Pokemon TCG Sold Record 3.7 Billion Cards During the Pandemic!

Pokemon has released its latest financial report, revealing the company shipped 3.7 billion Pokemon cards between March 2020 and March 2021 — the highest number in recent memory. Before 2019 they were shipping an average of 1.5 to 2 billion cards a year, but the last two years have seen double that rate. It’s likely the rate from 2020 to 2021 would have been even higher were it not for printing shortages caused by the pandemic.

I went back and looked through Pokemon’s corporate data as well as the press releases they’ve sent PokeBeach since 2003. Here’s the amount of cards the The Pokemon Company claims they’ve shipped:

  • March 2021: Over 34.1 billion cards worldwide in 13 languages and 77 areas
  • March 2020: Over 30.4 billion cards worldwide in 13 languages and 77 areas
  • September 2019: Over 28.8 billion cards worldwide in 13 languages and 77 areas
  • March 2019: Over 27.2 billion cards worldwide in 12 languages and 77 countries and regions
  • March 2018: Over 25.7 billion cards worldwide in 11 languages and 74 countries and regions
  • March 2017: Over 23.6 billion cards worldwide in 11 languages and 74 countries and regions
  • Between 2014 and 2016: Over 21.5 billion cards worldwide in 10 languages and 74 countries and regions
  • Between 2004 and 2010: Over 14 billion cards worldwide in 30-40 countries

The Pokemon Company claimed the “21.5 billion” figure numerous times between 2014 and 2016, even when publishing increasing statistics for other areas of the franchise. This suggests they didn’t know the exact figure and only started keeping track in 2017.

The “14 billion” figure was used in press releases for a whopping six years. It first appeared in e-mails from Pokemon USA to PokeBeach in 2004 and continued through 2010. While the number stayed the same, they did update the number of countries the TCG was printed in when e-mailing out the blurb. It gradually increased from 30 in 2005 to 40 in 2010. This suggests they weren’t actively calculating how many cards were printed. It’s as if they did an internal survey one time in 2004 and then just ran with that number for several years.

All of this makes me thinks these TCG numbers are “guesstimates” from the company. The Pokemon Company isn’t publicly traded. They don’t have to release their data or even be accurate about it. Pokemon also took back the TCG from Wizards of the Coast in 2003, leading to contentious legal battles between the two companies. So we don’t even know if the amount of cards sold before that period were accurately saved. However, it’s likely the change in data has become more accurate in recent years.

How many trees had to die for our enjoyment? :p

Want to join PokeBeach's news team? We're currently looking for TCG news writers, especially those who live in time zones where it's night in America (such as Europe). If this interests you, please fill out this application!



PokéBeach's news commenting system is completely integrated with our forums! , you can reply to this story's forum thread directly on this page with all of the forum's functionality!

  1. Yaginku Aspiring Trainer
    Yaginku

    Member

    While the sales of Pokemon cards have definitely increased, remember that cards shipped =/= cards sold.
    Also, they should print more.
     
    bidoof&company and Nyan like this.
  2. Shinxed3 Get Shinxed bro
    Shinxed3

    Member

    Wouldn't it be neat if we could have an Earth Day expansion where the profits go to planting trees to make up for how many cards have been printed?

    As for the cards themselves, they could print a bunch of iconic cards from throughout the game's history and make them a tiny bit better, like Japan's Champion Road expansion. Or, include just a bunch of staple cards for Standard or even Expanded. Or even reprint existing cards with nature-themed artwork.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2021
  3. TokenDuelist YGO TCG is Cheaper. Fight me.
    TokenDuelist

    Member

    "How many trees had to die for our enjoyment? :p"

    What enjoyment? A ton of these sure haven't gone to fans that's for sure.
     
    Number51x likes this.
  4. Frost Amethyst AMAB-NB
    Frost

    Member

  5. JuniperDaisy Togepi is my Master
    JuniperDaisy

    Member

    I was just thinking earlier today about this. Endless paper cards, the company at one point will have to stop right? I think it would be cool to see some type of sustainable card printing, for example on metal (Aluminum is 100% recyclable for example). I wonder what their solution years down the line will be, and where all these printed cards are?

    *Edit: When I say Aluminum is recyclable, I am not insinuating recycling the cards but using the recycled material to make the cards (just a random thought if anyone else wants to think about it)

    Edit#2: Yes paper is recyclable, however, they are not making cards out of recycled material (from what I've looked into at least), but from new raw material. It would be cool to see where they go from here with their product sustainability. (ie packaging methods)
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2021
    W1ll1am04 likes this.
  6. MilesEX Aspiring Trainer
    MilesEX

    Member

    When companies release sold figures, it's always what they have sold to retailers, you don't need to point it out. It doesn't matter how much the sell-through is to consumer (especially on a product that is flying off the shelves anyway).
     
  7. Charmaster:) The Cube Master, Charmander fan, & Lapras rider.
    Charmaster:)

    Member

    Um, I'm sure you guys have already read the article (*meaningful looks from me and WPM.*) but let me explain the significance of this article.
    1. The Pokémon Company has printed more cards over the pandemic than they ever have before.
    2. It still hasn't been enough to keep scalpers from getting them.
    3. But at least they're trying!
    4. So now that they've proved that they're frantically increasing productivity and not just sitting on the cash of scalpers, please don't be too impatient, harsh, and/or snarky (not necessarily implying that any of the above comments are any of those things, just wanted to point it out)
    5. Yes, this is using a lot of paper, and yes there ARE ways of making it more sustainable, but that's an entirely different can of worms. Is is true that the issue of sustainability can and WILL catch up to us sooner or later (some say sooner, some say later), but right now TPCI is just focusing on trying to catch up with production. Besides, paper is recyclable as well. Not 100% recyclable perhaps, but still recyclable.
    6. If you think sustainability is a problem, maybe you should recycle your unused bulk more often. (DISCLAIMER: DO NOT RECYCLE YOUR UNUSED BULK.)
    7. I think the Pokémon Company would probably make a better use of its time making the product PACKAGING more sustainable than making the PRODUCT more sustainable. The Marnie collection box certainly could have been bigger (though it also certainly could have been a lot smaller), which is a small step in the right direction...
    8. And that's what I think Pokémon has been making more and more often recently, small steps in the right direction. First introducing the Trainer's Toolkit, then putting out a survey, then changing Theme Decks into V battle decks, then adding extra measures to combat scalper bots, and now bringing back the Dragon type, plus others that I probably haven't noticed yet... perhaps things aren't exactly the way we want them to be, but TPCI is making improvements for the better, and I hope that more of us will come to realize that TPCI isn't a heartless capitalist trap with no interest in putting smiles on the faces of children and grownups alive. And remember, there are humans behind every enterprise. Of course the FRANCHISE doesn't care, its not a living entity, but the PEOPLE behind it... well, maybe not ALL of them care, that would be too much of a blanket statement, but there are definitely many, many people at Gamefreak and TPCI who care.
    Sorry, I know that's a lot to read.
     
    JuniperDaisy likes this.
  8. Yaginku Aspiring Trainer
    Yaginku

    Member

    The original title of this article was "Pokemon TCG Sales Increased Over Twofold During the Pandemic!" (it's still the name of the topic on the forums). It was changed, probably because of my comment.
    Companies can absolutely release numbers sold (to LGSes, for instance). Releasing the "numbers printed" instead was a tactic that Magic used during its slump around Amonkhet, where they overprinted the crap out of everything, nobody wanted to buy it, but they can proudly display it was a "year they printed the most cards to date" to their shareholders.
     
    Nyan likes this.
  9. Mimikeon Aspiring Trainer
    Mimikeon

    Member

    For TPC shipped definitely = sold. It's a common misconception that companies use "shipped" figures to inflate numbers, but really it's just because that's when they make their money. Also, shops and distributors don't tend to buy products that they don't think will sell, and especially now with the shortages you can be sure that the vast majority of those cards ended up in consumer(/scalper) hands.
     
    JuniperDaisy likes this.
  10. PichuCollector Aspiring Trainer
    PichuCollector

    Member

    The title is a bit sensationalist. Production hasn't "increased over twofold during the pandemic". Production has gone from 1.5 billion in 2018 to 3.2 billion in 2019 to 3.7 billion in 2020 - that's a 0.5 billion or 15% increase during the pandemic.

    I'd say that the main cause for the doubling of production in 2019-20 was more due to increased demand for the Pokémon TCG in general in China. I doubt that production has increased all that much in Japanese and even less so in English.

    If anything I'd argue that the pandemic has actually had a negative impact on the number of cards produced as lockdowns would have inevitably lead to factory closures for significant lengths of time. We'll probably not know the true extent to how supply has changed during the pandemic until the next set of figures are revealed.
     
    Water Pokémon Master likes this.
  11. Water Pokémon Master I like Pokemon more than you. :D
    Water Pokémon Master

    Webmaster News Head Activities Head Elite Member Advanced Member Member

    Thanks, I fixed the title again. Math isn't my strong suit. :x
     
    PichuCollector likes this.
  12. Yaginku Aspiring Trainer
    Yaginku

    Member

    Title in a week: "Allegations imply Pokemon made card". :D
     
  13. Water Pokémon Master I like Pokemon more than you. :D
    Water Pokémon Master

    Webmaster News Head Activities Head Elite Member Advanced Member Member

    "Pokemon Really Really Popular, Sold a Bajillion Cards to Scalpers"
     
  14. Snowy Lilacs Aspiring Trainer
    Snowy Lilacs

    Member

    How many trees had to die for our enjoyment?

    What ever it is, toilet paper would still beat it out

    Plus I think MtG beats out Pokemon in that category anyways
     
  15. i like how the meowth is just chilling there

    hes chilling
     
  16. SenorChinocano Aspiring Trainer
    SenorChinocano

    Member

    BTW the proprietary formula to make these cards involve almost 30% plastic, so less tree death but more... well... of everything else. lol
     
  17. CreeperPig64258#23452709 Aspiring Trainer
    CreeperPig64258#23452709

    Member

    Is it anyone's?