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On July 12, a copy of the Nintendo 64 classic “Super Mario 64” sold at auction for a whopping $1.56 million, instantly making it the most expensive video game on the planet.

Less than a month later, it was bested by a previous entry in the same series: a sealed copy of “Super Mario Bros.” for the original Nintendo Entertainment System that sold for $2 million.

Those prices didn’t only set precedents — they also represented a massive inflation in the price of retro games. “Super Mario Bros.,” for instance, had set a previous sales record in March 2019 of just over $100,000.

What, in the 18 months between those two sales, had caused the value to spike 20 times its previous sales price?

Investors, not collectors

Rally originally purchased the $2 million “Super Mario Bros.” for $140,000 in a private sale last summer. The game was then offered as shares with a market cap of $150,000. When it sold for $2 million, investors made a handsome return.

One man who invested $100 told The New York Times he was walking away with $950 on top of the original $100 he spent.

“It’s pretty crazy to think that I made an investment in it because of the nostalgia of playing the video game when I was a kid and now it’s selling for $2 million,” he said.

It’s especially crazy given that the game had cost Rally $140,000 just 12 months prior. The game was still the same, with the same quality grade and the same level of rarity — the only thing that had changed was the market.