A prototype of a never-produced video game machine colloquially known as the “Nintendo Play Station” has sold at auction for $360,000, setting a new record for the most expensive item of video game memorabilia ever publicly sold.
Pop-culture auction house Heritage Auctions offered the device, the product of a short-lived collaboration between Nintendo and Sony, as part of a series of auctions of high-dollar collectible video games that ended this week. The final bidding took place live at Heritage’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas Friday morning, with phone and internet bidders also able to participate.
A spokesperson for Heritage Auctions said that the winning bidder does not wish to be identified at this time.
Dating back to 1991, the device known as the “Nintendo Play Station” is in fact Sony’s first attempt at creating a piece of game hardware. It was to be known as simply “Play Station,” and was essentially a Super Nintendo Entertainment System with a CD-ROM drive built in. It would have expanded the abilities of Nintendo’s 16-bit system to include CD games.
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A falling out between Nintendo and Sony doomed the device, and strengthened Sony’s resolve to go it alone in the gaming industry with the 1994 launch of what we know today as the original PlayStation.
This prototype was originally the property of former Sony Computer Entertainment America president Olaf Olafsson, and was later purchased at a property auction by a man named Terry Diebold. Diebold kept it in his attic until 2015, when it was rediscovered by his son and shared on Reddit. Since then, the Diebolds have traveled the world with the device, showing it at various classic gaming expos. Terry Diebold told Kotaku in December that he had turned down a $1.2 million offer on the device prior to the auction.
Bidding on the Nintendo PlayStation has been going on since last month. The bid hit $350,000 at one point, but had dropped down to $280,000 by Thursday afternoon as bidders apparently dropped out. Palmer Luckey, the founder of VR firm Oculus, had been participating in the bidding, saying on Twitter that he wanted the machine for an as-yet-unspecified video game preservation initiative.
The high price for the Nintendo PlayStation is part of a trend of big money being splashed out for desirable gaming collectibles. Recently, an early printing of Super Mario Bros. in mint, sealed condition sold for over $100,000, and another collector paid $1 million for a collection of a few dozen rare games.
Other games that sold this morning in the Heritage Auction include factory sealed copies of the NES games Stadium Events ($66,000), Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! ($45,600), and a later printing of Super Mario Bros. ($20,400).
Update: 2:26 p.m.: Added information about the winner of the auction.