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Video Game Grading do you think it's a scam?

Is game grading a scam?


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We all know those dreadful and awful "tombed" cases on ebay. A $10 game listed for $1000 and more.

Do you feel this is a scam? Please vote on poll.

One of the biggest names has been caught in some shady stuff and it's put more of a doubt in their trust/faith in me.

For those that don't know early this year WATA was caught "grading" fake SNES prototypes. While SnesCentral is aiding them this put doubt in their ability to grade.

Then we have the PAWNSTARS scam in which a rare copy of MARIO was brought in which had been sold to a private group of investors. In comes WATA trying to advertise. Low and behold weeks later it appeared on Heritage Auctions and two weeks after that they started selling WATA graded games. The issue? Jim Halperin, founder and co-chairman of Heritage Auctions is one of the investors of the MARIO cart meaning they're using this to fleece customers into paying for a fancy shiny box.

Oh did I mention the investor on TV is involved in WATA? yep the dude on PAWNSTARS trying to sell had WATA come in and he was already working for/with them and then magically the other party that invested happens to own Hertitage Auctions and is staff at WATA.

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Upto you here but I call this a scam.

More info on the PAWNSTARS scam and more indepth can be read here:

EDIT: Some proof that HA had input on this sale,
1597710774175.png

EDIT2 and this:
1597710891447.png
 
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MrPinball64

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I don't understand grading protos, really. It's easy to make a fake and getting harder and harder to tell as scammers catch on to how they're being caught. Oh well, we'll see how it goes. I put in my vote and that's about all I'll say about it. Let the people behind the scenes work it out, I suppose.
 

pool7

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Grading as it exists now (at least for the most common/known grading companies) has, at least, 2 major issues:
-the people doing the grading, who don't have enough knowledge and/or skills to do a proper jobs
-the people selling graded stuff, thinking the grading alone implies a massive overprice (although this also happens with non-graded stuff)

I think it could be a good thing if the grading companies had a proper and public set of procedures as well as people with skill and knowledge to use them... I still wouldn't use their service, but at least they could be called a serious business, instead of a joke as they are now.
 
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Grading as it exists now (at least for the most common/known grading companies) has, at least, 2 major issues:
-the people doing the grading, who don't have enough knowledge and/or skills to do a proper jobs
-the people selling graded stuff, thinking the grading alone implies a massive overprice (although this also happens with non-graded stuff)

I think it could be a good thing if the grading companies had a proper and public set of procedures as well as people with skill and knowledge to use them... I still wouldn't use their service, but at least they could be called a serious business, instead of a joke as they are now.

This is exactly the issue. Grading prototypes is wrong. While WATA do dump now it's a little too late in my eyes to repay their mistakes. The reselling for 100% markup is dumb and stupid. There's an idiot on ebay wanting $99,999 for a disc worth no more than $300. He's intending to get it graded yet can't even sell it for $1000. These people are a cancer to game collecting and preservation.
 

HI_RICKY

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today Grading game stuff look crazy , but it good for know how many unopen and good grade on market ( if they list out all info )
how ever ppl get the grade and resell so fast before it come rare , but we know some rich guy will pay ( it just small money look like supercars gas)

btw , make grading it happen on any history , eg.stamp , car , game card....
 
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Sooooooooooooooo. Since posting this new information has been given to me. This is extremely bad stuff and my fears were right. WATA is indeed a scam company, along with Heritage Auctions.

Here's some snippets I've been sent via anonymous email.

HA and WATA are closely related. One of the co-owners of HA (along with 2 big-time comic collectors) gave Deniz the money to start WATA.
Deniz is the CEO on paper but he's basically the marketing puppet for these 3 owners.

These 3 investors bought Dain Anderson's collection for $225K which included NintendoAGE.com and the main focus of the contract is "NintendoAge must cease to exist and all historical pricing must be wiped out".

This make it harder for real colletors to base prices on legitimate sales.

HA uses shillbidding to raise prices on their auctions to gain news attention, if a buyer fails to buy they threaten them with being sued. Normally the shillbidders are one of the main three investors. If these auctions fail to sell they will uncase the games and WATA will recase with a new case, different certificate and a similar grade.

Dain Anderson sold his collection to WATA for $225k after which WATA quitely wiped NA from history, they rebranded NA's work as "the Carolina collection" and sold mega man 1, Mike Tyson, and 2 other games and made back all their money from buying NA from Dain Anderson.

The Mario Cart mentioned in my first post is owned 3 investors (Heritage co-owner, and 2 big-time comic guys).

The guy on PawnStars is one of Deniz's people and was fully aware of intentions.

The main goal of WATA is not grading, it's just something to distract people from knowing the scheme they are doing, which is pushing the prices through the roof.

WATA is notoriously famous at throwing "defamation lawsuit threats" at people who talk anything bad about them.

So with them selling/grading fake SNES Prototypes, Repacking graded games as their own, forcing people to unbox VGA graded games to put in WATA cases, fake TV advertising and more we surely cannot trust WATA nor "game grading" as a whole.

I do have more evidence here however I cannot post this due to confidentiality agreements.

Ps, With this in mind I've just graded this lump of cat poop it's 9/10 fresh. If anybody wants to buy bidding starts at £0.99.

EDIT: also found proof HA has been involved in ShillBidding in the past, https://www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n38a24.html
Some more https://www.blowoutforums.com/showthread.php?s=262160a38a00af79e031626ef30c317b&t=1351097

EDIT2: Since people aren't understanding Shillbidding is fraud. It's a crime that can lead to 4 years in prison and a fine upto one million dollars. This company is scamming you each time they sell a piece of plastic with a label worth no more than 10 cents. Anybody can do this. They do not share information like VGA does which is something I will credit them for. WATA has faked sales/shillbidded with HA. done false advertising via pawnstars and graded fake games/betas. They're not to be trusted and anybody selling WATA graded games should seek a full refund for their plastic tomb.
 
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HI_RICKY

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oh!!! good to know how bad this scam!!!!
 

ItsMeMario

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One day I got informed...here or on AG...that WATA is a scam.
I did some research back then...and I found some ugly infos here and there.
So, yes...avoid.
 

Trimesh

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So my initial assessment that "WATA" stood for "We Are Total Assholes" was about right!
 

Flash

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I think the whole "grading" thing is a scam, no matter what it's for.

After that VGA over 9000 SMB and Duck Hunt cartridge anyone who was still thinking that there's something real in this grading scheme should realize that it's nothing but scam.
 

Tyree_Cooper

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and on top of everything that's been said, never trust a guy who describes himself as a, yes you guessed it, philantropist
 

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I believe grading serves a purpose for people who are super OCD about sealed games but otherwise is pointless and you can just buy your own case to put it in; one you can actually open.
 

Diablodin

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WATA/HA gives me a bad vibe but mostly because of their current position in the market and how they gained it.
They had the perfect plan - Promoting and thus kick-starting the operation through the sale of an item they just bought right back lol.
By only accepting WATA graded games on HA they're pushing all competition off the podium, which gives them a monopoly on selling through HA, and now that they've established HA as the main place to sell graded games this means everything goes through them.
Now WATA/HA will know what's on the menu 24/7 and as a bunch of collectors who clearly purchase off their own stock, they have the potential to use that knowledge to their own advantage...
Till now I feel they've been playing a bit scummy, but they've not broken any rules so I won't call them a scam yet.
Everyone makes mistakes and WATA is new in the grading business.
Remember that creating their own grading division is the only way HA can ensure that the games they're selling are 100% authentically graded on paper.

Personally I'm all for the grading of sealed games for preservation. I have some games myself I intend to grade for keeping.
The problem is the market itself; we decide what to grade and what price to sell and buy for.
If WATA is shill bidding and regrading their own items I wouldn't try to prove that by quoting anonymous emails though. They might as well be signed Vladimir Putin lol.

Regarding the grading of prototypes, I again feel it has its place.
I think grading is a good way to protect and preserve physical prototypes, especially for those who don't feel like reading up on archival grade protective materials, where to get them, and how to use them.
Again I think the main problem is the market; who are having prototypes graded and why.
Some collectors who acquire prototypes might just grade them to sell them for a profit or to put them on the shelf, without dumping them and without understanding the meaning of video game protoculture. That's where things can go wrong IMO.

And back to the topic of prototype "authentication"; this is something I assume we all agree on.
No matter how many years in the field - it's borderline impossible for a small group of people to know everything there is not know about any and all prototypes to the degree that you can charge money for the service of authenticating them.
The only party knowledgeable enough to authenticate any prototype is an unbiased, specifically oriented, joint effort community like ours.

So, I'm for grading prototypes if you make an effort to do the necessary work first and I'm against grading prototypes only to get more money.

:) Grading is a good, somewhat affordable, and at least very easy way for anyone to protect games and prototypes - so I'm all for it.
:( Grading only to inflate value and to resell is wrong. Prototypes need to be properly taken care of and dumped before grading.

:) WATA is a new division and has made some mistakes we should be able to forgive as long as they correct them. They're making an effort to better themselves and prototypes are now sent to Frank Cifaldi, at the Video Game History Foundation for validation.
:( No-one or a few selected people can validate any given prototype sent for authentication and we should assume there to be quite a few more mistakes to happen in the future, so beware.

:) I think WATA and HA have simply found an effective way to profit off the game collecting market and they're not looking to cheat anyone.
:( Never say never. If they maintain the monopoly of both grading and selling of investment grade games they're definitely in an advantageous position that can easily be used to manipulate the market or to get the first-hand contact with people who own certain games.

:unsure: For now, I think we just have to be extra cautious and see how this organization affects the market and what happens onward.
:whistle: No need to cast votes in my opinion, so none from me.
 
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Tyree_Cooper

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guys you realise grading is not protecting or prolonging the life of what's inside the transparent petrol box
is any air passing at all by the way? not that it makes much different to its uselessness, but if it's completely sealed it's harming the contents for sure
not that factory wraps are good to cardboard boxes but at least you can take it off easily anytime

i remember watching a video of a museum guy getting boxes of old pc games from a relative of someone who had passed away, and the first thing he did was tear off all the factory seals, before doing his preservation work, he said something along the lines of 'this is harmful to the boxes and their print'
 

Diablodin

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guys you realise grading is not protecting or prolonging the life of what's inside the transparent petrol box
is any air passing at all by the way? not that it makes much different to its uselessness, but if it's completely sealed it's harming the contents for sure
not that factory wraps are good to cardboard boxes but at least you can take it off easily anytime

i remember watching a video of a museum guy getting boxes of old pc games from a relative of someone who had passed away, and the first thing he did was tear off all the factory seals, before doing his preservation work, he said something along the lines of 'this is harmful to the boxes and their print'
I've been told grading cases aren't completely airtight for the same reason most shrinkwrapped games have venting holes to prevent moisture to be sealed in.
A case is better than nothing. At least VGA has the option of archival grade acrylic cases that protect very well against UV. Not 100%, so sunlight can still damage the items, but anyway.
Games were meant to be opened and played of course, so the shrinkwrap is in most cases of poor quality and will sooner or later disintegrate and can then harm the game inside. But for collectors, it's most often all about keeping the game in its original shelf condition.
Cases are good for sturdiness. It's unlikely, but if you drop a game from 1-2 meter height without a case it could harm your item.
Another thing to consider is internal batteries... They might pop at any minute... So it's going to be an interesting future for this hobby lol. :)
 
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dark

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I guess I'm not the target audience for grading, but it seems to me that any serious collector of video games gets an understanding of what constitutes a fake game and what's not, as well as determining what are hallmarks of mint condition, good condition, poor condition etc of the items they collect. If detailed photographs are provided for an item, I'd rather rely on my own knowledge and instinct for buying what I want in the condition that I want than to say "oh this organized group deems this to be in A condition, I appreciate this service so much I'll pay 10x the cost for the item...

But I suppose grading is for only a specific kind of buyer - the buyer who does not intend to read or play or otherwise use the item, and who just wants to hold onto it as a speculative investment, the goal is always to re-sell the item later at a markup.
 

Diablodin

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I guess I'm not the target audience for grading, but it seems to me that any serious collector of video games gets an understanding of what constitutes a fake game and what's not, as well as determining what are hallmarks of mint condition, good condition, poor condition etc of the items they collect. If detailed photographs are provided for an item, I'd rather rely on my own knowledge and instinct for buying what I want in the condition that I want than to say "oh this organized group deems this to be in A condition, I appreciate this service so much I'll pay 10x the cost for the item...

But I suppose grading is for only a specific kind of buyer - the buyer who does not intend to read or play or otherwise use the item, and who just wants to hold onto it as a speculative investment, the goal is always to re-sell the item later at a markup.
You can bet your ass there's many in the market now who doesn't know jack and are only looking at the numbers.
Maybe you've been fortunate so far but I've received items that are not in the condition I expected based on description or pictures.

I'll repreat I'm not for grading to get a 9.2+, A+, 90 GOLD, or whatever tag on the item. I'm talking about the protection provided by the cases.
Focus on grades is what's stirring the market pot atm. and I can't say I'm a fan.

"Games are meant to be played". Yes. There's usually more opened than sealed copies, for a smaller price, ready to be played. So go ahead.
Personally I rarely play games anymore and so my passion has moved on from playing to preserving and having my favorite games sealed gives me great joy.
 
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dark

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If you just want the physical protection, there's any number of aftermarket plastic cases, boxes, lockable display cases or elaborate safes you can stick good condition games in. I don't think the cases provided by the graders do anything out of the ordinary on the protection standpoint.
 
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