An incredibly rare computer game has been put up for sale on eBay. So far 80 bids have been placed, and the selling price has reached $99,600 - with three days left to go. It's hard to imagine how an old game could possibly be so valuable, but for collectors, this would be the gem in any collection.
The game is Nintendo Family Fitness Stadium Events from Bandai. It was produced in 1987, and is still in its original packaging. The reason it is so rare - according to the eBay listing - is that only a few of the games were sold in the US, as Nintendo bought a control pad from Bandai - along with the rights to the game.
As part of the deal, the game was pulled in the US (although German and Swedish versions remained widely available as Bandai kept the international rights). The 200 that had been sent to US stores were recalled (so any still on the shelves were returned to Nintendo), and the company released its own version under a different name.
It apparently makes the US version the rarest licensed NES game in existence, and the experts say that only around 11 copies are known to still exist.
The eBay seller says this particular copy was sent to the "Video Game Authority in Roswell, Georgia for official grading, verification and authentication. Once the game arrived safely, the professionals at VGA gently cleaned the item, verified it, graded it and sealed it in a professional quality acrylic case where it will remain for the rest of its life."
Gamespot spoke to the seller, who said he had worked for Nintendo for 22 years, and while he was there, he was often given games at the end of their life cycles. He didn't realise the value of the game until 2010 when one sold for $41,300. He couldn't sell it while he worked for the firm, but since retiring in 2012, he decided to make some money from it.
The experts say that since 2010, there have been a number of sellers who have tried to sell international versions - and palm them off as US versions. However, this one passes all the visual checks - having the US version of the Nintendo Guarantee, English writing in the orange flash and a white background.
Bidders may be more confident if they request separate photos - to prove the item on sale matches these photographs - but on first glance it seems as if this is the real thing.
If it sells for the current bid price - and the buyer is forthcoming with the money - it will become the most expensive video game of all time. However, before the seller gets too excited, he may want to read a sobering article from Wired, which examined the bidding history over the weekend and estimated that the last legitimate bid was around the $30,000 price - which is what it claims the game is likely to eventually sell for.
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