Videogames, as we know, are often expensive because of the huge development costs associated with modern technology.
Some of the most popular games nowadays have a small army of developers, designers, artists and technicians working to create meticulously designed and fastidiously beautiful works. They're then mass-produced and shipped out in physical format and, as becoming more increasingly common nowadays, sold via online marketplaces. Although games nowadays are more technically proficient and articulate, they're less and less rare.
In the '80s and '90s, gaming studios rose up and folded at the drop of a hat and physical copies of games were only ever put into production when it was absolutely certain that the games were going to sell. In 1983, Atari buried 700,000 cartridges in a landfill in New Mexico due to over-production and falling sales. The lesson was learned by the industry the hard way - never put a game into mass-production unless it's going to sell.
That's why there's an underground industry of rare videogames nowadays, and one game that's rarer than most is Stadium Events for the NES. The game was originally designed by a Japanese studio called Human Entertainment, who have since become defunct. The game was simple enough and came with a floor-pad controller that sort of looked like a Twister mat. The idea was that the players ran in place on the mat with the signals from the mat going to the game. Like most peripherals for the NES, it was reportedly prone to malfunctions and glitches on a regular basis.
The game was first released in Japan in 1986 and was set for release in 1987 in North America. Back then, the standard minimum initial run for a videogame on the NES platform was around 10,000. In other words, out of hand, 10,000 cartridges would be made and put into the retail marketplace. Because Stadium Events was developed and published by two Japanese companies - Human Entertainment and Bandai, respectively - the rules were different.
An estimated 200 were made before Nintendo of America decided to recall the game and rebrand it as World Class Track Meet. Other figures say that only 10 copies of the game exist and that the rest are hidden in a storage unit somewhere, never to be seen or heard from again. The PAL / European version of the game wasn't recalled, but still fetch a reasonably high price for collectors and usually fetch upwards of $800 to $3,500, depending on their condition.
The original imagery used for the eBay listing
In 2010, a sealed copy of the North American version of Stadium Events sold for $41,300 in an eBay auction. What made this one so special, you might ask? It was factory-sealed and had never been opened. During the bidding process, some offers hit up to $80,000 but were eventually withdrawn over insincerity. It was speculated, although never confirmed, that only two factory-sealed copies of the game exist in the world - one of which was sitting in a basement in Kansas and was about to be donated to charity.
The seller, known only as Dave, admitted that the game had been sitting inside his collection, after paying $29.99 for it. The game was supposed to be returned when it was originally purchased as it didn't come with the floor-pad controller in order for the game to be playable. Analysts and experts have since been speculated that Dave bought the game in late 1987, just as it was about to be recalled - which explains why it was sold to him without a floor-pad mat. Nobody knows who the game was sold to and it hasn't come up in auction since in the seven years since it was sold.
The game itself is nothing terribly special or exciting, and didn't feature anything particularly groundbreaking in terms of the technology used. In fact, the game sold wasn't even tested for quality and is unplayable without the floor-pad controller.
Yet, in spite of all this, someone parted with $41,300 for a game that nobody played and will never be played.