5 Rare Atari Video Games Worth More Than Your Car
To the uninitiated, retro gaming might seem like a niche hobby. But nostalgia is a powerful thing, and this power translates to big dollars. Take the rare video-game market, for example. Certain titles can fetch thousands of dollars on auction sites or from private buyers—and we’re talking many thousands. Mercedes, Acura, BMW 2 Series—these are just some of the luxury vehicles you could own for the same price that some of the video games on this list fetch at auction. And one uber-rare cartridge costs so much that you’d drop less coin on a Bentley than you would paying its eBay Buy-It-Now price.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some rare video-game titles that likely cost more than your car.
Eli’s Ladder — up to $1700
The only thing stranger than a single video-game cartridge selling for over a grand is that the title in question would be an educational game. An educational math game, no less. However, this is the case with Eli’s ladder, an Atari 2600 offering that enjoyed a very limited initial release. The premise involved answering questions so an alien named Eli could reach his spaceship and return to the moon. Hardly a precursor to “Halo,” but since so few copies were released, combined with the fact it was one of the only straight educational titles developed for the system, that means a single copy costs more than many clunkers found in the “cars+trucks” section of Craigslist.
Ultravision Karate — up to $4,000
If you’re the type of person who can’t understand how old video games can sell for so much money, don’t look to this example for clarity. It will just make your head explode. This Atari 2600 karate game was originally released by two companies, Ultravision and Froggo. Ultravision put the game out first, in 1982, and this is the one that fetches the big bucks. Because despite the two cartridges being exactly the same, what discerning consumer wants their “Karate” to have the word “Froggo” printed at the top? Exactly.
Red Sea Crossing — up to $14,000
If it’s one thing those video-game obsessed kids of the 80s couldn’t get enough of, it was Bible stories. In this Atari 2600 game you play as Moses, and your goal is (spoiler alert) to part the Red Sea. A company called Inspirational Video Concepts released it in 1983, and it’s yet another title where the price appreciation can be attributed to a limited initial release. By some estimates only 100 copies were made, and only two ever surfaced in modern times. One such copy sold for $14,000 on eBay—meaning it costs more than your 2012 Toyota Camry.
Birthday Mania — up to $35,000
Did you love blowing out your birthday candles as a kid, but were worried that video-game technology would never match the experience? Did you wish there was a digital version of popping balloons instead of having to settle for doing it in reality? Ever dream of writing your name on a game cartridge? Then “Birthday Mania,” a title that can theoretically sell for as much as a 2006 Masarati, is the game for you. Not only do you get all the hot, white-knuckle action mentioned above, but you can rest easy in the knowledge that you have one of only a couple known copies in existence.
Gamma Attack — up to $50,000
Short-lived video-game publisher Gammation released this title for the 2600 and there’s only one known copy in existence, which is in the hands of a private collector. He did try to sell it on eBay in 2008—with a $500,000 Buy-It-Now price. Today it’s valued at somewhere in the $50 grand range. Legitimate fans of Gamma Attack can play the PC emulator version; however, without the knowledge that you’re paying more than you would for a brand new Land Rover, where’s the fun in that?
So these are the games that often cost more than a vehicle to own. What do you think, have we left out any noteworthy titles?