Legend of Zelda breaks world record for most expensive game cart ever

A sealed cartridge of The Legend of Zelda offered on Friday for $870,000, making it the highest-priced computer game ever cost auction. The sale broke the previous record, held by the sale of a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. that chose $660,000 in April. Both video games were offered by Heritage Auctions, and the cost on each consists of a 20% purchaser’s charge.

The offer overshadows previous sales of The Legend of Zelda carried out by the auctioning website. Prior to this, another high-end cartridge of the video game cost $50,400 in September of 2020, making this sale approximately 17 times the cost of that earlier one.

What represented the inflated cost walking? Well, this one’s factory sealed and ranked 9.0 A sealed by Wata (with 10 being the greatest possible ranking). However beyond its condition, much of its worth boils down to this: It is the only copy from among the earliest production runs that the auction website has actually had the chance to use, and as the listing states, potentially will need to use for several years.

an image of a sealed Zelda cartridge

Image: Heritage Auctions

an image of a sealed Zelda cartridge

Image: Heritage Auctions

“It is widely believed that the copy sold Friday is one of just two sealed ‘NES TM’ copies graded by Wata,” a release said. The cartridge is a rare variant edition of The Legend of Zelda that was only produced for a few months in late 1987 before it was replaced by another. “Essentially, this copy is the earliest sealed copy one could realistically hope to obtain,” the auction description said.

That, coupled with the sweeping fan interest and cultural significance of the The Legend of Zelda franchise at large, made for a highly desirable item. You can read a full description from the auction here:

The Legend of Zelda – Wata 9.0 A Sealed [No Rev-A, Round SOQ, Early Production], NES Nintendo 1987 USA. Truly, the term “grail” only begins to scratch the surface of describing this game. Of all of the games we’ve offered in our auctions, this sealed, early production copy of the first game in the groundbreaking Legend of Zelda series is no doubt the apotheosis of rarity, cultural significance, and collection centerpieces. A proverbial trifecta of collector perfection that only one will receive the honor of calling their own.

While it is a hard truth, it is a truth nonetheless — none of the copies we’ve offered of this title previously could even attempt to hold a candle to this one due to its incredibly rare variant that holds early production status. This matter is completely inarguable. This is the only copy from one of the earliest production runs that we’ve ever had the chance to use, and, potentially will have the opportunity to use, for lots of years to come. Considering this alternative was just produced for a couple of months in late 1987 prior to it was ultimately changed by the “Rev-A” variant in early 1988, this statement likely comes as no surprise to collectors. Only one other variant precedes the offered “NES R” variant and that is the “NES TM” variant, which is the true first production run. However, it is also widely believed that just a single sealed “NES TM” example exists, and there is no telling whether or not that copy will ever come to market. Essentially, this copy is the earliest sealed copy one might realistically hope to obtain.

So if you happened to be the lucky person with a spare $870,000, well congrats, you just got a really nice, really uncommon Zelda. Simply don’t open it!

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.