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What are the current opinions on VGA vs WATA?


dr.robbie
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Sorry if this has been discussed before, but just wanted to get some opinions from the collectors here. Is there a general consensus on which grading service is preferred? Is it different based on if you're collector or a seller? My probably-out-of-date understanding was that VGA was more "official" and had a better track record. However, it seems like there is a lot more hype around WATA games from what I've seen. Just curious what are actually the current opinions.

Thanks.

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53 minutes ago, dr.robbie said:

Sorry if this has been discussed before, but just wanted to get some opinions from the collectors here. Is there a general consensus on which grading service is preferred? Is it different based on if you're collector or a seller? My probably-out-of-date understanding was that VGA was more "official" and had a better track record. However, it seems like there is a lot more hype around WATA games from what I've seen. Just curious what are actually the current opinions.

Thanks.

I have a batch of games I'm looking to get graded at the moment. Considering the massive amount of backlog at VGA and Wata, I am choosing to avoid both of them and will wait for CGC's new branch to begin accepting submissions.

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VGA is the better company by far. Far older, more respected, more competent and professional in what they do.

But WATA games sell for more than VGA games, like for like鈥攁bout 25% to 75% more鈥攂ecause they're backed by a massive market-manipulation campaign and a legion of fanboys who have convinced everyone that WATA is amazing contrary to the tsunami of evidence confirming otherwise. This fanboy campaign was explicitly designed to raise prices for WATA games because all of these fanboys are also investors and resellers. They urge people, sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly, to "cross over" their VGA grades to WATA grades because they inexplicably think that everyone is a reseller like they are; they do not contemplate that as this hobby grows it is mostly going to be populated by actual collectors who have every conceivable reason in the world to prefer VGA-graded games.

If you are an actual collector, buy VGA games鈥攖hey're less expensive (again, like for like) and more likely to have been graded accurately. The cases are usually crystal-clear and feature the games rather than WATA's branding. They're a good storage and display size. If you are an investor and/or reseller, go with WATA in the short term because your games will sell for more. (Disclaimer: I own both WATA and VGA games, approximately 4 WATA games for every 1 VGA game, though since the recent WATA scandals I have turned more toward VGA games and will continue to do so.)

I have no idea what WATA's long-term future looks like. The company is mismanaged and unethical and has terrible quality control. Their customer service is non-existent; they charge customers for services they can't possibly provide (making you pay for a promised turnaround that they can't come within 1,000 miles of honoring, but they'll never refund you); their cases are filled with scuffs and bubbles and human/dog hair; their grading accuracy varies wildly; they promised population reports and a game-scanning app "within a month" 3 years ago (I have the video of company president Deniz Kahn saying this at a convention) but never released them; they have managed to get the entire gaming world to hate them because they were caught faking appraisals on television (three times, actually) and letting their executive class (in at least two systemic instances) grade their own games with WATA contrary to explicit company policy; and much more. Candidly, as a journalist and market watcher I struggle to think of anything鈥攍iterally anything鈥攖he company does well or honorably besides hype itself and get self-interested shills to hype it.

In no other industry would a company like WATA even continue to exist; but because they're making a small group of rich men a lot of money, and because collectibles are basically unregulated and investors act like it's the Wild Wild West and no moral compass is necessary, they continue to have defenders.

My two cents as a video game collector and video game journalist.

Edited by RETRO
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No reason to send something VGA unless you like the case design.聽 WATAs graded games are more valuable and more accurate.聽 Its easy to predict within 1 grade deviation what a VGA game will convert to on WATAs scale.聽 Not so easy the other way around.聽 VGA has some ambiguous blend of seal and box.聽 Ive graded 50-100 games and am overall happy with the customer service when compared to VGA or PSA.

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If you are simply interested in making a profit off of a graded game, WATA is certainly the way to go as their games sell for considerable amounts more than any of the other grading companies.聽 If you are looking into it for other reasons, whether it be collecting or preservation, you might want to look at the other companies.聽 There is a lot going around with WATA at the moment and I won't bother discussing most of the details since that's been covered in many other threads already.聽 However, while some of the accusations can be considered unproven at the moment, it is undisputed that some unethical business practices are taking place at WATA, and you simply have to decide whether that is important to you or not.聽 聽

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As a bystander that has no skin in the graded game, should I want to get into grading some of my games it depends. Both companies have a pretty huge backlog to my knowledge so if I had no immediate plans to sell I鈥檇 would agree with @Gulag Joe聽and hang on and wait to see what CGC comes up with. If I wanted to sell as fast as possible and sacrifice some profitability I鈥檇 go the VGA route. If I wanted to sell for max profit and time wasn鈥檛 a factor WATA. Regardless of WATAs business ethics or practices they are the route to go for getting the most out of my game. If I had something truly rare or perceived as truly rare I鈥檇 do the WATA/HA route.聽

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I don't trust VGA's expertise across everything they grade or case security. I don't trust Wata's quality assurance, their higher seal grades can be dicey, and their cases are often like twice as big as they need to be. Everyone is too expensive and takes too long 馃し鈥嶁檪锔聽Sight unseen, I'd trust a high VGA grade to be actually near mint and displayed in a nice case if it was the condition I cared about. Sight unseen, I'd trust Wata to authenticate some obscure unlicensed NES seal variant if it was the authenticity I cared about. Obviously even then, neither is perfect. In either case, I try to evaluate the game best I can myself rather than rely on the brand. Grades are overrated. All these scales and psychological 9.0s and A+ grades and VGA 90s are literally all just made up.

Edited by DefaultGen
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MemberPosted

I commend the efforts WATA has gone through in the recent years to start up their company, and to increase awareness of sealed/graded video games globally. With the same level of appreciation of WATA, I dislike how their business approach is all about the money and so little focus on the ethics.聽

I don鈥檛 believe WATA is responsible for ALL the shenanigans that has lead to the ridiculous price hikes, but think their connections with HA certainly was the momentum that was the initial boost for greedy-ass hypers and resellers to jump on and wreak havoc to the gaming collecting community.

I鈥檝e been a long-term collector of VGA and trust their valuations for the most part. Particularly the 85+ grades and above are mostly what I would expect, give or take minor variations. I don鈥檛 own any WATA-graded games as yet, so not really gonna comment on their grading precisions. Though from being a casual observer, the casings seem to be more reliable with VGA with less scuffs and other unwanted objects in the acrylic encasing. My guess is that WATA has been trying to do too much with under-resourced staff, so errors are likely to be more prone with the end products.

I鈥檓 not one of those collectors that are heavily biased towards VGA. I do plan to give WATA a try as I have a stack of CIBs that I might try grading one day. I鈥檓 still in the contemplation stage as it stands, pending how WATA does their business henceforth.

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8 hours ago, RETRO said:

their cases are filled with scuffs and bubbles and human/dog hair;

HEY!聽馃槨 You leave us human/dog hybrids out of this! You know how tough it is to find a full-body human/dog sized hair net?聽馃槫

Anyway, forget WATA or VGA! My wagon is hitched to VGG!聽馃コ

https://videogamegraders.com/

It's like what your mom would come up with if she started a grading company out of the family dining room!聽馃ぃ

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Since Wata is way behind there TAT estimates. I won't be sending anymore games to them until they improve there quality control. Today I found brown HUMAN HAIR in multiple slabs. I couldn't believe it. Like whoever job at Wata is to slab these games needs to wear a fucking hairnet. I do not want there employees hair and my games preserved together forever.

The time it will take to get customer service to respond to my inquiry, send the hair infested slabs back to them, have it removed and sent back to me, will take forever! As a reminder to聽everyone here, thoroughly check your slabs. You might find a early Christmas聽present from Wata claus.聽

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7 minutes ago, AnimalHouse said:

Since Wata is way behind there TAT estimates. I won't be sending anymore games to them until they improve there quality control. Today I found brown HUMAN HAIR in multiple slabs. I couldn't believe it. Like whoever job at Wata is to slab these games needs to wear a fucking hairnet. I do not want there employees hair and my games preserved together forever.

The time it will take to get customer service to respond to my inquiry, send the hair infested slabs back to them, have it removed and sent back to me, will take forever! As a reminder to聽everyone here, thoroughly check your slabs. You might find a early Christmas聽present from Wata claus.聽

Bruh... you're not thinking about the bigger picture 馃槃聽Organic matter makes a game even more valuable and unique! Check out the game that sold for $144k that had a fruit fly in it:

image.png.2872fcd8fdbac7e8013d14cb8da589f8.png

image.png.ae7328f228e8944c601d4de9af79494e.png

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Wow, now I have seen everything. If the buyer ever decides to sell this back on Heritage, I can totally see them using the dead fruit fly as a sales pitch. "Buy the game, get a preserved fruit fly for free!" I wonder, if there hadn't been a dead fruit fly inside the game case or slab. Would you think the auction price would go higher?

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MemberPosted
57 minutes ago, tidaldreams said:

Bruh... you're not thinking about the bigger picture 馃槃聽Organic matter makes a game even more valuable and unique! Check out the game that sold for $144k that had a fruit fly in it:

image.png.2872fcd8fdbac7e8013d14cb8da589f8.png

image.png.ae7328f228e8944c601d4de9af79494e.png

I鈥檝e read about the fruit fly after grading but thought that was a myth. Now I can believe!聽

鈥淔ruit Fly Final Fantasy鈥..

what a sales pitch!聽馃槣

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If I can be honest...

VGA tends to be a horrible option when it comes to them both certifying and labelling games. They come off as being a company that does not need to detect bootlegs, nor do more than say a specific game is a regional copy. And those who have defended either issue have later been proven wrong when it comes to buyers of graded games.

However... They have always been good at grading, and their custom cases tend to be a standard. Plus they are very much prompt when it comes to timing, to the point their soon-to-be-updated website has made sure to keep everybody up to date on a near monthly basis. And while the company is not transparent, they are willing to investigate any irregularities that do happen within their company. Going as far as buying up items that should not have been graded.

Wata, on the other hand, has me feel that a portion of what they have established was based on advice they received from Heritage Auction. And while possibly smart for them, their corner cutting tactics only shows that they have a strong marketing team. However, their lack of improvements will ultimate see them lose business once CGC becomes the new hype machine. Along with their faults being the reason why I tried CAS in the end.

With those reasons being quality control is, at times, questionable. Which for me includes their grading style, their cases, and their customer service. I have yet tried out their service, but have determined that it would be cheaper to use VGA's Archival service option than it would be to use their fastest option.

All of it being sad because I started to like the way their cases looked before the QC roundup started to happen.

In the end, VGA's grading style is also why I trust CAS. While I personally felt that CAS was stingier with their grades, there are attributes that will have me return to VGA if (and only if) I have a reason to. But at this time I am also debating if I should use CGA, Inc.'s AFA brand, with standard grading. Because that is how much I trust VGA.

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I've no idea what "advice from HA" you're referring to in WATA's case, honestly. HA frequently make obviously wrong claims about games in their auction descriptions that WATA does not make (e.g. they constantly claim that second print Super Mario Lands are first print, and in the most recent signature they correctly identified a first print Pokemon FireRed as such, but then claimed a first print LeafGreen was "mid-production", I'd be livid if I were the seller). WATA was not the source of any of those claims, HA screwed it up on their own.

I don't think HA knows anything about games that WATA doesn't, rather the reverse.

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There are pros and cons. WATA's bread and butter seems to be NES. They're very experienced with variants which is awesome. Their case is so durable that you could probably drop it from your roof and the game will be untouched (despite the case probably breaking). Sadly though, their rating scale is applied without caution and as a result is just plain wrong at times.

VGA has been around longer, is reputable and preferred by a certain spectrum of older collectors, and overall is more aesthetically pleasing (IMO). Despite this, they've struggled identifying repros and seemingly don't care to receive feedback (they never respond to my emails telling them of a new cert number that's for a fake). Pokemon is the biggest culprit for them, as they've graded numerous fake pearls/diamonds/platinums. DVD games in general seem to get through the cracks. zandgemporium sent in a Made in japan melee to cross at wata, ended up being a reseal. 馃槥

Overall, I've come to see vga 90+ or higher as the most prime examples in the hobby. Whereas I see Wata as the most security for a game you can ask for in the current market while commanding the most premium price.

On 10/27/2021 at 11:45 AM, Jayleonis said:

WATAs graded games are more valuable and more accurate.聽

Not necessarily true. Both Wata and VGA have had very questionable grades on certain games, but especially Wata as of late. Prime example being all the games (seriously, just pick one; any one) with A+ seal ratings that have tears/holes, despite A+ clearing stating "no holes", and A rating clearly stating, "a few minuscule holes, usually seen at the corner edges."

It would be generous to call Wata "inconsistent." It looks like they're just constantly violating their own scale. My own very small collection is proof enough for me.

FWIW I'm not bashing Wata here, just stating the reality as I see it. They're still relatively young and need time to really refine and perfect their craft in the real world. VGA has gotten a bit harsher on their grades lately because historically they've focused primarily on seal while being lax on box. I hear they're getting more balanced though.

Edited by inasuma
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On 10/27/2021 at 1:57 PM, DefaultGen said:

I don't trust VGA's expertise across everything they grade or case security. I don't trust Wata's quality assurance, their higher seal grades can be dicey, and their cases are often like twice as big as they need to be. Everyone is too expensive and takes too long 馃し鈥嶁檪锔聽Sight unseen, I'd trust a high VGA grade to be actually near mint and displayed in a nice case if it was the condition I cared about. Sight unseen, I'd trust Wata to authenticate some obscure unlicensed NES seal variant if it was the authenticity I cared about. Obviously even then, neither is perfect. In either case, I try to evaluate the game best I can myself rather than rely on the brand. Grades are overrated. All these scales and psychological 9.0s and A+ grades and VGA 90s are literally all just made up.

We don't buy games here. We buy high grade acrylic cases. The game could be a pile of goo and I'd spend 1.5 mil on it if it were 9.8 A++

/s

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On 10/27/2021 at 10:41 AM, RETRO said:

VGA is the better company by far. Far older, more respected, more competent and professional in what they do.

But WATA games sell for more than VGA games, like for like鈥攁bout 25% to 75% more鈥攂ecause they're backed by a massive market-manipulation campaign and a legion of fanboys who have convinced everyone that WATA is amazing contrary to the tsunami of evidence confirming otherwise. This fanboy campaign was explicitly designed to raise prices for WATA games because all of these fanboys are also investors and resellers. They urge people, sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly, to "cross over" their VGA grades to WATA grades because they inexplicably think that everyone is a reseller like they are; they do not contemplate that as this hobby grows it is mostly going to be populated by actual collectors who have every conceivable reason in the world to prefer VGA-graded games.

If you are an actual collector, buy VGA games鈥攖hey're less expensive (again, like for like) and more likely to have been graded accurately. The cases are usually crystal-clear and feature the games rather than WATA's branding. They're a good storage and display size. If you are an investor and/or reseller, go with WATA in the short term because your games will sell for more. (Disclaimer: I own both WATA and VGA games, approximately 4 WATA games for every 1 VGA game, though since the recent WATA scandals I have turned more toward VGA games and will continue to do so.)

I have no idea what WATA's long-term future looks like. The company is mismanaged and unethical and has terrible quality control. Their customer service is non-existent; they charge customers for services they can't possibly provide (making you pay for a promised turnaround that they can't come within 1,000 miles of honoring, but they'll never refund you); their cases are filled with scuffs and bubbles and human/dog hair; their grading accuracy varies wildly; they promised population reports and a game-scanning app "within a month" 3 years ago (I have the video of company president Deniz Kahn saying this at a convention) but never released them; they have managed to get the entire gaming world to hate them because they were caught faking appraisals on television (three times, actually) and letting their executive class (in at least two systemic instances) grade their own games with WATA contrary to explicit company policy; and much more. Candidly, as a journalist and market watcher I struggle to think of anything鈥攍iterally anything鈥攖he company does well or honorably besides hype itself and get self-interested shills to hype it.

In no other industry would a company like WATA even continue to exist; but because they're making a small group of rich men a lot of money, and because collectibles are basically unregulated and investors act like it's the Wild Wild West and no moral compass is necessary, they continue to have defenders.

My two cents as a video game collector and video game journalist.

You're making fun of the very people you use this forum with, that's pretty insulting. I have games graded by Wata and I am a collector, I probably fit the definition more than anyone you're ever met. I rarely sell games and I chose Wata over VGA because I wanted the separation in item grade and seal grade instead of a company that just puts them into one. I also wanted an opened game graded because it's from an extremely early and very uncommon launch set of test market games. The history needs to be preserved so I graded it and continue to own it.

The hair in the case you speak of is the seller's own fault most times. Wata has an option for game cleaning so if they open a package and there's dog hair on the game (from the owner's packing), then they're not even going to bother brushing it off if the owner didn't pay for cleaning. They're just going to leave it there and encase it with the game, why would they do any different? I just boxed up a pile of games for both VGA and Wata, I wrapped each game on the carpet and there was cat hair everywhere when I was done. It was in the bubble wrap, on the games, in the box, there's no avoiding it. I know Wata will clean them when received because I paid for cleaning on all of them.

How would Deniz know when population reports and a game scanning application are coming? He needs someone to build that for him, sure he can promise he'll start looking into it or working on it (which is probably what he said) but unless he's a software developer himself, there's no way for him to know how long that would take. If you believe it would actually take a month, then you should have known better, that's not possible. He likely started looking into it and his developer told him it would take much longer.

The entire gaming world hates them? That must be why they had their gaming company appraised for millions and sold. Where are you getting this information, because you and your friends hate him?

When did Deniz ever fake an appraisal? He appraised Super Mario Bros. at $1,000,000 and then a NEWER copy sold for $2,000,000. He appraised Mike Tyson's Punch Out for $60,000 and in the most recent auction that's what one sold for (and another for more). Where are these fake appraisals?

If you're a journalist you should be able to cite sources. And don't accuse me of loving Wata, I shipped 7 games to VGA two days ago. You also left out all of the deficiencies of VGA like the fake prototypes they've graded and the casing rehousing people have been able to do for years. Every company has their flaws.

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