Yesterday we released an opinion piece on the damaging effects of the current scalping mentality in Pokémon prompted by the McDonald’s Pokémon promotion. Today we look at an alternate perspective.
Disclaimer: Ludkins Media is a media outlet aimed at providing the most up-to-date TCG news. This is the opinion of one of our writers reflecting on the vast amount of interest in our McDonald’s illustration and not of Ludkins Media as a whole. Whether you agree or disagree, comment on Facebook and Instagram and let’s spark a debate that allows us all to reflect.
From the recent McDonald’s Happy Meal fiasco to the limited availability of recent sets, the current state of the hobby frustrates many Pokémon fans, and rightly so. Save for perhaps the original release of Pokémon cards, it has never been harder to acquire recently released cards at retail prices.
Modern Pokémon releases propel the competitive TCG scene and provide both newer and older fans with fun new cards to collect. As acquiring modern Pokémon cards has become harder, fans have grown exceedingly negative about the future of the hobby. “Flipping,” “scalping,” and “hoarding” are decried, with collectors arguing that if we do not stop these attitudes, there will be significantly negative effects in the future. All of these supposedly negative things, while unpleasant on their own, reflect an incredibly healthy hobby primed to succeed in the future.
All the supposedly negative behaviors like scalping and flipping are only possible in an environment where there is more demand than available supply. Indeed, it’s only viable for people to mass-buy modern Pokémon product because there are people who will pay more for it on the secondary market. In 2017-18, demand for Pokémon cards was much lower than it is today–and in turn, nobody was buying out retail shelves of cards. In fact, buying below retail price was often the norm. Flipping modern product was nonexistent, and prices for most recent sets had stagnated. Prominent TCG investors like Alpha Investments, who had bought large numbers of XY-era booster boxes, were having trouble liquidating even below the prices they originally paid to distributors, taking a loss on each box. This is all to say that the level of demand compared to supply in 2017-18 was unhealthy. There was too much supply with too little demand. Prices fell, turning a profit as a business was hard, and there were few new collectors coming into the hobby.
Now, in 2021, there is much more demand than supply. This too is unhealthy in the short term–when collectors aren’t able to reasonably obtain cards through traditional means, they are likely to get discouraged. However, it’s much better in the long term to have too much demand than too much supply. Rarity and challenge in collecting builds interest and develops long-term fans. If every Pokémon pack came with a Base Set Charizard, it wouldn’t be nearly as valuable or interesting today. Ironically, the reason Base Set Charizard is so beloved and valuable today is precisely because when we were kids, you only had one if you were very lucky.
The most important thing for any hobby is to balance supply and demand. The “junk wax” era of ‘90s sports cards was driven by massive overprinting which followed an era of extremely high demand. Both eras of over-printing and under-printing serve as warnings to Pokémon fans of what can happen when demand is unbalanced. Flipping, scalping, and hoarding are unpleasant practices, but they are only viable in a healthy hobby. Pokémon fans should recognise this and tone down the apocalyptic rhetoric over the future of the hobby. Demand is king.
Ethan Pohl – Ludkins Media
Follow Ethan on Instagram and Twitter @fourthstartcg