On Saturday, January 25, 2014, at 3:55 PM (PST), an eBay auction ended for a "Nintendo World Championship" cartridge with a torn/missing label, with a final bid of $99,902.00, the highest price ever paid for a home video game.
Back when eBay seller muresan posted an auction for his rare "Nintendo World Championship" (NWC) Nintendo Entertainment System game cartridge on January 18, hew knew he was selling something valuable, but had no idea the amount it would raise. After all, while there were only 90 cartridges ever produced for the 1990 NES gaming event, but this particular one had gone though the ringer.
The label was torn off, taking away most of the events iconography, and one of the previous owners wrote "Mario" on the label remnants, mistaking it for a copy of "Super Mario Bros." The missing label also took with it the cartridge number, which Nintendo used to track the cartridges and prove authenticity.
So, muresan started the auction off with a minimum of $5,000, and it didn’t get a single bid for four days. Then on the fifth day the first bid landed, which quickly turned into a bidding war, with over 328 bids across 72 bidders.
The unexpected bidding war even took the muresan by surprise, “I can't believe the positive response I've gotten from, seemingly, the world! Praise the Lord!” he expressed in the seller notation section of the auction page.
With the final price of the auction ending at $99,902.00, the labeless NES cartridge has broken the record for being the highest paid price a single video game has ever sold for, beating out the previous record holder, a sealed copy of the ultra-rare NES game "Stadium Events," by a whopping $86,797.
The cartridge is something of a legend among classic Nintendo Entertainment System enthusiasts. In 1990 Nintendo held a competition for the Nintendo World Championship. As part of the competition, they provided special cartridges that contained special versions of "Super Mario Bros.", "Rad Racer," and "Tetris" created specifically for the competition. Players from cities across the country showed up at NWC events to compete and see who could score the highest in all three games, with a time limit of 6 min and 21 seconds. 90 grey cartridges were manufactured for the event, and given to the finalists. As a side promotion, an additional 26 cartridges were made with a gold casing as part of a contest in "Nintendo Power" magazine.
According to the guarantee on muresan’s auction, this is one of those 90 grey cartridges. Based on what remains of the label, and it sports the unique DIP switch that was included only to NWC cartridges in order to allow players to switch between the games, it looks like this is the genuine article
So how did this collector get such a rarity?
In the comments section of the auction, muresan explains, “An Alt Newsgroups auction was held back in 1998 and purchased by thomaser in Norway. He traded to DreamTR, who sold to me maybe around 2004/05.”
Some interesting statistics on this record breaking sale; the top earner, the "Nintendo World Championship" cartridge, and the video game that was the second highest paid for, "Stadium Events," are both Nintendo Entertainment System games, both were sold via eBay auctions, and both were sold out of North Carolina. The NWC auction originated in Raleigh, NC, while the Stadium Events auction sold out of Haw River, NC, about an hour drive outside of Raleigh.
Which makes you wonder, what the heck is going on with all the ultra-rare video games in North Carolina?
Update: The high bidder backed out of the record breaking auction. Read all about it in our exclusive interview with the auction seller.