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Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket looks like a serious mobile option for casual collectors

Pocket’s emphasis on trading highly detailed cards will exist alongside the existing Pokémon TCG Live app.

Pokemon Trading Card Game Pocket announcement video screenshot
Image credit: Creatures, Inc./DeNA

Pokémon plans to release a second mobile application centred on collecting, trading and battling with cards from the Pokémon TCG. It won’t replace the already existing Pokémon Trading Card Game Live, but the similarly named Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket looks like an experience aimed at more casual fans who would rather crack open packs than climb a competitive ladder.

Announced as part of Pokémon Day 2024’s slate of announcements, Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket is published by Creatures, Inc. and DeNA Co., Ltd. The former is one of the joint owners of The Pokémon Company and is responsible for ushering in the original TCG back in the 1990s. The latter is a mobile conglomerate best known in the fandom for publishing the Pokémon Masters mobile app.

Watching the four-minute video, it’s clear that Pocket is not interested in capturing the existing players who invest their time in the more serious and competitive Live app. Many of the showcased features involve decadent animations for opening booster packs with a swipe of your finger and checking out the sparkles, foil and detailed treatment on rare cards.

How to play Pokemon TCG for absolute beginnersWatch on YouTube

Speaking of cracking packs, Pocket will apparently give players two free boosters per day. The unspoken assumption being that those same players will be able to purchase more within the app, probably via microtransaction using real money or some fun premium currency that totally isn’t obfuscating the blatant monetisation scheme. Cards you open can be traded amongst friends inside the app, though a little text disclaimer warns watchers that the trading function may not be available at launch.

So what about the battling? This is still a TCG, and the cards can be used in constructed decks to spar with other players in what the video described as ”quick battles”. I couldn’t see any prize cards, and the user interface is significantly reduced compared to Pokémon TCG Live. Creatures Inc. president and CEO Yuji Kitano claimed they developed “streamlined game rules based on our existing battle system” that are meant to fill a few minutes, at most.

For any other TCG, deprioritising battles would seem absurd, but the Pokémon TCG cornered the collection aspect early in its tenure and has remained a leader in foil treatments, alternate art versions and, frankly, some of the best looking cardboard out there. Kitano once again backed this up in the video when talking about “immersive cards”, treatments that take advantage of mobile device screens to showcase Pokémon cards in new and interesting ways.IMG

Pokemon Trading Card Game Pocket announcement video screenshot
Image credit: Creatures, Inc./DeNA

One method presented in the announcement video flew inside the art of a Pikachu card, zooming through bushes and trees like a drone-mounted camera to spy a pair of Ponyta, another sleeping Pikachu and a Caterpie climbing a tree. It was pretty slick, and if Pocket leans in hard to those kinds of fun tableaus, it will probably light up the neuron centres of most Pokémon fans.

Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket will be released “within 2024”, but we don’t have a more solid release date at this time. It will be available on both iOS and Android devices, and while the words “free to play” weren’t uttered it’s hard to imagine this being a purchased experience. We’ll update this story once more information becomes available.

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