Super Mario Bros NES cartridge sells for US$2 million as retro-gaming market soars

The company that sold the cartridge originally paid US$140,000 for it.
The company that sold the cartridge originally paid US$140,000 for it. Photo credit: Supplied

Just weeks after the record auction price for a video game was smashed when Super Mario 64 sold for US$1.56 million, the retro market has rocketed to a new high.

An unopened copy of 1985 game Super Mario Bros for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) has sold for US$2 million through collectibles site Rally.

Being unopened makes it a rarity for old games, one of Rally's founders, Rob Petrozzo, told the New York Times.

Unlike the previous two record holders - the Super Mario 64 game and a 1987 Legend Of Zelda cartridge that sold for US$870,000 in July - the 1985 classic wasn't sold via auction.

Rally buys collectibles and opens them for investment, with shares purchasable by the general public. In this case, US$50 granted ownership of one three-thousandth of the cartridge.

Whenever someone makes an offer to buy an item outright the investors then vote on whether to sell, with a US$300,000 offer rejected by the investors last year.

The US$2 million offer was made by an anonymous buyer who's "making big bets in the video game space", Petrozzo said. It was approved by three-quarters of the game's investors.

Rally originally bought the game for US$140,000 in April 2020.

"I think that we're starting to see the natural progression of 'What else? What are the things that have appreciated in value from my childhood that have that nostalgia?'" Petrozzo told the newspaper.

Super Mario Bros was the first game in the Super Mario series and the first non-arcade game to feature the Italian plumbing brothers.

The game is widely hailed as one of the greatest ever and, according to Time, played a massive part in the recovery of the industry after a market crash in the US wiped billions of dollars of value from game companies.

It's estimated over 50 million copies of the game have sold since its release.

Other gaming-related merchandise has also seen a massive boost, with Ebay listing of Pokemon cards increasing by over 1000 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

That was helped by high-visibility stunts from the likes of YouTuber Logan Paul, who purchased a vintage box for US$300,000 and auctioned off individual packets for as much as US$1 million each.

As Paul walked to the ring for his recent boxing match with Floyd Mayweather he wore a mint-condition Charizard card worth US$1 million on a diamond necklace.