The ‘Pokemon TCG’, ‘Magic: The Gathering’, and ‘Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG’ are in Control

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TCGplayer’s August data for sealed product sales and price changes showed the Big Three dominating, putting the future of newer TCGs in question.

The “Big Three” are in charge again as Pokemon TCG, Magic: The Gathering, and Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG practically owned the sealed chart in August 2022 (see “August 2022“).  There was only one non-Big Three TCG on the chart this time, which was the Digimon CG: X Record Booster Box that ranked at #24.  There was nothing particularly special about the rankings of the Big Three’s products, as they seem to even rank out according to popularity in the top end of the chart with Pokemon TCG taking the #1 spot with Lost Origins Booster Box, Magic: The Gathering taking the #2 slot with Dominaria United Collector Booster Box, and Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG at #3 with Power of Elements Booster Box 1E.

The data set also seems to point to a general softening of the TCG aftermarket.  The TCG consumer has become laser-focused on only the top tier products and doesn’t seem to be branching out to explore newer TCGs, which is generally what happens at the beginning of soft points in the market as disposable income tightens a little.  The primary reason for this behavior is that the consumer knows that the Big Three TCGs will always have some sort of collectible value on the secondary market, and they’re interested in getting the most bang for their buck out of their TCG purchases.  Thus, they begin to concentrate their purchases on the Big Three’s product lines.

However, consumer balance sheets, according to the Federal Reserve as of Q2 2022, are still relatively healthy, so it’s possible that two other market forces are at work here: price hikes and the increased pace of releases. TCG pack prices have been slowly but surely increasing over the course of 2022.  As an example, Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG booster set pack MSRP at the end of 2021 was $3.99 per pack (see “‘The Grand Creators’“).  At the end of 2022, the pack prices will be up to $4.49 (see “‘Yu-Gi-Oh! Darkwing Blast’“), which is roughly a 13% increase.  As the pack prices go higher, they begin to cut into the purchases the consumer is willing to make in the TCG category as a whole.

The increased pace of TCG releases is also likely impacting the TCG market. The more product the Big Three put out on the market, the more their fans have to pick and choose between their products and other TCG products.  WotC has clearly been one of the primary drivers behind this factor in the market, as it has dropped several more Magic: The Gathering Secret Lair products than in previous years (see “Calendar for 2020/2021” and also, “Calendar for 2022“), and retail releases have also been heavy. There are so many Magic releases that have come and are coming into the market in 2022 that their release dates are even colliding with one another as supply chain issues continue to hamper WotC (see “Pushes Back ‘Magic: The Gathering’ ‘Warhammer 40,000’ Set“).  All of these extra releases hitting the TCG market, as well as the price increases, likely play a significant role in bumping non-Big Three TCGs off the TCGplayer’s Top 25 Sealed Products Chart.