BOOMING INTEREST IN RARE, VINTAGE EXAMPLES CREATES NEW GRADING COMPANY
The art of collecting vintage videogames is moving beyond garage sales and thrift stores.
The most popular and rare examples (think Sonic, Zelda, Super Mario Bros.) are now commanding serious money – in some cases up to $100,000 – and are now popping up at auction. And that means collectors are now placing a premium on condition and authenticity.
Enter Wata Games, a Denver-based grading company that – like coins and comics – grades and certifies videogames, in this case on a 10-point curve. “In the last five years, we have seen tremendous growth in both the number of collectors and the prices of games,” says Mark Haspel, former president at Certified Guaranty Company and now chief advisor at Wata Games Inc. (WataGames.com).
As prices and demand climb, the market has been flooded with counterfeit games and instability. Like other grading services, Haspel says, Wata plans to “restore confidence through our authentication of games, clear identification of variants and important historical information and, most importantly, by creating a transparent and consistent standard in grading condition.”
Wata is currently grading standard-sized games for Nintendo, Sega, Microsoft, Sony and other systems – “Whether they be loose cartridges, complete-in-box, factory-sealed games or even outliers and exceptions, such as prototype games,” Haspel says.
Collectors entering the market will find that prices range from $1 to $100,000, Haspel says. Factory-sealed games command a premium, just as cartridges will be much more affordable than a CIB game.
Heritage Auctions begins offering collectible videogames this month in its weekly comics auctions. A selection will also be offered in Heritage’s February Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction.