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Zelda Prototype Sells For $55,000 (Apparently) & My Thoughts On The State Of Collecting, VGA, Etc.

So, last week I posted about the Massively Overpriced NES Zelda Prototype which as of now has sold for $55,000. The commenting went on to dissolve into nothing even remotely resembling coherent discussion with personal attacks galore.

While I did not venture into the murky water myself, I do feel I need to address a few things said in this post and many others lately. This may ramble quite a bit, but hopefully it comes through.

While The Buyer Is An Idiot, I Have Deep Respect For The Seller.

We need to realize a few things about collecting these days, things that people (myself included) who have been collecting for well over a decade (closing in on two here) have trouble admitting. There are a lot of collectors out there now with deep pockets. People who can pound out a complete NES set in under a year, or a N64 set in a matter of months. People who I have heard say things like “I probably overpaid by a thousand or so, but I didn’t want to wait for another one to come around”. These people exist. Some people think they’re ruining the hobby, other’s think they’re legitimizing it. Realistically, your view will depend on what you’ve got in you bank and how deep your existing collection already is. But they’re out there, and the amount of them is growing.

I do think the buyer is an idiot. I can’t help that, but I recognize that it’s my personal opinion. At the end of the day though, if he paid that kind of cash and is ultimately happy with his purchase, who care? Most people don’t care at all about prototypes so the sale doesn’t really affect you. Best case scenario a sale of this magnitude brings unknown protos out of the woodwork and we end up with some previously unreleased games that hopefully get dumped or reproduced. Worst case, proto prices skyrocket and 99% of all collectors are not affected.

Realistically, protos have been undervalued for years. The easy with which you can get a good game for a hundred bucks or so has always astonished me. Proto collecting as a whole has never interested me, but I do like having a few which are early copies of games I actually love.

As for the seller, he bought this and flipped it for a massive profit. In the hobby in general, a lot of people frown upon this. Resellers, price gougers, etc. At the end of the day though, it’s guy a guy (or girl), who has a mortgage to pay, kids to feed, collage to plan for etc. If there are people stupid enough to spend this kind of cash, I can never blame the seller for taking advantage of it.

How many of us who hate VGA are guilty of considering to grade something purely based on the fact you know the game would fetch a multiple in price once it was slabbed?

Listing Unique Items For Insane Values Does Work

The whole “10K MONIES” auctions do work. High prices bring more exposure and often solicit legitimate offers. I understand while people say that a overpriced auction is showing off, or just trying to gain wider exposure to their items because, well, it’s true. But time and time again over the years I have seen this work.

Mentioning VGA on gameSniped is promoting is NOT legitimizing VGA.

I hear the converse mentioned a lot, and it’s bullcrap. Guys, I hate to break it to you, but it’s too late. VGA is already legitimized.

Personally, I don’t like the VGA. It’s not because of the “a game should be played not slabbed mentality”, it’s more about VGA’s methodology and lack of disclosure.

I can think offhand of five people who I would trust without question on validating a seal. I could probably bring that up to ten if I though about it for more than a second and could easily bring it up to twenty or thirty if I included people who I trust for their knowledge on a specific system or region.

I firmly believe that grading does have a place in collecting, but I want to know why I should trust a company. Is that wrong? I know it makes sense not to release their complete grading process from a business perspective, but shouldn’t you at least tell me why I should trust you? I know they apparently consulted some high profile collectors, but nothing was ever published on who grades these games and why they have the experience to do so.

The realistic thing is that VGA capitalized off thier existing grading services and authenticity, especially AFA, their Action Figure Grading arm. However despite being the first and most well-known company to offer this grading – it’s been proved they have made and continue to make mistakes.

As an example AFA has and continues to grade licensed 1990s Chinese Generation 1 Transformers consistently as the original 1980s US and European versions because the packaging is almost identical.

Here’s a quote form the TF Wiki:

Among the Transformers fan communities, much controversy exists over AFA-graded toys. While some collectors appreciate the service for preserving their MISB toys and assigning grades to their toys, other collectors take issue with AFA for various reasons, including what they observe to be inconsistent grading, the aforementioned flubs, the high prices, or simply because they believe toys were meant to be opened and played with, not sealed away forever in an acrylic “prison”.

Sound familiar? It’s basically the same scenario for Video Game grading.

That’s my issues, but let’s take a look at the reality.

Look through the most recent VGA Nitnendo sales: Earthbound $2,000, Super Mario $1,500, Chrono Trigger $1,000, plus many more.

Consistently, most of the highest sale prices every week, in anything in the video game category, go to VGA items. They’re listed and they’re selling. By that virtue alone, they’ve been legitimized. When anyone new comes to the hobby, they see this and will never question their authenticity. It’s only us old birds, of which many comment here, that will ever address any concern about the source of their authority.

Price Manipulation Does Exist

Retro game collecting is a multi million dollar industry. If you question that, I’ll dig up some data to confirm it. With the dollars up for grabs it is making some people rich and others very well off.

To assume there is no one taking advantage of this is naive. When you can make thousands of dollars more based on using existing sales as proof of your asking price, people will find a way to manipulate the system.

For every one of us that see a sale and says “There is no way that is legit”, there is another who says “Wow, that is worth more than I thought”.

I’m not pointing to this or any specific auction with this, but it is something which has been throw around recently.

36 Comments

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  1. I personally had nothing against the item or seller in question, i just gave my 2 cents to the Troll or Trolls using this website to attack others simply out of jealousy and such bullying or rudeness should NOT be accepted on this site or any other sites for that matter.

  2. I’m so glad that I just collect loose cartridges. All this VGA shit is idiotic.

    I still need to finish my NES collection, but the scene has been whipped into such a frenzy that I’ll probably have to wait until things die down (or crash), or just give up entirely. I’m not willing to pay these ridiculous prices just because NA claims they’re valid.

    • No one on NA needs to claim validity on the sale, as the sale has conclusively transpired. Beyond that, the purchaser (by all “internal” accounts) is not even a member of the greatest Nintendo collecting community in the world.

      … And there was (still) much butt-hurt.

  3. It makes sense to keep in mind that with game collecting (or anything else really), as collectors of the same generation get older, each person’s average income is going to increase, which will mean more money spent on the big rarities.

  4. Interesting thoughts, here are mine.

    An antique or collectable be it a game, toy or a piece of furniture is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. If it sold, it must be worth it to that person. Every collecting category has it’s whales. Just enjoy their antics and think about how much better you could have spent all that money.

  5. “Best case scenario a sale of this magnitude brings unknown protos out of the woodwork and we end up with some previously unreleased games that hopefully get dumped or reproduced. Worst case, proto prices skyrocket and 99% of all collectors are not affected.”

    The worst case scenario have a big chance of happening. This barely prototype selling for 55k? What about a real searched for prototype like Sonic the Hedgehog? It would already be overpriced before this whole thing, but now, holy shit.

    You can forget about any real big prototype being dumped now, no one is gonna dump something that could fetch more than 10k and the people that are able to buy them at this price won’t dump it either.

    The Zelda Proto thing ruined it for everyone

    • “You can forget about any real big prototype being dumped now, no one is gonna dump something that could fetch more than 10k and the people that are able to buy them at this price won’t dump it either.”

      Oh, this post is worth preserving as it could not be further from the truth.

  6. I find myself visiting this site less and less and I used to enjoy checking it almost daily.

    It seems an update can’t go by without you throwing your two cents on whether an item is worth it or not. As a reader, i’d just wish you’d post the interesting links and leave it at that.

    To the majority of average people, any NES game is worthless outdated junk, period. Should the hobby be free now? I really don’t care what anyone does with their money. More power to them.

    I don’t care what an item is worth TO YOU.

  7. Ohh it happened. No idea why you guys have any issue with Zelda being the highest price title of all time. Fuck Stadium Events. Yeah I said it.

  8. It’ll be funnier when this $55k Zelda gets slabbed and resold above $100k. I’m sure that’ll happen at some point.

    I just miss when collecting was a hobby and not a business. Now it’s about marketing, creating hype, boosting rarity, and taking cash out of the hands of a rich man.

    • As much as you might hate to hear it, you’re not part of the old group of collectors. You’re just as guilty as anyone here when it comes to making money, reselling, hyping rarity, and the old guild hates you just as much as the rest of us my boy.

      You haven’t been around as long as you think/like to pretend.

      • In all fairness, I consider Jonebone the most levelheaded NA member I am aware of. While that seems like, coming from me, a ‘shiniest turd in the toilet’ comment, it’s really not.

        I was thinking VGAsshole is Rarebucky. I am guessing MoeDown, jdheins or Blarky now. Could be someone else – the latest crop of NA members are so damn forgettable – but if I had to take a guess and all.

        • Reading it from start to finish again, it’s obvious it’s BeagleNolanPuss or whatever he prefers to be called these days. For all of their dislike towards you, they sure seem to go out of their way to respond to you.

          • The hatred towards me makes this place worth visiting. Hate my selling habits, hate my abrasive behavior, hate my egotistic post, it doesn’t matter to me.

            Just keep talking about me. That’s all that really matters.

  9. The saying goes “If you can’t beat em, join em.” Of course I try to resell into this massive NES hype wave, I’d be a fool not too.

    However, I’m not the type to publicly rant about how I picked up an OMG RARE item, acting like it is the new capstone of my collection. Then turn around and sell it a month later in the hype bubble I’ve created.

    At the end of the day, I don’t care how anyone chooses to make their money. But there’s no need to rant and rave when you know you’re going to turn it to cash anyway. That’s what rubs me wrong, not the money, just the salesmanship.

    • jone I’m going to assume your comments are directed at me. If my plan was to sell it I wouldn’t have “ranted and raved” about it. It’s funny how so many people have an issue with this. Dream and I have talked about this and he was 100% behind this.

      I also find it hypocritical for you to say what you’ve said here supporting this crap, yet fail to mention or say ANYTHING about the personal attacks etc when I’ve helped you with your collection. Just don’t expect me to help you again or hit me up for trades. The things people have said and accused me of is ridiculous. How soon people forget what others have done for them or for the community.

      You have no issue speaking your opinion here where you have support but congratulate me on NA. pretty cowardly IMO

  10. ^^I think it is absolutely hilarious how often big priced titles get turned over in this hobby.

    Arkturus comes to mind with this FFF AW. bragging about it on the VGA thread and then a month later he puts it up for sale.

    bearcat-doug also comes to mind with his stadium events sale. i don’t think he owned it for more than a month before selling for a profit, though i don’t think he was bragging about it when he initially bought it. very surprised he hasn’t sold his gray NWC cart yet even though he is trying to.

    and of course the nolans come to mind. he/they had how many games slabbed by VGA and i guarantee he/they own zero of them still. one of the nolans, like arkturus, was bragging about a few VGA games in the VGA thread only to sell them a very short time later. the nolans are cool people, but i hate the fact that they pretend to be all about this hobby when the only thing they are invested in is making money off the hobby. it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they are purposely just keeping their full nes set to add to the illusion that they collectors before resellers. i wouldn’t even be surprised if they don’t have a full set anymore and they sold off their big titles already.

    and i don’t care about people making money. but just admit the only reason you guys are still in this hobby is because of the money aspect.

    • Sure, I’ll bite.

      I’ve owned a total of 6 VGA games, all of which I sent in personally to VGA to VGA:

      – Mega Man 5
      – Mega Man 6
      – Flintstones 2
      – Kid Klown
      – Best of the Best
      – Arcadia VI

      Of those six, I still own Kid Klown and Arcadia VI. Mega Man 5, Mega Man 6, and Flintstones 2 were graded for the sole reason of resale. I actually let MM5 and MM^ ride at open auction starting at $.99 and let the market dictate the price (one of the first people to do so with high end VGA’d titles).

      Best of the Best was listed at a high BIN to gain exposure to my other auctions at the time. I had no real intentions of selling, but I received an offer I would be crazy not to take. Truth be told, it’s one of the very few games that I miss owning.

      I do have a full loose licensed set still, and I’ve actually started to chip away at boxes again. If you have any I need and would like to trade, you can see my list here: http://www.nintendoage.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=6&threadid=77569

      I have never been shy about talking about making money with video games. In fact, I really, really, really like making money by selling games. It’s not the only reason I’m in the hobby though, I still like preservation and prototype hunting. Hell, 5 years ago you couldn’t even get a screen cap of Arcadia VI. Since We’ve owned it, we released the ROM for free to the public.

      Do I plan on sending more games to VGA in the future? Absolutely. Do I plan on sending in some for the sole purpose of flipping them for a substantial profit. Hell yeah. Do I still like collecting? Yup, and I’ll continue to add to my collection as long as I do.

  11. Thanks Mr.XXX. I shouldn’t have to explain myself, none of that was directed at MinusWorlds imparticular. The NWC flip, the FFFAW flip, the Zelda proto flip, etc. This is just one of many. It’s most of the “newish” guys who create a public sense of excitement when grabbing something ultra rare. They get congratulated and rightfully so… collectors live for the sense of accomplishment in grabbing something that is their personal grail.

    But then the item is back on the market in a matter of weeks or months in most cases? That makes no sense. Okay, if you lost your job and need money, I get that. If you suddenly shift collection focuses and want to sell to fund another, I get that. But I’m seeing a repeated pattern of “Buy something rare”, “Pimp it out publicly”, “Flip it immediately thereafter”.

    People need to check their emotions at the door. They treat this hobby as a business, then act like you are slandering their name when you express a different opinion. Also, MinusWorlds, since you want to get personal, yes you sold me a Contra 85+ this year, which I consider a personal grail. Guess how many times I’ve listed it for sale, tried to trade it, or publicly bragged about how it was the capstone of my collection? Zero. That’s the difference between my collecting mentality and yours. We’ll never see eye to eye on issues like this, so if you take offense to that, then yes, don’t bother speaking with me again.

  12. Jone what you are leaving out is I sold it to you at a loss, a significant loss because it meant a lot to you. You know full well what I’ve done for the hobby and NA yet when I get personally attacked you support their claims yet don’t mention anything good I’ve done. As for the new collector that certainly does not apply to me as I’ve got more than a decade under my belt. Many more years than you.

    As for never showing off your Contra that is laughable. Or did you forget you have in the VGA thread and gave me props for helping you out?

    Like I said pretty cowardly to call me out and here of all places. I do take offense to someone who has been helped by me for no other reason than to further your collection by adding a personal grail, but you’re right I’m a greedy prick. Then support people who know nothing about me instead of informing them. cowardice.

  13. I didn’t fight you arm and leg for the Contra, I told you where I was and you agreed to sell at that price. How much someone has into a game does not affect my offer, I know what I want to pay.

    And yes I appreciated the favor and yes I thanked you publicly. I never made it my avatar or created threads to show it off though, which is what I consider “showing off”. Posting in the VGA thread is just putting it where it belonged… anyways….

    You’re mistaken if I’ve “called you out”, and I never made any personal attacks. You make way too many assumptions, I never mentioned the word greed or prick anywhere in my statement. (Yet you’ve managed to call me a coward twice now.) All I’m saying is that the pattern of “buy, create hype, flip for profit” is quite obvious and reeks of a salesman more than a collector. You can infer from that whatever you want.

    And it’s hilarious that someone posting anonymously is telling me that I don’t have any balls. Yeah man, you’re quite a brazen individual yourself!

  14. Like I said you are pretty quick to jump on this bandwagon yet congratulate me on NA. If I called you a coward it’s because I call a spade a spade. I don’t need to infer anything. Calling it how I see it. Like I said quick to judge but not once did you defend me or let the people here that are personally attacking me (FOR NO REASON) know what I do to help the hobby. You just jump on board. And when the topic is about the Zelda Proto and it’s MY auction I can do the math, I’m not mistaken. Enjoy that Contra…

  15. Now registered, and I must say it feels good!

    So, now that there isn’t any confusion as to what I think, away we go!

    @Port: I wouldn’t say I like you, but I also don’t really dislike you. You hate Mark and I, and you hate NA. That’s cool. You’re a troll (I don’t mean that to be insulting, I imagine you’d agree), so I’ve learned to deal with the assault. Just like you, I try and disarm my attacker. They call me skinny, I agree. They call you fat, you agree. They call my a dirty profiteer, I agree. The call you old/bald, you agree. Just like you, I very rarely disagree unless it’s egregiously wrong. I’m not a rapist, and apparently you’re not impotent (congrats on the kid?). With all that said, if you ever want to have a charity boxing match at CGE, I’m all for it.

    @Link: I love that you allow the listing and post to stay active. It’s rare in this day and age of collecting where people can openly disagree/troll without being locked in an electronic holding cell. I’ve always enjoyed the site, and I think you’re a good dude.

    @Jone: You keep doing your thing.

    As for the rest of you familiar turds, I really DO like when I hear my name coming out of your e-mouths in any and all capacities. It’s what keeps me in the game. I have an awesome collection of games, and I’ve been making tens of thousands of dollars on top of everything else. I know it kills you guys, and every time you post another seething comment, it solidifies that I ruined your day. I fucking love.

    Stay tuned GS, I’ve got plenty more auctions where this came from.

    Hate on friends. Hate on.

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