Wata Games lawsuit claims market manipulation and false advertising


Correction: This article incorrectly named Heritage Auctions as part of the lawsuit. We regret the error and have removed all mentions of the company outside of this correction.

Wata Games, which grades, seals, and sells retro video games, is defending itself in a lawsuit that alleges the company artificially inflated the price of the retro gaming market, and lied to customers.

In May, a lawsuit was levied against Wata Games, claiming that the company artificially increased the value of graded games, encouraging others to purchase Wata’s services. This includes those with interests in the company bidding on and purchasing games for hugely inflated sums – into the millions.

These sales were allegedly advertised and promoted by the companies to claim the value of graded games was actually higher than the true market value. This promotion includes one of the interested parties taking a Wata-graded copy of Super Mario Bros. to the show Pawn Stars and asking for $1 million.

However, a deep dive into the lawsuit by Karl Jobst has revealed that the litigation does not only cover this artificial market inflation but also false advertising. As a result of its promotional efforts, Wata Games saw huge increases in the number of people wishing to have their games graded and valued.

This was the aim of the campaign. However, Wata failed to keep up with orders and far surpassed the wait times listed on its website. Some customers were reportedly left waiting months before receiving their games, with no delays communicated to them.

The pricing model is confusing but wait times currently listed range from 18 to 150 business days. The cheapest $60 service is only available to those wanting to grade retro games worth less than $1000, and which are loose or sealed. Those who have items that are ‘complete in box’ or are valued by Wata as worth over $1000 have to either pay $170 or $295 for the service, plus an additional 2% of the game’s value.

Not only this, but Wata also offers a number of ‘additional services’ on the website reported to increase the item’s retail value. All of these services add up to an additional $110. This system allegedly encourages Wata to overvalue games, in order to not only force customers to pay the higher prices but also to collect the largest part of the commission, its 2%.

If you want to find out more about retro gaming scams, read our report on the Ultima fakes and forgeries swindle.

Writing by Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.

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