Poll: Is grading video games a good thing?

Call me crazy, but it seems like almost every week, a new "VGA entrepreneur" hits eBay in hopes to win it big. As of today, if you search the term "VGA" under the video game section on eBay, you will get 1,400 results. I don't normally look for VGA listings per se, but looking for stuff to post on the blog normally generates a few listings anyways. It amazes me that people think grading a game would automatically return their investment 5-20 times over which unfortunately have been for some people who do it on a regular basis. This practice is sending a pretty bad message, although most often ignored by veteran collectors, it's almost as if that VGA grading means it's OK to con unsuspecting buyers.

Another reason I brought this up is because of this. I thought I was dreaming when I saw that this game was graded and it's a used copy as supposed to sealed ones. A new service called VGS - Video Game Seal, offers collectors grading of used games. Seems more like a joke to me at the moment. But the more you think about it, the more you sort of warm up to the idea. But I can't help but wonder if this is going to be another reason to raise prices on games based on the grade & greed.

Here's some "are you fucking kidding me?" listings that sold and listed:

Uncharted 2 for PS3, listed for $700, sold for $450. You can still buy these in stores.

Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D for 3DS, listed for $150, sold for $125.

Mario Kart for Wii, listed for $400, sold for $350. Feel free to say WTF?! anytime.. here's another one listed.

rarebucky who hangs out at sealedgameheaven forums is definitely one of the entrepreneurs of VGA. The Zelda Phantom Hourglass for DS, he listed for $500, sold for $350. Buy 10 of them on Amazon, make $3,500. Is that how it works? Spirit Tracks for $150, listed for $229. Buy it as low as $21 on Amazon. Goldensun DS for $150, you can buy as low as $19 on Amazon.

There's many more listed on Terapeak (it's an eBay sold item research service) within a 90 day period. It's too much to list, but hopefully it proves a point.

But I'd like to have an open discussion to all our readers and most especially, those who are grading their games or even buying them from time to time. Do you think it's a good thing? Bad thing? Are you neutral to the idea or absolutely despise it?

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22 Responses to “Poll: Is grading video games a good thing?”

  1. Ultimately, I’m not against the practice. If anyone is really that stupid and has that kind of money to waste, they deserve to part with it; however, my biggest question is why?
    Are the buyers of these items really stupid, or is the actual supply and demand for graded items actual value them at the cost people buy them at??? I don’t know, but maybe more of us should join the practice to drive prices down and really find out….

    • i think ultimately their (dealers of VGA graded games) whole idea is to wait for suckers to buy their stuff so they can feed their addiction to buy even more games.

      right now, people have probably sent in Kirby Mass Attack for the DS that had just come out.

  2. WTF?
    But what exactly is VGA? They just reseal games right?
    So, i don’t understand why are so expensive. I mean, i prefer to buy it new than re-sealed games… And a lot of games (i.e. Zelda Phantom Hourglass) are cheaper than VGA ones…
    I don’t really understand sorry xD Try to make sense in my mind, but i can’t!

    • They don’t reseal games….They grade sealed copies that people send into them and put them in a protective case…

      • VGA doesn’t seem games, however the premise on how they grade it flawed at best.

        at least with the comics grading, the philosphy is to grade the actual comic book. with VGA, all they are grading is the packaging and shrinkwrap (which, if it’s truly “shrink wrap” from titles in the 70′s 80′s and 90′s), it will continue to shrink over time given the proper conditions.

        so, an item which is graded say a 95 by VGA can actually split at the seams or having the corners of the cardboard box pierce the shrink over time after it’s been graded.

        in addition, the disc inside cd-rom based games (like the dreamcast and original playstation) that were packaged in the cd jewel case type packaging has nothing to do with the grading process. a copy of final fantasy vii can score a 90-100 even if one or more of the discs inside of the game case has come off of the spindles and “floats” around.

        in my mind, anyone who buys into the hype of VGA or pays the outrageous prices that rarebucky and the like try to peddle their VGA wares for have no one to blame but themselves.

        as to VGS, yes, they should be tarred and feathered, but I’ll bet there will be idiots that will buy into their “services” as well.

  3. Those VGSeal people need to die immediately.

    Grading needs to go the fuck away from this hobby.

    • Looking at their site more in depth and all I can say is: half assed. At least VGA had the courtesy not to use free webspace and give away a NWC cart that has been passed around like a two dollar whore for 12 years.

      • Yep, but anyone can do the same right? I can seal my collection and say i’m the Spanish Videogame Authority and sell it for 500$ each game (even the shittiest ones…)

  4. I’ve been tempted to have a few games graded to see if I could sell them for more, but they were NES games not new easily available games. I’d never buy a graded game, seems kind of silly to me. Obviously someone is making some serious jack from VGA, and that’s
    VGA themselves(or people that can get their stuff graded on the cheap). If I was one of the ones cashing in I’d think graded games were great!

  5. Its a bad thing. It’s like the mob. What would that sealed stadium events have sold for if it was Graded? $100k?

    I have been the victim of this kind of crap twice before when I was a kid in the late 70′s and 80′s I collected baseball cards and comic books and not just for fun, knowing I could make money on this stuff when I was older.

    I invested in double flap platic and card baord backers for comic books, I invested in the hard clear cases for baseball cards (100′s) of them – I spent as much money on the protection of these cards and comics as I did on the items themselves. In my 20′s I used to be able to go to a comic or card show and lay stuff out on my table, people would come over and inspect many aspects of the stuff I was selling, On cards it was the boarder of the card, was it centered? Were there any minor creases, were there corner folds? Were the card corners sharp enough? Were the comics dented, creased? Were the comics folded? Were they ever opened? THere was so much crap people looked at before they offered you a price for your card. If my key griffy rookie was in a $5.00 hard case and looked 100% mint even after inspection and I was asking $100 a card, and I was offered $90 or even $65 because the card was cut slightly off. Was my sealed packs of baseball cards that had greg jefferys or the Fu*K face card right on top of the wrap pack and made the whole deck very valuable, creased? Crushed? were all 3 top carts cut right? IF not all the other card underneath were not. All this crap we had to deal with as sellers. investing a lot of our money as kids and teens to hopefully have a nice investment for the future.

    Then comic and baseball card grading came along. The guy who paid to have his Conceco or Griffy or bonds rookie cards graded and had them in the same sealed hard $5.00 case as I did with no grading, even if his card was cut slightly crooked and was given an 85 or 90 grading, if my card to the buyers eyes looked PERFECT, the fact I didn’t have a grading I got nothing near his graded near perfect card.

    These graders Screwed us all, they are like credit score agency’s, they shouldn’t exist and they dictate your life or your collection values.

    Right now I have a closet full of 70′s and 80′s comics – some were VERY VALUABLE, but to get everything graded after 20 or 30 years of sitting in a box with cardboard backers is not worth it to me. I honestly would sell all 500 comics at $3 each knowing there were 20 or 30 worth $50 or more and even more than that if they were graded.

    That brings me to video game collecting. I have been collecting alot of stuff a long time. I have systems (played and unplayed) still in the original box’s. I have sega Saturn, sega CD and SNES games still factory sealed. Yea they have been bumped around my closet in 3 homes over 20 years, but they are still factory sealed. I have Lunar for Sega CD factory sealed and ready to hit ebay soon, I have some Snes titles (FF2, FF3, Chrono trigger, Gaia, all complete box ready to hit eBay. I have a sealed steel battalion, a factory sealed PSP 1000 Spiderman Bundle from launch day that I waited on line overnight at bestbuy in the snow. I have Sealed saturn games, I have tons of Complete N64 titles including a complete Starfox that just sold for $202 on Ebay (I wonder If I can get the same). Now Why should I go paying someone 100′s of dollars to grade my stuff. I think my feedback and reputation on eBay after 8 years should be enough for buyers to know, this guy is the real deal. he has 1000′s of feedbacks, only 1 negative ever (from some theater speakers), he take tons of pictures of all his items from every angle, writes a nice description, is verified, and always offers free shipping – shouldn’t that get me what the sealed game is worth? Or do I have to pay some made up mob like agency a ton of money to give me a grading and then have to make that back as part of my auction. I rather get $200 for a sealed game on my own, then to pay $100 to get something graded and make $350 on it. Remember eBay fees are a bitch too (with their eBay and Paypal double dip).

    Now after Grading ruined it for us 70′s and 80′s collectors on baseball cards and comics, along comes the VGA rating on sealed video games, which is only because of Ebay. What is to stop these guys from buying a bunch of titles factory sealed and grading them them-self for no cost and then putting them on ebay. It’s not fair to anyone. I think there should be like 100 different grading committees, I know If i did it I would charge nothing more than the cost of materials so people like the VGA would go away.

    I don’t need these people ruining my values on my collection since 1977 or so. It’s not fair to anyone.

    Excuse the typos

  6. GRADE ALL THE THINGS!

  7. Personally I would never buy a “VGA GRADED!!!1!” item. It seems to me like the only reason people use them is because they think they can make more money off of it.

  8. Well in all fairness, have you seen the price to get a game graded? Plus factor in shipping the stuff to them and getting it back + the extras they charge to get it graded with UV and such – of course the price is going to be more, you need to recover your Grading cost which can be $50-300 a Game.

    What I find unfair is this. These guys are grading, casing and selling their own stuff. There is little to no cost involved and they make $100′s to $1000′s more than a seller with an ungraded game of the same quality.

    I found this accusation on a website about them not sure how true it is….. “Video Game Authority aka video game grader aka vga grading aka video game graders have been running a scam on nes sealed games. They are on ebay mostly but can be found elsewhere just as easy. Whenever you see that VGA seal avoid them at all costs. They are not high quality products at all. The games in the case is not brand new. It’s extremely hard to tell from picture because they have a dummy photo of the best quality items and pawn off the cheap ones. Beware of these con artists.”

    I personally think VGA is ruining it for people like myself and others here who have been collecting for decades before this grading crap came around.

    I used to know a guy when I was working in retail at EB back in the days. He used to come in like 3 days a week and buy every Gameboy, PS1, N64 and Saturn game that came out. EVERY ONE. He would ask me to look through the entire shipment of what we got in. When we got in Castlevania for PS1 he looked through about 3 box’s before be picked out two of them. He used to have a storage locker and just neatly pack all this stuff away, he didn’t even play 1/2 the games. Sometimes he bought two copies to play one and open the other. I and my co-workers thought he was the most anal anoyying guy in the world. I remember when Dragonball GT for PS 1 came out we only had 3 copies to choose from, he was not happy about that. When FF7 came in he bought a whole Sleeve of them. I will guarantee this guy has a game collection that would earn him enough cash to buy a video game company. I worked at eb for 3 years and I had a friend who still works there 15 years later and this guy still comes in and buys stuff, he is super ANAL and he will not answer questions about his collection anymore, if you piss him off he will leave and call corporate on the RSP who was asking questions claiming they were unprofessional. I haven’t been in retail since FF8 maybe FF9 Came out, I was in the PC industry by 1999 so I have alot of years of this guy. I will guarentee you the VGA would have a field day with this guy, If he ever decided to sell that sleeve of FF7 unopened games he would do very well. Don’t get me wrong I applaud the guy, I didn’t have anywhere near the disposable income this guy did, but I took some cues from him. I bought 3 copies of FF7 for PS1. I also had the original reservation poster for the FF7 game that was supposed to go in the displayer that they put in the hall outside the store in the mall stores and even some strip stores. The poster was very large and ever taken out of the original shipping cardboard. One year I needed extra cash for Xmas and sold a sealed FF7 and the poster on ebay for almost $800 – and the guy actually tried to pull a Paypal scam of an unauthorized charge on me, but he signed for it and the address was confirmed so I got paid anyways. I will bet that combo would still be of the same value today. Getting back to the VGA – I think that would have hurt my chances if they were around back then when I sold my FF7 and poster together. I think they are also a huge threat to the guy I just talked about, I am sure this guy owns 90% of every N64, PS1 and Gameboy (i think it was gameboy color to be honest) and saturn title.

    VGA is not good for real collectors.

    • $50-$300 a game?!? Where did you get that number? They hold it under a $10 UV light and does the same thing. They probably use a $2 jewelers loupe and look at it in under 5 minutes and throw it in a $4 plastic case and print a sticker and send it back.

  9. A lot of negative responses…I think VGA is to insure the game is not a fraud or resealed. I have bought games that were suppose to be factory sealed and they were resealed. I got lucky and was able to return them because they were not expensive. Imagine if you bought a high value game and it turned out be a dud. I have a few VGA games, but I have way more that are not. Who knows what’s in them? The VGA’s I do have are a few favorites and childhood memories ones. I think it’s good it’s out there. If you don’t like you don’t buy. That’s what makes a market. The best services and products win and make the money that’s how it suppose to work. Good for VGA they are rolling in the money and if any of you came up with the idea you would be too and not complaining. If they are frauds the FBI and the government will take care of everything like they did to Gibson guitars those bastards!!! That EB Game story was great you should send it to Gaming site or magazine it’s some funny stuff and I am sure you left some good parts out. I hated working for retail and deal with screw heads like that.

    • im all for the middle man telling us if the game is indeed in mint condition also, but there has to be a line drawn between the service they provide versus the actual worth of the game in question.

      yes, people shouldn’t buy it if they think its not worth buying or if they think its expensive. the point here is that the VGA market creates a false idea that a game could be worth 5-10 times its supposed to be worth. if i have a game and get it graded and the game is worth $20 in retail, how and why would the value be $250-$350? its mind boggling. a modern day ripoff in plain sight.

  10. Check the VGA site Jake to have it graded by them is Minimum $50 and can go up to $300 for over sized titles and such.

    I am all for there being an Expert in their field who can charge for a service to check for reseals and things of that nature, but the VGA goes a step beyond. Like credit agencies, they are the ONLY AUTHORITY. Unlike an expert in their field or a Doctor, you can get a second opinion or find someone else who’s word is just as good as someone else’s and charges a lot less for his input. The VGA or any other grading authority for baseball cards or comic books don’t allow for there to be multiple sources, it’s them or nothing. Like a credit score, is it really reliable? I have a friend who don’t work, who’s wife makes more than enough for the whole family and they live very well. They own a home, cars, Kids the whole 9 yards, we were hanging out the other day and talking and he was telling me that since he lost his job, though financially they are doing fine on just her income but his credit score keeps dropping and dropping. He said he had 50K in credit card’s but only carried a balance of a few hundred at a time which he pays off in full month after month and has another card he has a few grand on that he transferred from his wifes card and pays more than the monthly payment on it each month as he says that is what credit card companies look for to establish a great credit history. I know where he is coming from I been through this crap too. But he was saying that with 50K in credit and only keeping 1/10 of that a running balance and constantly paid off, he is starting to loose his credit limits and one card was just yanked away from him as they told him they review credit scores annually and he is a risk. SO with a 10 year record of paing his bill on time, paying off multiple balances in full multiple times over the years, using the card to keep it active and never having a late payment that all of a sudden he is a risk because he decided after he lost his job to just stay home with his kids and is married with a wife who makes well above a middle class salary? Don’t sound fair now does it? And he has over 20k in savings in the bank. I have to admit, his story was getting me angry, I really wanted to go to bat for this guy what he was telling me was so wrong. But it makes a good point SO why should One agency dictate the stability, financial well being and be the final word on the risk of the guy, does his previous history account for nothing?

    Same goes with agencies like the VGA. We need more trusted source alternatives. At least you have 3 credit reporting agencies (but they are all in bed together and their info is usually unilateral and equal across the 3 companies in terms of what they compile on a person. Game grading is just another Scam, another muscle in on someone else’s territory. A way to get a piece of the pie that you are not entitled to. A way to make sure eBay is in their favor. Your not going to go to gamestop looking for a a VGA 95+ copy of tomb raider, your going to go to eBay. These guys know what they are doing and while it does have it’s reasons why it is good places like them exist, the number of reasons and consequences why they should back off or go away are greater. Honestly I think we need multiple experts of these types of grading services are going to exist and they should all be recognized equally. Last I checked, the VGA came out of nowhere, with the blessing of Comic and Baseball card grading people, the VGA was just self appointed authority. Never earned the right to do so, never gave the general collecting community a resume or qualifications summery of why they should be the end all be all of video game grading.

  11. I am dead against it -it’s a tarnish on collecting and a grey area that I’d much rather see gone.

  12. @catv246

    what a great insight on comic grading. at first before i wrote the article, i wanted it to include the differences between grading other stuff like comics and coins and how it affected their value over time afterwards. but i didnt know anyone with that had experience with such stuff. thank you again.

  13. I’ve been collecting games for 25+ years now and I don’t feel the need have a 3rd party to charge me $$ to tell me what my games are worth.

    That being said I don’t have a problem with anyone else doing it. Props to Rarebucky for making a buck on people who don’t research this stuff on their own.

    I also wonder if VGA has graded any reseals without knowing it.
    That would be terrible to find out your hermetically sealed game is a reseal.

  14. hey phear. Nice read there. MY position is well known though. VGA is nothing but bullshit and money making from air and n00bs. and blowbucky is a just a vga whore.

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