The Scarlet & Violet era of the Pokemon TCG is giving us a lot to be excited about. The return of ex cards and introduction of Terastral will freshen up the meta and give players lots of new mechanics to experiment with. Meanwhile, the design changes to card borders, energy cards, and set labels should make the game easier to parse for newcomers and more aesthetically consistent across regions – not to mention how much better the silver looks versus the classic yellow. New beginnings are always an exciting time, and I look forward to seeing how the TCG grows throughout the next generation. The one thing I’m not excited about, however, is the big price hike.
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The Pokemon Company announced late last year that the price of Pokemon TCG products was set to increase due to global inflation and the increased cost of materials. At that time, we learned individual boosters were increasing from $4 to $4.50. Last Friday, preorders started on the Pokemon Center website for new Scarlet and Violet products, and now we know exactly how much more everything will cost this generation. Elite Trainer Boxes have a $60 MSRP (up from $50), boosters boxes are now $161.64 (up from $143.64) and booster bundles – a new product type that includes six packs – will be $27, or $4.50 per pack. While three-pack booster blisters used to save you a few bucks, there’s no longer a discount for buying these packs in bulk.
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You are getting a bit more for your money, however. Each pack will now include three guaranteed holo-foil cards. In the Sword & Shield era, you had a chance of finding a holo, and if the set included a Trainer Gallery, you had a chance of finding two. Guaranteeing three is a big change and will definitely help each pack feel more valuable. You’re also getting two full-art promo cards in the ETB – both are Koraidon, with one stamped with a Pokemon Center logo. ETBs traditionally only come with promo cards when they’re a special edition set like Celebrations or Champion’s Path, so hopefully these more expensive ETBs will come with promo cards as a standard.
Those bonuses are nice, but they may not be enough to compensate for the massive price increase. With five or six expansions released each year, the TCG is already expensive to keep up with. On top of that, expansion sizes have increased to over 200, with upwards of 40 ultra and secret rare cards in each expansion, making collecting or finding cards for competitive play even more costly. We know Scarlet & Violet Base Set will have over 190 cards, so it's safe to assume expansions won’t be getting any smaller as the price goes up.
All those factors may start to push collectors away from Pokemon over the next year, and conveniently, the upcoming Disney Lorcana TCG will be waiting for them with open arms. Among all of current card games, Pokemon may be the one that has the most overlap with Lorcana. Lots of Pokemon TCG collectors come into the game by way of other avenues, like the video games and the anime, and their interest in the TCG revolves around their love for the characters and the art.
Hopefully Lorcana will be a great game, but even if it isn’t, it will attract an audience of Disney fans that are interested in collecting the cards because they love the characters too. There’s a sentimental component to both Pokemon and Lorcana that other card games just don’t have, and if there’s one community Lorcana has an opportunity to steal members from, it’s probably Pokemon.
We don’t know much about Lorcana yet, including the price. But if it's competitive with Pokemon cards it just might attract players and collectors that are turned off by the cost of Pokemon in 2023. I’m excited about both games, but if Lorcana presents a better value this year, I know which one I’ll be investing in the most.