Thursday, January 30, 2014

Valuable Video Games

Video games are for children. Everyone knows that. And losers. The real cool dudes are out there slamming beers and scamming on chicks. Well tell me this, Cool Dude: Did you ever save a beer can or a chick from twenty-four years ago and now it/she is worth $100,000? That's US Dollars! Oh, you did and you're married now? My bad, I had no idea. Congrats. Yeah the invite must've gotten lost in the mail.

Anyways. We were talking rare Nintendo games. There was this event that happened in 1990 called The Nintendo World Championship or something like that. Do you remember the hit 1989 movie, The Wizard? Yeah, it was exactly like that! Except probably without PowerGloves. Well Nintendo had to make special game cartridges for these events. The cartridges were specially programmed to play Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. The players had a little over 6 minutes to play the three games and whoever had the highest score at the end of those 6 minutes was the winner (Fred Savage).

There were 1,200 gray game cartridges made for the championships, 90 of which were given to finalists as prizes (the others destroyed?). These are really rare now. Even more rare are the 26 gold cartridges that were made for a related but separate Nintendo Power promotion prize. These are considered the holy grail of Nintendo games--the rarest of the rare. The most desirable. The diamond in the rough.

Last week, one of the gray cartridges popped up on ebay. It wasn't even a good copy. The label was ripped off and someone had written on it. These normally sell for maybe a couple thousand, tops. This one sold for just under $100,000. Then, then!, after seeing the high prices this poor copy commanded, two other people decided to list their Nintendo World Championship cartridges on ebay. One is a gray copy in better condition. The other is a gold cartridge!

As of this writing, the gray copy is at $16,000 with 2 days of bidding left. The gold is at $100,000 with nearly 5 more days of bidding. These things always explode (figuratively) in the last moments of auction. This video game could seriously hit $200K. That's like a whole year's salary from one video game!

[Editor's note: in doing actual research for this next part, I discovered that two copies sold this past week. One at $99,902 and the other at $17,500. Hmm, I wonder why the massive discrepancy.]

Now let's have some numbers fun. Ebay is often lovingly called "Feebay" because they take a significant chunk of your sale. Then, if you pay with their preferred method of PayPal, you're going to lose some more money in fees. In my experience of much, much smaller sales, the final value fee is around 8% with another 3% from PayPal (shipping cost included). But I want to look up the actual fee for something like this.

We'll do the first example of the one that already sold. We'll also assume that the seller started the auction under a dollar and chose no additional listing options. Therefore, there are no fees yet until final sale. With a final sale price of $99,902 and free shipping, let's see...well, that doesn't seem right. Ebay's fee calculator is showing an estimated fee value of only $250.00. This guy/gal might have actually made some money off of this. Actually, the person who sold it for only $17000 also had to pay $250 in fees. That must be their maximum fee in the video game category.

I will assume, too, that they did not use PayPal, but instead some type of escrow service. And then the guy dropped the game in a yellow padded envelope and dropped it off at USPS First Class Mail, probably uninsured, no delivery confirmation. (lol?)

Okay, so I kept messing around with the Ebay fee calculator. It estimates 10% at every value up to $2,500.00 where it maxes out at $250. (I still don't believe it though). I'm just going to assume that ebay took a thousand of this guy's money.

Man, this article is losing momentum fast. The moral of the story is to keep your eyes open at the flea markets and to know what you're looking at because: money. Or alternately, spend your life hoarding, because something might be worth something someday and all of the "I told you so's" will be the delicious gravy on top of your money pile.

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