Can’t catch ’em all: Pokémon resellers make it hard for kids to have a childhood

Xavier Cullen, Opinion Editor

Illustration by Peyton McKenzie

As I start up another playthrough of the Sinnoh region, this time in Pokémon Brilliant Diamond, I constantly reminisce about all the great memories I made as a child playing the trading card game and the original Pokémon Diamond.

I fondly remember when I battled against my friends after school and bragged about the rare cards we collected and strong Pokémon we caught. But that was years ago, and the way the world views these nostalgic moments has been skewed significantly.

Resellers, hoarders and collectors have been solely focused on making a profit instead of enjoying the love we had for our childhood toys. Pokémon cards have never been more expensive than they are now — a whopping 466% price increase in cards worth over $50. Scalpers have spent ludicrous amounts of money to buy all the stock of new Pokémon cards.

It has gotten so bad that earlier this year, Target temporarily halted all sales of Pokémon cards in its stores because of safety concerns. Scalpers would rush in and assault other competitors who were trying to buy the limited supply of packs that were available. It’s a Black Friday rush every time a new card set is released.

Grown adults getting in bloody battles over cards made for children is disturbing. Not only are resellers artificially increasing the prices, they are taking away the possibility for today’s children to enjoy the card game that I loved growing up. I loved seeing the new releases in local game stores, but that experience might disappear if cards are flying off shelves only to be resold for a massive profit only a few hours later on eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

If adults are waiting outside McDonald’s at 5 a.m. to buy boxes full of cards included in Happy Meals, then the community has a serious problem.

One solution that is particularly popular in the Magic: the Gathering card game is the use of proxies — fake cards that represent authentic ones. This could be as simple as writing the name of an expensive $200 card on the face of a 50-cent one, or it could be as complex as custom-printing elaborate, original artwork on cardstock.

However, that is just for actually playing the games, and for many people, nothing compares to having officially-licensed cards. The joy of opening a pack and getting a rare  card can’t be replicated with a pen and paper.

This might all seem so trivial in the grand scheme of things, but this is just one example of a much bigger problem — American consumerism.

Everything from Pokémon cards to paintings and non-fungible tokens are being sold at ridiculous prices. These things hold little intrinsic value, but people who look to join in any get-rich-quick scheme have convinced everyone else that what they’re selling is worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

It starts with just one exorbitant purchase for everyone to give these resellers credibility in marking up things that were once reasonably priced. A tacky “Bored Ape” NFT shouldn’t be worth anywhere near the millions of dollars that some of the most expensive ones are being sold for. However, rich investors have convinced the world that they are, so those people continue to profit.

The same can be said for Pokémon cards. Rich collectors convinced everyone that these cards were worth so much because their high bids got national news coverage, and celebrities like Logan Paul are gatekeeping average collectors who don’t have an endless supply of money like he does.

Everything is being viewed as a way to make a profit nowadays, and it’s sad. I want kids to have a great childhood just like I had. I loved the cards I collected — both Pokémon and baseball — but the rich are ripping that away from today’s youth.

Can’t we let the kids have fun?