You might have noticed that throughout the history of the Pokémon Trading Card Game not once has there been a Charizard card that has gotten even remotely close to the metagame. Well, you’re right, there has never been one. So the primary thing you might wonder is, why is the coolest Pokémon (as seen by many) of all time not represented in the game? Wouldn’t the game attract many more people if they were able to win matches with their favourite Pokémon? Well, there are several causations for that which all is going to be explained in this article.
Note; This is a community article. Pokéspot does not necessarily share any opinion nor do we back up any statement made within this article.
To start of, here are some examples of various Charizard in the game. Notice that most of them have a ridiculous amount of energy cost for a ridiculous amount of damage, making them either unplayable, or just insanely bad.
The Audiences of the TCG
Firstly, the Pokémon TCG has two audiences, which are competitive players and card collectors. More specifically, competitive players are a group of pretty much all ages, but the group of collectors also consists of a group of all ages. Hence, the challenge for the creators of the TCG is to create and maintain accessibility for both competitors and collectors of all ages. When a specific card becomes too expensive it will hurt the accessibility mostly for the younger audience represented in both groups.
Although you might think that the people that actually play the game are the most important audience, think again. The real profit for the Pokémon company is generated by the collectors as they spend much more money on sealed product. For example, the profit of Pokéspot accounts approximately 80% for collectors and thus only 20% from the competitive players. Yet, Pokéspot embraces the actual game and sells specific competitive card singles for this audience, but most stores just sell the sealed products which are primarily focused on the collector rather than the competitor. Hence, the percentages for those stores might be even higher in favour of the collector (e.g. 90-10%).
The Problem with an icon like Charizard
If Charizard were to be one of the best cards in the game being released in a new set, it might cause a huge problem for both audiences. More specifically, if both audiences seek out to get their hands on that specific card, the price of it will skyrocket. Not only that, but the availability of the card will be very limited in the beginning as well, because cards from a new set can be pulled only to a limited amount. For example, Tapu Lele GX, which is a fairly new strong card, was sold out at many places when it had just came out. Moreover, in this scenario, only the people with the highest budget will be able to use it in the TCG giving players with more money a huge advantage, which is to be avoided at all times. Especially in a game where a lot of kids try to compete as well. Moreover, it also means that collectors will have to spend a lot of money on it to get it, although it is not out of the question that they will, they will most certainly not appreciate having to pay so much money, especially for a newly printed card. In other words, very collectible Pokémon cards like Charizard and some others, will never be strong contenders in the metagame.
The Collector is King
As mentioned earlier, the collecting audience is favoured because they simply provide more sales. So, when a new set is being developed, the first thing that is considered in the progress of creating new cards, is the popularity of the Pokémon being used. Usually, the more popular the Pokémon is, the worse their stats will be. Now, there are some exceptions to the rule as the truly popular iconic Pokémon are mostly derived from the older generations. Hence, there is room for newer popular and cool Pokémon to still be a part of the meta (e.g. Greninja, Volcanion, Decidueye GX). However, in addition to Charizard… Venusaur, Blastoise, Pikachu and a lot of other iconic Pokémon will most likely never be good playable cards in the TCG.
It also works the other way around though. Often the developers of the game simply use the most unpopular Pokémon that no collector is interested in, to make it the best card in the format just to be sure that the value doesn’t rise further due to collectible value. A good example is this literal pile of crap Pokémon that nobody likes…
This is probably one of the safest Pokémon to give the most powerful attacks/abilities because no collector will be interested in them. Thus, their price will remain low even though they are considered to be two of the strongest cards in the game. Would Garbodor have a chance against a Charizard in the anime? Probably not. Does Charizard stand a chance against this pile of crap in the TCG? Not the slightest chance.
The Pokémon Company does in a sense realise that having iconic Pokémon in the game is also important for the popularity. If people get to play with their favourite Pokémon and are actually able to win matches with them, it might make the game a lot more interesting to try out. Their method for this is to make such Pokémon playable, yet never as an archetype within a deck, but mostly just as a gimmick card that can be used against specific decks. For example, the Eeveelutions that grant your Pokémon an additional type with their ability, is an example of such a gimmick. It doesn’t make the card being used a lot, but it can still be used to win you matches in some (rare) cases. Or making popular Pokémon good, but just barely good enough to get somewhat close to the meta, but never be a serious contender.
Your Opinion on the matter
What do you think of this approach by the creators? Do you think if they would just make the most popular Pokémon also the strongest Pokémon in the game, will it help the TCG to become more popular? Or will the prices become too high as explained before causing a lot of players to quit the game and making it just more unpopular?
Let me know in the comment section as I would love to discuss this topic with you!
Thank you once again for reading, and hopefully not only for the XP :-).