Opinion: Pokemon card collecting becoming profit-driven

In the last 10 months, I’ve noticed some shifts in the moral of a lot of the people in the pokemon-card collecting hobby. It seems like the entire focus of a lot of people in the hobby has shifted away from an organic love for the cards and more towards investing/what cards are worth. A lot of pokemon-card youtubers/instagramers seem way more concerned about what something is worth than the actual card itself i.e. the artwork/potential childhood memories associated with a specific card. I’m not saying this is innately a bad thing, as that’s probably what their audience is most interested in. That’s kind of my point though. Based upon what I’ve been observing with the market trends and the general discussions that have been going on in/about the pokemon-card collecting community, it doesn’t seem to me that there is much genuine interest in the cards anymore, just the price tag that comes along with them. It doesn’t seem like many buyers are end consumers. I don’t know, just my opinion. I’d love to continue this conversation with anyone in the comments if you feel like you have something to say on the matter.


I mean, if there were no resellers, no cards would ever reenter the market, and you wouldn’t have graded cards to buy. While I personally am not a big fan of the people coming into the hobby solely to profit, it’s not something anyone can control, and it doesn’t warrant all the complaining it gets.


It has always been there, the pandemic and boom have just amplified it.

if you don’t tell people you’re making money, you are not making money.
Also when a hobby becomes profitable you better believe people will come to make that profit. People like money



Am I profit driven if I purchase to avoid having to pay a premium in the future but have no concrete interest in reselling?
Like I am driven to purchase because I expect a return but still - I guess it isn’t a return unless I realize it via selling

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I honestly find this a ridiculous opinion. Pokemon card collecting has always been profit driven?

it’s easy to say that when you are just lapping up free information that took many years to collect. many collectors I respect have done what amounts to studies and investigations into cards that are not returning a profit, and all for free.

I would argue the opposite. Although the very obvious extra demand has allowed the loudest people to bubble to the forefront, 95% of silent pokemon card collectors are not looking to flip their cards exclusively for a profit. Selling a card or two for an expense or to buy a different card isn’t what I would call profit centered.

The scalpers are able to even get the high prices they are because many collectors are willing to pay those silly prices to continue collecting.
The demand is very high as the hobby is being highlighted now, but once the hype crowd leaves we will be left with more dedicated collectors than ever before.


I have been arbitraging the tcg market for about 10 years now to afford my collection. For about the first 7 years of me seriously collecting I would say that about 75% of my purchases were cards/sealed product I though was undervalued to flip for profit. I would’ve loved to collect everything I wanted for nothing but nothing is free in life and in my financial position that was how I was able to collect what I liked.

But that is not what my point was. I was trying to point out that scalpers have always been there but on a much smaller scale. I am willing to say that there have always been more items available on ebay for people who pick up something for cheap and flipping it than listings for people who are selling cause they need the money right then and there. I think people also put blinders on and don’t realize that this is the model that pretty much every LGS lives by. (Here I am talking about singles not sealed. An LGS shouldn’t be buying out target to stock their shelves). Not many LGS’ can operate by just holding onto everything the owner “likes”.

To sum things up, yes it is a lot easier to do it now than it used to be. I think everyone is also way to quick to judge most flippers. Unlike well known scum like “guru”, we actually don’t know what most people who are flipping are like. I think you’ll be seeing this people in the hobby still once the hype dies back down.


I just want to echo @fazool 's point which is very key: it’s not the majority of collectors who’ve suddenly become money-hungry stonkers, it’s just the loudest ones.

In any period of significant price increases, the money aspect will become more prevalent. We say this in 2016-17 when WOTC prices boomed for the first time. Then from 2018-19 the market slowed down a lot and nobody was coming in asking what was going to stonk next because nothing had gone up significantly.

A lot of people here make the mistake of believing that the Youtube/Instagram/E4 Discord Eggs are representative of the hobby. The vast majority of collectors don’t have a social media and aren’t posting for clout or views.

In fact, I’d argue the price rises have resulted in an explosion of appreciation for cards regardless of value. You’ve got people starting sowsow art collections, buying $2 Mad Party promos because the artwork is exceptional, adjusting goals to lower grades to still get those desired cards, and more. The perfect example of this is the 5 USD dreams thread from like April, literally just a bunch of people looking for cheap but exciting cards to appreciate.


I agree with a lot of points, I also really like what @fourthstartcg said about appreciating other cheaper cards. Massive price spikes have caused me to look elsewhere in the hobby, and I have found a lot of BW era cards I really enjoy after I completely ignored that entire era of cards for years.


nothing new imo

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Yup; for every 1 loud ass collectible guru there are thousands of people silently enjoying the hobby. Get off social media and enjoy the cards lol


I think it’s completely natural Pokemon is becoming profit-driven for a lot of people given the state of the market. Who would have ever thought that little card you pulled from a $4 pack as a kid could potentially pay for a house now? I mean when you start getting into the realm of tens of thousands of dollars plus for collectables, that’s life changing stuff for a lot of people.

My TL;DR would be: interest in finances and passion for collectibles aren’t mutually exclusive, this is all just part of the natural evolution of the hobby.

This isn’t a new phenomena and it’s not inherently ‘immoral’ or ‘bad’. It’s an inevitability of both collectors and the hobby maturing. Finances are a big aspect of any well-established collector’s hobby - fine art, vintage alcohol, sports cards, Magic, comics, Star Wars figures - Pokemon’s younger than all of those and has only recently established itself as a more mainstream and ‘serious’ collectible market. As demand increases, things get more expensive. Things get more expensive and people have to pay closer attention to optimising how their cash is allocated towards achieving their collecting goals. Now it’s a proven store of value, it’s become recognised as a potential investment vehicle. After all, why *wouldn’t* people want to collect something they enjoy that’s also likely to increase in price?


Great post. I’m drifting away from wanting to talk about the hobby with most people because everything people talk about these days is just the stonks… I’ve been ignoring so many things. The situation is sad but it is what it is. Thankfully there are those centered market threads so it’s kinda easy to ignore just not checking them.


Not to worry @xzini, we still have our art and collection threads :wink:

I just hang out there and try to ignore the money crap.

'Tis a shame, but the society at large is (has been) moving that direction, not just Pokemon. It was inevitable that the same world that looks at everything as $$$ started looking at Pokemon with the help of hype and media.


As any market grows there are more eyes on it and people have slowly realised over time the opportunity to make returns based on buying collections and grading/breaking down, buying graded cards and speculating they are undervalued and hoarding new sealed products on the basis it will appreciate is highly profitable.

Anyone that thinks this hasnt radically increased over the last year are delusional, the question is whether its increased in proportion to the ratio of collectors or not. I think the proportion has also increased however I believe once the bull run ends where you are seeing 100% of % returns this will be reduced to a normalised amount to the point there is margin for enough players but not so much everyone is producing profits for doing practically anything, just a normal market cycle but I believe it will cool off.

I do believe also that when you step outside of the Pokemon realm and look at other card collectables (sports being the biggest offender), Pokemon is many more times organic in nature compared to others. You may have people buying cards for investing/flipping but theres definetly an attachment (for the most part) that investor/flipper has in the hobby and I dont know of any one of those 2 people that dont either have a personal collection or an expanding collection themselves… Sports on the other hand is flipping/profit all over and is more similiar to Bitcoin/NFTs then it is Pokemon TCG in my opinion thats just how far away it is from us.

The sole purpose of buying a card there is to make a market bet the player has a good season or its a 1/1 copy where you can then paint a story together that its an amazing opportunity and could be worth millions one day and sell it for a higher price. I dont see people buying WOTC PSA 9s at todays prices buying it for the sole purpose of it doubling next week, theres still organic love for the card from what I have seen.

Overall, I believe the hobby is in a very strong place even if we have a market correction but I do agree we will see more flippers/investors over time but we are nowhere near other collectables/NFTs/Cryptos in terms of it being purely money driven.

A bit profit driven for me, but I still buy what I like and don’t want to spend to much. And some I buy not intending to sell but if the price has increase by nearly triple or more from when I brought it I will probably sell.

Years ago most people in the hobby were only spending a small portion of their discretionary income on cards. The market was unproven and going any further would have carried tremendous risk; far more risk than most could tolerate. When a person spends discretionary income on anything it’s usually for entertainment or enjoyment. In that scenario turning a profit is a nice bonus, but it is definitely not the goal, expectation, or reason for buying product.

Today the market is well established. Pokemon isn’t going anywhere. Many now see investing in this hobby as a legitimate (albeit still speculative) endeavor. Those people aren’t simply putting discretionary income into the hobby, they have actually made Pokemon a portion of their investment portfolio. That’s a totally different game, and you can bet they’ll be focused on the financial side of the hobby when they have so much money at stake.

It isn’t binary. People investing in the hobby can still have legitimate, strong, organic interest in the cards. Someone can talk about Charizard stonks while still loving their Charizard. I consider myself a hybrid collector/investor and I see nothing wrong with that approach. You’ll see me discuss the market, but you can bet that when it comes down to it I’ll always have a hard time parting with any card in my collection. I think the same is true for many in this community. Some are here only for the money but I really do think they are the minority.


This boom and all the problems leading to the complaints here has nothing to do with covid or anything else mentioned above. All this started when the fairer set started getting body art and discreet piercings.

Either that or there is actually nothing unusual here. Positive and negative trends couldn’t be more normal. 99.9% of all Pokémon collectibles, with the exception of base 1st/shadowless charizards and Japanese trophy’s which have only seen a steady increase at minimum, have suffered through the roller coaster ride.
Yes, right now it’s up. Don’t complain though. Learn from it and enjoy the ride cause it won’t last forever.

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