Heritage Auctions and Wata Games have both been accused of running a scam centering around retro grading and auctions, and things do look pretty suspicious.
In the last few months, there have been some very big sales of classic, retro titles, including Super Mario 64 and the original Super Mario Bros. Now, these weren’t just random, loose carts of older Mario titles. The games after all have sold millions of copies so a regular, working copy is not exactly worth that much.
A classic Legend of Zelda NES copy fetched $870,000 in part to its age, condition, but mostly due to the cartridge belonging to a specific and limited variant from late 1987. Super Mario 64 later became the new record holder when it sold for $1.56 million dollars — and it wasn’t the only thing selling for an absolutely ludicrous amount of money. There’s been a lot of discussions recently about how these video game sales could be nefarious and related to money laundering, but Karl Jobst highlighted some interesting connections in a recent video.
Jobst is a YouTuber and speedrunner. He’s also the person that’s brought some pretty damning accusations to light. Accusations that could cause waves in the retro gaming community, and I don’t mean the wireless Gamecube controllers known as the wavebird. Jobst believes there’s a group of wealthy, elite people “pulling the strings” behind the curtains at both Heritage Auctions and Wata Games.
His video is absolutely worth a watch for all the details but the short version is this: Jobst believes Heritage Auctions and Wata Games are working together to drive up prices while snagging sensational headlines and drawing in even more buzz. Jobst believes Wata Games and Heritage Auctions both stand to benefit from retro games costing more money. Wata Games rates the condition of games and Heritage Auctions makes money off the sale of auction games.
Retro games have been rapidly increasing in price over the last few years, and it appears to only be getting worse. Regardless of whether the accusations are true, it certainly feels like these big-ticket items will continue to sell. Perhaps any potential wrongdoing will cease with more eyes on everything. Or maybe everyone potentially involved will keep things going to continue collecting coins. What would Mario do?
Update August 30: CGMagazine has gotten the following statement from Watta Games:
“Wata Games is the trusted leader in collectible video game grading and we’re honored to play a key role in this booming industry that we are incredibly passionate about. We’re humbled by the support of our thousands of customers who trust us to provide accurate and transparent grading. The claims in this video are completely baseless and defamatory and it is unfortunate that Mr. Jobst did not contact us to give us the opportunity to correct him.”