With weeks to go before bidding is even opened up at live auction, the "Nintendo PlayStation"—a prototype SNES and CD-loading console made by Nintendo and Sony in 1992—is up to a bid of $350,000 at auction.
That's over a tenfold increase since USG first checked in on the status of the auction yesterday. Already, the prototype console is fetching what will be the new world record price for a lone video game item (the current $100,150 record was set last year by a near-mint copy of Super Mario Bros.).
Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus, says he is one of the six-figure bidders for the storied system. Luckey claims to possess the largest collection of game consoles and says he is "on a quest to digitize and preserve the history of physical video games" via "perfect VR." Many users on Twitter were quick to question Luckey's motives, to which Luckey responded by saying he has "done more video game preservation than almost anyone, often to a higher standard than any institution I am aware of."
One expert weighing on Luckey's plans for the system and game preservation is Frank Cifaldi, founder and director of the Video Game History Foundation. "I suspect, based on what [Luckey's] tweeting, is that he's probably getting ready to build a commercial VR product for playing older games," Cifaldi tells USG. "Making games playable is, indeed, a form of video game preservation. It's just, to our mind, one of the least vital parts right now because it's mostly been solved by the community."
The prototype's specifications, capabilities, and history have been extensively documented; even before the console was discovered in current owner Terry Diebold's possession in 2015, much was already known about the early '90s collaboration between Sony and Nintendo. Since then, Diebold has toured the world with the system to let enthusiasts see it in person, and no specially-written software for the system from its era has surfaced.
Regardless of Luckey's preservation bonafides or the size of his collection, he almost certainly has the financial means to drive the prototype's price up even higher in a sustained bidding war. A year after Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion, Forbes estimated Luckey's net worth at $700 million. Facebook and Luckey parted ways in 2017; he then went on to found Anduril, a defense company that contracts with the US government on technology used along the US-Mexico border.
Currently, the auction for the Nintendo PlayStation is only in a proxy bidding phase at Heritage Auctions. The final live auction will take place on March 6.