Pokémon has been a top worldwide game brand for more than 25 years, and early trading cards featuring its characters continue to rise in value. The concept of these “Pocket Monsters” was the brainchild of Satoshi Tajiri, a game journalist and designer who used his own childhood exploration of the woods near his home and the bugs he found there as inspiration for Pokémon. Little did he know this concept would lead to a multimillion-selling video game and a game full of valuable cards.
The first set of 102 Pokémon trading cards were released in Japan in 1996, and they quickly became popular among fans of the video game. In addition to information about each Pokémon character's skills and abilities, these early cards included images of the many Pokémon characters. Soon, collectors got into the hobby, driving up the value of the original cards before they debuted in the US with the backing of Wizards of the Coast, the publisher behind Magic: The Gathering.
The Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) has developed throughout time to include new features and gameplay concepts. There are now several types of Pokémon cards, like energy cards and trainer cards, and some cards have specific abilities that allow them to attack or protect against other Pokémon. Unlike sports trading cards, the value of cards was also affected by their functionality in the game.
Worldwide, there are millions of Pokémon TCG collectors, and the game's popularity continues to grow as new generations discover the game. This just keeps driving card values higher, sometimes tied to a new film or pop culture moment involving Pokémon. For example, in 2021, YouTube influencer Logan Paul traded a PSA 9 graded and extremely rare Illustrator CoroCoro Comics Promo Pokémon card for a PSA 10 Gem Mint copy…and $4 million dollars. Although the value of Pokémon cards had been on the rise, the value of this one card easily eclipsed past valuations for even the most popular cards, like variations of the Charizard, a fan-favorite and powerful card that was considered the most valuable Pokémon card in the past.
Some Pokémon cards are also available in several varieties, such as holographic or foil-stamped editions. These types of cards will likely see their value increase as a result of these variances because collectors love complete sets of every available version of a card.
The rarity of Pokémon cards is judged by a number of factors. For instance, some cards are more common within their set than others, while cards that were only available for a limited time can be worth more money since they are harder to find than cards that were made in larger amounts. Some cards also increase in value simply because of the set they are printed within. Of course, professional grading can also help with accurately understanding the value of a card. These companies will help set a value based on rarity as well as the condition of the card.
In general, collecting and trading Pokémon trading cards is a thrilling and enjoyable activity for franchise enthusiasts. There are many different cards to choose from, so every collector can find something they like and value as part of their collection. Whether you play the game or simply enjoy putting together sets of your favorite Pokémon, the hobby has a large community online that shares this interest.
If you want to know how to identify rare Pokémon cards and their value check out our Guide: Pokémon Card Rarity and Value