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Summer Pokémon TCG expansion will feature designs from Pokémon Go mobile game

The other digital monsters.

An upcoming summer expansion for the Pokémon Trading Card Game will feature artwork based on the 3D critters from mobile augmented reality game Pokémon Go. The Pokémon Company’s announcement is a bit slim on details at present but characterizes the card set as a collaboration between it and Niantic.

The team-up seems obvious given the staying power of the mobile game and Pokémon TCG’s seemingly evergreen appeal. Publisher Niantic released Pokémon Go in 2016, prompting a surge of players around the world to explore their cities and neighborhoods for randomly spawned pocket monsters. While it never managed to maintain that initial peak, the game has retained a strong and dedicated user base and consistent development cycle of new content.

But this will be the first time the mobile game’s take on Pokémon will appear on official cards (though a Google search populates plenty of fakes). The announcement simply says the expansion “will feature cards themed after the popular mobile game”, leaving fans to wonder what else will convert to cardboard.

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The free-to-play mobile nature of Pokémon Go’s gameplay meant Niantic took some liberties with the series' long-standing mechanics. Pokémon evolution requires candies earned by trading in creatures of the same type, meaning plenty of Pikachus need to be fed to the digital grist mill to transform the little mascot into Raichu. The best way to find Pokémon is by visiting Pokéstops that often correlate to real-world monuments and locations, dropping lures to increase the spawn rate.

There’s also a loose narrative structure built around the three teams players can join when they first begin playing. Each team has a captain, and like past entries a Pokémon professor hangs around to provide guidance and quests. Whether any of Pokémon Go’s unique developments will see themselves represented in cards is an open question. The booster pack shown in the announcement does feature the backpack-toting Professor Willow, a Pokéstop and a Blissey protecting a gym.

Pokémon TCG has remained one of the most successful trading card games since its release and experienced a boom in popularity in 2020 and 2021, in large part thanks to a fad of YouTubers cracking rare booster boxes live on their channels. The secondary market for ultra-rare singles and wrapped first-edition booster boxes inflated at the same time as current product flew off the shelves of retail locations and local game stores.

Dicebreaker has reached out to Niantic and The Pokémon Company for more information about the summer expansion but did not hear back before publication. A digital client for the card game, Pokémon TCG Live, was due by the end of 2021 but announced a delay until sometime this year. If that holds, 2022 will be a busy time for fans of both physical and digital pocket monsters.

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