Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne continues his discussion of distributor magazines from last week's column, and asks whether the current Pokemon craze has crested.

I received some interesting feedback from last week’s column on print distributor catalogs (see "Rolling for Initiative - An Argument for the Distributor Magazine, and Congrats Mike Webb").  Although unsolicited comments on the original query on Facebook indicated most retailers didn't read these publications (and preferred to read email and Facebook groups instead), after the post, several retailers commented they did actually like them.  Their affinity for the print publications was primarily for the second reason given in my previous article; that they found it more convenient to have all of the new releases in one place in the GTM or Meeple Monthly then to hunt through a number of emails or FB posts to see what each individual publisher has to offer.  DC Comics getting rid of its print catalog did appear to hurt their sales, but the company brought it back last month.

Still, based on general comments, I don't expect to see a lot of stores convert to using the distributor catalogs as a prime information source.  However, I have found it interesting that a number of our customers have thanked us for handing them out.  One even commented that they wished their local FLGS would hand them out but the owner/manager never did, except when asked for a copy.  Geez, if the distributor is sending them to the store at no cost, why not give them out?  It doesn’t cost the store anything and the customer feels that they get a little something extra for free, especially with GTM, which often has extra promotional items as well as a monthly Dork Tower cartoon by John Kovalic.  Not a bad deal.

I think we may have seen the cresting of the Pokemon boom.  Even with mass market retailers curtailing their sales of products, we have seen a slackening of sales in boosters and boxed sets along with an uptick in fake cards (see "Mass Merchants Pull 'Pokemon TCG,' Sports Cards Off Shelves").  We had one customer come in who said he had purchased two booster boxes online, and both were fakes.  Typically, one has been able to tell the difference between booster boxes of real Pokemon booster packs and boxes of fake ones by the deep discount on the fake cards: "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

However, as hot and hard to find as Pokemon TCG product has proven to be over the past several months, scammers have found it profitable to move their prices closer to the price for which legitimate boxes of boosters sell.  After all, there is still quite a bit of demand online for them and it is really hard to return a box of fake boosters once the customer purchases them so the scammer figures why not max out the amount of profit they can make by increasing prices.  After all, the laws of supply and demand say that, as long as supply remains low and demand remains high, prices stay high (see "Rolling for Initiative--WOTC Demonstrates the Laws of Supply and Demand (Again)").

Still though, we are seeing Pokemon boosters remaining on the shelf longer than they did a few months back and I am hearing stories from stores about customers coming in wanting to sell Pokemon singles rather than buy them so I am thinking we may have hit the crest of the product life cycle on this iteration of Pokemon frenzy (see "Rolling for Initiative--Knockoffs and Licenses at ACD Games Day").  Now, just because we have hit the crest of the PLC on Pokemon TCG doesn't mean sales are going away on it. PLCs can have a long life span and Pokemon Celebrations may be in demand enough to send the game back to the growth stage again (see "Fans Can Join 'Pokemon's' Anniversary with 'Celebrations' Range").

What do you think?  Am I wrong about Pokemon TCG cresting?  Your thoughts welcome at

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of