In the last couple weeks, an old Nintendo game called “Stadium Events” has popped up on eBay and is currently bidding at an unbelievable $100,000! Now, all doubts that the bidding is legitimate aside, it’s not just the rarity that makes this game so valuable. The story behind it is what it makes it truly one of the Holy Grails of game collecting.
Stadium Events was released in 1987 by Bandai, an infamous developer of many of the worst games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Seriously, these guys made some terrible games. Chubby Cherub, Gilligan’s Island, Super Team Games…I mean these are awful, awful games. It’s not just that they were poorly made (and boy were they), it’s that they were poorly designed. The makers clearly had no idea what made a game fun and I even reviewed some of them during my ongoing quest to beat every game made for the system.
Don’t play them. Really.
So, Bandai was terrible. But, aside from these titles, they also made a foray into fitness. They did this by creating the Family Fun Fitness Mat. This mat was plugged into the NES and some games were created that allowed you to “play” by running and stomping on the pad. The pad was released with the game Athletic World and, looking at the back of the box, there was a promise that Stadium Events was “coming soon.”
The mat intrigued Nintendo and they decided they wanted to buy the rights to it and re-brand it as their own. Negotiations between them and Bandai took place but it wasn’t until the first days that Stadium Events became available to consumers that the deal was consummated and stores were notified of a recall. Since only about 2,000 copies of the game were ever made (that’s it?) and only about 200 made it to stores, there are very few that ended up in consumers hands. The rest were destroyed. It’s estimated only a dozen are known to exist in their complete form.
Think about that!
Once the mat and games were recalled, Nintendo re-released the set as the Power Pad (did you own one?), with the re-branded Athletic World and the newly-renamed World Class Track Meet now under the Nintendo brand. Both of these games today are very common and can be found in NES collections around the world. I have them, too. However, because the originally-named Stadium Events was available for so short a time and so few were purchased, its value has skyrocketed amongst collectors.
The sealed copy in the eBay auction is actually owned by a former Nintendo employee who received the game in an internal distribution program. When he became aware of its insane value in 2011, he verified that he had it in storage but was not allowed to sell it because he was still employed at Nintendo. Recently, he left, and can now sell the game.
It’s highly doubtful he’ll be able to reliably sell it via eBay, but the game is certainly worth tens of thousands. It’s stories like these that make collecting so fun. This man had no reason to buy this game. It’s terrible and he knew it, but he collected the games his company sold and he never would’ve imagined what its worth would be a couple decades later. Just imagine what that one (seemingly bad) decision resulted in.
It’s simply an incredible story.