Pokémon is a well-known name today, thanks to the popularity of the TV show and games. It has recently entered the media again with its card collections. The amount of money these cards have generated at auctions in recent times has sent a shock wave through the internet and has drawn the attention of fans and non-fans alike to the once-popular trading card game in the late 90s. In this article, we will discuss this craze and why people are collecting Pokémon cards in 2021.
A Brief History of the Pokémon Brand
Pokémon was first introduced in 1996 to the public as a game for the then-new Nintendo mobile console called Gameboy. It was a resounding success in its home nation, Japan, and abroad, and has sold over 31 million units and grossed over 1.9 billion dollars (adjusted for inflation). It wasn’t long before the first card game, comprising 102 cards, was released to the Japanese audience. The North American audience did not see this until 1998.
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, kids and young teens played card games in school, the playground, and anywhere fans gathered. Collecting rare cards was popular among children too. The act of buying and exchanging cards was a familiar and exciting hobby for a lot. This craze slowly died off as the kids of that generation grew up, but the Pokémon franchise remained strong. Nintendo’s introduction of Pokémon Go in 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary brought the franchise back into the spotlight for a short period of time. In2020 it started coming back in a new form.
The Pokémon Card Craze and Celebrity Hype
The year 2020 was a peculiar year. It was the year the coronavirus hit, lockdowns were enforced, and working from home became the new norm. 2020 is also the year Pokémon cards found new popularity; not because of how entertaining the card game is but rather how much you could earn selling the cards. Celebrities like DJ Steve Aoki, rapper Logic, and YouTuber Logan Paul brought the spotlight of this niche society to the public attention, driving fans crazy. eBay dealt with high sales volumes of Pokémon Trading Card Games (PTCG), seeing an increase of 524%. The Professional Sports Authenticator, who oversees the grading of PTCG, was overwhelmed with thousands of cards to review, and an auction house sold the rare Charizard pokemon card for thousands of dollars. The hype also attracted a new set of people who wanted in on some of the money; they were dubbed scalpers. They usually knew nothing about the game but wanted to benefit from the hype, and who could blame them? They emptied supermarket shelves and hoarded the cards, believing they would increase in value.
This behavior didn’t sit well with supermarkets like Target, which proceeded to ban such buyers from their stores.
Scammers were also involved. With all the money flying around, they also caught some attention. Fake cards were sold for frustratingly high prices under the pretense that they were the rarest cards in the collection.
The Role Of the Pandemic
Experts credit the pandemic with fueling the PTCG craze of 2020. The nostalgia of the card game, coupled with the boredom of the sit-at-home order of things may have made PTCG travel from its once niche corner into popularity again. With people having more free time, an increase in time spent on social media platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook was noticed.
Content creators became aware that this is their time to shine, becoming the primary source of entertainment and developing all kinds of online activities. Buying and selling Pokémon cards and unboxing rare cards became activities that appealed to many. Those drawn to this were not kids but people in their late 20s or mid-30s who grew up with the card game. This coincidence also meant they could buy these cards; with the extra money coming in from some governments, it created the perfect atmosphere for the Pokémon craze in certain places around the world.
The Future of Pokémon Cards
Long before the 2020 hype, trading cards have always been niche-specific to the relevant fanbase community. So, even if the hype is starting to die off now, that doesn’t mean people aren’t still making a lot of money off selling these cards. There are communities dedicated to trading Pokémon cards and even teaching interested beginners how to play the game. Pokémon is a worldwide franchise that celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2021. It’s unlikely that the popularity of the card game or the interest will die off any time soon. The continuous release of new cards means there are still people who will always be trying to collect them.
Collecting these cards can be a fun hobby to invest your time and imagination in if you are a fan of the game or TV series. You can join their support community, where you can be taught the rules of the card game. If you want to make some money off your collection, you may have to spend a bit more than usual by collecting new releases and storing them; who knows how much they can go for in another 20 years.