Video game collecting has been around since the medium’s inception, but has become way more popularized in recent memory due to nostalgia and the fact that games are slightly easier to find, thanks to the internet. There’s something satisfying about finding a game you’ve been hunting for, especially if you can get it at a reasonable price. Some games are so rare, however, that the only way to secure a copy is to pay a pretty penny for them — sometimes, tens of thousands of dollars.
The thing that’s odd is that a lot of super rare games aren’t that fun to play. Many of them are from retro consoles like the Atari or NES, featuring games that you wouldn’t even pay the MSRP for, let alone thousands of dollars. Others are only rare due to unusual manufacturing circumstances, while some were literally never released to the public. In this list, we’ll highlight some of the rarest games of all time, along with their values, estimated number of copies known to exist, and an explanation as to why they’re so rare.
It’s important to note that tracking some of these older games is quite difficult because we can only work with the numbers that are reported. In other words, someone could have a stockpile of an incredibly rare and valuable game, but without reporting it, there’s no way to track the findings. As such, we’ll be working with reputable sites like Price Charting, which keeps records of games’ values and even has data on how much a game is worth based on recent transactions (assuming they were done publicly). Certain games were never sold, so in those cases, we only have estimates to work with.
The other factor to take into account is that rarity doesn’t always equal value. A game is only as valuable as the amount someone is willing to pay for it. Anyone can list a game on eBay for an absurd price, but it’s only worth that much if someone buys it at that price.
All of that being said, these are the rarest (and most expensive) games of all time. (Note that prices listed below pertain to the games’ cost, individually, not as a bundle.)
Pepsi Invaders (Atari 2600): 125 copies, up to $3,500 each
What a bizarre concept for a game. Pepsi Invaders is a game commissioned by Coke for the Atari 2600 as a form of advertising, though one could argue that it actually backfires since the game throws Pepsi in your face so much. It plays exactly like Space Invaders, but instead, you play as a ship that must take down the letters that spell out P-E-P-S-I. The reason it’s so rare is that only 125 copies were ever made and they were intended to be given to employees at a Coca-Cola sales convention. Though, many employees were reported to have discarded their copies due to disinterest.
According to Price Charting, a copy of Pepsi Invaders sold for $3,500 in 2013.
Poop Slinger (PS4): 84 copies, $650+ each
All right, now we’re getting even weirder. Website Limited Rare Games (not to be confused with Limited Run Games) posted an April Fool’s ad for a game called Poop Slinger in 2019. Apparently, around 840 copies were known to have been printed, with only 84 of them being purchased by consumers, many of whom were surprised to learn that it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke after all (considering everyone actually received their copies in the mail).
This game allegedly put Limited Rare out of business due to the number of copies sold. The question of what happened to the hundreds of other copies still remains. Were they destroyed? Are they all boxed up in someone’s garage? We might find out at some point, but for now, only 84 are spoken for.
Physical copies have been sold on eBay, as Price Charting reports. In January 2020, a copy sold for $1,048, though another transaction in February brought Poop Slinger down to $650. If you really want to play this game, all you have to do is download it from the PS Store for $4.99. Spoiler: It’s not good.
(Gold Variant) Nintendo World Championships (NES): 26 copies, up to $26,000 each
The gray Nintendo World Championship cart was only made available to finalists of the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, making it one of the most sought-after NES games. It was never actually sold to the general public. There were only around 90 that were given out to finalists and are estimated to be worth around $20,000. However, the gold variant of the same game is even rarer and was made available through a Nintendo Power magazine sweepstakes, in which only 26 were given out.
It’s hard to gauge its value since so few copies were ever sold, but in 2015, Price Charting has a record of a sale for the gold cart that went for $26,677.
NBA Elite 11 (PS3): 11 copies, up to $1,500 each
In keeping with the tradition of games that weren’t released to the public, NBA Elite 11 has an absolutely fascinating history. In 2010, EA was developing and publishing this game and decided to release a demo to help with marketing, shortly before the game’s official release. To the company’s dismay, the demo was poorly received due to bugs and glitches, making it almost unplayable.
The demo’s reception was so bad that EA ended up canceling the console version, but copies still somehow made their way into the hands of critics and even some retailers. It’s unclear how many copies are out in the wild, but only 10 or so have been documented. It’s likely that more are out there that have not been spoken for.
According to Price Charting, a copy of NBA Elite 11 sold for $1,500 in 2011, with the most recent documented sale taking place in 2012 for $817.
Air Raid (Atari 2600): 12 copies, $33,433 each
In 1982, Men-A-Vision released its only game, titled Air Raid, for the Atari 2600. It’s a shoot ’em up with an interesting blue T-handle cartridge design. The game itself sends you on a journey to protect buildings from alien invaders similar to other shooters of the time. It doesn’t get more Atari 2600 than that. As with most games on this list, it had limited distribution, and only 12 are known to exist. Most of the copies that have surfaced have been loose, without manuals or boxes, and are worthless as a result.
Price Charting recorded a sale in 2012 for a whopping $33,433 (complete with box and manual), making this one of the most valuable games in existence.
Stadium Events (NES): 10 to 20 copies, up to $55,000 each
The story behind Family Fun Fitness Stadium Events is wildly fascinating. This sport game was originally published by Bandai for the NES in 1987, and came bundled with a mat accessory to simulate real Olympic events like 100m dash and 110m hurdles. However, its life cycle was short-lived, because shortly after its release, Nintendo came in and scooped it up — purchasing it from Bandai and rebranding it as World Class Track Meet.
Copies of World Class Track Meet were released to avoid confusion and were circulated into the hands of consumers. Nintendo then recalled all copies of Stadium Events, but not before some had already been purchased. It’s said that only 2,000 copies of Stadium Events were to have been produced, with only 10 to 20 ever being documented throughout the years.
In terms of price, Stadium Events is the most valuable game on this list, selling at upward of $55,000 earlier this year.
Birthday Mania (Atari 2600): 10-15 copies, up to $6,500+ each
Video games have come such a long way since Birthday Mania released for the Atari 2600 in 1984. Back then, it was a lot easier to release a game for a system like the Atari, and developer Anthony Tokar took advantage of this and taught himself how to code to release Birthday Mania. Each copy was personalized with the buyer’s name on the front of the cart, courtesy of Tokar. Unfortunately, only 10 to 15 copies were ever sold — which many attribute to minimal marketing and the video game crash of 1983. The game itself is very rudimentary, consisting of birthday-related mini-games like blowing out candles or popping balloons.
Since it’s so rare, tracking its value is a difficult task. An offer in 2009 valued it at $6,500, but it never actually sold for that amount. Today, it’s estimated to be worth anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000. Interestingly, Tokar has considered giving the IP away so the game could be re-released, as long as all the profits go to charity. As of 2019, a ROM of the game was uploaded and available to the general public.
Tetris (Sega Genesis): 10 copies, up to $20,000 each
You wouldn’t think a Tetris game would be rare and expensive (considering it’s one of the bestselling series of all time), but this particular version is one of the rarest games in history. That’s because Tetris for the Sega Genesis was never actually released to the general public. In 1988, publisher Tengen lost the publishing rights to Tetris prior to its release — which is said to be caused by the company falsifying documents. At this point, the company was ordered to destroy all remaining copies, but one batch of around 10 slipped through the cracks.
RacketBoy estimates that a copy of Tetris for Sega Genesis is worth around $20,000.
Red Sea Crossing (Atari 2600): two copies, $10,000+ each
This is another weird one. Red Sea Crossing was released in 1983 for the Atari 2600, and it sees you playing as the Bible’s Moses as he attempts to cross the Red Sea. The game itself is simple and repetitive, as most Atari 2600 games were. It was developed by Steve Stack Inc., though only 100 copies were made. Oddly enough, only two of those 100 were ever discovered. Again, it’s possible some of the rest are in someone’s attic, garage, or basement, waiting to be spoken for.
In 2012, a copy was sold for $10,400, according to Price Charting.
Gamma Attack (Atari 2600): one copy, up to $50,000
Gamma Attack is likely the rarest commercial video game in existence, considering only one was ever made. It was developed by Gammation for the Atari 2600 in 1983. Its value is difficult to establish since we only have one copy to work with, but a member of the Atari Age community — who goes by the name “Phantom”– did stumble upon the one and only copy in 2008. He subsequently tried to sell it on eBay for a whopping $500,000, but — as you’d expect — no one bought it. There were reissues of the game created after the fact, but the community has long debated their authenticity and whether it should count as a different version entirely.
Since it’s so rare and only one sale has been tracked, it’s unclear what its value is. Some estimate it could be worth between $20,000 and $50,000.