Comparing Massive Markups For Pristine Retro Games

Comparining Values - Open vs Complete

Written in 2008

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

Zelda Cover ArtLegend 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


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
Dragon Warrior IV Cover ArtStill 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

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
Mario 64Cover ArtJust 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

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
Final Fantasy VII Black Label Cover ArtThe 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

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 Cover ArtShining Force II: $20 / $45 / $86

After 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

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 Cover ArtNights 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

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
Ikaruga Cover ArtBack 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

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.

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nick944 says:

Personally I don’t like sealed games. Sure, they look good if you want to get more money in the future, but what’s the fun of a game if you can’t play it?

racketboy says:

Although what would you do if you stumbled across a case full of unopened NES games? Surely, you could find most of the games in cartridge form dirt cheap and play those.

I just thought it would be interesting to look at the numbers 🙂

Jackson says:

So what do people do when they get a sealed copy? What is the point? To sell them later? Or would they open?

These are the questions that run through my mind about sealed buyers.

racketboy says:

I imagine its those people you see online that have some massive collection of games on 50 bookshelves to impress everyone, but they never actually play anything.

nick944 says:

Yeah, like some games that are sure to rise in value I own (Karous and Under Defeat) I opened because I would rather play them than watch their value rise. That and I would have a hard time seeing them and not wanting to open them.

jetjaguar says:

I wouldn’t mind starting a collection of sealed games. When I have a child, I’d like to start him on videogames with the NES. The feeling of opening a brand new game was special, and I’d like him to be able to experience that as well.

Timerever says:

Sealed games suck, how do you know such old carts still work if no one tested them? This is my point of view, the only reason someone would want a sealed copy is to ensure the game works and will work for a long time, but with those such old carts not even being sealed ensures that so the point of buying them escapes me.

grittykitty says:

i think this article was a pretty interesting idea! even more so would be to compare the current going-rate to the retail value at the time it was released (and adjusted to current prices in regards to inflation if you really wanna get into it!). i used to pay $50 for a brand new game back in the days without a problem, but i’ll think twice if that same game costs me $20 today.

Milox says:

Great article, thanks for researching so thoroughly. Surprised at the increases in sealed compared to complete – as Jackson asks above Would they even open them? Seems buyer would not know the cart worked so the value is in the package and yet the eventual buyer is like to want to dump the cart or more likely play it so may be in for a surprise?

All Hail The New Flesh says:

wow, I sold my copy of FFVII (BL) along with other FF games (all BL) all together, they cost at least $300

Pat says:

I just don’t see the point of this. Plus it’s not a very good investment. So back in 1985 you buy the Legend of Zelda and for some crazy reason you put it away in your attic for the next 23 years and it’s now worth 700 bucks. Big deal.

If you opened the game, played it and enjoyed it, and put 30 bucks into a high yield savings account or something, by now that 25-30 bucks would be more than 700.

I guess if you stumbled on a case of unopened games like racketboy mentioned that would be cool, but purposely storing an unopened game is a stupid investment.

And it’s not even like the only way to play these classic games in on their original consoles. With Nintendo’s Virtual Console plus emulators and roms, players can always experience these lost classics without shelling out hundreds of dollars for the games.

ott0bot says:

Very interesting…although no one will even play them, and enjoy their true value. I think sealed copies are cool to have if it’s your favorite game no matter what it’s worth.
I’m 26 now, but if I was this age back it the 80’s I probably would have thought about this. When i was I kid I just ripped them open and popped it in my nes.

But I just can’t see new games on ps3, wii, or xbox360 having this kind of collecability. The thing that make this so collectable is that they were at the true dawn of high quality home video games. Prior to that you’d have to go to the arcade to have this kind of experience. That make them have hisotical value as well. Plus having anything around 20 years old is pretty uncommon no matter what it is. People buy stuff to use it, thats what I did.

Bill says:

While I’m sure there are many people who buy sealed games just for the monetary value (real or perceived), I can see an attraction beyond that. Owning a sealed game is like owning a little time capsule with part of your childhood inside, preserved just as it was 20 years ago.

Besides, if you want to play the game, it’s not like there aren’t thousands of already opened copies out there.

Josh says:

I am a game collector and I did decide this would be my collection on the basis it is a collection I can enjoy and play with. However I do have some unopened titles. I never pay large money for them and I don’t have any desire to sell them. For me it is as Bill stated. There is just something special about knowing that 10 years from now I can plug in my now current systems and play a classic game is if it were new again.

Tim says:

I find this article very interesting. My obsession with video games started with the Sega Genesis and since there were so many titles that I wanted, it got to a point where I had too many games to play. The trend has continued and to this day I now have over 150 titles over multiple systems that I have purchased… each with every intention to play eventually… but are still shrink-wrapped!

With all due respect to collectors, personally, I see no point in owning a game with no intention of playing it. I would sell my unopened titles if the day comes when I know I will not be able to play them. Of course knowing that my purchase of Super Mario RPG for $14.97 at ToysRUs back in 1998 is now worth 20 times what I paid for it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Thanks for taking the time to do an analysis of this AND for posting the results.

Toad64 says:

I like collecting old games, but I also like *playing* the old games, which makes a sealed game a kind of worthless point to me. Though sometimes having the box is nice too. I was gonna buy Super Star Wars for $25 complete in box over the weekend, but then saw the store also had it for 9.99 as just the cartridge. I opted for just the cart, and have certainly gotten 9.99 worth of fun out of it.

Dan says:

What about panzer dragoon saga?

racketboy says:

I haven’t seen a sealed Saga in a while, so I couldn’t include it.

Caleb says:

This is a very interesting subject.

FF7 took me by surprize. I mean in 2004 you could buy sealed copies at Media Play for $20. There seems to be no reason why it keeps going up in price other than collectors keep hoarding copies. (I am up to three copies at this point 2 Green one Black.)

I wish I had bought more sealed Dreamcast games when I had the chance. As it is now I do have a few sealed copies.

Oh and this does happen to some newer games. Take Persona 3 for example. A sealed version of that game will get you 75-80 dollars.

maximus_clean says:

those prices for sealed SNES games are off by a lot. Not very accurate.

racketboy says:

How can they not be accurate when I link right to an eBay auction where they actually paid that much? You can’t dispute that.

The_Indigo_Effect says:

My Earthbound cartridge has a few nicks on the label, and I’ve been wanting a cartridge that’s in better condition for a while. I’ve actually been trying to find the original player’s guide and box for earthbound; I was hoping I could sell the game as complete and purchase a copy of EB that was in better condition. I couldn’t actually find the box, but the player’s guide sells for no less than $60! I’ve seen NES boxes and instruction manuals for rare games sell for a lot less.

executioner says:

what is a sealed night into dreams regular cd size jewel case be worth? the one that came with the controller, I bought mine for $20 but never opened it because I already had a backup. Personally don’t like sealed games but have around 3 or 4 of them, and I have backup of those to be able to play them. Games are meant to be played. If you are not gonna open them at least buy an open one so you can play!

racketboy says:

I don’t think it would be quite as valuable, but I would wager that you could get maybe $40 for it.

The only real way to find out it to put it up on eBay. Just make sure you advertise the sealed factor well and take lots of good pictures.

Andy says:

There are a few games recently you should consider adding to this list. First, sealed copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga (saturn) and Marvel vs Capcom 2 (ps2) are on ebay as of today, and fetching high prices. A grey metroid NES sold for $800 with buy-it-now (there is one guy paying top prices for a few recently, including that one). Lastly, if there is one game, sealed, that could demand more money than Chrono Trigger (out of standard US console games) it could be Earthbound. I haven’t seen one though, maybe someone else has.

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