Pokemon cards are selling out everywhere, with Pokemon TCG becoming an increasingly expensive hobby to pursue. As a result of the cards being sold out in most major retailers, prices are skyrocketing, as scalpers profit from widespread stock shortages just as they do with the PS5. Understandably, this is frustrating for long-term collectors, who are watching The Pokemon Company struggle with this increased demand.
Pokemon card shortages were present throughout 2020, though have become a big problem for collectors in 2021. Retailers not only sell out of most stock almost immediately, but pre-orders for upcoming sets such as the Shining Fates Elite Trainer Box are also being snapped up. The Pokemon Company is struggling to distribute the cards to meet demand, allowing scalpers to profit in the process.
Why are Pokemon cards selling out?
Pokemon cards are selling out due to high demand as a result of YouTubers and streamers taking up the hobby. The Pokemon TCG has always been popular, but it is currently experiencing more interest than it has in years. Pack openings, where internet personalities open copious booster backs, have seen millions of viewers tuning in to watch their favorite video-makers giddily obtain rare cards.
These pack openings have extended way beyond the Pokemon community. In the past four months, Logan Paul has posted several pack opening videos, racking up over 33 million views in the process. In these videos, Paul opens up original booster pack boxes worth a huge amount of money — one reportedly cost him above $200,000 — explaining the thrill of the chase when it comes to Pokemon card hunting to his viewers.
“If you pull one — just one — PSA 10 Charizard, a.k.a. the Holy Grail of Pokemon collecting, it’s worth $200,000,” Paul explains. PSA is the Authentication and Grading Service for trading cards, with a PSA 10 being described as “near perfect,” making it the most valuable. A PSA 10 Charizard would be the most prized possession of anyone’s collection, with Paul showing fellow YouTuber Leonhart ecstatically finding one in a pack. “Congrats man,” Paul says. “Now you’re rich.”
Pokemon TCG collectors have always been hooked on this thrill of the chase when it comes to rare cards, but now they have competition. While Pokemon cards have always existed in the public consciousness, Logan Paul and other popular online personalities are showcasing why it’s so fun to collect them in the first place. This isn’t just leading to people purchasing a booster pack here and there, but is instead causing many to seek out booster boxes, Elite Trainer Boxes, and other more expensive items that were previously the domain of long-term collectors.
As a result of these new collectors, Pokemon cards are sold out almost everywhere. Retailers see their shelves of Pokemon cards disappear whenever they have a restock, while pre-orders are so backlogged that The Pokemon Company can’t reprint enough to meet orders. Prices are also constantly being driven up, too, making it even more difficult for buyers to get their hands on any.
Why are Pokemon cards so expensive?
Pokemon cards have become so expensive as a result of both stock shortages and scalpers. When restocks take place, scalpers are routinely quick to snap up the cards, selling them for way above their retail price. As a result of this scarcity, prices overall have increased.
These price inflations have even stretched to promotional cards. McDonald’s recently pushed a 25th anniversary set of reprinted Pokemon cards, with scalpers that were selling complete holographic sets pushing them on eBay for as much as $450.
Of course, the value of all these cards is artificial. While actual rare cards will retain and increase their value over time, booster boxes and Elite Trainer Boxes will inevitably reduce in price once The Pokemon Company starts to meet demand or that demand naturally settles down.
But for the time being, prices are higher than ever. A Pokemon Sword and Shield Rebel Clash booster box will set players back around $160 right now, while a Vivid Voltage booster box will cost an eye-watering $260.
As many are returning to indoor hobbies during the pandemic, it remains to be seen how long the Pokemon Trading Card Game will continue to experience this resurgence in popularity. Unfortunately, until interest in it dies down or restocks happen much more frequently, scalpers are going to keep making money.