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Thread: Exposing VGA (Video Game Grading Authority)

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    ServBot (Level 11) badinsults's Avatar
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    Default Exposing VGA (Video Game Grading Authority)

    Dangerboy, a long time contributor to DP, has put up a great video showing how VGA is nothing more than a pyramid scheme, and does nothing to actually perserve games.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BbHDMXxm04

    If you look at VGA auctions, most of them do not sell for any more than a regular sealed copy of the game, let alone the $100+ extra it takes to actually grade the game. If you look at the supplemental video, it also shows how easy it is to create a fake misprint, something that VGA actually graded. Also shown in the video is that the item itself was damaged after being sealed in the case, proving that the cases do not actually provide full protection for the game.

    And let's face it, people who use VGA are not interested in preservation. Take this auction of a NES prototype. The seller explicitly states that the ROM image of the prototype has not been dumped. How can you justify sealling up a prototype without dumping the binary? The memory on EPROMs do not last forever, especially when they are allowed to be exposed to open light like they are in this auction.
    <Evan_G> i keep my games in an inaccessable crate where i can't play them

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    Wow, nice video. I found the part about the ventilation in the cases kinda shocking, I always assumed they were air-tight.
    If they were encasing them professionally Id think they would all wear gloves and do the procedure in an area with humidity control. I mean, that seems very basic to me. OF COURSE if air can get in so can more moisture. OF COURSE it will oxidize over time.

    Ive never understood the point in getting anything graded, but I also have never understood the outrage against doing it.
    Lets face it, most of the people here own more video games than they have time to play. Placing sealed copies of video games in plastic tombs at 50-100$ each will not make opened video games scarce by any means. Quite frankly I really dont care what people do with their money, if someone wants to waste tons of $$ building a VGA collection or getting games graded I dont see how that affects me at all. I dont see how some chump spending hundreds or thousands on a sealed nintendo game will make a loose playable cart more expensive. Totally different buyers; hardcore collectors with alot of money to blow looking to build museum-like libraries are not gonna care about loose/used games, and simple player/collectors (aka people with brains) who have absolutely no intention on spending over 15$ for contra/mario/or any other game.

    And most importantly, those cases can be opened. Just give me 5 minutes alone with one and Im sure I can get it open

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    ServBot (Level 11) TonyTheTiger's Avatar
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    As much as I've grown tired of the VGA ordeal, this is a good video that clearly and concisely points out most of the problems with the whole thing. It sums up pretty much everything that needs to be said in under 20 minutes.

    I'm just waiting for the day someone pays to get a game graded, cracks open the case, resubmits it, and gets a completely different grade. I'm convinced there's no meaningful quality assurance going on that can't be reproduced by any semi-diligent consumer. It's unbelievable how an organization could claim a particular expertise, forgo actually explaining said expertise (likely by filing their actual methodology under "trade secrets"), and then convince people to actually trust them based on their word alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyTheTiger View Post
    I'm convinced there's no meaningful quality assurance
    Thats the problem, there is no quality assurance or proof of expertise by the graders.
    Now you can argue that the case will preserve the seal or condition, but I think one major reason people have stuff graded or buy graded games is they think the grade PROVES that the games are authentically sealed. If you buy a sealed game on ebay how the hell can you tell the seal is genuine by just looking at pictures or reading a description? You cant ever be 100% sure. I think people see the grading and think 'well this game was checked by some kind of expert, so the seal has to be legit'. The fact that there is proof of VGA grading open games and grading opened games that have been re-sealed is evidence that 1), the VGA encasing is no guarantee of an authentic seal; 2) there is a good chance they will grade anything (within reason) for money; and 3) THEY ARE NOT EXPERTS IN ANYTHING IN ANY WAY. Like seriously, where the hell do you go to get training on looking at shrink wrap thats 10-20 years old and giving a definite answer to whether the game is authentically sealed or not?

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    I've heard rumors that VGA is a guy in his garage. The fact that they "SLAB" opened items such as the NWC Gold is a joke.

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    I can imagine how many peoples heads would implode if this was up on NA.

    Sure it's opinion, but isn't that the point of an investigative reporting when you can not get the target of your piece to cooperate and explain things? I've always had a problem with VGA and he added some reasons. I never realized how that pricing tier chart worked and how it works much like a pyramid scheme. I do realize clearly they're full of shit when they're too afraid to post what their standards are and who their qualified reviewers are establishing exactly why they're experts. I've seen people at NA I'd trust far more who are friendly and super into pristine sealed stuff I'd trust far more than that smoke shrouded service for authentication. And what is up with the blister packed VGA cased MGS thing on that video? Clearly, that's a fucked up book and look at the lettering of the grading. And what of the qualified (open but not used) Namco PS1 CD. Claimed opened but not used, he makes a great point anyone could submit the same 'case or manual' art error and get themselves a unique cased gem too which is fraud.

    He makes a great point about the air hole there and oxidation with old cartridges, it really is a glorified sneeze guard. If you fear oxidation or sweat, wouldn't creating a true airless vacuum in the case stop the sweats as there would be no environment inside the case so you couldn't get water with no air (H20, no 0 no water.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Panzerfuzion View Post
    I've heard rumors that VGA is a guy in his garage. The fact that they "SLAB" opened items such as the NWC Gold is a joke.
    I doubt it. Considering that the company grades a large variety of items and in seemingly pretty large volume, it would be REALLY tough to do as a one or two man show.

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    Insert Coin (Level 0) Atamos's Avatar
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    Great video, I see more and more prototypes getting graded recently, this is just wrong and even more if the game has not even been dumped.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Atamos View Post
    Great video, I see more and more prototypes getting graded recently, this is just wrong and even more if the game has not even been dumped.
    ... is this a joke?

    Are they really slabbing prototypes? What the fuck is wrong with these people?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsune Sniper View Post
    ... is this a joke?

    Are they really slabbing prototypes? What the fuck is wrong with these people?
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nintendo-NES...item2ec830905e

    It just boggles my mind why the seller had this prototype SEALED IN PLASTIC to preserve it, but didn't even dump the data on it. EPROMs are not a permanent method of data storage! If you look at the images, the VGA didn't even cover the UV window on the chip; so much for them being the experts. I hope he got that extra UV protection on the case.
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    ServBot (Level 11) tom's Avatar
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    Wow, so what if you want to play that game and it doesn't work. He mentions it's tested, but does he have this in writing? You're screwed out of 50K if it's broke.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryaan1234 View Post
    I hope he got that extra UV protection on the case.
    Even if he did it wouldn't stop the damage. These cases are made to breath, that opening lets in regular light. It's like dealing with undeveloped film, any bit of light will damage it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanooki View Post
    I can imagine how many peoples heads would implode if this was up on NA.
    Go post the link over there and lets see what happens

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    VGA Wants that money. They will slab anything you pay them enough.

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    Perfect video! VGA has long been bullshit, but this is proof-positive it's nothing but a scam.

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    Send rare item to VGA. List on eBay for way more money than it'll ever sell for. Profit?

    Derp.

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    I hang around with a fair amount of people into the retro gaming scene and they aren't even aware that the VGA exists. I suspect the whole enterprise is only being kept alive by circle jerking morons from the NA forums.

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    capitalism at its best.

    Like it or not, long as people pay the money, they'll continue. They attempted to fill an odd niche market. These types of things exist all over the place in other markets.

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    Is the plastic really as indestructible as the video makes it look?

    That's scary to think about....

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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankSerpico View Post
    I hang around with a fair amount of people into the retro gaming scene and they aren't even aware that the VGA exists. I suspect the whole enterprise is only being kept alive by circle jerking morons from the NA forums.
    It wouldn't be a stretch to think that it's run by someone at NA, even if just a lurker.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Is the plastic really as indestructible as the video makes it look?

    That's scary to think about....
    I embellished a little bit for the sake of comedy. In reality, the case *is* durable on 3 of the 4 sides (the back panel that acts as the venting piece is / was fairly thin. With the use of a flathead screwdriver, a hammer, and the sealing point where the bottom meets the sides however, resulted in a wonderful, 'shattering' experience.


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    Key (Level 9) wiggyx's Avatar
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    Smashing open VGA coffin: + 3,000 gamer points

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    I still don't understand the point of people getting their games encased in those things. Do people really get enjoyment out of LOOKING at a game's packaging, rather than PLAYING the games inside? Are they trying to impress people and show them off? To whom? I would laugh my ass off if someone showed me a game in one of those things in person. These aren't baseball cards or comic books. I find it hilarious...

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    Pear (Level 6) Rev. Link's Avatar
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    Even comics sealed up like this are ridiculous to me. Maybe baseball cards I can understand, since you can turn it over and still see both sides, but a comic sealed up can never be read, just like a game could never be played. It's beyond stupid.
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    A well stated video but even IF VGA's grading services add no legitimate value or protection to a service, I don't think that the term "pyramid scheme" is accurate.

    Yes, they're advertising a potential increased return on your game investment through giving it the VGA service, but VGA are not enlisting buyers of their services to go out and recruit others to have their games VGA graded for some type of tiered or incentivized pay-out.

    So, clearly some questionable practices examined, but I don't think it's a "pyramid scheme" proper.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_scheme

    Personally, I don't have any vested interest in VGA or VGA related activities since I'm not a sealed game collector and I don't ever have any valuable sealed games to sell.

    Also, I wish the VGA would be more public/transparent about themselves and the services that they offer. Not sure if that would make anything better ... but being clandestine about stuff like this and professing to be an "authority" while simultaneously not participating in industry events or public things ... you're going to rustle up your critics pretty quickly.
    Last edited by Frankie_Says_Relax; 05-29-2013 at 05:28 PM.
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