Video Game “Grading”

After a few years of Ebaying games, I’ve come up with one conclusion: few people actually do any hard research. And when I say “hard research”, I mean the kind of research that goes into pricing your item to make it appeal to potential customers and not seem as if it were simply a bunch of numbers punched in by monkeys.

As a person who has bought a few hard-to-find titles off of Ebay, I’ve seen how weird some of the prices get. The ones that stand out are the ones that price them within a dollar of something else because of something that the seller thinks is <dramatic music> SO IMPORTANT </dramatic music> that it suddenly gilds their “game only” offering squeezed into a cheap paper sleeve within earshot of a game that comes with everything else.

In a perfect world, I could understand the price being indicative of what is on the disk. But if that were the case, copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga in paper sleeves would be only a few dollars less than a copy in the original case with the manual. If you have the foam insert, expect to retire on that sale.

I also saw that there’s an outfit or two out there that offer “professional” grading services. They’re also not very transparent about how they grade the quality of the games they receive, but the effect they have on certain auctions online are pretty obvious: certain games being priced for thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, there aren’t any numbers on how many of these overblown auctions actually find buyers.

Personally, I think it’s bullshit considering the real rarities that are out there – the Metal Slug, 1990 Nintendo World Championship, Kizuna Encounter, and Stadium Event carts. Because of their extreme rarity as well as how complete they are (box, manual, etc.), and the lore attached to each, I can see them asking for premium pricing. Sealing a game in acrylic and putting a sticker on it with dubious authority doesn’t seem very convincing.


And here are two auctions going on that show the same game rated at the same "grade". Chrono Trigger = awesome game. But worth this much on the open market sealed? Not really. I've seen sealed copies go for $200 or $300 bucks in the past. And what's with the $600 difference? Maybe it has something to do with listing the actual year in the auction listing? Or maybe it's just more stupid?

See the auction above? There are more of these out there, creating an artificial dialogue of “grading” and “pricing” that goes against the grain of the kind of pragmatic proof seen with other auctions that sell their sealed games without a holographic sticker – for thousands less since that is what the market usually bears. If you have the money to burn and not care what it’s burned on, then you probably have nothing to worry about and a new copy of Chrono Trigger to stare at and never play – along with saying that crazy is just fine.

So until more people actually take the time to look at other auctions before they post, I guess I can still expect to see this kind of crap. But if there’s one thing that buyers like myself can count on, it’s time – because there’s almost always someone willing to make the right offer.

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