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The Rise of Rare Game Cards



By: Qinwei Wu


Well-known musician, Post Malone, is also, surprisingly, a super fan of the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering. He has just bought a card from the game, hoping to boost the game’s popularity. A fan of the game sold it to Post Malone for 2 million dollars. This was the first time Magic: The Gathering had passed the seven-figure mark.


A longtime sports memorabilia collector and owner of Goldin Auctions, Ken Goldin, said, "It's kind of like the first time a baseball card ever sold for a million dollars”. Now, it seems like these fantasy cards are competing with the once-dominant sports cards.


Grading is a required prerequisite for game cards sold as collectibles in auctions such as on eBay. From a 1-10 scale—10 being the of the highest quality — cards are graded based on their visual appearance concerning coloring, centering, and condition. The Professional Sports Authenticator, the largest card-grading market, graded more than 514,000 game cards in July, very close to the 528,000 sports cards graded by the PSA over the same period. 514,000 is almost five times the number of game cards the PSA graded two years ago.


Unlike the dying sports cards industry, there are many famous celebrities bringing relevance to game cards. YouTube star Logan Paul bought a rare Pikachu card from Ryan Stuczynski, GemRate's founder, for $5.275 million in 2021. The second most expensive trading card of any category known to be sold was a mint-condition Mickey Mantle baseball card, sold for $12.6 million in 2022.


Paul flaunted his rare Pokemon card, wearing the card inside a diamond-encrusted necklace at his boxing match with former champion Floyd Mayweather. The card Post Malone bought was Magic’s first one-of-one card release, and the release was a strategy that introduced the scarcity of new and rare cards.


The release of these new and rare cards made Hasbro $100 million. However, if game card companies keep creating artificial scarcity in their markets with rare card releases, the market could become inflated, causing the card value to go down.


Auction house operator Goldin said, "It's gonna lead manufacturers to do more unusual items like the ring card. If something is being produced for the sole purpose of being a collectible, it's less likely that it is going to be valuable over the years, as opposed to something that wasn't intended to be a collectible and just happened to be.”

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