How to Spot Fake Sealed Classic Video Games

You might remember my interview and store tour with Jason from Trade N Games (based in St. Louis, MO area) (See our interview here).  Well anyway, I wanted to share an extra video segment from that day where he shared his thoughts on sealed games and how you can spot fake sealed games in the wild.   I also thought I’d round up some other tips to share with you in case you are on the lookout for sealed games.

Sealed Game Tips from the Video

  • For Sega Genesis games: Only sealed with a seam on the top and bottom – no side seams because they were sealed in a tube of plastic.
  • NES: real factory sealed games have a side seam and a very straight and equal horizontal line (perpendicular with the side seam)  that goes across the back
  • Don’t go based on just the hang-tag — fake ones can be easily added
  • If paint has worn away on the fold of of the box lid, you can tell it has been opened before (look for touch-up of paint on the fold as well)

Additional NES Tips from Expert eBay Seller

  • eBay seller, skcin08 has some great NES tips that you can read in more detail on his eBay post, but here are some excerpts
  • “Check the hang tab. The hangtab used to hang most NES games is a “D” style hang tab, measuring 2 inches wide and 1.75 inches high. Often times the part of the hang tab that is stuck to the shrink wrap is slightly discolored, yet oddly enough, the rest of the tab is usually still clear. “
  • “Price tags. Some legitimate factory sealed games have price tags on them, but resealers sometimes will add their own price tags onto the shrinkwrap. If the price tag looks old and discolored due to age, chances are it is a legit factory sealed game. Also, where is the price tag from? Generic white price guns can be purchased on eBay for around $15 shipped, but price tags from major retailers are not easy, and generally not worth the time, to reproduce. If a game has a price tag from a major retailer such as Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc., it is likely factory sealed.”

Additional Tips from Racketboy Forum Members

  • If the price is too good to be true, it normally is
  • Look for signs of aging (yellowing, brittleness, texture, and odor) in the plastic of a shrink-wrapped vintage game.
  • does it look like it was done with cheap plastic and a hair dryer or by a machine? And the older it is, the more likely it should exhibit some some wear and tear. I’d be more dubious about a perfectly preserved 2600 game than a good condition sealed copy of Madden 64.
  • Disc based games are not sealed in shrink wrap like old cart games where. They are in cellophane that’s folded and glued at the top and bottom.
  • I normally just examine the quality of the wrapping. I’ve seen some really neat reseals but its never as thick plastic as a factory seal and they never ever have a tear strip.
  • Also for PS1 games in jewel cases, the presence of a top seal sticker does not guarantee that it has never been opened. It is easy to pop the bottom hinge and get the case open and get at the contents. I usually do this since it makes it easier to peel the seal off new audio CDs in one piece. You muse see the seal and the folded cellophane wrap both.

Do You Have Any Tips?

Do you have any additional tips on how to spot fake sealed games (or know of other links that have good info?)  Share them in the comments below!


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What I’m wonder is if there’s a website/database with specific info on how particular games would look when they’re legitimately factory sealed. The reason is that I picked up a copy of Action 52 (Genesis) and since it’s an unofficial game, there was no way for me to check it against how a standard Genesis game would look.

Egamer says:

Nice article guys, though I don’t much care for sealed games myself, I’ll definitely use this as a guide in the future if I ever do come across something of interest.

Eddie says:

Money is too tight these days to not watch this video. I’d be so upset if I paid quadruple for a game I thought was “factory sealed.” This would be nearly impossible to accomplish, but it would be nice if someone set up a database that requires people who sell games professionally to register sealed games, or any collectible item for that matter, to verify the authenticity of the factory seal, or if they are a private seller, they could register it to get full value off the street. It would take someone like the guy in this video to verify each game since he would know what to look for, but even he would probably need the physical game to inspect.

d says:

So erm, what I should just do is become an expert in fordging sealed games.
I can get anyone the awesomest rarest sealed games. I´ll yellow the plastic a bit, put some dust in there as well, copy the sticker, etc. And how is anyone going to argue against it being new and sealed? You´ll never open it anyway. Heck I might even just throw in a book which has the same weight as the cartridge. Heck, you guys might have already several of fake sealed stuff.
All I´m saying is that this sealed obsession is getting a bit ridiculous. It´s just a matter of time before criminals understand how they can start making mad loot, yo. Dig.
OK, I like sealed too. It means it´s in a super condition. I also understand it can be a good investment. Just be careful out there. Lot´s of people in financial trouble that could give a fokk about a sealed games collector. Happy gaming.

Para says:

Yeah, I agree with d.

Criminals will adapt once they know the collectors are pooling their knowledge. I was reading about this happening with vintage whiskeys. Counterfeits have pretty much ruined that commodity because it is now impossible for most collectors to find the fakes.

There is too much risk with basing a collection on sealed games. The good thing about video games is that they don’t really get ruined with play (just need to clean those pins). I have been playing my NES games since I was young and they are still in pretty good condition. In fact, cartridge games are pretty much the most durable of items to collect (at least, compared to records, comic books, baseball cards, etc.).

Snet says:

Keeping the shrink wrap on cardboard games can actually damage the box. This was very common knowledge with laserdiscs as well. The plastic wrap shrinks over time and warps the contents. Collectors will be collectors, but I agree with man in the video….it’s just plastic that anyone can fake.

ThrashOmen says:

It’s really sad to think that the era of when these great games were brand new with delicious packaging is long gone. Finding something honestly factory sealed and never opened is so rare, and even when you have it, you can’t enjoy it because you don’t have the magic of opening it and enjoying it.

I do not collect factory sealed games. Maybe if I found one of a game I already had for a decent price, I would buy it, but realistically, unless you’re putting together a time capsule for the spoiled future generations 100 years from now to enjoy and know how we lived, I really don’t understand the appeal in collecting them. I like to play my games, and I have a few really awesome boxes for some of my favorite games, but inside of them is a block of wood so they stay level on my shelf. The cart is in the the rack with all my other games so I can play it whenever as can and so can my room mates. I love having the history readily available for anyone to enjoy, and unless someone is punching my shelf and throwing soda all over everything I don’t want to be one of those people who are like “Excuse me! That couch is NOT for sitting! It persian silk or some shit!”

I realize that some people have the need to collect these and have them displayed in a case somewhere for people to look but not touch, but honestly, how depressing is that for masterpieces such as Castlevania, Metroid, Secret of Evermore, Metal Warriors, Crystalis, Startropics, Contra and the like? One day all of our beloved carts will probably be unusable and just reduced to non-working junk and even then the boxed factory sealed games will be so rare and sought after that only a fool would open them and enjoy them one last time.

And yes there are emulators, and I am a member of a certain private tracker that deals in anything and everything in digital form that anyone could ever want, but thinking about my childhood and growing up, nothing beats the real thing.

genma says:

Here in Japan I bought a copy of starfox for about 1 dollar (equivalent to)….Box in really good shape and my friend thought it was maybe never opened but i didnt think so. ANyways…I found it a tad hard to open and realized its cause I did just open it for the first time….major fail for me!! But it was sorta awesome to open a great classic and see all of its contents for the first time and in pristine edition.

Phillyman says:

Great Article! Any tips on spotting fake cartridges? I am really interested in detecting fake Game Boy games.

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