How to Rate the Condition of Retro Video Games


Rating the condition of any rare collectible can be a challenge. Most of the time you only get better at it through experience in the hobby. Especially after having a few costly mistakes along the way.

Video Game Collecting is not different.

When rating video games, I like to use a grading system that is similar to rating baseball cards. It’s pretty easy to remember because this system has four levels to grade on.

Below, I’ll list the four levels I like to consider when rating the condition of a used Nintendo video game item.

Poor / Bad Condition

A complete disaster, discs are scratched up and unplayable. Cartridges have writing, peeled labels, and are also unplayable. Boxes, cases or manuals will have writing, fading, and tears. Honestly, if it’s a common game, I’d stay clear of anything in Poor or Bad condition.

Average / Acceptable Condition

If you’re not picky about your games and the price is right, go for gaming items in this condition, they’re the best value. Items might have some normal wear and tear, a small scuff on the label, or minor scratches on the disc. Boxes, cases, manuals should be free of abuse or major defects like lots of writing or tears. And the game itself should absolutely be playable.

Near Mint / Good Condition

Free of all major defects and has very lite normal wear and tear. Discs should be scratch free. A game cartridge should have no writing, major scuffing, and a label-free of marks or tears, no peeling too. Boxes, cases, and Manuals should be near perfect. No writing or torn pages. Also, the game should play!

Almost New / Immaculate / Mint Condition

An almost perfect representation of all the things that make something near mint, but better, almost new condition. And, the game should play.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For sealed items, the plastic shrink wrap should be sealed and not peeling. Also, look for scams where it was re-shrinkwrapped. If you’re collecting sealed games, you’re at an expert level of inspecting. That is beyond what this grading system can do for you.

Final Thoughts

There are a million ways to judge the condition of an item. The only real qualified professionals are seasoned collectors or a qualified professional working for a grading company such as PSA.

Always do your research and always, always use extreme caution if you don’t feel confident about the authenticity of a collectible. Especially if you’re about to invest big amounts of money in it.

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