Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for collectibles has surged across the board. As we all know, prices for all cards, including Pokemon, YuGiOh, Magic, and sports cards have reached new heights. However, a surprising recent entrant into this price mania has been new or previously lower-market Collectible Card Games (CCGs) like MetaZoo or Weiss Schwarz. As prices for these new entrants climb, collectors are wondering how much of the demand is organic and how much is people trying to get in on the “next best thing.” In a more conspiratorial view, some have even asked whether the development of new CCGs is a pump-and-dump attempt at making money for the creators.
The idea that all of the demand for any of these new CCGs is manufactured is unlikely. Even the creators of MetaZoo, which has been a subject of much ridicule from collectors, developed the initial funding and print runs from organic investment. Only recently have prices significantly increased with the entrance of new investors to the market. However, conversely, the idea that recent prices are solely the result of organic demand is also unlikely. There is a desire to find the “next best thing” from individuals who want to make money through investing in cards. In the past, rises in Pokemon card prices were largely limited to specific classes of cards: Gold Stars, 1st edition Base Set, WOTC holos, etc. However, with the recent market changes the entire hobby experienced a rise, partly driven by the desire to find this next best thing.
Drawing on this evidence from Pokemon, it is unsurprising that any new CCG would experience interest and perhaps more demand than would be expected in a “normal” environment. However, a lot of the current price rises in these CCGs are not driven by people organically interested in them as a result of increased demand for CCGs. Instead, individuals are looking for new investment opportunities.
It is theoretically possible, but unlikely, that a market based solely on speculative investment can survive in the long run. It is perfectly fine to be interested in these CCGs, however, one should be exceedingly careful with buying at current prices with unproven collectibles. Risk is inherently much higher, and while a well-heeled alternative asset investor may not blink at losing thousands of dollars, collectors who pay the high prices in search of a new hobby may get burned.
Will these CCGs suddenly become worthless? Certainly not. Price rises drive interest, which in turn drives organic demand. While the current prices may not hold, the entrance of speculative investors paying high prices makes news and will expose more individuals to these games, to begin with. So while an initial MetaZoo booster box collectible may not be worth the several thousand dollars it is currently selling for on the secondary market, it is likely never going to sell below the $80 initial price.
Ethan Pohl – Ludkins Media