The Pokémon Company Can't Print New Cards Fast Enough

Illustration for article titled The Pokémon Company Can't Print New Cards Fast Enough
Image: Pokemon Company

Pokémon trading cards have once again exploded in popularity, and the Pokémon Company is struggling to keep up with demand. Prices are surging for new packs thanks to scalpers and resellers as a result.

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“We’re aware that some of you are experiencing difficulties purchasing certain Pokémon Trading Card Game products due to very high demand and global shipping constraints impacting availability,” the Pokémon Company wrote today. “We understand this inconvenience can be disappointing for fans, and we are working to address it where it is within our control.”

To help alleviate price gouging and address the concerns of unhappy collectors, the Pokémon Company wrote it is “actively working to print more of the impacted Pokémon TCG products as quickly as possible and at maximum capacity,” and will try to get these reprinted cards to stores as soon as possible.

The news comes as people have descended upon McDonald’s restaurants across the country in order to scoop up new promotional cards from Happy Meals celebrating Pokémon’s 25th anniversary. It’s pissed off a lot of fans who just want to get some of the packs for their collection but are finding them already selling out.

But the card shortage isn’t just connected to the McDonald’s promotion. Booster packs for the recent Vivid Voltage and Champion’s Path sets are also in extremely short supply. Boxes of boosters are sold out at a lot of big retailers like Target and Walmart, and are being re-sold on places like Ebay for much higher prices. A Vivid Voltage Elite Trainer Box retails for $40, but is being sold on Ebay for $80 and over in some cases. Of course, second-hand markets open up opportunities for all sorts of extra scams and counterfeits.

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The latest explosion in hype around Pokémon trading cards comes at a time when older, rarer cards have been selling for record-breaking prices at auction, like the Blastoise Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram card that sold for over $350,000 just last month. The hobby’s newfound attention also seems due at least in part of the pandemic, with people stuck at home looking for new things to collect and potentially speculate on. Opening new packs on Twitch and YouTube is also very popular, helping to drive the hype around new releases and the search for rare cards. This has also led some fans to criticize streamers and YouTubers for contributing to shortages by buying dozens of packs in order to fuel the content for their channels.

Even if boosting supply helps fix some of these issues, it’s not exactly clear how fast the Pokémon Company can both produce and ship more packs. Meanwhile, the trading card game’s latest set, Shining Fates, is set to officially launch on February 19, and lots of stores are already listing pre-orders for those sets as out of stock.

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

DISCUSSION

elsuavenero
ElSuavenero

I’m mostly a casual car buyer— I’ll get a few booster packs of each new set with the occasional specialty pin or figure set here and there when money permits. It’s a relatively inexpensive serotonin boost and then I file the cards away in a binder.

Ever since Vivid Voltage dropped though, cards have been damn near impossible to get; doesn’t even matter which set anymore. Shining Fates is rolling around the corner and I was like, “oh, I’ll just get *a* booster box and maybe a pin set.” I managed to pre-order one booster box and one pin set, but it was like trying to buy a new console during the holiday season. I even got banned from Pokemon Center for “suspicious activity” because I kept trying to refresh my page so my order went through.

This is ridiculous lately. When the hell did Pokemon cards suddenly become such a hot commodityitem?