Price Discovery 101

In one of our recent blog posts, we walked through the process for submitting a game to WATA and talked about the importance of knowing how much your game is worth (what we call the “declared value” of your game). 

But what if you’re new to the world of game collecting? How are you supposed to figure out how much your game is worth without trying to sell it? 

 Here’s a few simple steps you can take to come up with a good estimate of your game’s value. 

Before you get started

Even before you crack open your Bowser browser, you’ll want to know if there are multiple variants of your game, and which variant you have, as that will significantly impact the price of your game on the market. 

We talked about variants in our first 101 blog post, so you can super jump over there for a more detailed overview. For the purposes of this post, just remember that games are often re-released, and each of those releases is a different version or “variant” of the game.

(If you wanna get really nerdy about it, variants are like a snapshot of the time and place where a game was produced, letting you know the when and where of your particular game’s origin story.)

Why do variants matter when it comes to figuring out an estimated price for your game? Here’s an example:

Imagine you have a friend named Waluigi. (Please, stop staring at his mustache, you’re embarrassing him.)  

Waluigi is a gamer who wants to dip his toe into the world of game collecting. 

The first game Waluigi wants to get graded is an old copy of Super Mario Bros 3—crispy, unopened, still in the box, good as new. He does a quick online search and nearly falls out of his chair: he sees that a copy of Super Mario Bros 3 sold for $156,000 just a couple years ago. 

WAAAAAHHHH, he thinks, I’m rich! He sends his game to WATA (and even pays extra to get it graded ASAP), emails his boss saying he won’t be coming into work on Monday (he’s a tennis pro), and starts looking at Yoshi Island properties for sale on 

But a month later, Waluigi has hit rock bottom. His game came back from WATA with a respectable rating of 9.2 A+, but the highest bid he’s received online is just over $5,000 . He was already reeling from the crushing blow of learning that $156,000 is barely enough to buy a large boat, let alone an ocean view on Yoshi Island; finding out that his game was worth less than 5% of what he expected is devastating. 

Jobless, islandless, sitting alone in his basement in a sea of empty Red Bull cans and Hot Fries bags, Waluigi weeps, shaking his fists at the sky, screaming “WAAAHHHH, CRUEL WORLD, WAAAAAAAAHHHH?”
Turns out, the answer is simple, and this whole thing could have been easily avoided.

If Waluigi had looked a little closer at that $156,000 sale listing and examined the game box, he would have noticed that the “Bros” in “Super Mario Bros” was situated on the left side of the box. And then, looking at his own game, he would have noticed that the “Bros” on his box was on the right side of the box. 

He was looking at the wrong variant. 

That’s right: the placement of one word on a video game box can mean the difference between a $5,000 game and a $156,000 game . . . and your favorite spot on Yoshi Island. 

TL;DR: Variants matter. (A lot.)

But of course, variants aren’t the only things that matter when it comes to estimating the value of your games, and figuring out a good price isn’t as simple as just knowing what variant you have.

Like any other market, time and context matters. During COVID, collectible video game prices skyrocketed to unsustainable heights (along with the price of just about everything), and now we’ve just started to see those highs level out to a more realistic range. (Relative to when video games first appeared on the collectibles market, prices are still steadily rising, just not to astronomical levels that we saw during the pandemic.)

Another important factor in price estimation  is the relative rarity and condition of your game; has your game been sold at auction before? Is it in pristine condition, or does it look like it rattled around the bottom of your bookbag for 10 years?

You don’t need to be an economist or game expert to come up with a reasonable price estimate for your game. Just do your best, keep things like game variants, market trends, rarity, and game condition in mind, and you’ll be fine. 



Once you’ve researched your game and know what variant you have, you’re ready to find an approximate value for your game. 

The best way to do this is to look for recent online sales of your game, making sure that you only look at games that have the same variant and are in pretty similar condition. 

Auction sites like eBay are a great first stop when you’re looking for recent game sales; here’s how to do it: 

  1. Navigate to and create a free eBay account (iheartWalugi is already taken).
  2. Type the name of the game you’re looking for into the search bar.

    Pro tip: Use terms that more specifically match the results you want.

    For example, if you want to see graded sales, include “WATA” in the search. If you want to see only sealed games and weed out the hundreds or thousands of “left bros” cartridges that show up, include “Sealed” in your search. Similarly, if you want to only see CIB copies, include “CIB” or “Complete” at the end of your search terms.

    Click “Search” to get your first page of search results.


3. Go to the side bar where you’ll see a bunch of filter options. Scroll down, and under the filter “Show only,” select “Sold Items.”

This step is important: people can list their games on eBay for whatever price they want. By looking only at items that have previously sold, you’ll get a much more accurate picture of the market price.You could also select “Completed Items” to also see items that didn’t sell; this could give you an idea of what price points were too high for anyone to bite.

Make sure you also sort results so that the most recent sales show first. Just like any other resale or collectibles market, the game collecting market shifts and changes over time. Looking at recent sales will give you a better indication of what’s in demand and valuable now.


4. Now that you’ve filtered out the results so you’re looking only at sold items, and you’ve organized the results so that recent sales show first, you’re ready to start digging a bit further into the listings.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself while you’re performing your detective work:

  • Is the game graded? If so, what grade does it have?
  • What kind of flaws are there?
  • What state is the game in? Is it sealed, CIB, or just a loose cartridge?
  • Is this the same game variant as my game?
  • Zoom in on all of the pictures and see if the game condition is similar to yours

Don’t make yourself crazy trying to answer all of these questions perfectly. Remember, you’re just trying to get a general idea of what your game might be worth. So long as you aren’t like Waluigi, this process should be pretty easy. 


Auction houses

Another great option for price discovery are auction houses like Heritage Auctions and Goldin Auctions. Auction houses are a little more regulated than sites like eBay, and can be more helpful in finding an accurate price estimate for your game. (For example, eBay will only display the past 90 days of sales, while auction house sites will allow you to see all historical sales of the graded game in question.)

Luckily, the process you used to search eBay for previous game sales is pretty similar to what you’re going to do here: 


1. Create a free account (#1Walugifan is already taken).

2. Once you’re logged in, click on the search bar and enter your game name, along with any important variant details.


3. Once you land on the search result page, filter and sort results to look at recent completed sales.


4. Start combing through the listings, paying attention to the same things we listed above (game grade, flaws, game state, variant, etc.)


Whaaaat’s next

Now that you have a good idea of how much your game might be worth, you’re ready to submit your game to WATA for grading. 

During the submission process, you’ll use the information you gathered to put down a declared value for your game. If you find that your game sold for a range of prices, it’s better to err on the side of caution and put down a declared value that’s on the higher end of that range. 

It may be tempting to low-ball the value of your game to save a few bucks on the price of grading, but we definitely don’t recommend it. Here’s why:

We use that declared value to insure your game from the time it arrives at WATA to the time it gets back to you. So if our facility gets raided by Koopa Troopas, or if your game is on a FedEx truck that gets hit with a blue shell, that insurance will kick in and determine how much we can reimburse you for the damage or loss of your game.

In other words, if you underestimate your game value, we can’t pay you more than what you declared. 

So, even though it might cost you a little more upfront, it’s always better to do your homework and tell us how much you think your game is actually worth before sending it in for grading. 

Hopefully this guide will give you all the tools you need to figure out the declared value of your game. If you have any questions, you can always reach out to our team for help at [email protected]

If nothing else, remember this: know your variants, look for recently sold listings, don’t low-ball your declared value, and please, for the love of Princess Toadstool, don’t be like Waluigi.