Man, it is really way too late for me to start posting about this, because it is a topic I am rather opinionated on. When I heard that we would be getting a Pokemon Trading Card Game online program, I considered it the best news I had heard in ages. As a player of both the Pokemon TCG, and Magic the Gathering, I have been using Magic Online for years now.
Now before people say "this is Pokemon, not Magic, etc etc etc " let me just point out something that people love to blindly ignore: Magic is extremely successful. Both online, and not. They have, whether you like the game or not, put forth very successful models for how to run a trading card game. Particularly in regards to organized play. To disregard that is naive. To start, organized play, back in 2004, when the game was taken back from Wizards of the Coast, Nintendo modeled their program around how Wizards did. Why is this not being done for an attempt at online play as well?
This isn't a situation where there is NO successful structure being implemented for a successful online version of a TCG. There is one already flourishing. Why not use the same ideas? Here is the main issue I have with this "policy" which, for reference, won't actually really matter. Example: it is "illegal" to sell Gold, or characters from World of Warcraft, but it happens all the time, to the point that people still farm gold and level characters for profit. How exactly does one plan on PREVENTING black market sales of cards? Example, I have about 600 codes worth of cards on my account, if I was to sell my account to someone for 400 dollars, undocumented, how is this going to be "prevented"? Not that i am going to, just simply that if people wanted to, they could.
So not only is it effectively unenforcable ( if someone wants to sell cards, they will. ) Do you want to ban the sale of the code cards too? I bought codes off of someone. Am I breaching the terms of agreement? I paid them on condition that they email me a document with the codes typed out. Purely virtual data. I could have been scammed! People, in this day and age, are aware of the risks of the internet market.
One of the reasons that Magic Online is successful ( and they charge full price for their cards. You want a booster pack? Pay 4 dollars. ) is because you can make money by using it. Is this BAD? Are companies who produce these games unaware of the benefits a secondary market provides for their game? If cards have no "actual" worth, there is little to no incentive to own them. If the cards can be sold, people can collect them, desire them, save them, and eventually cash out. People collect, and trade, and compete in TCGs often with the desire to be able to either break even, or try to profit as a result of it. The model of a "collectible/trading" card game changes the dynamic of a traditional card game in two major ways, one for the player, the other for the producer. The producing game sells cards because players need hard to get cards. The players buy cards because these rarer cards can then be moved for their value. It is a major incentive to why people enjoy TCGs. If you take that away from the equation, you remove a vital part of the TCG model.
On the same page, once players get the cards they want for their deck, why do they want to get more cards? More data that if they do not want to use, is effectively worthless? It invalidates online "prize support" too. With Magic Online, if you win tournaments, you get packs. Which in turn, is worth money. Which in turn, motivates players to play for these packs. This free "data" which costs the provider very little if anything. You'll get people to play online casually, but you miss a huge portion of the market. Do you expect people to sit online for 6+ hours for a tournament with valueless "prize support"? By enabling a monetary secondary market, you improve the quality of play for the users.
Now, I would be more willing to see this stance if the game sold packs for money, or at least a substantial amount, but since the code cards are sold inside boosters, the "buying from players not the company" issue isn't even relevent. Even then, the improved value of the online cards increases demand to the point where the net sale of the cards, if they were to be sold online through the program, would increase.
What is the current plan for online tournaments? Giving out online packs? How long until those motivated to play simply get tired of playing for value-less cards that have piles of since they won? At this point, I own enough copies of every card I could use. I have no incentive to acquire new cards. Now imagine how much of an issue this becomes once the game has been out longer. Everyone will have their collections, and people will be less interested in getting anything beyond what they can use, so where is the incentive to play?
So I guess the big question is, as long as the game agreement states that Nintendo takes no responsibility for the third party sale of cards, what is the ACTUAL downside of allowing them to be sold? A lot of players will be more interested in playing if they can be sold. And I can see a grand total of well, ZERO players who would be offput by it. There is NO downside to it, and actual upside.