Should You Buy Pokemon NFTs?

You may have come across Pokemon NFTs for sale on OpenSea or elsewhere. But there are some things you should know before investing in any (unofficial) “Pokémon NFT.”

Of course, fans are also wondering if an official Pokémon NFT project is in the works. Scott and Heather discuss the latest status of all these things, and more!

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Episode Highlights

Game Freak’s Blogpost Assured Me That We Don’t Have To Worry About Pokemon NFTs: “It may be frustrating to see Game Freak lag so far behind the rest of the industry in so many ways, but Omori has reminded me that sometimes being old-fashioned can be a really good thing.” (TheGamer)

You can spend thousands on ‘Thicc Pokémon’ NFTs: “There are a bunch for sale on OpenSea, a digital goods marketplace, including Thicc Raichu, Pikachu, and Nidoran. Pidgeotto and Pidgeot are two of the worst, in my opinion. Broderick reported that a Thicc Pikachu sold for $2,000. Some are listed for upwards of $6,000, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to sell at that price.” (Polygon)

Nintendo shares plummet after investors realize it doesn’t actually make Pokémon Go: “Nintendo shares have skyrocketed since Pokémon Go‘s release and instant transformation into global cultural phenomenon, but they fell dramatically today after investors realized that Nintendo doesn’t actually make the game. Nintendo put out a statement after the close of trading on Friday pointing out that the bottom-line impact will be “limited” as it only owns 32 percent of The Pokémon Company, and that revenue from the game and its Pokémon Go Plus smartwatch peripheral have been accounted for in the company’s current forecasts.” (The Verge)

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About The Show

NFT Investor Nation is the show for passionate NFT traders, collectors and investors. Listen in as host Scott Hawksworth talks with leading NFT artists and entrepreneurs.

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Transcript

Scott: Hi, I’m Scott Hawksworth.

Heather: And I’m Heather.

Scott: Today, we are talking about Pokémon. Poke, Poke?

Heather: Poke, Poke.

Scott: Poke.

Heather: Pokémon. Pokémon.

Scott: Pokémon. Pokémon. It’s Pokémon.

Heather: It’s Pokémon.

Scott: It’s Pokémon. You got to catch them all.

Heather: You do. You really do. At any time of day, anywhere, trip over a curb.

Scott: I mean, you know, Pokémon GO, aren’t there, like, people that have died trying to catch Pokémon?

Heather: I imagine so…

Scott: I’m actually positive that happened.

Heather: …in the same way people have died taking selfies.

Scott: Like, “Oh, I just got to get this Charizard. Oop, I fell off the Grand Canyon.”

Heather: Exactly. Oh, my gosh.

Scott: Sorry, that was… Wow, it got really dark there for a second.

Heather: All right. So, let’s talk about Pokémon. Why are people so excited about the fact that Pokémons are potentially going to become part of the NFT universe?

Scott: Yeah, well, people are excited about it because Pokémon is huge. It is huge. And to put a number on it, $110 billion. That is the Pokémon media franchise value.

Heather: That’s more than Winnie the Pooh.

Scott: That’s more than Winnie the Pooh.

Heather: That’s more than Mickey Mouse and Friends.

Scott: It’s more than a lot of things. More than Star Wars.

Heather: Oh, my gosh. It’s more than Hello Kitty.

Scott: Yeah.

Heather: That’s impressive.

Scott: So, when you look at that, there is a tremendous amount of value there. And then you look at Pokémon and you think about the game. You think about the digital realm. You know, again, I mentioned Pokémon GO. You think about… There’s a trading card game, which we have right here.

We’ve got some booster packs. We should just open them.

Heather: We really should like ASMR. ASMR?

Scott: ASMR.

Heather: ASMR.

Scott: Yes.

Heather: Let’s open our…

Scott: See, now, I’m going to this and not be able to.

Heather: And I’ve got a sweaty finger and not be able to open it. We need to bite them. Oh, I got it. I got it, I got it.

Scott: Oh, you did it.

Heather: I got it, I got it, I got it.

Scott: I can’t do mine.

Heather: I got it. I got it. What did I get?

Scott: What did you get?

Heather: What did I get?

Scott: What did you get? Okay, you got some cool ones.

Heather: You guys, you can’t know.

Scott: No, show the camera.

Heather: Well, first, we have to see… Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Scott: Okay, this is the one I’m excited about. Look at this. Look at this, look at this. Eevee. It hasn’t evolved yet because they evolve. Did you ever play Pokémon?

Heather: I have a confession. I didn’t.

Scott: The door’s over there.

Heather: No. Well, I’m open to it. I’m open to the excitement…

Scott: You’re open to the excitement.

Heather: …that is Pokémon. Pokémon. Pokémon.

Scott: So bottom line though, look at this. And if you think back to another episode we had where I had Andy Hagans on the show, and we talked about the MetaZoo NFT and how that was connected to their trading card game that they were trying to get off the ground, and it’s had some success.

Heather: Yeah, are we going to hold these the rest of the time.

Scott: Oh, yeah, we could. Mm-hmm. I’m going to close up like…But if you look at this, you have a very natural collectability aspect. You have rarity. You have a functional game. You have that utility that people are looking for with NFTs and then you have, again, this huge universe with, again, IP that is incredibly valuable.

So that’s why there’s this interest in it. And, Heather, if I may do just a quick anecdote, so just to keep folks…so we all understand, sort of, the companies that are behind Pokémon, so it’s not all just owned by Nintendo. You have Game Freak, which is the studio that created and creates the Pokémon games.

You have the Pokémon company, which now is the company that creates the trading card game. It used to be Wizards of the Coast of Magic: The Gathering of Fame, but now it’s the Pokémon company. And they also were behind Detective Pikachu. You saw that movie with Ryan Reynolds, which I really liked. But anyway, so there’s lots of different companies involved here, and so if you’re talking about who’s making an NFT, who would be the one to invest in for this, you have to start there because back when Pokémon GO was all the rage and it’s still pretty popular with the kids these days.

Heather: The kids these days. In my day…

Scott: To catch a Charizard. And essentially that was all popular, and so people started driving Nintendo’s stock price through the roof. And it turned out that that was not the specific ompany that was the creator of Pokémon GO and so then the stock price went right back down. So, it’s important to keep that aspect as well, because there’s people that want to get exposure directly to NFTs but then they also want to support the companies that are behind them.

So, yeah.

Heather: do your research.

Scott: Right. So to sum it all up, Heather…

Heather: Sum it all up, Scott.

Scott: That’s why Pokémon NFTs, that’s why.

Heather: So what exists already in the Pokémon NFT world?

Scott: Okay, Heather, I’m glad you asked because it’s a really long, complicated answer.

Heather: It is?

Scott: It’s going to take us a while. Yeah, nothing. Nothing exists. There is no official Pokémon NFT right now. And that’s important to know because what there is a lot of are fake Pokémon…

Heather: Deep fakes.

Scott: Yeah, fake Pokémon. Yeah, deep faking Squirtle, whatever. But there is no official Pokémon NFT as of yet, but there have been a lot of fake projects out there. As I was researching just before we recorded this, I found a website that was a Pokémon NFT game, and it looked really official.

It had the logo. It had the characters. I was like, “This is really interesting.” And so then I started digging and…

Heather: When you say started digging, what does digging mean? What did it look like?

Scott: So, looking at any mention of this from official Pokémon channels, Game Freak, or otherwise, or the Pokémon company. Didn’t see any of that. Then I looked and very helpfully on this website, which we’re not going to link to, they had a list of their team and they were, like, real people with real names, faces, and they had LinkedIns.

And so I clicked on their LinkedIn, and they were all not… They didn’t exist. And their Twitter account didn’t exist. And so then I said, “Oh, this isn’t real.”

Heather: I am continually impressed the lengths that people will go to to make something look authentic.

Scott: Yeah, to make it look like, yes, this is an officially licensed Pokémon.

Heather: They’re probably betting on majority of people not doing what you did. They’re taking it at face value, “Oh, there’s links to LinkedIn, then they must be legit,” and not actually clicking on them. I’m actually also fascinated that there were links in general.

Scott: I know. I was like, wow, these guys, like, they paid someone and built a nice looking website, man.

Heather: They had a LinkedIn.

Scott: They almost had me.

Heather: Seriously.

Scott: They almost had me. I was almost like, “All right, here we go. Straight in that 401k, right into the Pokémon NFT game that totally exists. So anyway there was that. There was also… No. Okay, Heather, I couldn’t believe that I discovered this and I was like, wow, I don’t understand the internet or people.

Heather: I’m on pins and needles.

Scott: Okay, so there is a subset of interest in thicc Pokémon, and that’s spelled T-H-I-C-C.

Heather: It’s what I anticipated.

Scott: And so there’s, like, an Etsy store where people will modify, like, trading cards or do paintings of, like, thicc Pikachu or thicc Charizard, okay? And there was a thicc Pokémon NFT series that was launched, not officially, and it was on open seat. And you could go…

Are you looking for a thicc Pokémon?

Scott: I was. I was looking for, like, which Pokémon I would be interested in the thicc version of.

The thicc or swole version.

Heather: The thicc or swole version of Marshtomp.

Scott: That’s not Marshtomp. Oh, it is Marshtomp. Oh, okay, all right. That’s good.

Heather: I can read.

Scott: Yeah, good job.

Heather: Okay, so there’s this whole subset of thicc Pokémon.

Scott: So then there was this NFT series of these thicc Pokémon that they were asking, like, thousands of dollars for these NFTs. I don’t know who all bought them. I read a few news articles on it. I was like, “Wow, this was a thing.” But now they’re all gone. Like, you can’t find this because it wasn’t real. It was a scam.

Heather: I have a question about that, a really genuine question about NFT investment in relationship to these… There was demand, right? People wanted these thicc Pokémons. They existed. People purchased them. Supply and demand drive up the value of something. Why not?

Even though it’s not real and not directly connected to the Pokémon company or Pokémon brand, it’s still a representation of something that people were interested in and there was demand for.

Scott: Right, well, I think the long-term view of that… because it’s a really good question because some people might think, “Well, if NFTs are… if it’s all just art, like, why so much of it is who behind it and is it official and is it…” You know, we’ve talked before about the importance of community and having the muscle and the community building and the exclusivity behind, “This is an official NFT from Game Freak,” for example, or the ability to, “Well, I purchased this NFT and then that in the latest Pokémon game gives me access to a unique Pokémon for my character or whatever.”

Those kinds of things don’t really exist if it’s not through an official channel. And then you of course have the fact that, you know, whether it’s Game Freak or Nintendo, these companies are also wanting to protect their IP. So they’re going to go after these NFTs that are not legit, and all you need is a few cease and desists, you know, a few letters, maybe a legal battle, what have you.

Heather: And just like that and your investment is defunct.

Scott: And then the whole thing is shut down, and it’s all gone. And, okay, great. I spent how much on something that is worthless. So the value in NFTs is really closely tied to the IP and the companies behind them and the communities behind them. So I think that’s the big answer. And that’s why there is this interest in, “We’re the official ones,” and unfortunately anytime there’s a way that you could profit, there’s going to be folks out there trying to take advantage of the situation.

There is so much desire for Pokémon NFTs because people are so passionate about it. I mean, if you go to a mall, you’re going to see Pokémon stuffed animals, all kinds of memorabilia. We have huge movies. We have the TV show. Did you ever watch the TV show?

Heather: No. I’m not dogging on it. It wasn’t particularly my… I collected X-Men cards.

Scott: See, you’re in X-Men.

Heather: I was.

Scott: So when we do the X-Men video, we’ll talk about that.

Heather: Absolutely.

Scott: Yeah, you have to bring the cards, because you still have them, don’t you?

Heather: Oh, absolutely, in plastic cases.

Scott: I love it, I love it, I love it. But, yeah, so Pokémon, that is the why. And so what exists right now? Nothing official.

Heather: What does the future hold? I mean, it sounds like of course it feels inevitable.

Scott: It feels inevitable. Like, other games have gone into NFTs. So, it does feel inevitable. Game Freak, they have traditionally been a little slow when it comes to innovation. They have such a solid grounding in the IP that they have and the success that they’ve had with the games that they’ve released.

So they don’t necessarily push gaming to the forefront. Their recent Pokémon game came out. There was a lot of criticism about the graphics, and that it wasn’t really that impressive, that it didn’t make the most of the new game systems that we have. There was just a lot of that kind of criticism. And so when you talk about NFTs, there has to be folks that are involved with the company that are forward-thinking, that are really trying to push the envelope and be creative in the ways that they could, issue NFTs, and then provide utility and value and strengthen their existing IP.

And, you know, not to bash on Game Freak. I mean, I think that they’ve had a lot of success, and they’re doing very well. But they just haven’t shown any desire for this just yet in terms of their development.

Heather: Fascinating because I feel like they’re primed for it. It’s what they do best, that, sort of, you know, interactive, communal, connected to art. I mean, it feels…

Scott: It feels like such a logical next step.

Heather: Next step.

Scott: Yeah, just why wouldn’t you when you have all of these great pieces, you have this collectability aspect. I mean, Pokémon, it’s got to catch them all. Collectability is literally…

Heather: In the concept.

Scott: …in the phrase. So why wouldn’t you extend that to NFTs? And I think that they will get there, and I believe 100% that there have been meetings and discussions, you know, Brad and Jane in marketing have brought it up time and time again. We know that. So, I think that that’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when.

And as of right now, we have not seen official statements or official, you know, “Hey, we’re going to launch this product,” or, “We’re doing this thing just yet.” So I think that it’s a matter of wait and see and…

Heather: Keep your eyes open.

Scott: Keep your eyes open.

Heather: And then you collect them all.

Scott: Yeah, then you collect them all and, you know, the tide will come in. It will.

Scott Hawksworth
Scott Hawksworth

Hailing from Evanston, Illinois, Scott is co-founder of Cryptogic as well as host of the several popular crypto podcasts.