Will NFTs change the lives of Pokémon card fans?

Pokémon is 25 years old, but never stops reinventing itself. In 2016, Pokémon Go Madness captured small monsters in augmented reality and prompted the re-release of a pack of trading cards. In 2022, supporters of non-fungible tokens (NFT) are calling for the dematerialization of Pokémon cards or derivative products to be exchanged online. Even video games based on the Ethereum blockchain, such as Axie Infinity, are referred to as Nintendo franchise equivalents. But basically, do NFTs really change anything for Pikachu followers?

Crazy collectors

Since the beginning of the confinement, collectors have gone crazy: on eBay, sales of Pokémon cards have increased 574% between 2019 and 2020, while in March 2021, a Dracofeu card was sold for the modest sum of 418,000 euros. These transactions have been talked about a lot on YouTube, where creators have staged their search and their purchase of rare cards. Last year, for example, French rapper Lorenzo sold fifteen for 300,000 euros, while American youtuber Logan Paul in early 2022 was cheated for $ 3.5 million for fake cards. He then spent 5.3 million (4.5 million euros) on becoming the owner of the most expensive Pokémon card in the world.

Among fans of the franchise, not everyone is particularly positive about this madness, which is driving up prices, fueling fraud and even forcing investors to empty stocks in specialty stores to the detriment of children. But it fits in relatively well with the French’s passion for collections – 4 out of 5 have started one in their lifetime – whether these are launched for fun or to speculate.

On blockchain, speculation, creation or both?

It is on these two uses – collection and speculation – that NFTs make it possible to change things, believes the founder of the KAZoArt art gallery Mathilde Le Roy. “NFTs are not necessarily available to everyone, she admits, whether for technical reasons because some – especially women – project less into them …” But they are still going to recompose the markets, “the role reinvents as an intermediary between artist and buyer, provides space for trading cards to transform. Until recently, Panini cards were obsolete. And then came Sorare. “

The success of the French company, which makes it possible to exchange football player’s stamps via blockchain, is something to dream about: after its record collection (in France) of $ 680 million in September 2021, it is now launching on US territory. But does not seem to have any plans to venture into pop culture just yet – she still specializes in sports. Habsro, publisher of Magic: the Gathering, another legendary trading card game, has on the other hand declared itself interested in the opportunity to invest in the world of NFT. On the comics side, Warner Bros. has unveiled on April 26 “Bat Cowl”, a collection of NFTs dedicated to Batman. This may explain why Pokémon supporters launch petitions to make them available and traded on the blockchain.

Fraud risks and opportunities game

While waiting for fans’ wishes to be granted, artists have begun offering their own interpretation of the universe – such as the French Onemizer, which released Pokémon Lugia NFTs for sale last December. If this initiative was received fairly well, others, like the Pixelmon project, turned out to be more incredible. If this one allowed his author to raise $ 9,000, it turned out to be composed … of very ugly and pixelated works, far from the aesthetics of Bulbizarres, Salamèches, and others.

Finally, this is where NFTs are most likely to bring new things to the Pokémon universe, perhaps what they come from: the video game. Axie Infinity and Illuvium, two titles installed on Ethereum, are thus regularly compared to the Nintendo franchise. qualified as play to earn, these make it possible to buy monsters, then get them to evolve and fight in the game. The phenomenon is such that in the Philippines or in Venezuela, the number of players who seek to round off at the end of the month has exploded. This ended up attracting the attention of the Central Bank of the Philippines, which, after being robbed of $ 625 million after Axie Infinitiy, reminds us of the risk associated with any investment made on blockchains.

Nintendo as an observer

If Nintendo makes sure to follow developments, Nintendo is not currently very convinced about the use of NFT. IN conference, the Pokémon publisher explained that it had not yet found “what joy it could bring” thanks to the metaverse and non-fungible tokens. Still: between its former CEO, who has shown signs of interest in Play-to-Earn, and the passage of a former Pokémon Go player at the publisher of Axie Infitnity, nothing says he will never be able to catch Pokémon on the blockchain.

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