What Does 'Qualified' Mean in Video Game Grading?

Qualified grading allows collectors to submit their games while ensuring CGC Video Games’ commitment to high certification standards.

CGC graded Mario World video game with a green Qualified label

“Qualified” is a term that many certification companies use, but it also has different meanings depending on the context. Certified Guaranty Company® (CGC®) uses the term Qualified to refer to collectibles that have a significant defect that requires a specific description.

For example, CGC may grade a comic book that is missing a coupon but would otherwise grade a CGC 6.0. Rather than certify the comic at a lower grade, CGC will give that book a grade of 6.0 and affix a green Qualified label with the notation “COUPON MISSING FROM PAGE 10, DOES NOT AFFECT STORY.” Similarly, a comic that has the owner’s name written with permanent marker on the cover but is otherwise in CGC 9.6 condition may receive a grade of 9.6 with a Qualified label that states “NAME WRITTEN ON COVER IN MARKER.”

At CGC Video Games™, the term Qualified will be used to denote video games that have missing or incorrect components, do not work correctly, have unverified signatures or have evidence of restoration.

Games with missing or incorrect components

It is quite common for video game collectors to mix and match boxes, cartridges and manuals to create a pristine copy of a game. And some collectors simply do not know — or do not care — that there are multiple printings of boxes, cartridges and manuals that may accommodate a game.

For a game to be truly original, however, these production runs need to correspond correctly. It is essential for CGC Video Games to abide by this standard for its Universal grades while recognizing that there will be many submissions with incorrect or missing parts. Rather than reject these submissions, CGC Video Games will assign a Qualified grade to them.

For example, if a game has a component that does not match the print run of its other components, CGC Video Games will grade the individual components that were submitted, assign an overall grade and encapsulate the game with a Qualified label that includes a note explaining which component is incorrect. If a game has a component that is missing, CGC Video Games will grade all of the components that were submitted, calculate the missing component as a 0 in the grading formula, assign an overall grade and encapsulate the game with a Qualified label that includes a note explaining which component is missing.

Games that do not work correctly

A Qualified grade will also be used for games that do not work correctly. Various circumstances can affect a video game’s functionality. Scratches to the data side of an optical disc and corrosion on the connector pins of a cartridge are the most common. However, more significant damage such as a cracked circuit board or disc rot are also possibilities. CGC Video Games will take notice of such defects and test submitted collectibles accordingly. If it is determined that the damage significantly impacts the playability of a video game, the game will receive a Qualified label with a note explaining why.

Evidence of restoration

A Qualified grade will also be used for video games that feature evidence of restoration. Many video games are collected because of their condition and aesthetic appeal but overtime these attributes can dwindle due to damage and wear. Restoration is a process in which someone attempts to increase these attributes by physically adding or subtracting something from the video game or its components.

For example, Super Nintendo boxes are easily susceptible to damage because of the black ink used for their cover art. In some instances, a person may use a marker to color in areas that have signs of wear to mask the defect from the naked eye. Another example of restoration could be replacing a damaged cartridge label with a reproduction label. If a game has evidence of restoration, it will receive a Qualified label with a description of that evidence.

CGC Video Games wants collectors to have options in the certification process, and offering Qualified grading is one way to do that. Perhaps a collector has a sentimental attachment to a game that has incorrect components or an unplayable disc. Or maybe they care more about the condition of the individual components than they do about their production runs. Regardless, Qualified grading will allow collectors to submit their collectibles while ensuring CGC Video Games’ commitment to high certification standards.

As CGC Video Games develops and grows, it will continue to inform and educate its customers about its certification process.