Similar to the CGC vs CBCS debate, people who want to get their games graded have two primary choices right now. WATA and VGA. Let’s compare these two and let you decide where you should get your video games graded.
I mentioned this briefly in my recent blog: Should I Grade my Video games? But I felt like this needed to be focussed on a little closer. In general, it seems people prefer WATA over VGA similar to how people prefer CGC over CBCS.
Video Games Graded: Grading
VGA has a grading scale that goes from 10 to 100. 10 being very poor, 100 being Gem Mint. The score increased by 10 up to 70. They divide these scores into (2) Categories. Gold level, Silver level, and Bronze level. Common defects that they say effect the grade is the cellophane/shrink wrap condition, the box condition, and price stickers. If the stickers are curling or aren’t in good condition it can effect the grade. Each sealed game will get assigned as Uncirculated. If you want to learn more about these grades and what they consider, check out their site.
WATA’s grading scale is very similar to comics. Starting off with .05 and going up to a 10. The grade increases by .5 up to 9.0 where it goes up by .2. Games that are CIB will receive a different grade for the box, manual, and cart. The grades will then be averaged out to create an overall grade. On the back of the case you are able to see the different grades for each piece. For Sealed games, they add a letter grade. There are 7 different letter grades starting with C and ending with A++. A game with A++ means that the seal looks completely untouched – straight from the factory – no blemishes. The C can have general issues, or one glaring one.
So, if you have a CIB graded game, you will get 3 separate grades and then an overall grade. If you have a sealed graded game you will have a number and a letter. 9.8 A++ would be the top of the line BEST out there… I’ve at least never seen a 100 A++ so let. me know if you have!
Video Games Graded: Products Used
The standard case for VGA is slightly UV resistant. You can upgrade your case to include the 99% UV protected case though. This is included in the Archival option. The back of their game case is not fully sealed. They do this to allow air circulation to prevent sweating. VGA does offer cases by them selves if you’d rather simply protect your game rather than getting it graded. They have (7) different size options, though the don’t state if that means (7) different sized cases. I honestly couldn’t find much on their cases on their site so if you know more, please let me know in the comments.
WATA cases are UV protected as a standard. They also have a 2-way locking system designed to be tamper-evident. We recently put that to the test and can confirm that. There is no chance someone can get into the case without showing proof of such. They have (4) case sizes depending on the game. They also have a 3D banner design or flat-top for you to pick from. Even after we bashed the cases – the games inside were untouched.
Video Games Graded: Cost
VGA has (2) pricing scale. One is for unopened games/consoles/accessories and the other is for opened games/consoles/accessories. Though… they both look exactly the same. First, the game is given a size number. Based on that you then move over to the Max Valued columns. Here there are 5 columns. You’ve got the Archival: $25,000; Premium: $5,000; Express: $1,000; Economy: $200; and the UV added protection: Under $200 max value. Each of these have a different rate of completion also.
The pricing for these range based on the dimension of the game. For Archival: $82 – $340; Premium: $58 – 210; Express: $43 – $195; Economy: $29 – $175; and UV protection add: $15 – $120. For any game/console where the sum of three sides is over 60″ though you have to call in for a quote.
The pricing scale for WATA is based on standard games. There are (4) categories with two price options based on declared value and sealed/CIB. Then, they add to the based on the condition/grade. You’ve got Select which is based on <$1,000 declared value, Turbo is the same <$1,000, Speed-Run for any declared value and Warp-Zone for any declared Value.
The pricing starts out with a base cost. For Select: $0, Turbo: $60/$85, Speed-Run: $85/$110, and Warp-Zone: +$125 to the Speed-Run Price. I should note – there Select option is currently paused – so I doubt it’s actually $0. The cheapest option for a graded game through WATA would be $60.
Video Games Graded: Add Ons
You can pay a little extra for VGA to do additional things to your game rather than just grade. They usually offer (3) things but right now only 2 are available. You can get a grading summary for your game (only 5 at a time) and it effects the turnaround time, for $20. Normally you could pick between the summary and the detailed but the detailed option is not available right now. You can also pay $10 per game to have your game gently cleaned. To get a game recased, it depends on the value & size. Under $25k value: $30 – $182; under $1000 value: $23 – $140; and for UV: $15 – $120.
WATA also offers some add ons for people to enjoy. They have (2) options for cleaning: Light ($6) & Heavy ($24). They offer to take professional photos for $10, Game Testing for $5, Board Photos for $10, a Deep “Badge” Upgrade for $8, and a graders report for $10 (which is currently unavailable). To get a game recased, there is a $25 fee.
Video Games Graded: Turnaround
If you send in a game that is valued as Archival, it’s a 7-10 day turn around. If you send in a game that’s valued around $200 you’re looking at 3+ months and that’s not guaranteed. Things that effect the turnaround: if you do any add ons and obviously a pandemic! Right now they have added delays for invoicing, Express Grading Scale (3+ month) and Economy (3+ months).
If you send in a game that is considered Select would be 170 business days; Turbo: 60 business days; Speed-Run: 15 business days; and Warp-Zone: 3 business days. They do note that all these time frames are estimates. For games with a value under $1,000 liability is included. For those valued between $1,000 and $2,499, liability is added on a scale. Then, for games valued $2,500 and up, they charge an additional 2% of the declared value.
Video Games Graded: Grading Wrap Up
At the end of the day it is up to you, what you are willing to spend, and what you think of each company. I have a pretty solid opinion after spending a lot of time on both websites comparing them. Their pricing is WAY different so if that’s what matters – there you go. Other than the pricing I think the grading is where these two companies stray.