‘Nintendo Play Station’ Prototype Will Be Auctioned in 2020
The original prototype of the PlayStation—a Super Nintendo with a CD-ROM drive, created via a joint venture between Sony and Nintendo—will be auctioned in February via Heritage Auctions, the company has said. Its owner has didn’t accept the million-dollar offers for it in the past. Now the market will determine the price.
It is known as the “Play Station,” the machine that would have been manufactured by Sony, played standard Super Famicom cartridge games and also run games off a CD-ROM drive. Disputes between Nintendo and Sony made the cancellation of the project around 1991, and Sony went on to build its own proprietary PlayStation console in 1994.
In 2009, Terry Diebold unknowingly purchased the amazingly rare prototype at auction, in a lot of abandoned property from a former Sony executive. In 2015, his son rediscovered the machine in the family attic, which caused a stir in the game collecting community, preservation, and historical communities. Since then, Diebold and his son have toured the “Nintendo Play Station” around the world to many classic gaming expos and other venues, making up its reputation as the ne plus ultra of classic gaming collectibles. Now he’s ready to sell his investment and make some large chunk of cash.
“I can’t keep losing money,” Diebold told Kotaku in an email. “I’ve put a lot of work into this by traveling with it and we have made nothing on it. Every trip that we… have taken with it has cost us money out of pocket.”
Heritage, which bills itself as the “world’s largest collectibles auctioneer,” only started selling video games in January of this year. Since then, it has auctioned some games for record-obliterating prices. It’s sold sealed copies of The Legend of Zelda and Bubble Bobble for nearly $20,000 each. A sealed Donkey Kong 3 nearly hit $30,000. The biggest sale so far has been a copy of the original Mega Man that reached an eye-watering $75,000.
As rich collectors from the comics and coins world begin to get into games, prices are going even higher than that. A first-print sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. sold for $100,150 in February to a group of clients that included Heritage Auctions’ chairman. In October, a man spent over $1 million in a single purchase to acquire just 40 collectible games.
That’s why it’s likely that some big money will be splashed out in this auction. “We turned down 1.2 million from someone in Norway,” Diebold said. He said that after paying taxes on that amount, splitting the remainder 50-50 with his son, and paying off all his outstanding debts, he would “pretty much end up with nothing.”
Heritage Auctions said that the online auction, which will commence on February 27, will not have a reserve price. “It’s definitely going to sell, and the market will determine the value,” said Valarie McLeckie, Heritage’s director of video games. While Heritage often lists an estimated value for the items it auctions, it won’t do that in this case, McLeckie said: “In the case of this particular item, since it’s never been sold at public auction before, there’s really no way to tell.”
Diebold is aware of the fact that this auction will represent the end of his ownership of this gaming Holy Grail. “Unless the person that buys it wants to have me involved in it from time to time I will probably never see it or hold it again,” he said.