Video game collecting is the hobby of collecting and preserving video games, video game consoles, and related memorabilia. Most video game consoles, and their games, are considered to be collectors' items years after their discontinuation due to their functional longevity and cultural significance. Collectors usually narrow their search to games holding characteristics they enjoy, such as being published for a specific video game console, being of certain genre, or featuring a specific character.
The value of a game depends on the quantity manufactured, the quality of the gameplay, its cultural impact, and the condition of the specific game being questioned. Games that are complete with their original packaging and paperwork are considered more valuable. In many cases, these components are valued more highly than the games themselves. Many times, video games crossover with other mediums, so collections often overlap with those of anime, manga, comic books, and other media.
While all video games can be seen as collectible, some are noteworthy for being particularly rare or desirable, which in turn contributes to high values. Prices may vary depending on condition of the packaging, paperwork, whether the item is sealed, how many inserts are retained, and whether the spine card is still present.
Some of the most collectible games in existence include:
- Chase the Chuck Wagon (1983), Atari 2600, NTSC-U. Was only available through a mail order promotion from the now defunct Chuck Wagon dog food line of the Ralston Purina company. Since most buyers of dog food were adult dog owners and (at the time) adults rarely were interested in video games, very few bothered to order the game. Although not the rarest Atari 2600 game, it is a fan favorite among 2600 enthusiasts.
- Air Raid (1982), Atari 2600, NTSC-U. 12 known copies. The only copy with package known to exist sold for $31,600 in 2010.
- Pepsi Invaders (1983), Atari 2600, NTSC-U. 125 copies produced.
- Red Sea Crossing (1983), Atari 2600, NTSC-U. 2 known copies. Produced by Steve Sack, Inc of Inspirational Video Concepts. The yard sale copy found in 2007 was sold on GameGavel for $10,400.00 in a 2012 auction. Another copy was found in Philadelphia and was eventually auctioned off on eBay for $13,800 in 2013
- Stadium Events (1987), NES, NTSC-U. 2000 cartridges produced. Considered the rarest licensed NES game available for purchase in North America. The game's packaging alone has been known to sell for $10,000. One of two known sealed copies was sold for $22,800 on eBay. The North American version of Stadium Events is considered to be among the rarest NES games, having been sold for up to US$35,100 in the video game collecting market.
- Tetris (1989), Sega Mega Drive, NTSC-J. Three to eight copies produced, supposedly due to copyright issues.
- Nintendo World Championships (1990), NES, NTSC-U. 26 copies of the gold cartridge and 90 copies for the standard gray cartridge. The gray carts were the actual carts used in the Nintendo World Championships tournament while the gold carts were prizes for winning a Nintendo Power sweepstakes. Gold cartridges have sold for over $10,000. The game has been called the rarest and most valuable NES cartridge released aside from promotional cartridges.
- Nintendo Campus Challenge (1991, 1992), NES, NTSC-U. Most copies were destroyed after competitions, except one copy which was sold to Rob Walters in 2006. The copy is believed to be the only one in existence, eventually selling for $20,100 on eBay.
- Nintendo PowerFest '94 (1994), SNES, NTSC-U. 33 cartridges made, only two known to still exist.
- Virtual Bowling/SD Gundam Dimension War (1995), Virtual Boy, NTSC-J. The two rare games make completing the Japanese Virtual Boy collection difficult.
- Kizuna Encounter (1996), Neo Geo, PAL. Fewer than 12 copies exist. However, the Japanese and US AES version is not as rare and is identical except for the packaging and inserts.
- The Ultimate 11 (1996), Neo Geo. 10 known copies. Also known as Tokuten Oh: Honoo no Libero. One buyer reportedly paid $55,000 for both Kizuna Encounter and Ultimate 11.
- Bangai-O: Prize Edition (1999), Sega Dreamcast, NTSC-J. Five copies produced.
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Fortune Hunter Edition (2009), PlayStation 3. Only 200 copies made.
- NBA Elite 11 (2010), PlayStation 3. 15 known copies. Originally announced by Electronic Arts to replace the long running NBA Live franchise, the game was universally panned when its demo released. The demo was full of glitches and the game was cancelled just weeks before its scheduled release. An extremely small number of retail discs were produced and while most were destroyed by EA, a scant amount made their way to the public. NBA Elite 11 is considered the "holy grail" of PlayStation 3 collecting.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle Exquisite Edition (2013), PlayStation 3. One available, includes the game, special packaging and a Swarovski figurine made out of 6000 Swarovski crystals. The game was auctioned at eBay for £687.
- Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn, 1998) was released in limited qualities in the west; used copies sell for hundreds of US dollars, and factory-sealed copies sell for over $1,000. Japanese copies are far cheaper, but have no English translation and cannot be played on western Saturn consoles.