TCGPlayer Price Manipulation

I posted about price manipulation for the Umbreon VMAX AA previously and folks weren’t convinced. This is how easy it is to manipulate prices on TCGPlayer. Perhaps some bad actor was testing the system to prep for future manipulation, whatever it is, there seems to be no safeguards or verification or correction.

I doubt these ‘sales’ actually went through and though no one will buy this worthless card out or follow its pricing, the market price is now $44 for a card not worth $1.

And why it matters is because TCGPlayer is the only site presenting market value of raw cards in an easy and accessible manner so the rest of the market follows.

I agree that sales can be smudged on TCGPlayer, but I do not believe that this was the case with Moonbreon.


If they can’t correct for a card like this, why would they be able to do so for any card?

Especially when, if you know how to game the system, you can do so in a more invisible manner.

I am not suggesting that they corrected comps for Moonbreon. I believe that Moonbreon’s trajectory was organic and influenced heavily by hype and FOMO.

No I meant if they can’t detect which sales are actually going through for any card, then once you know the trick, you can get away with it. I’ve already shown data for Moonbreon before of sales taking place +$100-150 of market when more options were available at cheaper prices/market.

TCGPlayer is still a small platform relative to the amount of cards being sold making it really easy to manipulate even without fake sales. With it, it’s just the Wild West.

You can still buy this card sub-$1.50 on both TCGplayer and ebay. Isn’t this an example of how true manipulation is extremely hard to pull off and not the other way around?


To say this is unsuccessful because the card shown is abundant and low in price is missing the point. This just seems to point out a flawed system and show how easy it is for anyone to manipulate the listed “market price” if they wanted to. The result would be much different on a lower supply, higher demand/value item because a sudden drastic disparity in market price and listed price would be met much quicker by the market, whether that’s sellers adjusting their prices upward or buyers buying out the now-“underpriced” listings.

Many shops and individual sellers base their sale prices off of TCGPlayer market pricing for time efficiency. Calculated manipulations CAN happen and TCGPlayer market pricing has ripple effects in other marketplaces. No matter how you look at it, the current price tracking system is flawed in a way that doesn’t accurately represent the actual market price of the exact cards being sold. It should be fixed for accuracy of information’s sake.

Especially when the platform using such programming loves to push out articles detailing market prices, trends, hype and other data regarding the items they are selling. How can we, as customers/readers trust the data presented to us when the methods of it’s presentation is inherently flawed to begin with?


For the record I’m not against fixing this issue.

The one relevant point was was trying to make is that just because the information is bad doesn’t mean people automatically believe it. Where are the $200 organic sales of this card? They don’t exist. The causal link between bad data and price increases hasn’t been established.

Manipulation is both hard and temporary. People need to buy into the new price to begin with. Next you need to make sure the new pricepoint isn’t immediately undercut back down to the organic equilibrium by sellers.

If the people buy in at a higher price and sellers can’t replenish their supply effectively then all the “manipulation” has done was sped up an already organic trend.

If a trend can be explained organically, there’s no reason to believe prices are being manipulated without good evidence to the contrary


What do you mean? The market price is now $44 from less than $2 because of those fake sales. Will anyone buy it at $44? No, as sales from the recent past show it’s still being bought and sold for less than $2. This is a card with ample supply and no demand, but what I’m showing you is that even when it is so blatant, there is no TCGPlayer correction. Maybe they will eventually, or maybe they won’t.

The bigger issue is that it can happen at all and if it can, then it would be much easier to manipulate higher demand and lower supply cards. You say speed up an organic trend, I disagree. Should Umbreon or whatever card reach the heights they have in the long run? Probably yes. But what this does is create FOMO on both the parts of buyers and sellers and increase the number of vultures/whales pricing others out of the market.

There have been recent discussion threads about fatigue, about collecting on hard mode, this is just another example. You could expect the price to be stable enough so you could plan to buy it within a certain time frame and now you can’t because of manipulators, investors, speculators etc.

And I’ve already produced evidence of dodgy sales for the Umbreon before going on for months, so I stand by it.

TCGplayer manipulation would not cause a rise of the card everywhere else. It happens, but the sales on all platforms (Ebay, TCGplayer, marketplace etc) aren’t all manipulated.

TCGplayer is not a price guide and does not determine the price of cards throughout the entire market.




Do you shop for cards on other platforms? TCGPlayer is used as a price guide. eBay is the best but eventually it will match TCGPlayer as more and more people get acquainted with the price movements.

Speed/time/duration matters. Just because a card will reach a certain point in the future, doesn’t mean it should start out already at that point. Not sure why people are so resistant to hearing this.

Yes, as someone who buys cards constantly, I cannot remember the last time I referenced TCGplayer for any price at all. TCGplayer isn’t for collecting imo, its for playing. I get that the sentiment has shifted over time, but I still only buy cards with pictures and use ebay probably 90% of the time. Sold listings are all I need. I believe the new wave of collectors like using those charts because it feels like stonks to them, and thats on them if they use one piece of data before making a purchase.


This conversation reminds me of a video that I posted elsewhere on e4 about the natural history of a buyout. Good data presented, showing the abnormal spike but the return to normalcy albeit at a higher level. Of course, it’s hard to compare vintage MTG to modern Pokemon, but I imagine that price manipulation would operate under similar conditions.

Interesting - i wonder how they did that. Obviously this isn’t going to cause people to flood into buying this random V card or whatever, but hopefully tcgplayer fix it quickly

Mercari is fake, but so is TCGPlayer.

Fake sales and then suddenly market price is up.

Opaque system that’s easily manipulated.

When the refund is given later on, doesn’t that outlier fake sale go away? I get that the market price temporarily goes up, but smart people should look at recent sales, not what TCGPlayer tells them the market price is.


Isn’t this a rather expensive way to manipulate the market when TCGPlayer takes 10% for every sale?

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This isn’t necessarily manipulation. Could it be that it was a listing for the Japanese copy of Sonia from VMAX Rising?


It disappears but their price graph doesn’t change to reflect that. That’s what smart people should do but as we know, most people don’t and that’s why manipulation works.

I don’t think there is any actual payment exchanged. I’ve seen multiple common cards ‘sell’ for $99 or some dumb amount. My belief is that people test what works on cards that no one is looking at before replicating it on other cards.

Potentially, but since you cannot check back what details there were, if any, and there are no pictures, it goes back to manipulating the price. They need more transparency. As it stands, any card that’s been out for a few years with a low amount of sales can be easily manipulated.

TCGPlayer benefits from higher average prices, so they probably have no incentive to fix it.