How much do you believe a copy of Super Mario Bros. on the NES worth? On the open market, it’s around a $1 if the cart is loose without a box or manual. To GameStop? It’s worth $4, 325. Oh, and it’s not guaranteed to work.
Years ago, GameStop did stock retro games, a holdover from their buyout of Babbages/EB Games. Rest assured, Mario was not a $4,000 cart. Placed within the realm of their PowerUp Rewards program, it would seem as if this is some sort of holy relic, because that’s the going price if you use points accrued from new purchases in store.
To be fair, it’s not as if GameStop is asking this amount. It’s a rewards program with the idea that you get a little extra for what you’re buying anyway, and as most of these go, they’re skewed in favor of the retailer. In this case, $1 spent on a new game is worth 10 points. That said, it’s not much of an incentive to spend a little more in store if all I’m getting for over $4k in customer loyalty is a $1 game cart… that yes, as the fine print says, might not even work.
One also has to question where the carts are coming from. Are they old stock that was simply rotting or are they paying people to scour flea markets or thrift shops to remove them from the collector market? The games that are offered are all common, a great starting point for a young or beginning collector. For GameStop, it’s a gold mine in additional sales, or at least they seem to think so.
If you’d like to create a market where purchasing new games can fuel a love of vintage gaming, this isn’t the way to handle it. Considering the saturated market in terms of early Mario titles, GameStop could buy these in bulk from an online seller and hand them out for a few hundred dollars worth of points. That, at the very least, makes it seem like there’s a bonus to be had.
At $4,000, you could hire someone to build a custom version of Mario Brothers.