-30 01:37
Such a brilliant article. I've a friend on Twitter who claimed that someone they follow placed a bid on this very auction just to boast on Social Media that they tried to buy the most expensive game ever. What sort if a crazy mentality is that?

It's sad that this seller has been prevented from selling his things just because his sake got over exposed.

I predict tough times ahead at least until people fail to get the thousands that they think their MarioBros and Duck Hunt cartridge is worth.
(Link to this comment) T Moleman 2014-02-03 18:34
I've noticed that the charity shops where I'm a regular check the value of all books/cds/dvds/games via ebay and price them accordingly, the problem is that you always have morons over valuing games and then everyone else follows suit. I've seen prices rising over the past few years to the point of absurdity, but a lot of the auctions that I track don't actually sell.

I had a game on my watch list for 18 months, the seller progressively reduced the price from £100 to £40 then auctioned it (to me) for £25. If I ever use eBay I will only use the auctions, never the Buy it now.

EBay is also the most broken market place in the world, you have absolutely no protection as a buyer/seller if the person you're dealing with wants to con you.

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