The first cards for Disney Lorcana, a new collectible card game from Ravensburger, were unveiled at Disney D23 less than two weeks ago. Now fans who attended that event are rushing to place those seven cards up for auction. Trouble is, no one even knows how the game is played, since the rules haven’t been released yet. Nevertheless, bids for those first few cards are already exceeding $2,000. It’s clear evidence that Lorcana is off to a great start, and an even bigger sign of a coming surge in new CCGs.
Speculation in the trading card market is nothing new, but it reached new heights during the pandemic. First came a sudden interest in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, leading many to cast about for older collections they could sell for quick cash. Rapper Logic blinked first, coughing up more than $180,000 in 2020 for a vintage Charizard. The momentum kept building, including major incidents of fraud. Recall when YouTuber Logan Paul showed up in 2021 with $375,000 to buy a sealed box of Pokemon boosters. It turned out to be filled with trash instead.
The games themselves benefitted from these high-profile, high-dollar-amount incidents. New Pokémon cards were so popular — and so limited in quantity — that for a time Target refused to sell them, citing security concerns. As a result, The Pokémon Company printed more than nine billion cards in 2021, flooding the market to meet consumer demand. Meanwhile, Wizards of the Coast published more new sets of cards than in at any previous time in its 35-year history. Its parent company, Hasbro, also revealed that Magic brings in the majority of that business unit’s nearly $1 billion in annual tabletop revenue.
With so many new and sought-after cards on the market, it’s no wonder that eBay has taken notice. The online auction house has added new resources for grading and storing pricey cards for its customers. It also recently purchased one of its biggest competitors, TCGPlayer, for $295 million.
Aging tech companies and decades-old card game publishers aren’t the only ones getting in on the action, however. CCGs new and old are entering the market on a monthly basis. KeyForge, the unique deck game first published by Fantasy Flight Games in 2018, is heading back to hobby stores thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that has earned more than $700,000 so far on Gamefound. SolForge Fusion, an upstart card game with roots in crowdfunding, is also making a big push with its marketing. Fans of the tabletop news website Dicebreaker now get a free starter set when they sign up for a paid membership. Meanwhile Project NISEI, the fan-made successor to the popular Android: Netrunner card game, continues to add on new players with all-new sets of cards.
By now everyone has heard about the “board game renaissance,” an intense two-decades long period of innovation and success that has completely transformed the hobby games landscape. We’re likewise currently in the middle of an exciting period of time for tabletop role-playing games, with Dungeons & Dragons’ 5th edition spurring more people than ever before to try their hand at TTRPGs. I think that now we’re fully on the cusp of another big revolution in the world of CCGs. It’s going to be interesting to see what the marketplace looks like five, maybe 10 years down the line.
Odds are that stalwarts like Magic and Pokémon will still be around. But will Mickey Mouse cards still be selling for $220 apiece? It all really depends on whether or not the game itself is any good. We’ll know more in 2023. Until then, speculation is really all we have to go on.