A few years ago the discovery of a prototype for the Nintendo PlayStation console, which is essentially a Super Nintendo system with a CD drive manufactured by Sony, sent collectors and video game historians into meltdown. The fabled system was originally planned to release in the early 90s, and its creation eventually led to the birth of the PlayStation brand and Sony as a gaming powerhouse. That one of these systems exists is in itself amazing, let alone the fact that it will have a new owner soon. The system is currently up for sale at Heritage Auction and by the time the auction comes to an end, it will become the single most expensive piece of gaming memorabilia in history. The current bid stands at an incredible $350,000 (US).
This is where I begin to have a problem. As a collector myself I can understand the appeal of wanting to own this thing. It’s a holy grail for collectors, and to own one would undoubtedly give you bragging rights. In some regards, I would love to own it myself. I’d be in the possession of a very rare piece of video game history, a one of a kind item that holds a very significant place in the history of the industry I love with such a passion. But, should any single individual actually be allowed to own such a rare piece? It’s a question I’ve debated with myself ever since it was first discovered in 2016, and I’ve finally come to an answer.
No. I don’t think any individual should own an item as rare as this. For fear of sounding like Indiana Jones, this belongs in a museum. An item like this should be on display for the world to see and appreciate. By keeping it gated off from the public in a private collection you are doing a disservice to the hobby we all enjoy. We should be able to marvel as this in the same way we can marvel at art pieces like the Mona Lisa, or historical monuments like the Great Pyramids. Maybe that sounds a little extreme, but video games mean so much to me and I think we should be able to appreciate rare pieces like this on equal terms.
My hope is that whoever becomes the new owner will donate it to a museum. There are plenty of items on display in museums which retain private ownership, so it’s not outside the realms of possibility. I just can’t see that happening.