How to grade the condition of your video game discs

When selling online, one of the keys to getting top dollar for your disc-based video games is being able to describe their condition accurately.  Overstate the condition and you’ll likely earn a bad reputation as a seller.  Understate the condition and buyers won’t pay as much.  The term “condition” actually refers to two separate things – completeness and disc quality.  We’ll start with completeness.

In general, a game is considered to be “complete” if it includes the game disc, instruction manual, original case (not a regular DVD case), and cover artwork.  For games that come in a jewel case, the cover artwork is usually referred to as the case insert(s).  If the standard retail version also includes something extra, such as a soundtrack CD or bonus DVD, then the extra item must be included for completeness.  In the case of multiple retail configurations, the leanest configuration (i.e., the one with the fewest things included) is used as the standard for completeness.  Generally speaking, however, the exclusion of certain documentation items (such as precaution manuals, advertisements, and registration cards) does not affect the completeness of a game.

In regard to disc quality, it seems as though everyone uses their own grading scale, and words such as “new” or “mint” have different definitions to different people.  I feel strongly that a more universal scale should be adopted in order to reduce confusion and ensure that buyers know exactly what they’re getting no matter where they shop.  I propose the following scale, which I have used for a long time and found to be very helpful whether I’m buying or selling:

New:  Brand new and factory sealed.  The disc has not been touched or inspected.

Like new:  The packaging has been opened, and the disc may have been inspected, tested, and/or played once or twice, but it looks no different than when it was first opened.

Mint:  The game has been used, but there are no readily visible scratches on the disc.  There may be one or two very small, very light scratches that can be seen only upon close inspection, but otherwise the disc looks perfect.  (For most games, this is the minimum acceptable condition for collectors.)

Excellent:  The disc has a few minor scratches, but they appear to be located within a small region.  In other words, the scratches aren’t all over the disc.

Good:  The disc has many scratches all over, but none that are real deep.

Fair:  There are deep scratches, scuffs, and/or minor cracks in the disc, but the game is still playable.

Poor:  The game is unplayable due to scuffs and scratches on the disc, but it could become playable after being resurfaced.

Beyond repair:  The game is unplayable and cannot be made playable again.

There are also a few special conditions worth noting.

Resurfaced:  The disc has been resurfaced with a low-end resurfacing machine (e.g., SkipDR) and has circular buffing marks all around it.  It may have been unplayable at one time but is playable now.

Professionally resurfaced:  This disc has been professionally resurfaced and may have some light buffing marks.

Former rental:  The disc was formerly used as a rental copy and may have permanent rental stickers on the top (label side).  It is usually implied that the disc is in fair condition.

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