By Chloe Barrett
Place yourself in 2020, and after the whirlwind of a year, something unexpected climbed out of its depths, seemingly out of nowhere. Pokémon cards. The Pokémon pandemic was an event that swept available cards off of their shelves minutes after shops opened each morning. All ages were desperate to get their hands on any packs within reach, even going to extremes for those last cards. But how did this begin? And most importantly, why?
When people were bored in their homes during the pandemic, many picked up hobbies. Some were brand new activities that people finally had time to get around to, while others revisited old passions that they used to enjoy. Pokémon cards can fall into either of these. Collecting the cards is a very accessible thing to do, you don’t need the largest amount of experience to get started. Whether you are using the cards to play the actual game or just collecting them for fun, it is undeniably exciting to pull a card with your fingers crossed, hoping for your favourite Pokémon on the other side. It is quite an addictive thing to do as well. You promised yourself only one more booster pack as you are tearing open your fifth and desperately flipping the cards over for a rare one. Some perhaps may call it a form of gambling, so please buy in moderation!
The popularity of the cards never died down. Even before the resurgence, many content creators still based their brands off of unboxing cards, and have been doing so for years, such as Leonhart, CandyEvie and Maxmoefoe. Even regular gaming channels sometimes caved and got a few packs. Most of the creators are based on YouTube and Twitch, and people make sure to tune in regularly to watch their unboxings and card collection tours.
However, people casually buying card packs for their own entertainment and eagerly watching unboxing videos were not where the problem began. Infamous YouTuber, Logan Paul, was a big influence on the Pokémon spiral by purchasing millions worth of card boxes. That’s right, he spent millions of dollars on Pokémon cards. Even in the past, there were rare cards sold on websites like eBay, such as the in-demand shiny Charizard. But prices climbed up at an unbelievable pace.
People who had no interest in Pokémon were rushing out to purchase packs in hopes of drawing a valuable card to sell online after seeing the prices inflate. The industry became less about passionate gamers with a love for Pokémon, it had transformed into something wholly different. And that was due to greed. Collectors were suddenly finding it extremely hard to get their hands on cards and retailers across the globe were facing a shortage. Certain cards were even selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars with active bids urging the prices higher.
Because of the pure popularity surrounding the resurgence, a day without a Pokémon unboxing being featured on the YouTube trending page was incredibly rare. I will admit, watching creators stream and the live comments go insane if they pulled a rare card was a degree of thrilling. When we had little else to do, the simple things brought us joy. But, this joy was a nightmare for regular collectors and shop employees alike. Some fans were upset to see a community they loved descend into a form of greedy madness. Unaware buyers were being scammed online over alleged, legit cards for sale, the whole scenario was a mess.
Thankfully, the demand has quietened down since then. You have a better chance of stumbling across card packs tucked away on shelves without the risk of getting attacked for them. Logan Paul does seem to have moved on from the genre of card unboxing to something completely different: physical boxing.