Updated Wata Pop Reports! What Collectors and Fractional Investors Need to Know
April 21, 2022
Earlier this week, Wata Games launched an update to their population reports. When the first pop report dropped in late November, it included only NES games (we broke down the statistics here). This time, we’re treated to the inclusion of eleven additional consoles, including the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Game Boy, and Sega Genesis among others. The quantities of graded games on those consoles were, of course, an unknown variable to date, with fervent collectors building an understanding based on anecdotal evidence and appearances at auction. Needless to say, the reports will be met with intrigue from both collectors and skeptics alike.
NES remains far and away the most heavily graded console, followed by the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64. In fact, the NES population is nearly as large as the next three most heavily-graded combined. Since we have the data from the November population report for NES, we can actually compare the numbers today to better understand trajectory.
Since November, the population of NES graded games has grown over 30%. That’s fairly staggering population growth in just 5 months, particularly considering NES was already the far-and-away leader. The single most graded game in the Wata population in November retains that title in April, as the graded population of Super Mario Bros 3 is up 23%. Overall, it’s clear that the grading platform is still experiencing explosive growth, and collectors and fractional investors should be cautious about putting too much stake in today’s population numbers…they could look different in a few months’ time. However, despite the strong growth in NES graded population, the distribution of grades remains largely the same, with small movement around the edges.
The grading distribution across popular consoles is depicted below. The most striking takeaway is the high proportion of highly-graded games on the Sega Genesis relative to other consoles. The same could be said of the Game Boy, though to a lesser degree. The distribution across Nintendo consoles is fairly comparable, though it’s interesting to see a much lower proportion of 9.2-9.6s on Nintendo 64 versus the much older NES.
There are few surprises in the top five most graded games by console, though perhaps some will have expected to see GoldenEye or Mario Kart in the top 5 for Nintendo 64. The Pokemon-dominant Game Boy rankings will likely raise no eyebrows, nor will the common Zelda thread across Nintendo consoles.
We can also evaluate the standing of fractionally offered games, as we did for just the NES titles in November.
Punch-Out well positioned. The total population of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out grew just two games since November. The game on Otis is of the exceedingly rare earliest graded variant, while Rally’s is from the following. Both are high up the stack in terms of grade.
Black boxes remain exceedingly rare. The populations for Duck Hunt, Gyromite, Wild Gunman, Donkey Kong 3, Ice Climber, and Popeye remain among the rarest in the NES population, despite some pockets of growth, and the variants offered fractionally often add an additional degree of rarity. Hangtabs are no joke.
Insulation from growth at high grades and in rare variants. Looking at the top of the table, there is a fairly consistent level of population growth amongst the most graded games. While assets like Super Mario 3 are in relatively common variants, their high grades have protected well from population growth. In each case, the number graded higher in the same variant is up just one game from November. For games like Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros, where the grade is not only high but the variant is relatively rare, there was no growth in higher graded games in that variant. Still, it’s worth re-emphasizing that any change was only over the period of five months.
Super Nintendo Takeaways
Less variant differentiation in which to hide. As is evident from the table, most graded games for SNES cluster in one variant or no more than a few. High grade, therefore, becomes even more important, and most fractional SNES games shake out well here, with a couple of exceptions.
Mortal Kombat! I know you screamed that in your head to the tune of the theme song. This is the first game in a rich and storied franchise, and the copy on Rally stands at the absolute peak of the grading stack, sharing that company with few other copies.
Nintendo 64 Takeaways
Strong copies but none at the pinnacle. While the overall assortment of N64 games is of a tremendously high caliber, fractional shareholders await a grail N64 asset that sits at the very top of the pile.
Elite company for heavily-graded games. Each of the titles trading fractionally is very heavily-graded (relative to the N64 population). Despite not being at the top of the stack, they’re in strong position, with an average of just 4 copies graded higher. Shareholders will feel particularly secure in the position of the Ocarina of Time and GoldenEye, with few opportunities for collectors to find superior copies.
Game Boy Takeaways
Pokemon…not very rare. Based on the frequency of sales, this was not a particularly well kept secret, but graded Pokemon Game Boy games are not very rare. At recent auctions, we’ve seen copies not at the pinnacle of the grading spectrum experience considerable softness, and the pop report speaks to why. While the fractional games are not in terrible position, most are not at the peak, sitting at lower grades, and importantly in some cases, later or less desirable variants (Rattata vs. Sandshrew, Solid Rating vs. Pixelated). Only the Pokemon Yellow on Otis is at the top of the heap, and the games on that platform don’t seem long for fractional ownership under Public.
Kirby’s in dream land. Shareholders will feel vindicated in their decision to rebuff a recent buyout offer for Kirby’s Dream Land, as they own the single most desirable graded copy. There is not a single other 9.8 graded copy at present, across all variants.
Sega Genesis Takeaways
Boomshakalaka! The NBA Jam copies trading fractionally are on stable footing at the highest grade, though a relatively high proportion of the population achieved a 9.8 (5 of 28 copies). Still, the overall population pales in comparison to the ever-available NBA Jam Tournament Edition, with 78 copies.
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