Japanese Supply Shortage

After several months of very limited supply of product in Japan, which could be (and has been) blamed on the latest, highly sought after Japanese promos, we are now experiencing an apparent trend of limiting supply to one per person.
After the Yokohama boxes being released on a one per customer basis, we now have the new Tag Team GX set, being sold with the exact same limitation. In addition to that, pre-orders for the Eevee starter decks are being sold through a lottery system which requires you to be registered with the pokemon center online just to be able to be entered into the lottery which may or may not give you the opportunity to purchase them.
Even though the previous supply shortages might have been a result of unexpected demand for sealed product, this move seems to signal a very intentional decision to limit product distribution. Unfortunately so far, I have not been able to understand the reasoning behind this.
My assumption is that it may be an attempt to curtail huge demand from abroad, but I may be wrong.

Given the recent issues with local players not being able to get their cards due to product being sold out everywhere, it does stand to reason that you limit sales in a way that makes it difficult for people from abroad to buy dozens of boxes and completely dry up the local supply.
If anyone has any information/assumption on why this is happening, feel free to share it below.

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It makes sense to limit the amount of product non japanese residents can buy. The japanese sets are produced for the Japanese market but we western collectors buy up everything (mostly to resell on ebay with a profit). Really sad for the Japanese players who struggle to get the cards they need for competing in the TCG.

That is somewhat understandable, but what confuses me is the fact that they could choose to increase print runs in order to meet demand from both sides and rake in huge profits, but instead went the opposite direction. The mind boggles…

Maybe they should stop ignoring how English is doing instead so English collectors can focus on their own language lol.

Of course releasing exclusive promo art in only one language is going to have everyone competing for it.

I read a quote once about the Japanese game industry. It said Japanese businesses don’t think in quarters, but in decades. I think this applies to the Pokémon TCG as well. And because of that mentality, they are very slow to move and make changes to how things are done.

And like @nysyr said, it’s no wonder why foreign collectors chase after the Japanese cards; they are amazing and non-existent in their own language.

That‘s true. I had a course last year about Cultural Management and indeed the Japanese businesses think rather long term (10 years) compared to most western businesses who think short-term. The past has shown how bad it is to only care about the profits for the current year like most US companies did.
I think what Pokemon Japan is doing is a very smart business decision in the long run.

I guess I’m on the other camp where I think it makes sense for them, at the present time, to simply limit sales rather than mass increase print runs, because:

-The company is still unsure if this is a short-term burst demand, or a long term increase in their demand.

-Massively increasing print runs probably will require some sort of extra capital investment, and this may be a waste of money and added costs if the demand just wanes down later

-Overprinting can make a high demand, great collectible into a bargain bin collectible, which would destroy the reputation of Pokemon as a reputable collectible

I’d much rather Pokemon under print their cards than to overprint them…under printing to a certain extent is easier to handle in a business.

I do agree at some point it’s getting ridiculous, but I also think it’s wise of them to do this cautiously and carefully.


Thanks for the info. Please keep us updated on situation. Are these theme decks only sold at Pokemon Centers?

Exactly, I actually like less print runs and more exclusives because that is what collector’s want. If everyone could get mass quantities of the same product, their is no chase… It also can be due to mentality, not like American cash cows, though im proud to be :wink:

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This may be a way for pokemon to reduce liability in both sales of product and player base.
As far as can be seen the pokemon hype in Japan is a current fad. This process of limiting supply may result in only the truly dedicated to continue playing, to purchase product, and to compete in events.

It’s about time.

To dispel some of the misinformation here, “western” countries aren’t buying product anymore than japanese. The only difference is most japanese businesses don’t brag on social media the 1000’s of boxes they purchased. Also, no western business is selling anywhere near the volume of the largest japanese businesses. Regardless, businesses buying and selling is why we are able to collect. Whether that is someone in the west or east is completely irrelevant.

The shortage is due to a ton of demand right now in Japan, both players and collectors. The demand has exceeded supply. Pokemon is currently assessing how to balance this supply, which is a good thing. They have made limited quantities available to businesses. Even with that addition, the supply is still dissolving, and the assessment process continues.


If they stop releasing Full Art promos that you only get from buying 5 packs everything would return to normal tbh.

They have 2 options:

a) Discontinue the promos
b) A larger barrier to entry, force people to buy a whole box. Maybe even 2 boxes to get the promo.

If you just have a higher price point to buy the promos Japanese resellers need to charge more, that will shrink the pool of people willing to pay for them and demand will decrease… but to what extent? That’s the real question.

Pokemon collectors are chomping at the bit for the next new thing. Idk if making these more expensive will really stop the flippers.

I don’t think so? At the beginning of the XY series, they had promos for 5 packs and promos for the entire booster box. People will still collect if they are completionists, and if they want rare and sparkly new exclusive promo cards. The Japanese are a collective culture, meaning they want to care for their own first and foremost. They probably implemented the 1 per-person rule to ensure that the resellers/flippers don’t take everything before everyone gets a fair shot at it. This isn’t new for the onlookers by any stretch of the imagination.

Let’s rewind to Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo opening up. My friends literally purchased hundreds of the Pikazard Poncho Plush for their online storefronts (of course they unlike most others have standing orders with the center) but when images of them carrying literal garbage bags of them out of the shop - the next time a limited edition plush came out they weren’t given the same privileges anymore. Why? People were upset that others were buying up the entire inventory before everyone got a fair shot to buy. They have been limiting for years, just only in recent times has it migrated to the cards.

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Here are some blogs from 2015 when they limited sleeves and other merchandise. The merchandise from Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo was sold out so fast that they actually made more limited edition merchandise to combat the scalpers. They sold out iirc in 2 days after that again once word had spread.




Another contributing factor to the huge demand is the recent rotation to SM-on implemented in Japanese tournaments after worlds 2018.
Unlike tpci which rotates out 3-4 standard sets every year, pokemon japan does it differently; they have been XY-on for a long time (no expanded format).
So after rotation, 60-70% of a player’s cards are now useless for standard tournament play. The result? Massive shopping spree.

But wait, there’s more! For every 5 packs, you get an amazing exclusive full art of the OG trainer and his trusty stead, which resells for roughly the same as the cost of those packs. Sign me up!

And now we have Ultra shiny Gx, which is a set primarily focused on standard staples. Add to that a wide assortment of shiny pokemon and sparkly secret rares, and you have a stupid good set that is sought after by both competitive players and collectors alike.

But wait, there’s more! You also get an amazing scream promo which is valued at roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of the box.

With regards to print runs, as many others have said, it is a continuous long-term assessment process. Japanese people are generally conservative and dislike being wasteful of resources. Saturating the market with excessive print runs is just not their style.


Actually, I thought about this, and there would be an awesome solution to eliminate the impact of promo cards on the TCG.

Just distribute them alongside the lowest selling product you have.
Say pokemon centers are having low interest in cookie tins, add a poncho eevee to each cookie tin purchase. Notepads and folders not selling? Throw a charizard promo in there. The collectors still get their kick, the players have more booster boxes available and nintendo makes loads of money.
Red’s Pikachu was an excellent example of how willing people are to buy garbage just for the sake of obtaining a good looking promo, so if you want to kill two birds with one stone, just tie promo releases to whatever unpopular product.

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If you don’t want to run out of sealed product don’t create an incredible incentive to for people to buy sealed product in the first place.

At the very least hopefully someone at tPCi takes notice and starts reflecting the market’s demand for variety and exclusivity from western collectors because that’s the crux of this issue.

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