Weighing In on Weighing Packs

by Colin on November 14, 2012

Over the years, I have heard about many different attempts at figuring out what cards are in sealed booster packs. Up until recently, none of these strategies seemed full proof to me. However, many players have realized that you can figure out which Boundaries Crossed packs have holographic cards and which ones do not simply by weighing the sealed product.

There is a huge incentive for buying only the packs that have the correct weight! You will have far better odds of pulling the valuable cards needed for decks. Furthermore, you can probably make a profit by selling some of the cards you pull! I can definitely understand why a lot of players are weighing packs right now.

Before I go further, I want to be very clear about this point: in most cases, I do not think weighing packs is indecent or unethical. However, I do believe there may be some serious consequences if this activity continues into the future and gains popularity (as it surely will if Nintendo does nothing to improve the randomness of booster packs).

The case where I believe weighing packs is indecent and unethical is the case of players or stores opening the good packs and reselling the bad packs online or in stores without informing their customers that their packs have been weighed. This is wrong.

Many players may begin to mistrust retailers because they know that retailers could theoretically weigh their packs. Even if a small card store doesn’t weigh packs, their customers may wrongfully suspect that they do. The simple fact that packs can be successfully weighed could create a lot of mistrust in the market- this is not good for anyone. In such a market, it is very possible for reputable businesses to experience declining sales through no fault of their own. I worry for my favorite gaming stores.

Hopefully players and store owners can continue their relationships with trust and confidence. I am optimistic that most card stores will continue to sell in an ethical manner. Unfortunately, pack weighing will surely cause sales to decline regardless of whether mistrust is in the marketplace or not. Instead of having to buy multiple boxes to get play sets of all the great cards, players can now just buy a handful of packs. In most cases, the player that weighs packs will purchase far fewer packs than the player that does not weigh packs. As weighing packs increases in popularity, sales will most likely decline. Declining Pokemon sales will not send Nintendo a positive signal- that’s for sure. How can we expect additional prize support when the profitability of Pokemon begins to diminish?

Of course, the counter argument is that competitive players (of which only a small portion probably weigh packs) only form a small fraction of the market for Pokemon Cards. What we do has little to no impact on Nintendo’s bottom line. It has always been said that Nintendo makes most of their Pokemon money from the impulsive spending of kids and families that buy a pack here or there as they are leaving a Walmart or Target. If only sales from our small fraction decline, then surely the profits of Nintendo will hardly be affected. Of course this is probably true. However, I am fairly certain that Nintendo will begin to notice the declining trend in our fraction (companies have many ways to monitor their market). This will not bode well for our already decreasing prize support.

Aside from the problems associated with potential mistrust in the market and declining sales, I don’t think pack weighing is that big of a deal. It is relatively analogous to picking the best fruit or vegetables out of the bin at the grocery store or looking for the bread with the best expiration date. I doubt anybody would call those picky shoppers unethical or indecent. Of course the grocery store would rather you buy the crappier produce so there is more “high quality” product left for the other shoppers that may be more picky.

In both cases the grocery store and card seller would prefer the customer not know that their products have been extensively rooted through. Although a grocery store would probably never prevent shoppers from picking through their produce bins (although they put the bread with the soonest expiration date towards the front in an attempt to encourage us to buy those loaves), I can definitely envision retailers prohibiting pack weighing in their stores and I am sure most will prevent this activity.

There may be some gray areas in this comparison. Upon judging two different apples, two people might have differing opinions about which one is the best. Upon judging two packs, the one with the holo-weight will probably be deemed the best pack by two different people. This difference could perhaps lead to a strong counter argument.

In conclusion, I am not thoroughly trained in the philosophy of ethics so my commentary may be next to meaningless. I do not think you should feel guilty for pack weighing (unless you’re a retailer) because I do not think it actually harms anyone. However, it could lead to some serious consequences for our community as a whole. I will not weigh packs because I am concerned about these consequences.

What do you think?

~Colin

Image Credits go to everdream for the image of Burgh and Leavanny.

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