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Anyone else sick of WATA/Heritage being blamed for all rising prices?


DarkKobold
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Let me start by saying I absolutely believe that the graded game market is being manipulated by big money. That's not the point of this thread.

With people stuck at home during the pandemic, game collecting is more popular than ever. Additionally, Americans were given an extra $3200 to spend however they wanted. It's no wonder game prices are skyrocketing. However, after the Karl Jobst video, you have a ton of people who think that Super Mario Land 2 went from $10 to $15 due to the evil WATA cabal pumping prices. The reality is, demand is at an all time high, and there's just not enough supply to go around. 

It's infuriating to watch people quote the Jobst video when common but popular games go up in price. No, Deniz Kahn is not the reason you're paying $150 for Pokemon XD. There was a thread on Reddit recently about SNES Home Improvement spiking in price. The irony was that the redditor who was posting didn't even stop to consider he was part of the problem. Clearly he was looking to buy (i.e. part of the demand), while claiming that no one should be interested in that stinker of game.

I hadn't expected the Jobst video to turn everyone into a conspiracy theorist, but apparently, that's the new norm.

Edited by DarkKobold
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Member · Posted

I don't have much to say but I kind of agree. I started collecting in earnest at 2016. At that time it felt like I got in late, and the consensus was that we were at a bubble. Nope. Slow and steady rise ever since and then in 2020, things exploded and haven't cooled down.

Supply and demand is always important to remember and what I think is going on is there was a large rush to collect, we picked up some people that decided to stick with the hobby and then there are others who were grown adults, bought in on the frenzy, but they'll never sell again until it's quite profitable. Basically, it doesn't hurt them to buy a childhood game or 10 for a total of $1000 and, maybe, one day make a profit. If those individuals never sell, it suppresses supply so the real collectors have fewer items in circulation.

So, I think there will be a bubble burst, but not by much. From that point, we might see a steady rise on par with the way things were pre-COVID, but that might be in 2022 or so.

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20 minutes ago, RH said:

I don't have much to say but I kind of agree. I started collecting in earnest at 2016. At that time it felt like I got in late, and the consensus was that we were at a bubble. Nope. Slow and steady rise ever since and then in 2020, things exploded and haven't cooled down.

Supply and demand is always important to remember and what I think is going on is there was a large rush to collect, we picked up some people that decided to stick with the hobby and then there are others who were grown adults, bought in on the frenzy, but they'll never sell again until it's quite profitable. Basically, it doesn't hurt them to buy a childhood game or 10 for a total of $1000 and, maybe, one day make a profit. If those individuals never sell, it suppresses supply so the real collectors have fewer items in circulation.

So, I think there will be a bubble burst, but not by much. From that point, we might see a steady rise on par with the way things were pre-COVID, but that might be in 2022 or so.

The consensus has never been that we have been in a bubble. That was just a loud minority. 

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FWIW, I think this is slightly different than the "bubble talk" that's been going on since 2010 or earlier. This is more that all video game prices are straight up invalid, due to WATA/Heritage. It's one thing to claim that video game prices are inflated, it's another to claim that video game prices are inflated in a nefarious or illegal manner. A speculative bubble can occur without bad actors who are trying to arbitrarily pump a commodity for their own gain.  We may still be in a bubble with non-graded stuff, but it isn't the fault of WATA/Heritage.



Also, it really felt that things slowed down around 2018. NES/SNES game prices had seemed to stagnate, and it seemed like the hobby had hit peak crazy, prior to the pandemic.

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Any time speculation and "investing" becomes a thing, there will be bubbles. IMHO, since the inception of the idea of "collecting" games started, it's been a slow burn up. I think with all of the PR from Wata, $25k... $100k... $1m sales of games, it's caused people to pay attention where they haven't before. There is a lot wrong with Wata, but I don't consider the spike in interest "nefarious" but I do think their actions escalated general interest in mlthe mainstream to the concept of game collecting. All things being equal, had Wata not even occured (and no similar event), I imagine we'd be on the same trejectory for another 5-10 years, tops, before we saw high dollars sales and average-joe thinking about speculatively buying a few beloved games from his childhood.

Regardless, when "investing" becomes an mainstream concept withing any collector market, bubbles will form and will subsequently burst. That was not 2016. Probably not today, but if/when the pandemic ends OR we have a massive negative downturn on the economy and people need money (ala government stops handing out money like Halloween candy...), we will likely start to see mass sell offs and a subsequent retraction of the market.

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I've seen plenty of evidence of price manipulation on Ebay with both sealed games and used games. It's fairly easy to do with obscure games and doesn't require a massive investment on behalf of the fixer. You can see on sold listings the same person has bought up every copy of an obscure game available on ebay at the same time, and then started re-listing them for 3x the price they paid. After 3 months the evidence of them doing so has disappeared, and eventually some idiot comes along and buys one at the ridiculous new price (or they can even just sell it to themselves). Then everybody else starts listing their copies at that new high price as well.

That's literally how easy it is. People have seen what WATA are doing to the graded game market and started applying it to other market areas.

There's a reason Japanese games haven't seen the same kind of ridiculous price explosion American games have.

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Yeah,  I might have to disagree with OP. Here's why...

Video game collecting had always been relatively niche. Granted,  it may have gained traction anyways with more gamers growing up and hunting their childhood faves, but it still wouldn't have exploded like it has.

Let's just take a random old school collectible, like POGs. Maybe I have a stack of POGs in my closet, buried somewhere,  and then I see on social that some fairly common graded slammer sold for a million dollars. Well, now my interest is piqued and I might go digging through my stuff to see what I got.

Maybe I price it out. Maybe I think ALL my POGs should be worth a lot more. 

I didn't care about POGs or grading or anything like that before I saw the insane prices they were inflated to. Now I'm trying to pick them up online or at fleamarkets to see if I can find a gem.

I don't know how direct or indirect the WATA/Heritage impact was, but i definitely think they had a hand in driving up demand. Make anything "worth" a million dollars,  and people will be all over that shit. 

It's why you can't go to a yardsale anymore without granny charging $40 for Donkey Kong Country. 

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4 hours ago, Xsplicit said:

There's a reason Japanese games haven't seen the same kind of ridiculous price explosion American games have.

I will say that cultural differences and the Japanese mindset towards old things have* always played a large role in the relative cheapness of Japanese imports. 

However, import prices are also up across the board.

Here's a smattering of prices I recorded in 2016 vs. now (in CIB prices, because that's what I was looking for in 2016):

(FC) Gun-Nac CIB - $90 shipped vs. $200 shipped

(FC) Mother CIB - $25 shipped vs. $75 shipped

(FC) Parodius CIB - $20 shipped vs. $50 shipped 

(SFC) Sonic Wings - $70 shipped vs. $120 shipped

(SFC) Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu - $10 shipped vs. $40 shipped

(SFC) Seiken Densetsu 3 - $20 shipped vs. $40 shipped

(SFC) Cotton 100% (complete with mini CD) - $80 shipped vs. $220

(PS1) Cowboy Bebop - $10 shipped vs. $30 shipped

(PS1) Image Fight & Xmultiply Arcade Gears - $45 shipped vs. $150 shipped

(PS1) Umihara Kawase Shun - $30 shipped vs. $45 shipped

(Sat) Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness - $15 shipped vs $55 shipped

(Sat) Cotton 2 - $144 shipped vs. $225

(PS2) Espgaluda - $45 shipped vs. $125

(PS2) Fate/Unlimited Codes - $15 shipped vs. $25 shipped

TLDR: With some exceptions, most imports also seem to be up 2 to 3 times their 2016 prices, which tracks with what I'm seeing with a majority of North American NES, SNES, PS1, and other classic games, even CIB. The high cost of shipping has killed the affordability of cheap imports (if you're buying them individually), but most expensive imports in 2016 have also gone up significantly. I think it seems like they haven't gone up as much because they have always been cheaper and thus a doubling or tripling of their price isn't as noticeable or impactful.

Edited by Philosoraptor
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Member · Posted

The HA/WATA connection is certainly a driver of everything going up. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Though that’s just one side of the equation. The other side is about the hype and the “news” (which is disguised-hype, basically) where games are turning into million dollar items, and “you could be the next millionaire from just looking inside your closet!”

The hype is the driver of all speculation and who do we reckon has started this mass hyping?

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Additional point, part of the blame is on the resellers who are basically pricing up ALL their inventory, including items where no one has bothered to click on the BIN for the past 12 months. Yet, they still price it up anyway...

It creates a false illusion where “everything is going up”, when in fact, only certain select hyped up items and sealed/graded games are the main focus of demand of high spending.

 

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On 10/23/2021 at 4:14 PM, GPX said:

The HA/WATA connection is certainly a driver of everything going up. There is absolutely no doubt about it. Though that’s just one side of the equation. The other side is about the hype and the “news” (which is disguised-hype, basically) where games are turning into million dollar items, and “you could be the next millionaire from just looking inside your closet!”

The hype is the driver of all speculation and who do we reckon has started this mass hyping?

You see, I disagree. People buying Home Improvement on SNES aren't speculating. Maybe the hype and articles have reminded people that they love video games, and collecting sounds fun. But no one is buying shit-tier rares for SNES in hopes they go up. That's beyond absurd to me.

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On 10/23/2021 at 4:27 PM, GPX said:

Additional point, part of the blame is on the resellers who are basically pricing up ALL their inventory, including items where no one has bothered to click on the BIN for the past 12 months. Yet, they still price it up anyway...

It creates a false illusion where “everything is going up”, when in fact, only certain select hyped up items and sealed/graded games are the main focus of demand of high spending.

 

I also disagree with this. People who know what they're doing only look at sold listings. People have been overpricing their listings on eBay since the inception of eBay. You have dumbasses like Video Game Quality who listed shit at 3x the going rate. That has never had any affect on the actual market. The only way a reseller could be at fault is if an impatient buyer hits "buy it now" on those insane price listings, therefore validating the dumb price. It's all just hopes and wishes until someone buys.

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I'm going to be blunt and just say that Wata Games' response to the original allegations do not come off as both transparent and sincere.

The #1 means of saying "We're innocent!" is to offer those who are willing to accept the results to collaborate on an internal investigation. They instead deflected the claims with a pat on the back AFTER they said how wrong those accusations are. This itself tells me that, at said time, them making money is more important than them doing what it takes to maintain the trust of those who were, have recently been, and can be negatively impacted by their lack of transparency. So for the most part, they did nothing that could have fixed any of their own mistakes.

When it comes to Heritage Auction, they are the worst of the two. If you compare their business model to the one that Sotheby's uses, you will see that the latter includes both a estimate value and a condition report. Plus Sotheby's does not focus on a single grading company like HA currently chooses to do. Which has me wonder how things will play out for Wata once CGC enters the video game scene, or if HA will switch to CBCS to avoid any conflicts when it comes to the money they make auctioning off Wata graded video games.

But on the other end of the spectrum, I dealt with a Star Wars collector that chose to badmouth those who collected AFA graded figures. His reason for doing so was because they got the better specimens before he could. The means or reasons why they were able to do that did not matter. Because in his mind, and I kid you not, them collecting the way they want to collect is also wrong because his way of collecting (i.e. dioramas) is the correct way to collect. So because of collectors like him I don't blame you for any annoyances this offers.

Then again... I also tried to promote a third option. That resulted in me giving up (for reasons that I will not say here) and later put that energy into my non-video game collection. 😅

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On 10/21/2021 at 11:34 PM, Philosoraptor said:

I will say that cultural differences and the Japanese mindset towards old things have* always played a large role in the relative cheapness of Japanese imports. 

However, import prices are also up across the board.

Here's a smattering of prices I recorded in 2016 vs. now (in CIB prices, because that's what I was looking for in 2016):

(FC) Gun-Nac CIB - $90 shipped vs. $200 shipped

(FC) Mother CIB - $25 shipped vs. $75 shipped

(FC) Parodius CIB - $20 shipped vs. $50 shipped 

(SFC) Sonic Wings - $70 shipped vs. $120 shipped

(SFC) Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu - $10 shipped vs. $40 shipped

(SFC) Seiken Densetsu 3 - $20 shipped vs. $40 shipped

(SFC) Cotton 100% (complete with mini CD) - $80 shipped vs. $220

(PS1) Cowboy Bebop - $10 shipped vs. $30 shipped

(PS1) Image Fight & Xmultiply Arcade Gears - $45 shipped vs. $150 shipped

(PS1) Umihara Kawase Shun - $30 shipped vs. $45 shipped

(Sat) Cyberbots: Fullmetal Madness - $15 shipped vs $55 shipped

(Sat) Cotton 2 - $144 shipped vs. $225

(PS2) Espgaluda - $45 shipped vs. $125

(PS2) Fate/Unlimited Codes - $15 shipped vs. $25 shipped

TLDR: With some exceptions, most imports also seem to be up 2 to 3 times their 2016 prices, which tracks with what I'm seeing with a majority of North American NES, SNES, PS1, and other classic games, even CIB. The high cost of shipping has killed the affordability of cheap imports (if you're buying them individually), but most expensive imports in 2016 have also gone up significantly. I think it seems like they haven't gone up as much because they have always been cheaper and thus a doubling or tripling of their price isn't as noticeable or impactful.

Agree 100% . 

I get annoyed when people talk about import prices not going up or whatever, as they have gone up drastically. As an example, I got a set of games from a local guy I know and I paid about $3 a piece per game, $72 for the set (there were 24 carts), back in 2014 I would have paid $8.64 for that set, $0.36 a piece, and I probably would have even gotten the set for $8 flat, for buying in bulk.

 

The cat is out of the bag in the east, everyone knows that these games are valuable, and prices have shot up here as well, whether it's Taiwan, Japan, etc. 

 

While $72 for 24 games still seems like a steal for western eyes, you need to keep in mind that where I live, I can buy 1.5 decent lunches (1 portion of meat, 1 portion of rice, three sides, black tea, and soup) for $3. So that amount of money could have bought me lunch for the whole month.

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On 10/26/2021 at 6:44 PM, FenrirZero said:

 

When it comes to Heritage Auction, they are the worst of the two. If you compare their business model to the one that Sotheby's uses, you will see that the latter includes both a estimate value and a condition report. Plus Sotheby's does not focus on a single grading company like HA currently chooses to do. Which has me wonder how things will play out for Wata once CGC enters the video game scene, or if HA will switch to CBCS to avoid any conflicts when it comes to the money they make auctioning off Wata graded video games.

 

I don't agree with this at all. I'm always looking to pick up stuff that may be underpriced so I don't want them providing an estimated value. Besides, how would you even come up with an estimated value for stuff that have no comps (e.g. the Magic Knight Rayearth I just bought).

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1 hour ago, tidaldreams said:

I don't agree with this at all. I'm always looking to pick up stuff that may be underpriced so I don't want them providing an estimated value. Besides, how would you even come up with an estimated value for stuff that have no comps (e.g. the Magic Knight Rayearth I just bought).

Not to come off as condescending, but your disagreement is all about your shopping habits. None of what you said had to do with the fact that what you oppose has a better impact on how you can get those deals. Versus the reality that not having people following the estimated values of these games giving others an excuse to not barter with you, etc.

In the end your question should have you know that good sellers keep check on how other items sell. And that transparent auction houses seek out the same data. Because in the end, the difference is tied to the fact those who overpay are shown to overpay... Not create a new value. 👍

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