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How is the Collectible Video Game Market Performing?

How is the Collectible Video Game Market Performing?
August 8, 2022
Dylan Dittrich

This past weekend, Heritage Auctions closed its August Signature Video Game event. Many will recall that it was at last summer's event when the video game market reached peak hysteria, as a copy of Super Mario 64 sold for $1.56 million, shattering a record which had been set just days earlier, which itself shattered a record set just months earlier. Since then, the space has been challenged, both by idiosyncratic issues as well as issues plaguing broader, speculative collectible markets. Year-to-date through August 5th, the Altan Insights Fractional Video Game Index is down close to 48%. Given the pace with which the market appreciated, it is perhaps not surprising to see a correction, but the question is whether the market can find stability and curtail the bleeding.

At this event, there was evidence that there may be further yet to fall, offset by strength in certain pockets and figures.

At the top, it's clear that the lengths to which bidding will go to secure a grail remains in decline. The top price achieved at this auction is in the ballpark of 20% of the top level achieved a year ago, and across the spectrum of average sales prices, a story of decline is present. Unlike in April, when there were signs of strong and rebounding depth in appetite relative to prior events, essentially all figures concerning values realized were down.

There is one bright spot: the number of bidders in the auction was up considerably (8-9%) from both the April and January events (still down mildly year-over-year). That there remains a stable base of interested parties may provide some reassurance for the longevity of the category. However, the volume of bidding, when adjusted for a significantly higher number of lots in August, was down. This is indicative of less rabid and competitive bidding, which of course lends itself to lower prices realized.

Three Up, Three Down
  1. Super Smash Bros (N64). Perhaps the standout result of the event was the $240,000 sale of a copy of Super Smash Bros graded 9.8 A++. In July of 2021, at the peak of the market frenzy, a copy graded 9.4 A++, then thought to be one of the highest graded examples in existence (if not the highest), sold for $144,000. Bearing in mind that the all time record for a video game sale a little over a year ago was $660,000, this result for a beloved Nintendo 64 title appears strong in the present environment.
  2. Duck Hunt (NES). The $144,000 result for Duck Hunt flexes the importance of the Matte Sticker Seal on Black Box NES copies. This example, graded 9.2 A+, very comfortably establishes a record for the title. However, a 9.6 A+ Rev-A, Round SOQ copy sold at Goldin this weekend for $91,200. So, given that the Heritage game is the only Matte copy on the population report at present, we're left to wonder if perhaps even this result underwhelms. Such is the challenge of finding resounding "winners" in this market.
  3. Wave Race (N64). This may be a biased inclusion, as I really loved playing Wave Race growing up. The highest graded copy, a 9.4 A, established a new record for the title when it sold for $21,000. I was astonished to learn there are just 9 Wata-graded copies of this game in total. While it doesn't have the broader cultural reach of other beloved games, Wave Race brings back fond memories for many, and it is fun to see it remembered by the collecting population.
  1. Sonic the Hedgehog (Genesis). The "Down" category offers considerably more candidates to choose from than "Up". For Sonic, the downward trajectory has been clear and consistent. A 9.4 A sold at Goldin in September for a jaw-dropping $420,000. In October, a higher graded 9.6 A sold at Heritage for $312,000, before a 9.6 B+ sold in January for $240,000. This weekend, another 9.6 A sold for just $102,000, continuing a rapid fall from grace. While there were some variant discrepancies (Made in Japan vs. Printed in Japan), and there is debate around which was first, "Printed" copies alone illustrate that trajectory.
  2. Mario Kart 64 (N64). Another beloved title experiencing difficulties at the moment is Mario Kart 64. Back in April, an example graded 9.6 A++ sold for $144,000. At the same event, a 9.4 A+ sold for $66,000. That result is well above the $48,000 notched for a 9.6 A+ this weekend. The slide for such an icon is demonstrative of a market moving in reverse, particularly given the volume of graded copies is not particularly high at the moment (31 total non Player's Choice copies, with just five graded 9.6 and none higher).
  3. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (NES). The Punch-Out market seems to have peaked back in October, when an Oval SOQ example graded 9.8 A++ sold for $312,000, though a strong follow up sale of $114,000 for an Oval SOQ 9.2 A+ copy in January offered further support. This weekend, a 9.6 A+ of the same variant sold for $102,000, returning the title to the neighborhood of April 2021 levels. Of course, a late production copy of a game still achieved a six figure result, so perhaps a "down" verdict is an oversimplification.
Featured Fractional Comps

Note: Same variant unless otherwise noted

NES Super Mario Bros 2

Rally (9.6 A++): $80,000

Heritage (9.6 A+): $78,000

GoldenEye 007

Rally (9.6 A++): $33,750

Heritage (9.6 A++): $55,200

Mario Kart 64

Rally (9.4 A+): $75,000

Heritage (9.6 A+): $48,000

Pokemon Red

Rally (9.2 A++): $19,000

Heritage (9.6 A++): $16,200

Super Mario Bros 3

Rally (9.4 A+): $20,750

Heritage (9.6 A++): $16,200


Rally (9.6 A+): $70,000

Heritage (9.6 B+): $15,000

Heritage (9.2 A+): $15,600

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Rally (9.4 A): $16,000

Heritage (9.4 A+): $10,500

Game Boy Console (Sealed)

Rally (VGA 85): $22,500

Heritage (VGA 85): $9,900

Halo: Combat Evolved

Rally (9.4 A++): $23,125

Heritage (9.6 A+): $9,000

Final Fantasy

Rally (9.4 A): $15,000

Heritage (9.4 A): $8,400

Donkey Kong Country

Rally (9.4 A+): $8,250

Heritage (9.4 A+): $8,400

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest

Rally (9.6 A+): $40,100

Heritage (9.6 A+): $4,080

Final Fantasy VII

Rally (9.8 A+): $15,000

Heritage (9.8 A): $12,000

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