Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka was shocked to see that a copy of 1991's Sonic the Hedgehog for Sega Genesis had amassed a jaw-dropping $430,500 at auction. So shocked, in fact, that after seeing the price that his iconic retro game had sold for, Naka took to Twitter to ask his followers whether the winning bid was a scam.
On September 19, Goldin Auctions announced that a final sale price for a Wata A-graded copy of Sonic the Hedgehog was an all-time record for any Genesis game. After seeing the announcement, Naka tweeted, seemingly holding out some hope that his game could reach such huge prices: "I wondered if it was time for Sonic to reach a high." However, the creator seemed unconvinced, asking his followers whether they thought the half a million price tag on his 1991 classic was "a scam".
Is it a scam?— Yuji Naka / 中 裕司 (@nakayuji) September 21, 2021
Naka's hopes surrounding the game's auction price were seemingly pinned on the back of the news that a factory sealed copy of 1985's Super Mario Bros. sold at auction for a world-record sum of $2 million last month. "I saw the news that Mario was sold at a high price recently, so I thought Sonic was also a high price, but it's different. I'm sorry," Naka concluded in a thread of tweets. It's not clear what led Naka to believe this was a different situation to the Mario sale.
Naka's replies are full of skepticism surrounding the valuation of the cart, which started at a minimum bid price of $75,000 and received a total of 21 bids to take it up to its final auction price. Much of that skepticism seemingly surrounds the involvement of Wata Games in the sealed game's grading.
As prices in the retro games market have exploded over the last few years, Wata Games has faced controversy after journalist Karl Jobst released a YouTube video suggesting that the company had engaged in unethical practices to drive up the price of retro games at auction – although that allegation primarily involves a different auction company to Goldin. While Wata Games has denied the accusations (thanks VGC), a number of fans in the retro games community have seemingly remained suspicious about the company.
In other related news, Yuji Naka recently announced that he has taken a move toward the realm of indie games following his exit from Square Enix earlier this year. The Sonic co-creator informed fans that he'd recently begun working on a solo Unity project that is being created for smartphones.
Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.