Pokémon TCG World Championships deck ends up on Japanese flea market app before it even releases
Pokémon fans in Japan have been patiently awaiting the release of the Pokémon World Championships 2023 commemorative trading card deck set to release on the 28th of this month. But, to the shock of many, the cards started being put up for sale on auction sites since July 19, before even a single deck was sold.
The Pokémon World Championships is an exclusive invitation-only tournament organized by Play! Pokémon. Pokémon Trading Card Game players are invited to participate in the event based on their performance in events throughout the given Championship Series season, similar to trainers in Pokémon. Participants compete to test their skill and winners are awarded monetary and other valuable prizes. This year will be the first time the event will be held within Japan and many Japanese and overseas fans alike seem to be excited to join in the festive annual event.
To commemorate the upcoming Pokémon World Championships event that will be held in Yokohama, Japan this August, the Pokémon World Championships 2023 Yokohama Commemorative Deck “Pikachu” will be released this week on the 28th. According to Pokémon’s official trading card product site the deck will contain 60 cards, damage counters, markers, a Pikachu flip coin, a Pikachu ex promo, premium matte finish card sleeves and a tin card case.
Fans of the franchise and tournament have been understandably excited for this special product, awaiting its release patiently. However, according to J-cast, there have been reports of mysterious listings of the yet to be released cards on online Japanese auction sites like Mercari.
Since the deck has still not been released, it’s a bit puzzling as to how the resellers intend to sell cards they don’t have. It seems that the first sightings of the card listings on Mercari were on July 19.
Coincidentally, this was the same day emails were sent out to notify the winners of a preorder lottery that was held for the deck in question. Upon learning that they had won the right to preorder the cards, it seems as though some of the winners decided to put the deck up for resale, though they had yet to receive their cards, using only their winning emails as proof of their eventual possession of the deck. Additionally, the decks listed on the marketplace app were priced several times their retail value according to screenshots of the catalogue. The deck and included items were originally priced at 3,500 yen, the equivalent of just shy of 25 USD. However, it seems as though the deck alone was listed at prices 13 to 16 times higher than the original value by resellers.
The original, over-priced listings for the Pokémon deck have since been removed by Mercari. When asked for a statement by J-Cast, a Mercari representative stated, “Regardless of this specific case, selling items that are not in your possession violates our guidelines.”
Mercari has recently entered into a comprehensive collaboration agreement with The Pokémon Company with the goal of preventing fraudulent listings and the price gouging of Pokémon products. (Related article). According to Nikkei, Mericari’s recent collaborative agreement with The Pokémon Company makes for the 10th time the app has entered into such a partnership with another company to combat the unethical reselling of goods on their platform. Unfortunately, other Japanese marketplace sites like Magi and Au Pay Market currently still have the deck listed with the significant price increases, with many already being displayed as “sold”.
Fans seem to be disappointed that the commemorative deck has been subjected to scalping before it’s release. One Twitter user comments on the effectiveness of the agreement between the two companies: “Mercari entered a comprehensive collaboration agreement with The Pokémon Company and said they’re working together, but from what I see in the picture it’s selling really well. Is the agreement really working?” Another user voices their displeasure at the price gouging, tweeting, “They should just sue the sellers. There are so many of these stupid people.” Many in the community seem to be tired of resellers artificially inflating the prices of items.
Unfortunately, price gouging, unethical reselling, and scams are some of the common problems that the trading card community faces. Some cards are valued so highly that even incidents of burglary aren’t unheard of. Just this May, a 25-year-old man was arrested for stealing the equivalent of over fifteen thousand dollars worth of Pokémon goods. It appears that the desire to obtain some of these high-value cards has led to a string of Pokémon merchandise related crimes. According to The Japan Times, “Between August 2022 and May, 11 trading card stores have been targeted in Tokyo alone.”
Although it’s unfortunate that the World Championships deck was preemptively put on the market by scalpers, Mercari’s fairly quick removal of the prohibited listings seem to have given a slight relief to some in the Pokémon trading card community. It’s a positive sign that marketplace apps are starting to become more proactive in taking preemptive steps to counter fraudulent listings.