Co-Founder of WATA Games Selling WATA-Graded Games Despite Conflict of Interest

WATA Games co-founder is selling WATA Graded games

By Grayshadow, Posted 31 Aug 2021

Recently the YouTuber Karl Jobst broke one of the biggest stories in gaming this year. Revealing a video game retro market bubble that is being artificially created by several people, with the fingers being pointed at the recently established video game grading company WATA Games and auction house Heritage Auctions. Journalist Seth Abramson has been following the story and recently published more serious information and the most unbelievable part is that he already the evidence without knowing and months before he started following the story. With 3 retro games sold to him from one of the WATA Games founders that were graded through WATA Games.

Wata games,Noobfeed,

This is huge considering the CEO and president of WATA Games, Deniz Khan, said to the New York Times that “WATA employees [are] not allowed to have games graded by the company or sell those that were [graded by the company].”

Abramson made the discovery by accident when cleaning some cardboard boxes.

It wasn’t only that one of the founders of WATA had sold me a video game—in fact, I quickly realized after some additional research, he’d sold me three games this summer, all before I started reporting on his company or even knew his name—or that in selling me even one WATA-graded game Haspel was violating a longstanding WATA corporate policy intended to prevent any self-dealing, market manipulation, or fraud.

When looking up the address Abramson discovered despite being listed on eBay as a comics seller the listing has no listings for comics and its earnings far exceed the $25,000 which is listed on a Manta search. With the trades being under m*s*h, Mark Steven Haspel and a co-founder of WATA Games.

Screenshot from Abramson (Proof)

You're starting to see how this violates that conflict of interest clause. Especially seeing that all products shown are graded by only WATA Games. Abramson puts it best when connecting this to WATA:

Not only is Haspel selling no vintage comics—only video games—via his supposedly vintage comics-oriented eBay account (his full store name, Vintage Comics on Parade, promises vintage comics but makes no mention of video games), but he’s not selling any games graded by any grading house other than his: WATA. And in an odd maneuver, his LLC (MSH Enterprises) uses as both its “head office address” and its “mailing address” the aforementioned UPS Store. It was incorporated in October 2018, just six months after WATA started grading games. Interestingly, Haspel had run a non-LLC company mirroring the name of his eBay account since 1997; it was only in the weeks or months immediately after WATA’s founding that Haspel apparently decided he had a need to establish a limited-liability company with a UPS-Store address—as his prior company, now inactive, used a real address Proof has seen, rather than a UPS Store, as its head office address and mailing address.

This becomes especially concerning when you see that most of the collection is rated "9.0" or above, which adds significant value to it. According to Wade in this “unboxing” video (emphasis supplied),

Like I always say, people don’t understand that [for] these old Atari boxes, a “9.0” is super tough to get. If you get 9.0 or above, that is “investment grade” for these old, early, 1980s Atari [games]….[for a game from] 1982, 1983, 1984, “9.0” is still “investment grade.” Once you start getting into the mid-80s—1985, 1986, 1987 [the period during which Atari was focused on the Atari 5200 and the Atari 7800, rather than the Atari 2600]—you want to stay above a 9.4 [or] 9.6 on those if you’re investing in the [second and subsequent runs of] Atari 2600 [games]. But these early—1982, 1983—boxes? People busted those things open and played them. They don’t remain sealed very long. So if you’re able to find a sealed one [in] 9.0 or above [box condition], pick that one up [and] add it to your [game] collection.

The article does go on about James Halperin's investments into WATA, board member of Heritage Auctions, and his connection to the other 3 executives at WATA. It is well worth a read.

Overall this rabbit hole goes far deeper than many expected. With more and more evidence piling about certain individuals taking advantage of a booming industry for personal wealth.

Adam Siddiqui,
Managing Editor, NoobFeed

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