Update [Fri 13th Jan, 2023 08:10 GMT]: WATA has issued a statement regarding the Dracula X reproduction it graded:
The eBay listing has since been removed.
Original Story [Fri 6th Jan, 2023 09:45 GMT]: The topic of grading video games is a hot one right now, with some of the companies involved in the process being accused of artificially inflating prices and other shady business practices.
Whatever your stance on the subject, this latest episode doesn't exactly paint WATA in the best light. A copy of the highly desirable Castlevania game Dracula X: Rondo of Blood on the PC Engine CD-ROM (a Japanese exclusive that has long been a prized target with hardcore collectors) recently went on eBay for a whopping US $3,989.99.
The reason for this insanely wallet-busting price? Well, it's brand new and sealed, for one thing. The other reason is that it has been graded by WATA, which, after putting the game through its "fair, detailed and accurate" grading scale, awarded it a coveted "9.2 Holy Grail Grade / Mint grade" rating.
However, there's a catch here – this isn't an original copy of the 1993 game. It's an unofficial, modern-day reproduction created by a company called PCEWorks – the 'smoking gun' in this case is a small plastic dimple on the lid of the CD jewel case, which isn't present in the original version of the game.
PCEWorks produced this version in 2016, as you can see here. The auction makes no mention of this, and, in fact, claims that this is a 1993 original.
At the time of writing, the auction remains live, so it remains to be seen if anyone is fooled by WATA grading and sky-high price tag.
Dracula X: Rondo of Blood is regarded by many as one of the best entries in Konami's long-running Castlevania series, but it never got a release in the west at the time. It would eventually make its way out of Japan via the Wii Virtual Console, and later appeared on the PSP collection The Dracula X Chronicles. It is also part of the Castlevania Reqiuem collection on PS4.