Twenty-six years ago, Japanese video game creator Satoshi Tajiri, and illustrator Ken Sugimori, introduced the world to a videogame with 151 fictional creatures called Pokémon. Originally released under the name Pocket Monsters, the game sold over 31.38 million copies, marking the start of this billion-dollar entertainment franchise.
Today, the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) is one of the most popular collectibles in the world. But, with some Pokémon cards printed only a few dozen times, like Master’s Key and 1st Edition Holo Lugia, it makes ‘catching ’em all’ near-impossible.
The company’s Gotta Catch ‘Em All! slogan and established card rarity make the TCG even more desirable to Pokémon fans and a near-perfect concoction for the ever-growing non-fungible token (NFT) market.
What Is the Future of Collectible Card Games?
With the non-fungible token (NFT) market gaining popularity, it seems that the future of trading cards may be on the metaverse. Specifically, the NBA‘s experiment of selling digital collectibles proved highly successful, with a LeBron James highlight purchased for $200,000.
Another example is Sega, a Japanese multinational video game company widely known for creating Sonic the Hedgehog. After much debate, it entered the digital market with its newly trademarked NFT logo.
Sega’s entrance into the metaverse is yet another indicator of video game developers’ and entertainment industries’ move towards the digital collectible market. As more companies trend towards the NFT market, many of these major entertainment enterprises may have no choice but to enter the digital arena.
Why Pokémon TCG Could Be the Most Successful NFTs
If Pokémon cards become NFTs, they would be the most significant collectible on the market, and their success would be instant. Even with basic knowledge of the Pokémon TCG, it’s clear that the cards already have all the characteristics that traders desire from an NFT. The four
attributes of successful NFTs are:
- One creator
These four NFT attributes are some of the main features distinguishing a successful digital asset from an unsuccessful one. Now, let’s further discuss the Pokémon TCG characteristics that apply to the NFT market.
The sole characteristic of an NFT is that each one is unique, and Pokémon cards can easily be. While exact numbers may never be confirmed with a card like the prerelease Raichu only rumored to exist, according to The Gamer, there are 898 species, 389 variants, and 1,287 designs.
With Pokémon’s exhaustive list of cards, some rarer than others, the company could easily create a massive database of unique NFTs with the already present rarity making TCGs an exceptional NFT.
Pokémon TCG’s established rarity is a key attribute of a successful NFT. Every popular NFT collection needs rarity to allow its collectibles to increase in value. Rare Pokémon cards have features like holographic art, half-body art, full-body art, rainbow design, or a promo icon.
However, one reason the NBA’s digital collectibles were successful wasn’t necessarily because each card was unique. It’s because of how the NFT market works. To elaborate, the transparency of NFTs makes it public knowledge of how many cards exist.
So, for example, in real-life, a Pokémon card with hundreds of copies isn’t going to sell for much. But if the company produced cards with the same species, but different attributes like abilities, statistics, etc., the unique features and knowledge of how many exist would create a new type basis for rarity and, thus, set the trade value for each Pokémon NFT.
Collectible and Tradable
The Pikachu Illustrator is the most expensive card sold at $375,000.
From the company’s slogan to the millions of Pokémon collectors worldwide, the collectability of Pokémon cards is straightforward. Additionally, Pokémon cards are versatile, as they’re used to play the trading card game, trade between friends or online, and buy for investment purposes.
When creators market their NFT, they enter the asset into the blockchain, essentially a signature to prove the NFT’s originality and link to the artist.
While the creator of Pokémon NFTs would be the franchise itself, through TCG’s existence, 88 illustrators have created the artwork for each card, furthering the artist’s creation.
Why Pokémon NFTs Are a Good Idea
Pokémon’s accessibility extends to many technological platforms and targets new and old generations to experience, like mobile apps and Nintendo consoles. For example, the mobile game Pokémon Go introduced a new way for followers to hunt for Pokémon.
If Pokémon moved to the metaverse, it would create a new way to trade cards that would exist on any platform with access to the NFT market. In addition, if Pokémon cards were on the blockchain, it would eliminate the need for card verification and, thus, eliminate the worry of purchasing a fake card.
While Pokémon TCG has all the characteristics of successful NFTs, the company’s worldwide following is the leading reason Pokémon NFTs will dominate the metaverse.
Pokémon NFT Possibilities with Gameplay
Pokémon NFT possibilities go beyond just digital card trading. To understand the gaming franchise’s potential, we can examine other entertainment companies that have accepted the metaverse.
For example, Ubisoft, a French video game and entertainment company, is the first in its industry to create a “play-to-earn” or “playable” NFT video game platform called Ubisoft Quartz.
A “playable” NFT video game means players can earn NFTs and cryptocurrencies. Video games have always rewarded players as they level up or accomplish a task, but there’s never been a way to monetize directly from a game.
Take Minecraft, for example; a Netherite sword with Sharpness V enchantment in survival mode requires players to be at least level 54 and 36 on bookshelves – which is a lot.
A Nephrite sword is the best weapon in the game, and one with the highest level of enchantment requires players to log hundreds of gameplay hours.
Now, if that sword were an NFT, a player could trade it within the game, on other platforms, or peer-to-peer for other NFTs or cryptocurrency. The only difference is that the item only existed in the game before. Now, it exists in the game and on the blockchain, meaning it has a unique identifier or serial number attached to it.
Another way to think about a “playable” NFT video game is when making purchases with real money in a game. In any game, the money spent gives the buyer that item to use. With NFT video games, the buyer not only gets the item but now owns it and can hold it or resell it at a higher price to other players.
On Ubisoft Quartz, players can acquire a Digit, an object in the game that shows the owner’s serial number. These in-game items are weapons or vehicles that players can equip or use in the game, and the owner can sell the item to other players or others outside the Ubisoft community.
Pokémon TCG could create its own “pay-to-play” trading card game that players could catch, train, and trade Pokémon on a videogame connected to a blockchain. Another way to imagine the format of Pokémon as a “playable” NFT video game is by looking at Pokémon Go.
Pokémon Go was a great way for local Pokémon enthusiasts to meet up and catch these creatures in a new and exciting way. A Pokémon NFT video game could follow the same concept, with creatures captured in real-life, but they’re also an NFT.
What Stops Pokémon NFTs From Becoming a Reality
One concern of fans and companies in the gaming industry is the environmental impact of NFTs, for a good reason.
The energy needed to complete one Bitcoin transaction is equivalent to one year of streaming a video, according to Ubisoft, and one Ethereum transaction is equal to over 100,000 VISA transactions, according to Statista.
Ubisoft answered the environmental concern by using the Tezos blockchain, which, unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum, one transaction consumes the same amount of energy required to stream a video for 30 seconds.
The Tezos blockchain uses proof-of-stake, while Bitcoin and Ethereum use proof-of-work.
Under proof-of-work, mining cryptocurrency requires expensive, specialized equipment that requires enormous energy consumption. It can also lead to possibilities of centralization and security risks. More energy required means miners can join and share their computation power, resulting in majority control in the mining process.
Proof-of-stake attempts to solve these problems by:
- Requiring less energy consumption to mine,
- It doesn’t require specialized equipment,
- Allows for more participation, making it more decentralized,
- Eliminates the need for miners by replacing them with validators.
While Pokémon would not use the Ethereum blockchain to run its NFTs, that may change with Ethereum’s merge to proof-of-stake expected to happen in the 2nd quarter of 2022.
This move may also push other entertainment and video game franchises to accept the industry’s trend toward the metaverse.
Lastly, the main reason Pokémon NFTs may never happen is because of Nintendo, a joint owner of the Pokémon company. Nintendo isn’t one to hop on the latest technology trends, according to a response from Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa when asked about the company’s thoughts on emerging trends.
Pokémon NFT Cons
The main drawback to Pokémon TCG becoming NFT is that the franchise’s popularity would likely have enough participants to create its blockchain ecosystem. While this is undoubtedly a positive for Pokémon, it would make digital Pokémon cards unattainable to many of its followers.
If this is the case, it could change Pokémon TCG from an accessible collectible and game for people of all ages into a collector’s item only accessible to the wealthiest class.
However, Pokémon TCG trading and investments are, in a way, already unattainable, with the rarest cards selling for thousands of dollars. So, Pokémon TCG as NFTs may not change the TCG community at all, not even a little bit.
Hopefully, you’ve gained a new understanding of Pokémon NFTs. However, if you’re new to cryptocurrency and the NFT world, then here are some frequently asked questions regarding these topics.
1. What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is the internet, but bigger. The most straightforward meaning of the metaverse refers to creating a real-time user experience outside the physical world through virtual or augmented reality. However, the metaverse is just a concept, as it does not physically exist – yet.
Innovations in technology like NFTs show how blockchain technology can verify the digital asset owner, a crucial part of the persistence part of the metaverse, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD). In other words, one purpose of the metaverse is to allow users to move from one virtual reality to another with their digital assets.
2. What is the Blockchain?
The blockchain is the ledger of every buy, sell, or trade cryptocurrency, which is why this form of currency is decentralized and secure. Once a transaction gets recorded in the blockchain, it can’t be altered in any way, making it a secure system to store transactions.
3. What is an NFT?
An NFT can be any multimedia file (i.e., photo, video, or audio) that someone sells on an NFT market for cryptocurrency. So, for example, you could take a picture of your pet, upload it on an NFT marketplace, purchase some crypto, pay a couple of fees, and sell it at any price you want.
Each NFT has unique data stored on the blockchain to verify originality and ownership.
Pokémon TCG as NFTs Will Be the Biggest Collectables on the Market
The purpose of NFTs, collecting and trading digitized assets, is, oddly enough, the exact purpose of Pokémon TCG. From collectible cards to the trading card game itself, the possibilities for Pokémon NFTs are considerable.
Unfortunately, Nintendo has a track record of avoiding the latest trends, so don’t expect Pokémon NFTs any time soon. But suppose Nintendo and Pokémon explored its potential in the metaverse.
If TCG did become NFTs, Pokémon would dominate the market. Other entertainment enterprises would struggle to reach the popularity and revenue levels that Pokémon, a digital collectible Pokémon Celebrations – 25th Anniversary set, could.
Pokémon NFTs would be unstoppable.