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Introducing: Wata Games Certification All things Wata and Video Game Certification

Mar 26 at 10:23:25 AM
superNESman (102)
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(Deniz "Alpo The Great" Kahn) < Bowser >
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Hello NAers,

I haven’t been as active on the forums in the past couple years and much of that is in large part due to my involvement with Wata. Bringing an idea to fruition is always a challenge. Bringing a dream to fruition is a different endeavor entirely, as I’ve learned.

Many of you may know me as the kid who came here many years ago and loved collecting so much he made it his life. Many others of you may know me on social media as I’ve been quite active in sharing bits from my collection on Instagram—and due to my inactivity in recent years, many of you may simply not know me at all. Since the day I came here to NintendoAge in 2008, my life has changed drastically. I was embraced by this community of older friends and shown what true camaraderie means. It has nothing to do with “fitting in” – it can all be boiled down to simply sharing a passion. NintendoAge gave me a gift that I will cherish forever and the relationships I’ve made here, beginning at a critical point in my young life, have shaped me into who I am today. I’ve seen many friends and big collectors come and go, since collecting isn’t something we all necessarily covet forever. For me, though, collecting has always been a part of my life and its presence has only blossomed into an integral part of my being. I wake up every day living and breathing the world of collecting. And I will be forever grateful for the event that changed my life and paved the road to lead me to this point: Dain’s opening of NintendoAge to the public in 2006.

Having grown up exposed to the world of comic collecting that provided me my first insights into the collectibles universe, I was lucky to gain an incredible perspective into how collectible hobbies operated. There were a lot of great aspects, juxtaposed by many negative ones. In the unregulated industries of collectibles, it is up to the community to create the rules and govern their own hobby. This creates exposure to all sorts of intricacies, good or bad, which you can’t find in any other industry or marketplace—yet this is also what makes the hobby so exciting. I saw all the positive aspects in the more matured market of comics that allowed for the confident and transparent buying, selling, and ultimately, collecting experiences that made comic collecting so dynamic. Comics evolved from a coveting of the old memories of reading books for pennies into an appreciation of a diminished art form, perpetuated further by a blossoming presence of the depicted super heroes featured in major blockbusters today. This spawned an entirely new generation of enthusiasts that can appreciate the intrinsic value of these old books, now artifacts of history.

But there was one catch: I never really read comics much growing up. I played and loved video games. All my positive memories as a kid are somehow tied to video games. From collecting my first cartridges to rare sealed games to displays and memorabilia, anything and everything video games stirred something in me that I could and would never find in comics, or anywhere else in life for that matter.

Since I started, however, video game collecting changed drastically. It grew from a small group of passionate collectors into a massive audience of collectors, enthusiasts, and gamers alike. Demand for old games began to skyrocket, prices rose, and as with any unregulated lucrative market, the scammers saw dollar signs. Counterfeits and reproductions flooded the markets and many collectors, even those that I know personally, become disillusioned with the hobby. Collecting wasn’t the same, and we all knew it. The unregulated characteristic that once gave it a tight-knit, personal feel turned into something more toxic. I saw this and couldn’t sit by idly: something needed to be done. Something needed to re-instill confidence and transparency into the market, to unify the fragmented resources that exist and help bring the community who shares a common interest together once again. That’s how Wata started.

There was a common thread I saw between all the established and mature collectible markets—all of them relied on objective, trusted, and transparent certification and standards. With undisclosed restoration becoming rampant in the early-to-mid 2000s, the condition of a comic book could no longer be trusted by any one seller, regardless of his reputation. The even more mature market of coins had evolved to where any uncertified listing of a coin on eBay stating the grade would be removed by eBay. Yet as I learned more about the behemoths behind the established certification companies, I realized much of the passion of collecting was removed from the process. They became businesses with a successful model, but at the end of the day, it was the collectors who embraced the model that legitimized the hobby.
And that’s what makes us different.

We are a company grown from this community of video game collectors. Our vision is to grow and elevate the video game hobby that we all love so dearly from one based in nostalgia into the legitimatized appreciation of art and history that it deserves. Through competency, consistency, and transparency, we aim to create objective standards that will reinvigorate confidence in the marketplace and make the collecting experience a rewarding one. I feel, as I’m sure many of you do, that the history behind video games is so much more dynamic, profound, and involved than that of any other collectible. And, it holds a special place in so many of our hearts and childhood memories. With the rampant presence of counterfeits and reproductions, we have the greater obstacle of cleaning up the marketplace to tackle first. But our vision will never change.

One thing needs to be clear, and that is that we are always collectors first. That is why we are creating this thread – to listen to you, our friends and respected collectors, and to grow with you. We chose the name ‘Wata’ because we aim to be like water, to flow with and be shaped by the community’s needs. As Bruce Lee says, “when you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. When you put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot.” We desire to take form and listen to you directly, to hear your issues and to address them. The Wata family includes our four founders, and extends to our trusted advisors who we have invited to be community advocates, each bringing their own unique and expert perspectives to help accomplish our overall vision and representing the community’s interests. Four of our expert members are here on NA: Dain, Dan (Bronty), Jonas (Jonebone), and Josh (Qixmaster). Our other Advisory Board members hail from comic and coin collecting markets with deep roots in certification. They include: Paul Litch and Matt Nelson (CGC’s two primary graders), Jim Halperin (Co-founder and owner of Heritage Auctions), and Josh Nathanson (Founder/Owner of ComicLink).

As we gear up to launch our website and open our services to the public, we wanted to create this topic to answer any questions you may have about our services directly. While we aim to get to everything you ask, the purpose of this is not to answer high-level or rhetorical questions about why we exist. We will leave that discussion to you guys to have amongst yourselves—we encourage you to visit our website once it is live, April 2, or see through our content and through our services what we truly offer for collectors to draw your own conclusions. It is important to keep in mind: certification is not for every video game, nor for every collector. Initially, in every collectible field that certification has entered, opponents of the certification companies have always outweighed proponents. We do not expect everyone to embrace us and we do expect criticisms. In fact, we welcome them. We have put immense thought and effort over the last 18 months to craft the best standards and services possible with one thing in mind: You, the collector. Wata is a company by collectors, for collectors. We look forward to serving you and hearing everything you have to say. This has been an overwhelming, exciting journey to-date…we can’t wait for what the future holds!

Sincerely,
Deniz

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Edited: 03/26/2018 at 08:19 PM by NintendoAge Moderator

Mar 26 at 10:23:43 AM
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K.Thrower (120)
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(Kenny Boy) < Master Higgins >
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Hello Everyone!

To repeat what you have already read above, I too have been quiet for a little while to focus on this dream with my good friend Deniz (superNESman). Although he made no mention of me, I assure you I am a big part of Wata Games! How, you might ask? For starters, I am one of the founders and Wata's Chief Grader. What gives me the authority, you ask? Passion and experience. I'm not one to brag or boast, so I'll let those that have talked in length with me about games validate my "abilities" or whatever mental issues I may suffer from.

All jokes aside, I love collecting, and like many here, have collected my entire life. I started with coins in 1987 at 5 years old, which I still enjoy till this day. I am a life member of the ANA and several years back seriously considered becoming a grader for NGC due my skill and passion for grading, as well as their close location to me in Florida. Throughout my life, I've always loved to amass collectibles and study every facet of them I could absorb. Stamps, comics, old bottles, Hot Wheels and die cast cars, actual cars, movies and music of all formats, action figures, antiques, furniture, etc. Some of these were light interests, others I could write a book on. But I probably know more than any sane person should on a little of everything collectible.

With video games, I feel like I can't get or learn enough, though. As a kid, I had a GamePro subscription, and had two close friends that had Nintendo Power and EGM. I made it a point to read both of their magazines monthly since I could only have one myself. My friend Chad had Nintendo Power since Issue 1, and I spent many days one summer reading through them all while at his house. Most kids didn't care about anything old at that point, but I wanted to know about everything that existed, even then. Soon after that, I begged my Dad for an Atari 2600 at a yard sale for $20. As new systems came out, I still kept my NES hooked up to my TV and just added more. I made countless lists of codes, games, systems, etc. ad nauseam. I still have everything. High school and college jobs at Toys R Us, Blockbuster, and Best Buy helped build my library of games and knowledge. I've learned so much over the last few decades, but there's still so much more to discover. And that is probably what makes video game collecting my favorite. You see, with something like coins, 100s of books have been written on every type of coin out there. Nearly every production figure was federally recorded and made public--there's little for the scholar to discover. With games, all you have to do is dive in, and decide what direction you want to go. For such a relatively young hobby, there is plenty that is unknown, not public, or unpreserved in gaming. Being a part of that historical research and discovery is exciting and rewarding, more so than the items themselves as mass-shelf fillers will ever be to me.

So where does certification fit in? Well with coins, at the time I started collecting, certification was brand new, and both regarded and disregarded by hobbyists. Fakes were becoming rampant and prices were surging up in the fruitful 80s, so certification was widely embraced by professionals. But others said, "You can't touch them and handle them properly." Quickly and surely, that mentality changed, to where coins were rarely traded uncertified if they held any significant value. The community and organizations like the ANA went out of their way to thwart counterfeits on all marketplaces including eBay, and made it near impossible to scam people when certification was present. Most every other collectible hobby has followed suit with certification--creating tamper-evident holders, grading, and various other forms of community involvement / watchdog groups to protect and serve the collector. Many will argue that anyone getting into collecting should do their research and know what they're buying, etc, etc...but there comes a point where money and counterfeits blur lines with deceptive practices. I don't think every person that wants to collect games, casually or devotedly, should have to put in the decades of time that I have to feel safe making a purchase. If this were the case, then at some point there becomes a cut-off date for when you should have started vs. when the fakes got too good. Maybe someone past the generation that grew up with these games wants to be involved. Maybe someone wants a few shelf trophies of their childhood memories without becoming a lifelong expert to participate. That's where Wata comes in. Wata is a certification company for video games developed out of necessity for what we saw in our community. Due to flawed grading scales, deceptive online selling descriptions both purposely and ignorantly, and the rampant influx of counterfeit items, we felt the video game community deserved better. And we were willing to give it the effort needed, because we care that much and because the community has given us so much.

Having Deniz grown up with a strong background in comics and myself with coins, we were both very familiar with what legitimate and reliable certification could do for a market. It protects collectors against fakes and restoration as well as gives accurate details of condition. Certification can make a worry-free shopping experience for collectors and removes the guesswork associated with condition, authenticity, value and more. It leads to standardized practices and expectations from buyers and sellers alike. Certification will bring more awareness of video games as a collectible into the public sphere, which will allow the hobby to be appreciated for its rich art and history in ways that we could never anticipate. More collectors will be getting involved and discovering what we already know--how rewarding and exciting it can be to collect video games.

With Deniz as President and myself as Chief Grader, we are still just a portion of the talented team that makes Wata Games so unique. Rounding out our founding team are Mark Haspel and Doreen Tho. Mark is Wata's Key Advisor. He is a founding employee and past president of CGC (Certified Guaranty Corporation), and is one of the world's top comic experts with unparalleled skills in grading, pedigrees and restoration detection. Mark alone has graded over 1,000,000 comics. His help in both the grading and developing our practices and standards has been paramount. Doreen is our Chief Marketing Officer, and brings 25+ years of experience working with major Fortune 500 companies driving marketing, communications and innovation. Her knowledge in business management is a great asset to us. She has helped take our dreams and aspirations and lay the foundation for us to turn those dreams into a reality.

Outside of our founding staff, we have been lucky to be surrounded by so many helpful people from our extended collecting families. We have consulted with many expert game collectors for their input on our practices and standards as well as their continued expertise as members of our advisory board. We have had great help from veteran members of the coin and comic communities as well. Many of you here will recognize them as community go-to people for their specialized knowledge bases.

After talking to the community and coming up with a plan, we decided to do something that appeals to everyone. Now, carts, CIBs and sealed games are ALL relevant. Certification isn't just for one tiny segment of collecting; we grade everything. Sure, our starting selection of systems is limited on day one, but more systems will be rolled out frequently, so keep an eye out.

If it isn't apparent yet, we love video games and we love this community. We know that our products and services, website, and future additions will be a testament of that love. We hope you check out what we have to offer and take a fresh look at what collectibles certification can and should be. Go to watagames.com when we launch April 2nd to find out more about Wata and our services. If you'd like to see what we have to offer in person, we will be exhibiting at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) Booth #913 April 6-8. If you're at the show, please come by and introduce yourself!

TL;DR I'm Wata Games' Chief Grader, I'm crazy about video games, and I'm dedicated to making our service the best it can be. I look forward to giving back to the community that has done so much for me.

Cheers,

Kenneth

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Ready for adventure!
www.watagames.com...

Mar 26 at 10:25:21 AM
superNESman (102)
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(Deniz "Alpo The Great" Kahn) < Bowser >
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For more information, please go to our site, which is now live! https://www.watagames.com/...

 

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Edited: 04/03/2018 at 12:11 PM by superNESman

Mar 26 at 10:35:32 AM
arch_8ngel (66)
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(Nathan ?) < Mario >
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Good luck. Interesting to see this service stemming from within the community.

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Mar 26 at 10:43:21 AM
pats1717 (878)
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< Wiz's Mom >
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Good luck guys. I wish you the best.

Mar 26 at 10:49:09 AM
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the tall guy (130)
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(Randy the Astonishing) < Bowser >
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All the best guys!

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"Meeting internet dudes is what being a dude on the internet is all about!"  ~OSG 


Mar 26 at 10:52:04 AM
PowerPlayers (84)
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(The User Formerly Known As Joseph Leo) < Bowser >
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Congrats on the soft launch, happy to finally be able to talk about this.

Please consider Odyssey, and Odyssey 2 in the future as well. They're some of the most beautifully packed games in all of gaming history.

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Mar 26 at 10:56:08 AM
Maertens29 (59)
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< Lolo Lord >
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Very cool. I look forward to seeing this get started!

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I'm looking for a mint, factory sealed Dragon Ball Advanced for gameboy advance, let me know!

Mar 26 at 11:06:15 AM
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acidjaguar (645)
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(Lloyd Christmas) < Bowser >
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IT'S HAPPENING!

Congrats guys and I wish you the best on your new venture.

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For sale thread located here: click
Wanted to buy: click

Top wants currently: 
Old NES / SNES era newsletters and mailings
Original GB Chinese games (CHN coding on label)


 

Mar 26 at 11:10:09 AM
hammerfestus (7)
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< El Ripper >
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Cool. Good luck guys. Glad to see some really well respected community members involved.

Mar 26 at 11:11:07 AM
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jonebone (536)
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(Collector Extraordinaire) < Luigi >
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Glad to see the gates finally opened, best of luck!

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WTB CIB MINT Games: NES - SNES - N64 - Sega Genesis - Turbografx 16
Last Beat: Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
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My eBay 10% off on NintendoAge! 
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Mar 26 at 11:21:25 AM
DefaultGen (22)
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(Tyler Wilkin) < Lolo Lord >
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It is great to see community members address a need like this, and hopefully make something less opaque than what's currently on the market. CIB games and even loose Nintendo tapes too, I think you guys are going to clean up   You've got a least a few Steel Battalion games (game only) coming at you soon because VGA never responded to my emails asking them if they'd grade the first game without the big box.

I'm sure my questions will be answered in a few days, but in my impatience, will you have a published grading scale with information on how specific flaws achieve specific grades?

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Listen to the  Collector's Quest Podcast 
Episode #93:
Did Johnny buy a $100 repro of Mega Man X?

Mar 26 at 11:29:08 AM
Paul (225)
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(Paul ) < Bonk >
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Woohoo congrats Deniz and Kenneth...

Glad to see this is happening  

Mar 26 at 11:29:18 AM
rlh (50)
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( Potatoe!) < Kraid Killer >
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I have no clue who you are, but I do know your board members. I really am glad to hear about this. I'm probably not going to get much graded because I'm not a guy who tends to like these items but I definitely get it. Plus, competition is a good thing and it sounds like you guys are going to do it "right" by starting from a place of passion.

One quick question, you had a short list of over-sized games that you currently won't grade. Considering Pokemon Stadium is on the list, should Star Fox (with Rumble Pak) be on the list too?

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Please check out my -->WANTED<-- list of games.
[NES/SNES/GB/GG/GEN/N64/PS1/PS2]
I prefer trades but I buy too.
Switch ID: SW-8142-3998-4206

Mar 26 at 11:34:46 AM
PowerPlayers (84)
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(The User Formerly Known As Joseph Leo) < Bowser >
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Originally posted by: Paul

Woohoo congrats Deniz and Kenneth...

Glad to see this is happening  

You just have to resub the Mario to them  

Just hope it doesn't come back as a 1.5 or *gasp* a 2.0.

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Mar 26 at 11:40:33 AM
BouncekDeLemos (79)
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(Bouncy Blooper) < Master Higgins >
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I'm keepin' an eye on this. Good luck to y'all!

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Originally posted by: dra600n

I feel bad, but, that's magic.
Sell/Trade: NA - http://goo.gl/Bi25pL... SA - http://goo.gl/qmKao... PSC - http://goo.gl/VYlKhP...
http://goo.gl/xmzKR...

 

Mar 26 at 12:06:59 PM
BriGuy82 (25)
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(Beady Eyed Man Boy) < Lolo Lord >
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Honestly, not sure if I like the idea of grading loose games. If I'm understanding correctly, this is the big thing that would really separate you guys from vga.

Mar 26 at 12:11:55 PM
Paul (225)
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(Paul ) < Bonk >
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Originally posted by: PowerPlayers
 
Originally posted by: Paul

Woohoo congrats Deniz and Kenneth...

Glad to see this is happening  

You just have to resub the Mario to them  

Just hope it doesn't come back as a 1.5 or *gasp* a 2.0.


Nope, I have some games already lined up to send them.

SMB 3 from a challenge set

and a Kung Fu that's moldy! 

Hope Deniz and Ken wear clothes and masks when working! 

Mar 26 at 12:12:19 PM
arch_8ngel (66)
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(Nathan ?) < Mario >
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Originally posted by: BriGuy82

Honestly, not sure if I like the idea of grading loose games. If I'm understanding correctly, this is the big thing that would really separate you guys from vga.
My initial reading of it made it feel like the point was more about "authentication" and noting cosmetic changes or alterations, rather than "grading" in the sense of how we perceive what VGA provides as a service.

I would have assumed that service only really matters for a handful of games per system, but it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

 

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Mar 26 at 12:17:02 PM
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Gloves (85)
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(Douglas Glover) < Bowser >
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Grats on the soft launch, really looking forward to seeing the services in action!

Question: Are there plans or anything in the works to offer your services internationally, potentially in some cost-effective way? Shipping costs (and customs) have always made services in the States very cost-prohibitive to us up North.

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I've started writing mini-reviews on games I've completed! Check my Backloggery below!

Mar 26 at 12:23:37 PM
BriGuy82 (25)
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(Beady Eyed Man Boy) < Lolo Lord >
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Originally posted by: arch_8ngel

Originally posted by: BriGuy82

Honestly, not sure if I like the idea of grading loose games. If I'm understanding correctly, this is the big thing that would really separate you guys from vga.
My initial reading of it made it feel like the point was more about "authentication" and noting cosmetic changes or alterations, rather than "grading" in the sense of how we perceive what VGA provides as a service.

I would have assumed that service only really matters for a handful of games per system, but it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

 





Yeah, if my understanding is correct I believe vga will authenticate loose prototypes and give them a NG (no grade). But they don't offer this service for any other loose nes carts. So to me it seems that this new service company is really coming in to capitalize on the loose cart market.

Mar 26 at 12:35:52 PM
Boss (3)
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(Ross ) < Tourian Tourist >
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Very interested in seeing how you develop and grow. All the best for the future!

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Mar 26 at 12:38:27 PM
BriGuy82 (25)
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(Beady Eyed Man Boy) < Lolo Lord >
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Originally posted by: arch_8ngel

Originally posted by: BriGuy82

Honestly, not sure if I like the idea of grading loose games. If I'm understanding correctly, this is the big thing that would really separate you guys from vga.
My initial reading of it made it feel like the point was more about "authentication" and noting cosmetic changes or alterations, rather than "grading" in the sense of how we perceive what VGA provides as a service.

I would have assumed that service only really matters for a handful of games per system, but it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

 





Maybe we'll have to have them grade our trophy carts from the weekly contests. We'll be rich!  

Mar 26 at 12:45:33 PM
arch_8ngel (66)
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(Nathan ?) < Mario >
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Originally posted by: BriGuy82
 
Originally posted by: arch_8ngel
 
Originally posted by: BriGuy82

Honestly, not sure if I like the idea of grading loose games. If I'm understanding correctly, this is the big thing that would really separate you guys from vga.
My initial reading of it made it feel like the point was more about "authentication" and noting cosmetic changes or alterations, rather than "grading" in the sense of how we perceive what VGA provides as a service.

I would have assumed that service only really matters for a handful of games per system, but it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

 



Maybe we'll have to have them grade our trophy carts from the weekly contests. We'll be rich!  

Somebody can pry that cartridge from my cold dead fingers  

Most valuable copy of RC Pro Am on the planet!

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Edited: 03/26/2018 at 12:46 PM by arch_8ngel

Mar 26 at 1:31:44 PM
hybrid (42)
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(jeff .) < Lolo Lord >
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What about misprints
How much does it cost?