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28th Jul 2016

We found out all about the Pokemon Go accounts selling for a fortune

Seller's market

Tom Victor

People are taking Pokemon Go seriously. Very seriously.

If you haven’t played the game, you have almost certainly seen it referenced just about everywhere.

You’ve probably got at least one mate who spends every waking moment playing the game, and if you don’t, then that mate is you.

The game has only been out for a few weeks, but some of those who have made huge progress on the game have been selling their accounts for surprisingly large sums.

We spoke with James Smith, co-owner of The League of Trading, a site where accounts have been put up for sale for as much as $2,000 (just over £1,500).


Pokemon Go developer Niantic has accused players who take over pre-owned accounts of ‘cheating,’ but Smith doesn’t believe things are so black and white.

“If a player has genuinely gotten bored of the game I see no reason that they can’t sell their account and allow a new player to pick up where they left off,” he says.

“However, what you see happening is players making several accounts getting them all to a worthy level with a decent amount of Pokemon and selling, all for profit. This I don’t agree with.”

At least one of the accounts for sale on The League of Trading is at level 32 – that means the account holder will have needed to have spent hours on the game every day since launch, but there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to what will make a specific account popular with buyers.

“There are few things which make an account desirable,” Smith explains.

“Account level, rare Pokémon, CP of Pokemon and amount of items.”

Pokemon Go may have broken records in its first week in the App Store, but it is not the first game where a market for accounts has developed more or less organically.

Back in 2013, Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen launched ‘Flappy Bird’, which became hugely popular before being taken out of the Google Play and Apple stores the following year.

That withdrawal led to iPhones with the game installed being sold for previously unthinkable sums, as the unattainability only added to the game’s mystique.

Things are different with Pokemon Go, however, in the sense that its appeal comes at least in part from what might be added to the game in the future.

Some of the ‘legendary’ Pokemon are yet to become available, while a number of the more recognisable characters are region-locked at this stage.

That means those who have ‘completed’ the game in its current form will still have more work to do – it’s essentially a work-in-progress, albeit a hugely engrossing one.

“The difference with Flappy Bird and Pokemon Go are their limits,” Smith argues.

“Flappy Bird was only going to go so far, however Pokemon Go has released it’s first draft and it’s this successful already. While the numbers will die down, as long as they can keep developing it, I can see this being a game to last.”

What’s his definition of ‘a game to last?’

“I see people paying thousands, especially in the future when legendary Pokemon enter the game. They’ll be highly rare and highly sought after.”

With a game like Pokemon Go, there will always be a disparity between the early adopters and those who eventually cave and download the game.

The blend of collecting and battling means anyone who didn’t get on board straight away may find themselves concerned that others have a head-start.

That’s where the appeal of buying accounts comes in. And if the seller has no need for the account then everyone’s happy.

Sure, someone might end up losing a battle to someone who has cut corners, but they’ll be none the wiser. As that great philosopher Nelson Muntz once said: “It’s a victimless crime – like punching someone in the dark.”