The Pokemon Company has announced the Pokemon TCG will soon be printed in a new language: Simplified Chinese! The language is used for mainland China, which means the Pokemon TCG is going to capture a massive new market. Pokemon launched a Traditional Chinese version of the TCG for Hong Kong and Taiwan in October 2019.
The announcement was made through Pokemon China’s website. They will be holding a press conference on September 28th via China’s Bilibili app, which is China’s version of YouTube. Presumably they will announce the first products.
We can confirm China will start with the Sun & Moon series. The rumor mill for this news story started back in February when we discovered Nintendo had filed trademarks for the Pokemon TCG in mainland China. This included “Sun & Moon” and “Crossing the Sky,” both of which were written in Simplified Chinese (the language of mainland China). This was our first indication the TCG was going to be printed in a new language.
Both of these trademarks are the translated names of the first two “Traditional Chinese” sets released in Hong Kong and Taiwan back in 2019, both of which were Sun & Moon sets. Thus, our theory was that China would be translating the set releases from Hong Kong and Taiwan into “Simplified Chinese” for mainland China.
The first two sets released in Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2019 were a combination of cards from Japan’s SM1 to SM4 and GX Ultra Shiny. You can see the set lists on the official Chinese website here and here. The next several sets were also compilation sets to catch them up with Japan’s releases. Once Hong Kong and Taiwan were caught up a year later, they started releasing sets that exactly matched Japan. For example, their most recent set is Incandescent Arcana.
Furthermore, we’ve discovered retailer listings that show the first products to release in mainland China will feature the two Sun & Moon compilation sets mentioned above. This also includes a GX Starter Deck. The dates of the listings suggest new products will release at a rapid pace, which means Pokemon will be trying to catch up mainland China to Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as quickly as possible.
When Pokemon printed the TCG for Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2019, they also launched an official Organized Play program. However, China has strict laws concerning gaming and children. An Organized Play program may be limited or unfeasible. But hopefully we’ll find out more details next week!
Over the past few years The Pokemon Company and Nintendo have made efforts to bring the franchise to China. Sun & Moon were the first Pokemon video games to launch in Simplified Chinese for mainland China. Prior to this, video games were banned in China. In 2020, Nintendo also changed a few Pokemon’s names to satisfy government regulations. This included changing Pokemon’s names to remove references to negative words like “death,” “thief,” and “toxic.”
The Pokemon TCG is currently printed in Japanese, English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Indonesian, Thai, and Traditional Chinese.