Comparing Massive Markups For Pristine Retro Games

Comparining Values - Open vs Complete

Accumulating classic video games is quickly becoming less about playing the games and more about collecting with dollar values in mind. After analyzing the advertisement for buying sealed NES games, I became more aware of how much of a premium there was on sealed classic games. My curiosity got the best of me, so I couldn’t help but check into how game values varied for different platforms depending on the game’s condition. (Cart/Disc-only, Complete w/ Box, and Sealed in Packaging)


To find some games to adequately analyze, I searched for the sealed games for each platform that sold for the most money. I then checked to see how much those same games sold for as both a cartridge or disc-only auction and also a game that included the box, but was opened and used. I then compared these values to determine a percentage increase between the different conditions. (The fifth and sixth columns in each table show the increase between Cart-only vs Complete and Complete vs Sealed respectively)

Just to let you know, I personally do not see much fun in collecting sealed games (games were meant to be played), but I do find this phenomenon interesting as a spectator. I do welcome your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Nintendo Entertainment System

Legend of Zelda (Original Release) – $10 / $30 / $706
Millions of gamers love the Zelda series and there are tons of the original NES carts floating around out there. However, not very many NES owners from the 1980’s kept their game boxes in good condition, if at all, resulting in surprisingly high resale values of games in pristine condition.

Out of the NES library, those belonging to popular franchises (like Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Megaman) and those that have the classic black/pixel art boxes have the highest premiums when it comes to complete and sealed games.

Some of the later releases like Castlevania III and Super Mario Bros. 3 still claim a decent amount of cash when sealed, but not nearly as much as their older siblings.
Check for Legend of Zelda on eBay

Zelda Cover Art
Title Cart Complete Sealed Cart/ Complete Complete/ Sealed
Legend of Zelda $10 $30 $706 200% 2250%
Legend of Zelda II $10 $20 $510 100% 2450%
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out $18 $35 $650 94% 1757%
Metroid (Grey Box) $12 $27 $437 125% 1204%
Tennis $5 $15 $360 200% 2300%
Gumshoe $6 $19 $600 217% 3058%
Wrecking Crew $10 $20 $400 100% 1900%
Donkey Kong Jr $9 $18 $300 100% 1567%
Donkey Kong $12 $23 $300 92% 1204%
Megaman $22 $60 $400 173% 567%
Final Fantasy $10 $35 $200 250% 471%
Castlevania III $12 $35 $119 192% 240%
Super Mario Bros. 3 $14 $38 $115 171% 203%

Super Nintendo

Chrono Trigger: $50 / $145 / $1,200
Still regarded as one of the great console RPGs of all time, it isn’t a huge surprise that Chrono Trigger has a collector following. However, when you consider that the game isn’t very rare by any means, one cannot help but be a bit surprised by the recent $1,220 sale price of a sealed copy on eBay.

Sealed SNES games are a bit more common than their NES cousins, so there isn’t quite as much of a markup, but the sales are still impressive. However, the jump between bare SNES carts and complete, boxed versions is quite significant as most collectors like to see the boxes on their game library shelves.
Check for Chrono Trigger on eBay

Dragon Warrior IV Cover Art
Title Cart Complete Sealed Cart/ Complete Complete/ Sealed
Chrono Trigger $50 $145 $1,220 190% 741%
Super Mario RPG $40 $157 $320 293% 104%
Donkey Kong Country $20 $35 $130 75% 271%
Super Metroid $19 $45 $126 137% 180%
Super Mario World $13 $35 $106 169% 203%
Zelda Link to the Past $18 $45 $108 150% 140%

Nintendo 64

Super Mario 64: $20 / $35 / $160
Just as Nintendo refused to give up the cartridge format for the longest time, they also stuck with those cardboard boxes for the games. So considering many of these N64 games aren’t especially old, some of these rather common game still command quite a good deal of money if you have them boxed and/or sealed.

There also aren’t quite as many big name N64 titles in sealed condition showing up on eBay as there are NES or SNES games. So that either means that sealed N64 games are actually more rare than those on the older platforms or collectors aren’t ready to cash in just yet.
Check for Super Mario 64 on eBay

Mario 64Cover Art
Title Cart Complete Sealed Cart/ Complete Complete/ Sealed
Bomberman 64 2nd Attack $30 $87 $198 190% 128%
Star Fox 64 $14 $27 $155 93% 474%
Super Smash Bros $30 $45 $109 50% 142%

Sony Playstation

Final Fantasy VII (Black Label): $35 / $80 / $417
The journey of Final Fantasy VII’s value over the years has been quite interesting. The game itself is actually quite common. In fact, it is the second highest selling game on the PS1 at 9.8 million units. For the longest time, you could find this popular game for a reasonable price, but now it seems that gamers that came of age in the Playstation era are starting to join in on collecting.

As with most popular Playstation games, the original black-label released command far more from collectors, but even the green Greatest Hits release will still bring in some cash if in complete or sealed condition.
Check for Final Fantasy VII on eBay

Final Fantasy VII Black Label Cover Art
Title Disc Complete Sealed Disc/ Complete Complete/ Sealed
Final Fantasy VII (black) $35 $80 $417 129% 421%
Final Fantasy VII (GH) $30 $55 $120 83% 118%
Lunar Silver Star Story $25 $65 $120 160% 85%
Tales of Destiny II $17 $55 $135 224% 145%
Bushido Blade $6 $21 $95 250% 352%
Final Fantasy Anthology (blk) $5 $25 $87 400% 248%
Dragon Warrior VII $7 $45 $85 543% 89%

Sega Genesis / Megadrive

Shining Force II: $20 / $45 / $86After starting out by comparing classic Nintendo games, I was surprised by how reasonable to the values for even relatively rare and valuable games were in sealed and complete condition. However, one must keep in mind that most Genesis games came in nice, plastic cases that most Genesis owners kept. (However, that still doesn’t explain the lower prices for sealed games)

Shining Force II usually sells for quite a decent amount as a single cartridge or in complete condition, so I was surprised to see that somebody scored a sealed copy for under $100. Perhaps it was because the seller had a lower feedback score. Who knows. But when compared to most other sealed Genesis/Megadrive games, it seems to be par for the course. I guess there just isn’t as much of a collectors market for Sega games as there is for classic Nintendo. Check for Shining Force II on eBay

Shining Force II Cover Art
Title Cart Complete Sealed Cart/ Complete Complete/ Sealed
Shining Force II $20 $45 $86 125% 91%
TMNT Hyperstone Heist $13 $23 $87 77% 278%
Castlevania Bloodlines $10 $28 $71 180% 154%
Double Dragon $11 $54 $57 391% 6%
Moonwalker $22 $42 $52 91% 24%

Sega Saturn

Nights Into Dreams : $13 / $27 / $84
Nights Into Dreams is in about the same boat as Final Fantasy VII. It is also one of the biggest sellers on the platform so it is far from being rare. However, Nights was one of those great games that Sony or Nintendo fans didn’t typically experience when it was new and are now hearing about this unique classic and giving it a try.

Much like the Genesis, the Sega Saturn doesn’t have a whole lot of big-name sealed games show up on eBay. The Saturn has quite a valuable library, but it seems that most collectors can’t resist the urge to actually open and play their games (who’d have thought?)
Check for Nights Into Dreams on eBay

Nights Into Dreams Cover Art
Title Disc Complete Sealed Disc/ Complete Complete/ Sealed
Nights Into Dreams $13 $27 $84 108% 211%
Albert Odyssey $19 $35 $108 84% 209%
Resident Evil $15 $25 $63 67% 152%
Sonic Jam $20 $45 $60 125% 33%

Sega Dreamcast

Ikaruga: $46 / $111
Back when everyone figured that Ikaruga could take after it’s predecessor Radiant Silvergun in terms of value, this shooter was on the top of collectors lists and many people hoarded sealed copies. The game easily sold for over $100 even in used condition. However, between the Gamecube and XBox Live Arcade releases and the fact that collectors intentially kept the game sealed, the supply of the game has stayed high and lowered the demand.

Since the games aren’t especially old, most common Dreamcast games don’t sell for a whole lot even in sealed condition, but those harder-to-find games that appeal to hardcore gamers like 2D fighters and shooters, can still command a healthy chunk of change.
Check for Ikaruga on eBay

Ikaruga Cover Art
Title Disc Complete Sealed Complete/ Sealed
Ikaruga n/a $46 $111 141%
Project Justice n/a $35 $76 117%
Street Fighter Alpha 3 n/a $19 $67 253%
The Last Blade 2 n/a $30 $47 57%
Skies of Arcadia n/a $25 $46 84%

Interesting? I think so, but I think we will see the trend of collectible video games be much list baseball cards, action figures and other hobbies. The “original” classics like the NES and SNES will become valuable because people threw out the boxes and such. (Just like mothers of the 50’s and 60’s did with baseball cards) Now that collectors are onto the idea of valuable sealed games, they will horde newer games in the shrinkwrap, which will in turn keep them from becoming rare and valuable.


Brian says:

A few years ago, I bought a factory sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda, gold cartridge, for $17.99 from a local usedngame store. I thought it was just bought a boxed game until I got it home and realized there was a horizontal seal across the back.

Zelda was my first game ever. I wanted to open it so bad, but I resisted knowing there was a value for it. Would I pay $700 for it? No way. But I know there is someone out there who will someday have that kind of disposable income and want to open it more badly than I do.

ninjainspandex says:

i dont collect sealed games but i do collect mint games for my saturn then burn disc copies of the game and play it that way im not scuffing the boxes or scratching the discs, lol sounds dumb but thats what i do >.<

J_Wil says:

Yeah, I might pay $50 or so for an older sealed game if it’s one of my all-time faves or has a special significance to me but no more than that. I have a few older sealed games that I got for cheap or was looking for a complete game and found a sealed version for around the same price. I have a growing number of more recent releases that are still sealed because i haven’t gotten around to playing them yet. The sealed market is not something I’m really into, especially at those insane prices.

XyLoSe says:

Sealed games… Supply and demand, investment, the lure of easy money, fad, history, fond memories, trends and mob mentality/hysteria! Socio-economic statistical humanoid insanity (now, there’s a name for a great game I’d like to save a few sealed copies of… lol) Yea, there’s no accounting for the crazy stuff people do or why – for instance (semi-related), them purple TY teddy bears with the Princess Di doohickey on their chest being auctioned off for $150,000.00 on eBay. (I read a response to a question a guy asked concerning how he knew they were worth so much. The seller responded, ‘I donate 10-20% to charity and these ultra-rich folks with a need for a gracious image and a tax shelter/write off will spend this and more. They aren’t worth that much it’s just something rich people like to do’) Capitalist-driven insanity… Ya gotta love America. Bottom line… something IS only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it – and timing is everything. it’s The Human Condition, it’s like riding a skateboard or bicycle – you can’t really analyze and figure it out in order to be good at doing it, you just gotta jump on and figure it out before it kills you!!! When you do, the rewards can be immense indeed – most notably you live to tell… lol! (or, your 1s and 0s increment upwards in some database somewheres that you stand even less of a chance of understanding – utter madness in the grand scheme fur-sheezie!!!

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