Super Mario 64 just sold for $1.5 million, making it the most expensive video game of all time. The unopened copy of Nintendo’s classic platformer was sold at an auction Sunday, earning a high score miles above previous record-holders.

The auction was run by Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. The multi-national auction house, which is based in Dallas, Texas, noted that the sale marked the first-ever video game to be sold for more than $1 million.

Tommy Noel, the videographer for Heritage Auctions, posted a now-viral video to Twitter, with footage from the historic day. Auctioneer, Sophie Duncan, calls the end of the auction, in which the unopened Super Mario 64 game cartridge is sold for the historic 1.3 million Euro, or $1.54 million.

Sophie Duncan from Heritage Auctions calls the final bid, $1.54 million, for a sealed Super Mario 64 cartridge.
Sophie Duncan from Heritage Auctions calls the final bid, $1.54 million, for a sealed Super Mario 64 cartridge. Photo Credit: Twitter

According to Heritage Auctions, the Super Mario 64 game cartridge was rated the highest possible A++ grade from WataGames, or a 9.8 numerical score. This rating confirms that the owner kept the unopened cartridge in near-perfect condition, preserving its integrity and nostalgic lure for future generations. The auctioneer has kept the buyer’s identity under wraps. The big spender will likely not open the cartridge, despite the 25-year-old game’s beloved gameplay.

The high-scoring sale was made just two days after another world record: Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda sold for $870,000 at an auction after an intense bidding war. Before that sale, Nintendo still held the record, when a $660,000 price tag was garnered on an unsealed copy of the original Super Mario Bros in April. Nintendo’s streak didn’t stop there. In November a copy of their Super Mario Bros. 3 hit a final price of $156,000.

Sunday’s historic auction began on July 9 and lasted multiple days, in which high-rollers vied for a chance to take home the valued collectible. The bidding started at $100,000, which already shadowed the going rate for new, AAA video games – which is $60-70.

The classic video game, which now holds an incredible record, was always a heavy-hitter for Nintendo’s console. Super Mario 64 was first released in 1996 and was the first time audiences got to explore the digital world as the iconic plumber in 3D. Before that, the game was a side scroller and only showed the red-suited plumber moving from left to right.

Super Mario 64 earns title for most expensive video game ever sold, setting the high score at $1.54 million.
Super Mario 64 earns the title for the most expensive video game ever sold, setting the high score at $1.54 million. Photo Credit: Heritage Auction

The historic game, which just hit its 25-anniversary milestone, is known by many as one of the best games ever made and continues to wow new generations despite its old age. Fan-made versions of the game continue to circulate around the internet, and new players are discovering how fun it is to jump on 3D Goombas every day.

The game’s popularity likely affected the outcome of the auction, increasing its overall value to potential bidders. Beyond its value as a game, though, Super Mario 64 earned its million-dollar price tag for being only one of nine sealed copies in existence. The collectible is as rare as it is fun, which propped up the cost to prospective collectors.

The pandemic has also affected collectible prices, with things from trading cards to NFTs getting huge price tags on auction sites like eBay. The market for collectibles is hitting an all-time high, and classic video games are just one of the markets finding increased popularity.  

It also doesn’t hurt that Mario continues to be one of the most popular gaming franchises of all time, with Nintendo holding a top spot in households across the globe. With games spread out across decades, Mario is a long-running franchise title with value to customers everywhere. When a piece of merchandise is as rare as an unsealed Super Mario 64 cartridge, it was no surprise that collectors from around the world would open their wallets to get a piece of the action.