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The Pokémon card bubble is getting bigger and there is only one way to stop it

The price of Pokémon cards is through the roof. Speculators dip hundreds of thousands of dollars into individual cards. Some devour unopened boxes of extraordinary sums, throwing them on the open market, hungry for the rarest. It has come to the point where companies that evaluate cards at auction simply can’t handle it.

Now the craze is spreading over new Pokémon cards across the country and retailers are battling unhappy customers. The situation peaked in February during a McDonald’s promotion. Participating restaurants handed out collectible card packages at Happy Meals to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the trading card game. Coincidentally, these packages include some rare holographic variants of favorite characters. Greedy adults rolled before many children could buy their share and wiped out the entire stock to put them on the secondary market.

Charizardd card in plastic.

Rapper Logic bought this Charizard for over $ 183,000 at auction. With the buyer’s fee, the transaction approached a quarter of a million dollars.
Image: Emblematic auctions

The current situation for retailers like Target is even worse. According to a Vice report, people go camping for one night waiting for the next shipment of Pokémon cards to appear. They are looking for boxes of cards called Shining Fates, and in particular Charizard, which costs from 600 to 800 dollars online. Meetings have become so large that corporate ones have given managers the green light to call on law enforcement to break things down.

What we see happening with real-time Pokémon cards is the formation of a bubble; just like what happened to technology stocks in the ’90s, housing in the early 2000s, and to Baby Baby when I was in high school. Of course, big and small bubbles burst all the time. However, the higher they rise, the more people are injured in the collapse.

This is a situation that Magic: The Gathering Wizards of the Coast publisher knows all too well, and one that was documented expertly by NPR’s Planet Money, which traced the history of Magic from the point of view of the economist in 2015

Back when Magic for the first time it came out, one of the novelties was the way it was sold – in blind packs full of random cards, just like baseball cards. Wizards wanted fans to buy a bunch of packages to find the card they were looking for, but what the company didn’t expect was a secondary market to form for buying and selling these rare cards at wildly inflated prices. A bubble formed almost immediately after the game started, and the launch company needed all the deck hands (intended for word play) to get out of it.

The solution? Print as many cards as possible to reduce the cost of the rarest types. The Wizards then expanded their game with different sets of cards over time. Here’s how the original collector’s card game went from a Tickle Me Elmo-style fad in a nearly 30-year-old franchise, with several new sets of cards issued every few months.

In short, The Pokémon Company has prepared its work for this. He says he is working to address the shortage.

“We are aware that some trainers have difficulty purchasing certain Pokémon Trading Card Game products due to high demand and global supply constraints affecting availability,” the company said in a statement to Polygon. “We understand that this can be frustrating for fans and appreciate their patience, as we work actively to print more of the affected Pokémon TCG products as quickly and with maximum capacity as possible. The reprinted products are expected to be available at retailers as soon as possible. More information can be found in Pokémon Support. “

But it wasn’t 1994 when the Wizards fought their own bubble. This is 2021 and things are much more challenging.

Black lotus in a green field with light flowing from the upper right corner.

Art for the black lotus, one of Magic: The Gatheringare the most sought after collector’s cards.
Image: Christopher Rush / Wizards of the Coast

Pokémon must not only work incredibly hard to meet consumer demand, but also deal with it during an ongoing global pandemic and in the shadow of the Suez Canal shipping fiasco, which will continue to affect global trade routes. for months to come. All the while, fiercely influential and future analysts will ride the wave of popularity of Pokémon, using it to boost their various social media and streaming video channels – and they will happily pile up if the bubble bursts.

That’s why The Pokémon Company is so careful with its words right now.

“We would like to thank the community for their continued support for Pokémon TCG,” concludes the statement given to Polygon, “and understanding as we work to increase supply where it is under our control to mitigate further inconveniences.”

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