When you think of rare video games and their value, there are a few obvious ones that spring to mind – the Nintendo World Championships gold cartridge ($65,000), Stadium Events ($35,000), and just about anything released on the Neo Geo AES (some up to $55,000).
But what about those lower tier collectible games? Those games people have picked up over the years and don’t realize are worth something.
With spring cleaning upon us (well in this hemisphere), it’s as good a time as any to look through your piles of games and find the ones worth keeping and the ones worth selling on eBay. Even better than that – with families decluttering their lives through yard sales and donations to thrift stores, the chances of you finding rare video games for cheap is even more likely.
Here’s a quick list of a few rare video games you should keep an eye out for when you’re cleaning out your collection.
NBA ELITE 11
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Every year like clockwork, from 1995 to 2009, a new NBA Live game would hit store shelves. That’s because Electronic Arts are the king of annualized sports titles and know the importance of keeping their franchises ticking over.
After the release of NBA Live 10 in 2009, it became clear that the series needed a fresh coat of paint. EA knew this too, which lead to the creation of NBA Elite 11 – the successor to the Live series. It was developed, completed, and shipped to retailers in 2010 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But, after failing to pass internal quality review at EA the game was quickly pulled from the shelves.
Why you may have it: Because it made it to stores, there’s a chance a number of gamers own NBA Elite 11 and have no idea it’s a collectible. This is helped by the notion that sports games are generally worthless a year after their release. So just make sure when you’re trading in 50 copies of Madden and NBA Live for one game you don’t leave a copy of NBA Elite 11 in there.
AMERICAN MENSA ACADEMY
Platform: Nintendo Wii
When you think of valuable Wii games you probably think of games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword with the packed-in gold Wii Remote, or perhaps the cult hit Xenoblade Chronicles. That’s because those are great games and remain in demand. But the most valuable game on the Wii is also one of it’s most forgettable – American Mensa Academy.
In real life, Mensa is an international club for people with high IQs. It’s been around since the 1940s and only admits people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test.
American Mensa Academy is basically just a collection of questions and mini-games approved by Mensa that is designed to test your intelligence, and frankly, there’s a ton of those games on the Wii.
Why you may have it: Mini-game collections were a dime-a-dozen on the Wii, so there’s a chance you may have picked it up for cheap back in the day. It’s not a classic game by any measure, but its very small print run means its value has skyrocketed, something few could have predicted when the game launched.
Be warned, though, only the NTSC version (as in the American version) of the game is worth tracking down. The PAL version (Europe and Australasia) is barely worth the disc it’s burned on.
HALO 3 LEGENDARY EDITION
Platform: Xbox 360
Things were different back in 2007 – over-the-top collector’s editions weren’t quite as common as they are now and Halo was still a big deal. I mean, Halo is still popular, but the anticipation for Halo 3 on the Xbox 360 was through the roof. Capitalizing on this, Bungie put together the Halo 3 Legendary Edition – a three-disc collection featuring the game, a ‘making of’ DVD, plus another DVD featuring every cutscene from the first two games with developer commentary.
What really drew people in was a big plastic helmet used to house a container filled with all the aforementioned discs. Though many hoped it would fit a human head, the replica of the MJOLNIR Mark VI helmet (the armor worn by Master Chief) wasn’t even big enough to fit on a cat’s head. Trust me, plenty of people tried.
Why you may have it: Gamers often assume (correctly I might add) that most collector’s editions are just cheap money-grabs, but now and then one comes along that is actually worth investing in.
Originally the Legendary Edition cost $130, but the price has jumped to $160 at the lowest end for a used set, but can go all the way up to $250 depending on the condition.
POKÉMON BOX: RUBY AND SAPPHIRE
Platform: Nintendo GameCube
Released: 2003 (Japan), 2004 (Rest of the world)
Pokémon Box isn’t a game, it’s merely a piece of software made for storing your Pokémon. Nowadays we have Pokémon Bank, the online storage system players can transfer their Pokémon to for a flat yearly fee. But back in the Game Boy Advance era you either traded your Pokémon to the next game or waited for them to die when the battery inside your game cartridge expired.
Pokémon Box let you transfer up to 1500 Pokémon to your GameCube memory card via a special link cable that was bundled in with the game. European gamers could buy Pokémon Bank in a bundle with Pokémon Colosseum, but in America, you could get it from the Pokémon Store in New York.
Why you may have it: I’ve seen Pokémon Box on a store shelf and at the time I had no idea of its worth. After learning of its rarity, I’ve kicked myself a few times over my decision to not pick it up. There have been a few console Pokémon titles over the years, like Pokémon Stadium (Nintendo 64) and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness (GameCube), and they too have gone up in value quite a bit too, but if you have Pokémon Box in your collection don’t let it go too easily.
Because it was never meant to be a big mainstream hit, Pokémon Box is one of those titles that doesn’t immediately scream ‘rare game!’ at you, but online it can fetch up to $300 in good condition – so don’t pass it up like I did!
WORLD OF WARCRAFT COLLECTOR’S EDITIONS (ALL OF THEM)
Released: 2004 to Present
World of WarCraft has had its fair share of expansions since it first launched in 2004. Every two years or so a new one is released and comes waltzing onto shelves with its own fancy collector’s edition version.
As I’ve said before, collector’s editions often come and go with only a few holding their value. Most of them end up being heavily discounted online a few months after launch, like the Battlefield 1: Exclusive Collector’s Edition which has gone from $130 to $30 on Amazon.
But, as always, World of WarCraft and it’s various collector’s editions are the exception to the rule with most going up in value – some much more than others. Here’s a quick breakdown of how much each is worth in new condition:
- World of WarCraft (2004) – $170
- The Burning Crusade (2007) – $200
- Wrath of the Lich King (2008) – $300
- Cataclysm (2010) – $90
- Mists of Pandaria (2012) – $100
- Warlords of Draenor (2014) – $100
- Legion (2016) – $120
Basically, any collector’s edition pre-2008 is worth the most, and the more complete the package the better. So if you come across a sealed World of WarCraft: Wrath of the Lich King in a bargain bin somewhere, grab it and run to the register.
Why you may have it: With World of WarCraft being as popular as it is (and even more so a few years back) there’s a good chance you’ve either played the game or know someone who has. And hopefully, you were into the game enough to pick up one of those collector’s editions along the way.
At launch, these collector’s editions never seem that hard to find, and I’ve seen my fair share on store shelves, but in time they’ve all disappeared and been turned into pure eBay gold.
YOU NEVER KNOW UNLESS YOU LOOK
It can often feel like all the best rare games are already in the hands of collectors. The reality is there’s still plenty out there waiting to be found and they’re not always obvious. Again, did anyone expect American Mensa Academy to blow up like that?
So if you’re cleaning out your closet anytime soon be sure to jump online and check the value of all your games. You never know what hidden gems you may already have.