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SMB/DH/WCTM proto and VGA GRADED ARCADIA VI Yup, they slabbed one!

Aug 6, 2012 at 5:55:40 PM
ProgrammingAce (2)

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Originally posted by: JD

About the only way to become an expert in any field is to jump in and start doing it.


Fortunately, that's not true in this field. Jumping in and guessing if something is authentic is a pretty awful way to run a grading company. The real way to do it is to have been involved in the gaming industry for most of your life and learn about the various copy-protection and fingerprinting methods that have been in use over the decades. Unfortunately you were required to sign your soul over to the devil to learn these things, and the people who can authenticate these items are legally unable to do it.

There are *really* simple methods to tell the difference between a prototype and a pirated game on most consoles. Unfortunately the NES isn't one of those systems. There's absolutely nothing stopping me from buying that cart from MrMark, flashing a Zelda rom-hack onto the cart, and having them certify it as authentic.

It's unlikely that even Nintendo could authenticate that cart, and they certainly wouldn't give you a certificate for it. Anyone else who charges you money to authenticate it is just ripping you, and your customer, off. You're not mitigating any risk by having VGA grade a prototype, and by buying into the nonsense you're making it easier for someone less scrupulous to rip people off.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 6:16:09 PM
Pat the NES Punk (23)
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Originally posted by: qixmaster

While ProgrammingAce adds very, VERY valid points, Atamos has done little but look like an ass. ProgrammingAce is on the same path... like others have said, instead of being so whole-heartedly against this, why not help? It makes people look like children who can't get along. If you don't agree with it, fine. But guess what, it's happening. Instead of being a negative nancy about the whole situation, maybe they would take the advice of the "knowledgable" people who worked on this... hell, maybe they'd be [gasp] compinsate for your time?!?!$

I'm not about to let people talk the shit about faking stuff and being happy about it. wrong place to do it.

If you ask me if VGA has the power to grade these? YES. Do they have the knowledge to authenticate? NO.

That's what we need.

Why the hell should Ace help, just because you have no counter to his argument? He has brought up very valid points as to why VGA is not an authority in all aspects, and the best some here can do is either mock him or say "Oh well, then do better"? That's weak-sauce. He's validating concerns others have had had, and frankly, I'm glad someone with that sort of knowledge is finally doing so. He's elucidated a lot of concerns that my feeble mind could never put into writing.


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Aug 6, 2012 at 6:34:11 PM
qixmaster (126)
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Originally posted by: Pat the NES Punk

Originally posted by: qixmaster

While ProgrammingAce adds very, VERY valid points, Atamos has done little but look like an ass. ProgrammingAce is on the same path... like others have said, instead of being so whole-heartedly against this, why not help? It makes people look like children who can't get along. If you don't agree with it, fine. But guess what, it's happening. Instead of being a negative nancy about the whole situation, maybe they would take the advice of the "knowledgable" people who worked on this... hell, maybe they'd be [gasp] compinsate for your time?!?!$

I'm not about to let people talk the shit about faking stuff and being happy about it. wrong place to do it.

If you ask me if VGA has the power to grade these? YES. Do they have the knowledge to authenticate? NO.

That's what we need.

Why the hell should Ace help, just because you have no counter to his argument? He has brought up very valid points as to why VGA is not an authority in all aspects, and the best some here can do is either mock him or say "Oh well, then do better"? That's weak-sauce. He's validating concerns others have had had, and frankly, I'm glad someone with that sort of knowledge is finally doing so. He's elucidated a lot of concerns that my feeble mind could never put into writing.
 

You're 100% right Pat, he shouldn't help if he doesn't want to - would be nice if he would though.

People are going to continue to grade stuff like this with VGA and they will continue to "authenticate" possible fakes without repercussion.

It would almost be a disservice, (in my opinion), not to share the not so common knowledge of prototypes.   If he is an expert (which he sounds to be), then why not help?    If he doesn't like the company, do something about it.

what would my arguement be otherwise... "don't do something" or "make a fake prototype and send it in, it'd be funny lolz".... i mean, i'm kind of confused Pat?   

I'm not mocking the man at all - i'd love for him to help.   but just bringing up these important points and saying "bah, fuck it, i'm mad and i know more about this then the next guy, time to move on" is mute.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 6:57:42 PM
ProgrammingAce (2)

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It really astounds me the number of people who think it's OK for them to charge for a service they can't possibly provide.

If you want to have the quality of your shrinkwrap graded, fine. If you want to pay more for graded plastic, that's on you. But if these guys want to be the defacto standard for grading video games, they can't pull shit like this. Any time someone shows me a graded game, i'm going to point to this cart and that graded gold NWC and say "Well, they'll grade anything if you pay them enough".

Nintendo Age is propping up the prices on graded games based only on this company's reputation. When they pull stunts like this, they're devaluing *your* games. You guys should be the ones who are angry at them, not me. What's going to happen to your investment when it turns out their verification system is a fraud? They'll just move on to the next collectible market, you're left holding the bag.

Remember that next time you base a $20,000 purchase on VGA's reputation.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 6:59:52 PM
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I've been silent this whole thread, but I agree with all of the backlash (minus the extreme negativity).

VGA is great at authenticating sealed games. But businesses exist for one reason, and one reason only, to make money. They overstepped their bounds a long time ago in pursuit of more money. It's one thing to fill a demand, it's another to compromise your brand image at the expense of profit. There is no legit competition (yet), so the impact is negligible, but it certainly creates more VGA opposers with each passing day.

People have made WTB threads in this very forum scamming the joke of the Qualified grading system. For those who haven't figured it out, the formula is find Minty insides, find a MINT external box, throw it all together and profit. You just frankenstein a game together and profit... what's authentic about that?

Now they've done DKCC, NWCs and prototypes. It seems like they are the authority by default here, rather than being an actual authority. You say it's wrong for people to try and pass a fake by them, but that's exactly the Pandora's box they've opened. They have said they're experts, so you will get smartasses trying to game the system. It's no different than someone who submits a reseal... except VGA is probably smart enough to catch those. Here, they might not be able to do that.

So yeah, you can take what you want from that, but VGA has made their bed and now must lie in it. If you can't identify real from fake, you have no business being an authority. Sounds like some people will test them now, so they better get smart quick.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 7:02:50 PM
final fight cd (51)
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Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

Originally posted by: JD

About the only way to become an expert in any field is to jump in and start doing it.


Fortunately, that's not true in this field. Jumping in and guessing if something is authentic is a pretty awful way to run a grading company. The real way to do it is to have been involved in the gaming industry for most of your life and learn about the various copy-protection and fingerprinting methods that have been in use over the decades. Unfortunately you were required to sign your soul over to the devil to learn these things, and the people who can authenticate these items are legally unable to do it.

There are *really* simple methods to tell the difference between a prototype and a pirated game on most consoles. Unfortunately the NES isn't one of those systems. There's absolutely nothing stopping me from buying that cart from MrMark, flashing a Zelda rom-hack onto the cart, and having them certify it as authentic.

It's unlikely that even Nintendo could authenticate that cart, and they certainly wouldn't give you a certificate for it. Anyone else who charges you money to authenticate it is just ripping you, and your customer, off. You're not mitigating any risk by having VGA grade a prototype, and by buying into the nonsense you're making it easier for someone less scrupulous to rip people off.

i was going to ask a question, but i think you might have answered it with this post.  

correct me if i'm wrong, but it sounds like somebody could take a proto, "swap" out the information on it with another game, take a magic marker and sloppily write a game title on the label- such as earthbound - and pass it off as a legit proto?


Aug 6, 2012 at 7:04:04 PM
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jonebone (527)
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Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

Nintendo Age is propping up the prices on graded games based only on this company's reputation. When they pull stunts like this, they're devaluing *your* games. You guys should be the ones who are angry at them, not me. What's going to happen to your investment when it turns out their verification system is a fraud? They'll just move on to the next collectible market, you're left holding the bag.

Remember that next time you base a $20,000 purchase on VGA's reputation.
That's the one point where you're wrong.  Them grading a fake prototype as real has absolutely zero bearing on the value of anything sealed.  They are a sealed authority, not an everything authority.  It would just make the verifications of all other prototypes look meaningless, not sealed games in general.

Also, for those not knowledgeable in other collectibles, PSA has authenticated fake cards as real before.  The market didn't bottom out, but they did publicly announce that they would buy back any confirmed fake at the price you paid, if you had a receipt and could prove it was fake.  It's not the end of the world.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 7:05:15 PM
Elijah (161)
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Do we have any solid evidence that VGA has been fooled?

So far I have only read the hypotheticals of "what if".

No one knows for sure how much homework they have done, or who they have consulted.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 7:08:09 PM
qixmaster (126)
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Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

It really astounds me the number of people who think it's OK for them to charge for a service they can't possibly provide.

If you want to have the quality of your shrinkwrap graded, fine. If you want to pay more for graded plastic, that's on you. But if these guys want to be the defacto standard for grading video games, they can't pull shit like this. Any time someone shows me a graded game, i'm going to point to this cart and that graded gold NWC and say "Well, they'll grade anything if you pay them enough".

Nintendo Age is propping up the prices on graded games based only on this company's reputation. When they pull stunts like this, they're devaluing *your* games. You guys should be the ones who are angry at them, not me. What's going to happen to your investment when it turns out their verification system is a fraud? They'll just move on to the next collectible market, you're left holding the bag.

Remember that next time you base a $20,000 purchase on VGA's reputation.

You make great points - would you be opposed to runing a service of legit or not and only authenticating certain things that were traceable from where they came from?  i mean, it would be awesome.  I'd love that service.  but, maybe i'm the only one...

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Aug 6, 2012 at 7:29:31 PM
ProgrammingAce (2)

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Originally posted by: jonebone

That's the one point where you're wrong.  Them grading a fake prototype as real has absolutely zero bearing on the value of anything sealed.  They are a sealed authority, not an everything authority.  It would just make the verifications of all other prototypes look meaningless, not sealed games in general.


They're the ones claming to be an "everything" authority now. The words "They'll authenticate anything if you pay them enough" should scare the crap out of you. With a small market as there is for graded games, and considering the outragous prices commanded, it doesn't take much to make your potential customers skittish.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 7:43:38 PM
ProgrammingAce (2)

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Originally posted by: qixmaster


You make great points - would you be opposed to runing a service of legit or not and only authenticating certain things that were traceable from where they came from?  i mean, it would be awesome.  I'd love that service.  but, maybe i'm the only one...

Honestly, grading video games sounds like a really awful job, and my rent is more than the $17.35 a month that such a job would earn me.

I've alway had an open policy that i'll help anyone authenticate a prototype game on the consoles where a definitive identification is possible. But frankly, even I can't do more than guess if an NES proto is real or not. Not that they ever would, but I'm sure Mark and Beagle could produce a fake prototype that would easily get past me, and I could probably do the same to them.

The more attention you guys draw to yourselves with the $10,000 sales, the more people are going to try and take advantage of you. VGA isn't doing anything that will protect you. You guys know more about these games (sealed, and protos) than they do.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 7:48:58 PM
MoeDown (71)
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People seem completely unaware what service a grading company actually provides. They are not (and have never claimed to be) all-knowing gods whose words are infallible.

Like every grading company, they simply issue an OPINION from an un-biased, educated third party. That OPINION is what people (like myself) pay for and trust in most of the time.

CGA has been in business for over 12 years, and every single time they grade something they haven't graded before, a new, awesome shitstorm arises. Every single time, someone comes in saying "Who gives them the authority?" and "I could fool them easily!" and "This will be their downfall, and the downfall of grading in general, HA HA HA!!!"  -  and yet.......here they are, still in business, still considered the "authority", weathering this weeks shitstorm.

As I can tell from the posts a lot of people in this thread are unfamiliar with an actual Certificate of Authenticity so let me share a pic of a real COA Disclaimer.....and while this picture is from a VGA COA, let me assure you, the language used is relatively universal to grading company Disclaimers in general:
vga-coa

To answer the question "Who gives VGA the Authority?"

Anybody who submits something for grading.

If anyone is under the belief that VGA sought out proto owners in order to declare themsleves experts in the field, I'm sorry but you're flat out wrong. In this case, Mark gave them authority, if you're pissed at anybody, be pissed at him (sorry Mark, love ya buddy).

Aug 6, 2012 at 7:49:25 PM
MrMark0673 (448)
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Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

and considering the outragous prices commanded, it doesn't take much to make your potential customers skittish.
It also doesn't take much to give them peace of mind...

Guys, slow don't a bit for a second.  Let me go through my mindset and see what you do/don't agree with.

-  I know the game is authentic.  I chose an example with a long, known history in the collecting circle.  I also chose an unreleased game.  I also chose one with a full label that will help indicate the age.  There are signs on this cart lead VGA to believe it is the real deal.  Their cert is pretty clear that it is confident enough that it is the real deal to have them back it with a piece of paper and their reputation.

-  What does their backing mean to you, the knowledgable collector?  Clearly, not a whole lot.  Luckily for me, you all can appreciate my knowledge of prototypes and understand my familiarity with them to know that if I sell you something, it's the real deal.  Win.

-  On the other hand, the casual collector or the more dollars than sense big spender doesn't know me from a hole in the ground.  They see a listing for a prototype that has been backed by VGA and they gain confidence that they aren't buying a fake product.  Win again.


Here is where people are getting up in arms.  Now that VGA has graded a single prototype, and since prototypes could potentially be faked much easier than sealed games, what's to say they won't grade a fake in the near future?  Well, what if they don't?  What if they don't grade another proto ever again?  What if they don't grade protos of released games?  What if they don't grade protos not on dev boards?  Maybe they'll do their homework, as an established company should, and not grade games that they aren't confident are the real deal?

You could rebut those points for sure.  Someone like Ace could program a copy of his Bio Force Ape homebrew on a dev board and attempt to pass it off as the real thing.  Someone could buy a blank dev board and program whatever they want on it.  But, if I were to see something like those two examples, after seeing well over 100 protos, I can't say for sure that I would know if they were legit or not.  Just because there are examples that can be faked or manipulated to the point that we can't tell if they're legit or not doesn't mean we shouldn't attempt to put ur rep on the line when we are confident something is the real deal.

To recap what has actually occurred so far (not what could potentially happen in the future):

-  Arcadia VI was purchased from a known prototype collector for the sum of $1,500
-  The game was dumped, and the Rom released, for free, for everyone to enjoy.
-  About two weeks ago, the game sat in a thin plastic case on my shelf.
-  VGA, although they haven't released their methods of authentication, saw the game and was confident enough to put their mark, and their reputation, on it.
-  It now sits in a thicker, more pleasant looking case on my shelf.
-  The sky isn't falling.

Not a big deal guys.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 7:52:11 PM
MrMark0673 (448)
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Originally posted by: MoeDown

People seem completely unaware what service a grading company actually provides. They are not (and have never claimed to be) all-knowing gods whose words are infallible.

Like every grading company, they simply issue an OPINION from an un-biased, educated third party. That OPINION is what people (like myself) pay for and trust in most of the time.

CGA has been in business for over 12 years, and every single time they grade something they haven't graded before, a new, awesome shitstorm arises. Every single time, someone comes in saying "Who gives them the authority?" and "I could fool them easily!" and "This will be their downfall, and the downfall of grading in general, HA HA HA!!!"  -  and yet.......here they are, still in business, still considered the "authority", weathering this weeks shitstorm.

As I can tell from the posts a lot of people in this thread are unfamiliar with an actual Certificate of Authenticity so let me share a pic of a real COA Disclaimer.....and while this picture is from a VGA COA, let me assure you, the language used is relatively universal to grading company Disclaimers in general:
vga-coa

To answer the question "Who gives VGA the Authority?"

Anybody who submits something for grading.

If anyone is under the belief that VGA sought out proto owners in order to declare themsleves experts in the field, I'm sorry but you're flat out wrong. In this case, Mark gave them authority, if you're pissed at anybody, be pissed at him (sorry Mark, love ya buddy).
No offence taken at all, it's true enough.  I'd like to think of it as a joint venture, but it's all the same

Anyway, Moe hit most of my same points.  3rd party opinion, that's all.

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Aug 6, 2012 at 8:01:13 PM
buyatari2 (30)

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I bought Arcadia IV or IV (depending on how you want to call it hehe) directly from Ken Love at Activision. It is the real deal.

Aug 6, 2012 at 8:08:55 PM
Laseki (70)
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Looks like this got the attention of destructroid, article is the usual "HOW DARE HE ASK THAT MUCH!", ignoring the make an offer button.
Would expect.no less from a site that lets jim sterling write for it.


Edited: 08/06/2012 at 08:10 PM by Laseki

Aug 6, 2012 at 8:09:15 PM
ProgrammingAce (2)

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So what you're doing is creating a system that only gives the authentication value if the game is from an already trusted seller. Mark, you're the one giving that grade it's value, not VGA.

If joe schmoe off the street magically came up with a half-translated copy of Mother for NES, and VGA rated it as "Authentic", would you buy it based only off of their judgement?

The first thing anyone wants to do when buying a proto is to open it up and see what the board looks like. Are you *really* going to buy protos you can't check?

Are VGA themselves confident enough in their own authentication mechanisms to accept prototypes from the general public, or is this a service they only offer to their "power sellers"?

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Aug 6, 2012 at 8:17:49 PM
GhaleonsDeadMyFriend (137)
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You can always smash open the VGA case and check the board. For a $20,000 prototype (hell, even $10K) I would bust that shit open with a quickness. Then pay for the $73 re-grading if I really wanted it graded for display.

Aug 6, 2012 at 8:18:51 PM
ProgrammingAce (2)

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The certificate from VGA really says "[Findings] are based on signficant knowledge and research in most cases"?

You guys really pay thousands of dollars for a disclaimer like that? That's the shittiest agreement i've ever read.

"[VGA] do not make, and shall in no event be responsible or deemed to have made any guarantees, warranties, or representations, whether regarding genuineness... or condition"

What the hell are you paying for then?

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Aug 6, 2012 at 8:19:42 PM
ProgrammingAce (2)

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Originally posted by: GhaleonsDeadMyFriend

You can always smash open the VGA case and check the board. For a $20,000 prototype (hell, even $10K) I would bust that shit open with a quickness. Then pay for the $73 re-grading if I really wanted it graded for display.


You think the seller is going to let you smash open a $10,000 prototype before you buy it? And if you can't trust the VGA based on their skills, why use them? What value is that to the next buyer?

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Edited: 08/06/2012 at 08:19 PM by ProgrammingAce

Aug 6, 2012 at 8:21:40 PM
GhaleonsDeadMyFriend (137)
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Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

Originally posted by: GhaleonsDeadMyFriend

You can always smash open the VGA case and check the board. For a $20,000 prototype (hell, even $10K) I would bust that shit open with a quickness. Then pay for the $73 re-grading if I really wanted it graded for display.
You think the seller is going to let you smash open a $10,000 prototype before you buy it? And if you can't trust the VGA based on their skills, why use them? What value is that to the next buyer?
I meant after buying it, smash it open.  I personally wouldn't grade the thing --- VGA only exists in my mind as a marketing vehicle and has no value to my personal collection.



Aug 6, 2012 at 8:23:00 PM
BeaglePuss (41)
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Originally posted by: GhaleonsDeadMyFriend

Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

Originally posted by: GhaleonsDeadMyFriend

You can always smash open the VGA case and check the board. For a $20,000 prototype (hell, even $10K) I would bust that shit open with a quickness. Then pay for the $73 re-grading if I really wanted it graded for display.
You think the seller is going to let you smash open a $10,000 prototype before you buy it? And if you can't trust the VGA based on their skills, why use them? What value is that to the next buyer?
I meant after buying it, smash it open.  I personally wouldn't grade the thing --- VGA only exists in my mind as a marketing vehicle and has no value to my personal collection.





Bingo.

Aug 6, 2012 at 8:27:05 PM
ProgrammingAce (2)

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Originally posted by: GhaleonsDeadMyFriend
I meant after buying it, smash it open.  I personally wouldn't grade the thing --- VGA only exists in my mind as a marketing vehicle and has no value to my personal collection.

 

Ah, so then you do trust VGA enough to purchase a $10,000 prototype without being able to inspect it. It's good to know they have at least one customer.

The seller is going to blame VGA, since they're "The number 1 video game grading authority in the world". And VGA is going to tell you to go fuck yourself, if you read their nice disclamer posted above.

So again, what's the point of having them inspect a prototype?

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Edited: 08/06/2012 at 08:29 PM by ProgrammingAce

Aug 6, 2012 at 8:28:06 PM
MrMark0673 (448)
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Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

So what you're doing is creating a system that only gives the authentication value if the game is from an already trusted seller. Mark, you're the one giving that grade it's value, not VGA.
Not necessarily.  I'm not creating any "system", I'm just talking about the here and now.  So far, they gave out a certificate of authenticity to a game that I know already to be the real deal.  People that know me will sleep easy, people who know VGA will sleep easy.  I cover more ground this way when I list it for sale.  How will they go about grading more in the future?  I have literally no idea.

Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

If joe schmoe off the street magically came up with a half-translated copy of Mother for NES, and VGA rated it as "Authentic", would you buy it based only off of their judgement?
I've never purchased a VGA'd sealed game, and I have no real plans to.  I also have no real plans to buy a VGA'd proto.  Have I bought sealed games and sent them in for grading?  Yes.  Was I happy I did?  Yup.  Same can be said for this proto.

I use VGA first hand exclusively, I'm sure there are others who are the same way.  To answer your question in a totally literal sense; no, I likely wouldn't.  If it were a high profile unreleased game like Police Academy, Ultimate Journey, or the like, I would buy it, carefully break open the case, dump and release the game, and probably send it back to VGA for a new slab.  In other words, there are certain situations where I would consider it, but on the whole, it wouldn't be something I was interested in.

Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

The first thing anyone wants to do when buying a proto is to open it up and see what the board looks like. Are you *really* going to buy protos you can't check?
Again, with the exception of unreleased, undumped games where I could open it up after the fact; no, I would not.

Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

Are VGA themselves confident enough in their own authentication mechanisms to accept prototypes from the general public, or is this a service they only offer to their "power sellers"?
I've owned less than 10 VGA'd games and have sent in a total of 6 items I believe, ever, to VGA:

-  Mega Man 5
-  Mega Man 6
-  Flintstones 2
-  Kid Klown
-  Best of the Best
-  Arcadia VI

I don't know where I got the title of mass profiteer, but I'm pretty new to VGA myself.  I'd like to think that I'm considered one of the common folk in that regard

-------------------------
Hi, my name is Mark, and I collect (and now sell!) Prototypes.
 
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The Largest Comprehensive List of NES Protos for Sale Available on the Web!
http://www.nintendoage.com/forum/...
 

Aug 6, 2012 at 8:30:57 PM
MoeDown (71)
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(big hed) < El Ripper >
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Originally posted by: ProgrammingAce

What the hell are you paying for then?
Why the hell do you care so much? How is anybody's spending habits negatively affecting you in any way? You clearly ignored the part where I said ALL COAs are worded that exact same way. We got that you hate VGA. So what's your motive here?