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Published: 14/May/2021 19:59 Updated: 14/May/2021 22:22by Brent Koepp
In the last few months, Pokemon Trading Card Game scalpers have been overwhelming stores across North America, and in some instances, have even resorted to violence. As a result, retailer Target announced it will stop selling the Nintendo collectibles.
Scalpers have ruined the Pokemon TCG. Since the game saw an explosion in value in 2020, these greedy sellers have forced their way into the hobby while pushing out passionate fans who have dedicated years to it.
It’s not just the fandom that is suffering, either – stores and their employees have had to face off against these ruthless consumers. It’s gotten so bad that in May 2021, Target officially stopped selling the Nintendo products temporarily. Something has to change!
Going back to release of the Vivid Voltage in November 2020, consumers began to have troubles purchasing the new TCG expansion on its release date. With an influx of scalpers salivating to get in on the profits, Pokemon fans were struggling to find products in stores for the first time.
In February, The Pokemon Company announced it was teaming up with McDonalds to release a 25th anniversary card set. As soon as scalpers heard the booster packs would be included in every Happy Meal, stores across the US immediately begin to run out of the childrens’ product.
In many cases, sellers were reportedly buying up to 100 Happy Meals at once to hoard the Pokemon card promotions. Imagine being a full grown adult and literally buying out the entire stock of a restaurants Happy Meals because you want to sell what was supposed to be a fun kids’ promotion – wild.
As if it couldn’t get any more shameful, a few weeks later reports begin to pop up online of sellers tearing open brand-new cereal boxes on store shelves to steal the 25th anniversary TCG collectibles inside. And little did anyone know, it would get worse for retailers in the coming months.
TCG fans all around the US began to share stories of having to wait in long lines hours before a store opened, only for chaos to break out as soon as they were let inside. Instances of scalpers physically punching other customers or groups of people stampeding one another became all too common.
In March, Target officially had to change its store policy due to being overwhelmed by sellers. Sports and Pokemon cards would not longer be stored on shelves, and they would only be sold on Fridays. Think about that – the retailer had to literally move it to a single day just so these greedy people would stop disrupting their business for the other six days they are open.
Finally, this all came to a head when a man pulled a gun during a fight over cards at store in Wisconsin. Target finally had enough and officially decided to stop selling the Nintendo collectibles temporarily.
If you thought in-store purchasing was bad, unfortunately buying online is just as awful in its own way. Websites like Amazon or the Pokemon Center itself have crashed instantly as soon new products go on sale. The series’ latest expansions, Chilling Reign and Eevee Heroes, sold out within seconds due to bots.
Fans simply do not stand a chance. Even The Pokemon Company recognizes this as they officially announced in May that they are going to implement a lottery system. Yep, now it will come down to random luck to purchase something. Although, I suppose that is better than no chance at all like the current situation we are in.
If the violence and chaos wasn’t enough to scare you off already, the overall terrible behavior of sellers has certainly spoiled the mood for many TCG fans. No longer is the hobby about collecting your favorite Pokemon or the magic of buying the occasional booster pack and seeing what’s inside. Cards are now measured in dollar signs and treated like stocks.
Gone is the communal aspect of players and collectors coming together to enjoy the release of new expansions. Most are literally not even able to buy new cards anymore and even if they could, it’s become so exhausting.
What we are left with are two major retailers literally banning the sale of Pokemon cards due to the rampant toxicity of scalpers disrupting their business and endangering their customers and employees. We have decades-long fans who are quitting the hobby due to its current state. The TCG is broken and something needs to happen to steer it back in the right direction.
The most obvious fix is Creature Inc. needs to drastically up their production of TCG products – something they have announced they are working on. But they also need to make it clear that these new sets will have unlimited print runs, which lowers the values of the items scalpers are trying to sell.
Unfortunately, the actual solution isn’t actually clear at all. At the end of the day, consumers have a right to buy things and sell them. What is clear, however, is that fans of the Game Freak franchise are being shut out of a series they have dedicated their lives to by outsiders who only want to make money. Pokemon should be enjoyable for all, and it is no longer fun.