One of last known copies of a video game console that never came to market, the Nintendo Play Station, sold for $360,000 at auction.
Video game collector Greg McLemore, who founded Pets.com and Toys.com during the dot-com boom, won the console, outbidding other collectors including Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey.
“It’s the single most expensive thing I’ve ever bought outside of a house,” McLemore told CNN Business in an email. “I believe I got a great deal… To me it was worth it, especially when combined with the rest of my collection, the whole of which tells a story I want to save for society.”
McLemore’s collection includes coin-operated arcade games like Atari’s “Pong,” which is the first commercially successful video game.
The Nintendo (NTDOF) Play Station is believed to be the only prototype left of a failed partnership between Sony (SNE) and Nintendo (NTDOF). Nintendo (NTDOF) Play Station is a common nickname for what was actually supposed to be a version of the Super Nintendo (NTDOF) Entertainment System that supported CDs.
The two video game giants announced in 1991 they would work together but only produced 200 units before the deal fell through.
“The other 199 prototypes purported to exist were allegedly destroyed when the partnership between Nintendo and Sony was officially severed, and, though it isn’t certain, it is entirely possible this unit narrowly missed that fate,” Valarie McLeckie, consignment director of video games at Heritage Auctions, which held the auction for the console, said in a press release.
Afterwards, Sony focused on its own line of consoles and released its first Playstation in 1994.
The Nintendo Play Station was originally owned by Olaf Olafsson, founder and first CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment. He then quit Sony for financial services firm Advanta in 1996. When he left Advanta in 1999, he abandoned the console in the office.
It ended up in the hands of Terry Diebold, who inadvertently purchased it during an auction of leftover office materials at Advanta, which filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
Terry Diebold and his son, Dan, opened the auction for the Nintendo Play Station in February.
As a piece of video game history, the Nintendo Play Station has also seen interest from museums.
“I’m glad that the Nintendo Play Station is highlighting the need for video game preservation, and obviously I wish we’d been able to have it in the museum’s collection,” said Shannon Symonds, an electronic games curator for The Strong museum in Rochester, NY. “But we’ve never had the goal of getting every single piece of gaming history. Not only would it be prohibitive in terms of money and space, it’s also not necessary to tell the history of video games.”
McLemore said the console will show up in various exhibitions in the near future. He is already working with the USC Pacific Asia Museum in California on an interactive gaming for the spring and summer of 2021, which could feature the Nintendo Play Station.
Eventually, he’ll consider opening a permanent museum after seeing how things go with the exhibits he has planned. “If that works, fantastic. If not, I’ve already identified other institutions that I think could be a good adoptive parent.”