While reading a story on this site about rare video games, Tanner Sandlin of Austin, Texas, recognized one of the games -- Air Raid for the Atari 2600. He found the thirteenth known copy of the game in his garage and put it on eBay.It pains me to remember selling or trading in my old games. These days, the right game is worth a fortune, and I had a few rare ones too.
It sold last Sunday for $31,600, the second-highest price ever paid for a video game.
Sandlin bought the game when he was 11 or 12 years old at a store called Tuesday Morning in Arlington, Texas. The store bought overstocked or undersold goods from other retailers and sold the items at a discount.
While it's impressive that Sandlin had the thirteenth known copy of Air Raid, he also had the original packaging, which changed everything. Why? Because his was the only known Air Raid box in the world, making it the only known complete copy of the game in existence.Almost 32 grand for a truly crappy Atari 2600 game, in a box. More power to people like Tanner Sandlin. And if I ever invent a Hot Tub Time Machine, you can bet I'm raiding a few game stores circa 1984 and making out like a bandit down the road...
But he couldn't start counting his fortune just yet. If you're willing to pay thousands of dollars for a video game, you're going to make sure it's legitimate. Sandlin knew this, so he went straight to an expert, Albert Yarusso of AtariAge.com, a forum for fans of anything Atari, to get his professional opinion on the authenticity of the find.
The two both live in Austin, so Yarusso met with Sandlin and examined both the game and the box in person. After some thorough research, Yarusso declared everything was real (or the most impressive forgery he'd ever seen). With expert confirmation behind him, Sandlin pulled his stand-alone cartridge auction on eBay and replaced it with the complete game package. The starting price was $.50.
Sandlin's eBay auction ended on April 10, 2010 at about 10:15 p.m. EST. With only 5 minutes to go, the highest bid was $14,600. It sat at this price until the very last few seconds, when it jumped to $17,528, and then made a giant leap to $31,500. The final bid was $31,600.