First VGA Graded Games Hit eBay

vga logo thumb If you're unfamiliar with the VGA (Video Game Authority) or grading in general, here's what you need to know. When you get something graded, you pay a fee (Roughly $25.00 from what I understand for the VGA) to a company whch uses their own set of standards to grade a collectible and then seal it in a plastic "slab" that is tamper evident. If the outer "slab" is ever opened or tampered with, the grade becomes invalid.

In other fields of collecting such as coins, toys, action figures, sports cards and comic books, third party grading has essentially become standard on all valuable and mint condition items. If you have have something which isn't graded, odds are it will sell for less than the same item in worst condition, but graded. Having something graded increases the value. Whether that's artificial inflation or not, the fact is that grading will make an already expensive item more valuable.

Now, the video game collecting community has been buzzing for years about this, and what effect it would have on our hobby. Now that it's actually here, there are a lot of opinions floating around.

sealed final fantasy nes vga graded 85 thumb The way I see it, video game collectors fall into three sets on this issue. I understand this may not cover everyone completely, but from all the forums I've read these seem to be the largest, or most vocal groups.

First, sealed collectors themselves. These people already have large collections of sealed games, and in theory, stand to benefit financially from the effects of grading if they ever sell their collection. Secondly, most are for grading as it allows them to know for sure what they are getting when they make a new purchase. I have seen however, new sealed game collectors who are not happy, as they see their hobby getting significantly more expensive.

Secondly, there are collectors who have no interest in sealed games, but demand only utterly mint, perfect, gems in their collection. There are more of these out there than I realize, and they are often willing to pay through the nose to get the absolute utmost quality for their collection - even going as far as to open a sealed game. The main concern these collectors seem to have, is that their CIB games are going to become more expensive to collect. Others however, see it as a money saving venture. Instead of buying five copies of a game to get one with no fingernail scratches, all they need to do it find a graded 85+ copy. I assuming on this issue however, that the VGA will be grading loose and CIB games. I can't find any info to confirm or deny that, but considering they grade loose figures, it's safe to assume they will at some point be doing this, even if they don't at launch.

Lastly, you have the group that I fall into. We frankly, don't really care. I'm not a sealed collector, I'm not someone who has to have everything in mint condition and even worse - I could care less if I buy something ungraded. The last one is the most important part here. If graded items get more expensive, then *hopefully*, ungraded items get cheaper. Now, I know people are concerned that the opposite is true. That everything will get more expensive. Here's what I see, and I think it's a good theory. I would love to hear from someone who watched grading be introduced to another hobby however, and watched its effect unfold.

Mint items become more expensive. People look to these to buy, get graded, then resell at a profit. These will be in competition with people who want game X, but won't pay for a graded edition, so the price rises. This will tickle down, but shouldn't affect mid level quality games.

Keep in mind this is referring to "good" and "rare" games. Having a graded To The Earth for NES, a copy of Madden 94 on the SNES or a copy of BioFreaks on the PS1 really isn't going to matter.

sealed playstation bio freaks thumbSide note: I have thirty sealed copies of Bio Freaks... anyone need one?

A bigger problem in my mind however, it the legitimacy of a grade. I realize the company behind the VGA has extensive experience in grading other collectibles. This means that there probably not stepping into the ring lightly. The problem is though, that many people has stated that resealing video games is relatively easy enough to do if you have the right equipment. These same people who live and breathe sealed games have admitted they've been fooled once or twice.

If sealed games suddenly spike in value, what do you see happening? Bingo, more fakes. If they graders aren't educated enough to spot them, we'll than the grades mean nothing to begin with.

One of the more interesting quotes I've seen:

As a person who proved the "seal" on a game no matter how well it looks doesn't mean squat, it'll fail quite miserably. Even a decently scratched box (like a PSX longbox) will look fine underneath the shrink.
Bad, bad idea.
Dangerboy - DigitPress

I understand that you can train people in a given field, and that their graders will have experience in other fields that may transfer to game well. The issue is the scope of the knowledge. How many sealed games do you have to inspect until you can spot a near perfect reseal? Then you need to do that for all systems. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. However, once it gets graded, no one in their right mind will no something is resealed and even if they owner did - they wouldn't care.

I'm waiting for someone who thinks that grading is the worst thing to happen to the hobby to make a statement. Take everything they've learned, reseal some expensive game and then get it graded. If they can get it passed and prove it was resealed, the whole video game grading industry will lose momentum.

One other thing I've noticed, it that some argue that this will bring legitimacy to the hobby. This is a stupid argument in my mind. Who cares if video game collecting is legitimate? We already went through the popularity phase as everything retro was popular thanks to Hot Topic and Emo Kids. Video game collecting should never be an investment. Yes, we all want our games to go up in value, we all want to sell out games for more than we paid for them. Put your money is much better off in a mutual fund than in eight bit plastic.

brains toys buying sealed nes games thumbMaybe I'm wrong though. Maybe it is becoming mainstream and legitimate. BrainsToys.com is at least one retailer who is looking to get in on the action. I've never heard of this company before, but I'm told there a rather large seller of graded toys and the like.

Click on the link to the site, or the ad for larger version. Those are some of the items they're looking for and the prices they're paying.

The prices are rather odd in my mind. Obviously they are speculating and looking to pick up items that they can sell for a lot more when graded.

Weird thing is that some of the values are below market value, some are above.

It seems to me the rare stuff on that list is below market value for the most part. The game from popular series on the other hand seem to be above market value. It looks like Brians Toys are banking on graded popular games and series to make a hefty price jump.

My Take

Video Game collecting is different from sports cards, coins or other collectibles. Video Games are meant to be played with, and many collectors want to do that. Comic are meant to be read, and some collectors want to do that.

Look at the comic market. Random comics aren't worth a ton, graded comics that are popular or rare are worth a nice bit.

Think about that for a second and apply it to the video game market. What happens?

- If you want to play a game, it's now cheaper to buy.
- If you want to collect a game, it's now cheaper to buy a normal copy.
- If you want to sell a game, you can get it graded and sell it for more.
- If you collect super mint or sealed games, than you just found the perfect way to authenticate your purchases.

Essentially, everybody wins. I understand if you're going to be buying mostly graded stuff, your hobby just got more expensive. Tough luck. Those of you who have the balls (and the bank account) big enough to run that way really don't have any right to complain. Weigh the value that your items are more likely to increase in value over time and that you'll likely never be ripped off again and it starts to look like a fair deal.

Once again, for some people grading will suck. For the average collector however, grading is good.

Lastly, The VGA hasn't officially launched their site, but according to Bronty-2 (who has worked closely with senior people in the company and is a noted sealed collector himself) they should be launching on Monday. They are already proving grading however, you just need to get in contact with them to request it. They've also done a few games at at least once comic expo.

As they launch, and as more games hit the market, we'll have a full understanding of what it actually means for our hobby. Until then, well.... we will see.

Oh wait, yeah the games on eBay. Almost forgot about them.

Seller BigHedToyz has the first of these currently listed.

sealed final fantasy nes vga graded 85 title thumbHe has Jackal, Bionic Commando, Castlevania 2, Super Mario 3, Metal Gear, Metal Storm, Trojhan, Gyruss, Contra Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy for NES. A mix of rare, popular and crap games that will enable us to see how the market is going to react. There is also a lot with two Atari and a SNES Star Wars title. I should mention that I think the market for graded games will cross over to other collectibles. For example, a Star Wars collector will have more interest in a Graded Game. The same for other series with a huge fan following such as Star Trek, etc.

Anyway, this first batch of graded games all have three days left and are at pretty low prices so far.

Comments and opinions appreciated and welcome.

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33 Responses to “First VGA Graded Games Hit eBay”

  1. I think one major, major difference between sealed games versus high-grade items in certain other collectable fields is precisely the “sealed” issue itself. With some exceptions, when you buy a comic book, it doesn’t come “sealed” and you can even flip through it in the store before you buy it. Comics collectors therefore have many more opportunities to enjoy what they purchase before sealing ‘em up in Mylar and tucking them away in a long box. Can’t do that with a sealed game. It’s similar to the MIB/MOC phenomenon in toy collecting, but even then, many times you can still see the toy through the clear plastic of the packaging.

    Maybe that’s why I tend towards CIBs when buying older games. I’m rather picky about condition, but I also like to play what I buy.

  2. I like to collect complete games in the best possible condition I can. My largest collection of any one series is Resident Evil / Biohazard in which I have quite a few sealed copies. I like my games to be complete and look their best, but I also like to
    play my games and go to great lengths to make sure
    that not a single scratch or dent happens to any of them when in use. I guess now it’s simply that fact that older games like the graded FF1 have survived
    20 years in that condition, thus making it a shame to open it now. However, I believe as a gamer that you should at least own a playable copy of that same game — Or at the very least have played it before and have a fond memory of why you would want a sealed copy.

  3. The difference between a sealed hockey card or coin and a sealed video game is that you can still get the full appreciation of the coin or card when it is sealed, while with a sealed game you cannot. If you seal up the game, you cannot read the instructions, or god forbid play the game. The inherent value of a game lies in the fact that it can play, and on the print run. Because there were few collectors during the original run of these classic games, it is likely impossible to find a purely mint set of games anyway.

  4. /Side note: I have thirty sealed copies of Bio Freaks… anyone need one?/

    Unfortunately, thanks to you, I don’t. Wow, that game is absolutely horrific.

  5. Ask Orrimarko from DP/NA for his opinion. It is the best ‘against’ opinion you will find.

    This guy is insane if he thinks I’m sending my sealed Myriad 6-in-1 to him. That’s hilarious. Somehow I doubt ‘Brian’ cares for the super rares, as the dirt common but exaggerated titles are where he is going to make his money anyway.

    Fakes will kill this business.

  6. I collect sealed games, but my biggest issue with this is that I like having the option of opening my games if I feel the desire to play them. I also like to display them in their “natural” state if you will, just like you would find them in a retail store. The fact that people are paying $25 for an ugly case from a company which has no basis upon which to make their grading decisions bothers me and I won’t support it. The other issue I have is that all they are grading is the box and shrinkwrap. At least with other sealed items (action figures, cards, comics, etc…) they are looking at the product in its entirety to make a grading decision. Here, they gave the Final Fantasy game an 85 based on its box and wrap. What if the instructions got torn or folded at the factory? What if the cartridge sticker is peeling or the styrofoam Nintendo used to packaged NES games is broken? I realize I take this risk anyway as a sealed collector, but I never claim to certify anything when I sell a sealed game other than that it is factory sealed and in mint shape as far as I can tell. This will fade away as people start buying these at regular sealed game prices and just remove the game from the crappy sealing case.

  7. Same here Link…I tried that bio freaks game you sent and wow, it was NOT fun in any way, but maybe you could sell them as sealed bio freaks coasters??

  8. So Bio Freaks was the surprise pack in with the prizes? I totally want one =)

  9. I am in no way a sealed game collector. I do however want my games to remain in mint condition once I have them. I take a lot of care to make sure I don’t damage them in any way and that they are all displayed nicely on my shelf when not inside a console.

    I never did get into collecting older games (I only have the ones I had when I was a kid), so I don’t care about them too much. Loose NES/SNES/GEN games placed nicely in a big box is fine with me (though I do put them in plastic sandwich baggies to protect them from dust). It is a little different for the newer games though.

    I love the RPG genre and lately is seems that these are the games which will be worth quite a bit in the future. I have almost every RPG released for the PS2 in mint shape and while I haven’t played them all yet by any stretch, I plan to in the future. I care about them being left in a collectable condition, but I couldn’t care less what “grade” they are. As long I know they are in nice shape and complete, that is all I care about.

    When buying games online (from Ebay mostly), I care that the games I buy are in good condition, but I wont be looking for anything graded. The way I see it, those people out there who collect sealed games are nuts, but I get it. I don’t have the money to spend so much on something that I can’t play. The only reason I keep my games as nice as the day I bought them is so that I can enjoy them that way for years to come. I don’t plan to sell them and God willing, they won’t ever be sold until after the day I die.

  10. What would be nice is a follow-up. How much the item went for in VGA form, and some comparisons to sealed of the same game (though the condition maybe better or worse).

    I think that it’s very interesting. I’m not really sure that it would be worth it to get a loose cart graded as most loose games aren’t even worth 25 bucks, even some of the more rare and popular one. Maybe loose versions of the uber sought after NES games were collectors are rabid.

    I think that PSX games would be perfect for speculation. The price are way up there and it seems like they keep going up and up.

  11. Good solid article, well written. We referenced it on our site with a link back to the article. Freight 88

  12. I think that anyone that buys something like this is simply buying it because of the plastic case and shiny label. Start your own grading service with a more impressive case and shinier label and you will be the one making the money. I’d boycott this if you are smart collectors who care about the value of your collection!

  13. BTW, I don’t even collect video games so I could care less. Im just saying if this came about with the kind of items I collect, it’s simply someones attempt to get rich not to benefit the video game collectors. Keep that in mind.

  14. Those NES “black boxes” in Brian’s Toys ad look familiar… Ahh.. they are mine. I guess the SPOONMAN watermarks on them should have tipped me off!
    Now where is my cut of the sales :p

  15. Can no one on the internet get the following saying correct. “I COULDN’T CARE LESS” I thought the actual person writing the article could but apparently not.

  16. ButaneBobIsAnIdiot Reply 11. Apr, 2008 at 11:51 am

    butanebob,

    The most important thing is the subject of the article not the grammar.

    But apparently you will not make it very far in this world.

    The beauty of sarcasm is that it can turn meanings on their head, thus allowing could care less to work as an equivalent for couldn’t care less. Because of its sarcasm, could care less is more informal than its negative counterpart but may be open to misinterpretation when used in writing.

  17. Great editorial Nicola. This grading system benefits primarily the people who do the grading- it’s very expensive. The 9 or 900 people who need their stuff graded will have a neat little club with those silly cases and numbers, and the rest of us will play some games and let our sealed games touch the world. Sealed counterfiting is a huge issue.

  18. Sealed counterfeiting is a huge issue, and that is why the AFA formed the VGA. The AFA is the standard in grading action figures, which are a lot harder to counterfeit and reseal than nes/snes/atari games.

    But, that isn’t the point.

    A lot of collectors are high-end collectors, they just haven’t shown their faces yet. And this is due to the uncertainty in sealed game collecting. VGA has a challenge ahead of them, but they have the respect and experience to take a good shot at this market.

    I hope VGA doesn’t misgrade a fake, but at least they’re putting their neck on the line and making this official.

    It isn’t fair to debate and pick at sealed vs. unsealed. All that matters is sealed games DO EXIST, and there is a market for them. And, there is data that shows sealed game sales are significantly higher than open game sales. Anyone who wishes to continue to pick at this is is no better than a bunch of politicians trying to cover up real areas of debate with superficial ones.

    The VGA is here to provide some authentication to this expensive market.

  19. I think that for games with cardboard cases grading could work even if sealed. I’ve read that if you open one of these games it creates a white line on the hinge of the flap that isn’t their otherwise (I’ve checked my sealed games and indeed they don’t have this). If you try to color touch this it can be detected easily too. Other methods obviously include checking for the right type of seem etc. As for newer games like Gamecube, PS2, Xbox etc. I don’t know how validity can be ascertained being the only real indicator is the y seam which I’m sure could be duplicated if a forger was motivated enough.

    I’m all for grading but I have my reservations about VGA at the moment. Only time will tell if the market is ready and the company is competent enough to provide for that market.

  20. what a scam..they are selling there own graded games on ebay for 1000+..yea its a +85 or +90..but says who. them? I am sure they are grading there own games they sell much higher then if you or I sent them in. RIPOFF IMO

  21. Tony, VGA is not selling their “own graded games”? Where the heck are you getting that from? Are you reffering to Brians Toys? Brians Toys is a online store that sells collectibles. They are not in any way connected with VGA. VGA like all grading services is a third party grader that does not sell anything they grade. Individuals and retailers send in items to be graded. Thats the way a third party grading service works. They would have no credability if they sold their own stuff that they stamped the grade on.

  22. Brian’s Toys and Cloud City are definitely in cahoots with VGA and AFA! It’s not really anything anyone can’t figure out… lots of clues out there, companies splitting…

  23. definitely working together. you can see cloud city’s ebay account bought tons of sealed games before vga was announced, and then boom… they are all instantly graded and available. the premier auction just held by brian’s toys was another big cash cow partnership between them, cloud city, and vga/afa/whatever else they grade. note how cloud city split into 2 companies recently too- the one guy left and started wormhole collectibles which stayed in georgia where afa/vga/whatever else will be cool to grade, and cloud city moved to wisconsin where brian’s toys is. why would a company move to where a competing company is also located if they’re not in on something together?

  24. I think its a genius idea. As long as nobodys ripping anybody off, who cares. Anything is only worth what somebody else is willing to pay. And I definately dont think theres any cahoots going on.
    I dont think that put this in the right light. Grade on.

  25. I think it’s a great Idea. It will make rich collectors fight over the cream of the crop, that before was only loosely based on opionion. In doing so, rich people will pay stupidly high prices for sealed/graded games (2,500 spent on a sealed Chrono Trigger, and 550 spent on a VGA Final Fantasy for NES in the last week) When you can pick up a decent boxed copy of chrono trigger for 100 bucks… or the game for just 30… as for Final fantasy… about.. 50 15. The point is that when these numbers get this high, public takes notice, and that’s when things get interesting in the collecting world.

  26. A PS. Video games are like comic books in a few key ways. Virually all children of the 80’s 90’s today have played video games, had them be part of their lifes. Like comic books, when video games got old, parents just threw them out, either immediately or in a attic for 10 years then threw them away when they hadn’t gained any value by then. But here is the key similarity, people who become wealthy in the next 20 years are going to want to relive their childhood, and emulators (just like comic reprints) don’t do the trick. When these people start to reach back and try to take a grab at this childhood, the game market will skyrocket. It’s not really a question of if… but more a question of when.

  27. How are they going to find a plastic box big enough for my sealed NWN Collector’s edition? Or is this a console-only hobby? Can’t have funny-sized boxes or cases messing up your bookshelves?

  28. All sorts of design, quality is beyond the shoes, you free choice del heaven and earth. Nous expédierons votre colis après avoir passé commande, et vous enverra le numéro de suivi dans paypal et gspay.
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