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Is the Pokemon TCG still as expensive and popular as ever?

Pokemon TCG Live gameplay with Mew and Magnemite

While Pokemon might be defined by its video games, the Pokemon TCG remains massive more than 25 years after its launch.

The Pokemon TCG’s popularity has an ebb and flow to it. The game is always popular, but will return to pop culture icon status every few years. There’s good reason for that as players can jump in to enjoy the game itself without much of a barrier, or just to collect the cards for fun.

There’s a long and interesting history when it comes to the Pokemon TCG. Here is how it became so big, the impact it had, and what the future holds for it.

How Pokemon TCG helped competitors Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh

The Pokemon TCG was far from the first trading card game, but its 1996 launch in Japan and arrival in North America in 1998 was enormous for the industry. Magic: The Gathering had an established following in western markets even before Pokemon Red and Green launched. Pokemon was still the first trading card game for many, and paved the way for loads of imitators.

Following the success of the Pokemon TCG, almost every major media property spawned a card game of its own. Many of these like Marvel OverPower, Star Trek: The Card Game, and the Austin Powers Collectible Card Game were abandoned and forgotten about shortly thereafter. A few franchises designed around card games also appeared including Duel Masters and Yu-Gi-Oh.

Though Magic: The Gathering remains popular and Yu-Gi-Oh! took off and remains big to this day, Pokemon is as hot as ever. Whether it’s Logan Paul making booster pack openings staple social media fare or the launch of Pokemon TCG Live, there’s a lot going on with the game even as it approaches its 30th birthday.

How expensive are Pokemon cards?

Rare Pokemon cards in immaculate condition can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the vast majority of them are quite affordable. Relative to other TCGs like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, building a competitive Pokemon deck is easy on the wallet.

However, the prices attached to collecting the cards for fun and playing the game competitively are very different. Many of the most expensive Pokemon cards are valuable because they are sought after by collectors, rather than being powerful in the game itself.

Pokemon TCG borderless Charizard

The most iconic and expensive Pokemon card is an English-language misprint of a first-edition Charizard from the original set of cards. These “borderless” Charizards have fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction, but cards that aren’t rated as gem mint by graders like Beckett and PSA don’t attract anything close to that.

Can I play the Pokemon TCG online?

The Pokemon TCG can be played online through Pokemon TCG Live. Pokemon TCG Live is available on PC, MacOS, iOS, and Android devices.

Purchases of real-life cards and accessories can unlock new items and cards in Pokemon TCG Live. This is done using code cards inserted into booster packs, trainer boxes, and premium collections. Alongside this, players can purchase cards and other items in the game using digital currency.

Pokemon TCG Live is the successor to Pokemon TCG Online, which was launched in 2011. PTCGO is being sunsetted, with no new users being allowed in and the game being pulled from app stores.

Is Pokemon TCG losing popularity?

The Pokemon TCG enjoyed an enormous jump in popularity in 2020, but has slipped since then. Purchasing entire stocks of cards and reselling them online was common practice for a time, while supply chain issues caused struggles to keep shelves stocked.

In 2022, The Pokemon Company increased production and made it much easier to get desirable cards for both collectors and players. Prices have also come down for particularly expensive cards and items, as a crush of influencers scooping up vintage singles and packs drove up prices.

Though that surge of popularity has passed, the game remains quite popular. It’s likely to see its popularity grow through the Pokemon Scarlet and Violet expansion and the global release of Pokemon TCG Live.

Is the Pokemon TCG hard to play?

The Pokemon TCG is relatively easy to play and remains close to the game it was all the way back in 1996.

The Pokemon TCG requires players to take six prize cards, which are typically taken by defeating an opponent’s Pokemon. Defeating a Pokemon can get a player anywhere from one to four prize cards, depending on a variety of factors. Players defeat opposing Pokemon by using attacks, which are executed by attaching energy cards to the Pokemon.

Though there is some vocabulary for players to learn when it comes to Pokemon, the game is largely straightforward. Each expansion has added a new mechanic to the game, but these mechanics are rotated out every few years. This means players don’t have to worry too much about learning the differences between Pokemon-EX, Pokemon-ex, and Pokemon-GX cards if they’re playing standard rotation.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2. His work has previously been featured by Bleacher Report and The Washington Post, and he was an Assistant Editor at WIN.gg. You can follow him on Twitter / X at @srondina.

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