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Madden Video Game From 1990 Fetches Ridiculous Price at Auction



Though it is hard to believe, a 1990 copy of John Madden Football has sold for just under $500,000.  The sealed copy of the 32-year-old video game sold for a whopping $480,000 earlier this week.  Making the sale even more intriguing is the fact that the game is playable on Sega Genesis as opposed to Super Nintendo.  The retro Nintendo console outsold Sega’s by a considerable margin back in the 90s, yet it is the Genesis version of the football game that is fetching six-figures.

The Most Expensive Sports Video Game in History

The auction price of $480,000 paid for John Madden Football is the highest ever paid for a sports video game.  Sold by Heritage Auctions, the video game is the first in the series of annual releases of the home console football game.  The winning bidder’s logic in paying nearly half a million dollars for the sealed copy is the fact that it was provided directly from the office of the one and only, late John Madden.  Madden died at the end of 2020 at the age of 85. 

Part of the proceeds from the game’s sale will be donated to a charitable foundation formed in honor of Madden.   To be more specific, the money from the game’s sale will be donated to a good cause to honor the late coach.  The buyer’s price was $66,000.

Madden ’90 is Not the Most Valuable Video Game

Though $480,000 for a sports video game seems absurdly high, it must be noted that it was not the largest ever paid for a video game.  A sealed copy of the legendary Super Mario Brothers video game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) sold this past August for an incredible $2 million.  It might be quite some time before another video game sells for anywhere near $1 million, let alone $2 million.  

The irony in the eye-popping prices detailed above is the fact that the original copies of Madden, Super Mario Brothers, and other coveted classic video games sold for merely $40 to $70 on the open market when first released.  The stratospheric hike in the games’ value is the result of their rarity and also the fact that they are sealed.

The copy of John Madden Football referenced above is rated as a 9.2 A+, meaning it is nearly perfect in terms of quality, cleanliness, and functionality.  Though there is no guarantee the game will be playable on a Sega Genesis system, the buyer will likely leave the game unsealed to maintain its value.  It is possible the game will increase in value all the more in the years ahead.

The John Madden Football video game series has raked in $7 billion of revenue dating back to its release in the late 80s.  The first edition of the game hit the market in 1988.  A couple of years later and the series was renamed from “John Madden Football” to simply “Madden” in an attempt to reinforce the brand’s cogency.  The football video game series became so popular that the NFL Network devoted an entire show to the game dubbed “Madden NFL Live.”  Only one other sports video game, FIFA Soccer, has surpassed Madden in terms of aggregate historical sales.

Who is the Buyer?

The individual who shelled out nearly half a million dollars for the 1990 copy of Madden has not been identified.  All in all, $5 million of classic and rare video games were sold in the auction that took place this past January.  The names of the other winning bidders have not been revealed in an attempt to preserve their anonymity.

Aside from the sale of Madden ’90 for $480,000, several other notable games were auctioned off for six figures during the bidding war.  As an example, a copy of the first Halo game to hit the Xbox console sold for $108,000.  A copy of Super Mario Bros. from the series’ final production run back in the 80s sold for nearly $189,000.  Furthermore, three sealed Zelda games sold for $150,000.

Classic Games are Likely to Rise in Value

Classic video games appear to be the new classic baseball cards in the sense that they are spiking in value with each passing year.  The rarest of the classic video games are typically opened and in poor condition, making those in perfect condition all the more valuable. 

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Games that are first to print are worth that much more due to their limited availability.  Those that are still sealed within the original cardboard box containing the game cartridge and game booklet are also worth a considerable sum of money due to their rarity and the ever-growing interest in retro video games.  The copy of Madden ’90 referenced above could easily soar to $500,000 or more in value in the year ahead.

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