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The Pokémon Trading Card Game is coming to your phone

Will soft-launch on smartphones in Canada; global beta on PC later in 2021

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game will soon be available as a free-to-play app for iOS and Android devices, The Pokémon Company announced on Monday.

With Pokémon TCG Live, The Pokémon Company promises that newcomers and veterans alike will get Pokémon’s classic deck-building game with true-to-life rules and gameplay. Pokémon TCG Live will be supplemented with daily quests, customizable avatars and accessories, and more. A robust post-launch content schedule is promised.

“Pokémon TCG Live will go hand in hand with the tabletop version that fans know and love,” Barry Sams, The Pokémon Company’s vice president in charge of the Pokémon trading card game, said in a statement. The game “welcomes a new era of digital play where Trainers around the world can play together regardless of their preferred platform,” he added.

Pokémon TCG Live will soft-launch on mobile devices in Canada later this year; a global open beta for Mac and Windows PC will be available later this year through, too. Pokémon TCG Live will replace the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, an existing app based on the trading card game, which will be shut down before its replacement goes live.

This year marks Pokémon’s worldwide 25th anniversary; the Pokémon Trading Card Game first launched in the United States in 1999. The Trading Card Game, like many other tabletop games and hobbies, has seen a large surge in attention and interest since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in the spring and summer of 2020.

Since then, both the base set and highly sought-after sets, like Hidden Fates, have seen large price spikes on the collectibles market. Retailers have struggled to meet demand for current product, in part to pandemic-related printing shortages and shutdowns.

Target stopped selling the Pokémon TCG in stores this spring, out of concern for its customers and employees. Mainstream media at the time shared several reports of long camp-out lines for new shipments, and fights breaking out among collectors trying to grab them.

Also in February, The Pokémon Company canceled the 2021 Pokémon World Championships, the Trading Card Game’s signature event. It’s the second straight year the championships were wiped out because of the pandemic; they’re scheduled to resume with “an expanded celebration for Pokémon” in 2022, though the company has yet to offer more details about its plans.

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