Prototype Super Nintendo abruptly disappears after reaching at least $3.2 million at auction, and nobody knows why

(Image credit: Yahoo Japan/naopepe70)

Earlier this week, a rare prototype of the Super Famicom, the console that would come to be known as the Super NES worldwide, went up on a Japanese auction site. After quickly racking up millions in bids, the auction was pulled, and nobody seems to know why.

The Yahoo Japan auction listing was at just a few thousand dollars when I last checked in on it, but that number quickly ballooned into the millions - $3.2 million, according to a Kotaku report. You can still see the details of the auction in the original listing, but the ultimate price has disappeared since the close of the auction. I've seen suggestions that the bids actually reached nearly $7 million, but I've been unable to independently verify that number.

Another thing that remains unclear is whether this thing is even real. The account that posted the auction has a history of positive feedback for less exotic items, and the console does appear very similar to prototypes that appeared in Japanese gaming media at the time. But, as Chris Covell notes on Twitter, it's certainly not exactly the same as previously seen models. That could mean it's a fake, or it could simply mean it's a previously unknown prototype - it'd be impossible to tell without a historian having the chance to look at the machine.

Nobody's 100% sure why the auction was pulled, but much of the collecting community has a pretty good guess: fake bids. Online auction sites typically aren't well set up to handle one-of-a-kind rarities like this, and the closest equivalent I can think of, the Nintendo PlayStation prototype, fetched 'just' $360,000 when it went to auction back in 2020. Would this Super Famicom prototype, which isn't tied to one of the most infamous stories in gaming history, truly find a buyer willing to pay ten times more?

I've got my fingers crossed that this won't be the last time we hear about this console. In an ideal world, it'll turn out to be authentic, and the seller will make a tidy profit getting it to some philanthropic collector who'll get the machine in the hands of gaming historians who can properly examine and document it. That is, admittedly, a lot to hope for, but such is the state of gaming history.

One thing's for sure: this console won't be an ideal way to play the best SNES games of all time. 

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.