So I recently learned that two more CCGs have joined the leagues of hundreds of dead ones, UFS and Kingdom Hearts. Now I didn't know much about Kingdom Hearts, from what I heard it was pretty much just another licsence based card game that fans of the series enjoyed but didn't really offer anything to stand out from the rest of the CCG crowd. UFS was different, it lasted 4 years and I believe spent significant time in many "Top 5 CCGs in the US" lists, though I believe it never cracked the 3 mark, always a step behind magic and yugioh.
Now I bring this up not because I played either of those games (I did play UFS for several years but had quit long before its death) but because of what I read from the card games publishing company in their "fare well speech". The speech is pretty long, mostly going into the details of the many truly amazing things they did to try to keep alive and ressurect their games (particularly UFS) before they were forced to announce their retirements, such as giving away ridiculous amounts of free cards, holding huge tournaments, and selling cards so cheap they were making almost nothing after printing fees. In the end though nothing worked. Here's a quote.
"Over the course of the past two years, we have had to accept the difficult truth that the CCG market was heading for collapse. Like it or not, the CCG market is defined by Magic: The Gathering plus a small handful of others that are primarily kid-centric, focusing on a few well-established cartoon properties and anime characters. It has become apparent that new CCG products don't have a fighting chance in this increasingly challenging market, no matter how excellent the game."
I should mention that while I know nothing of Kingdom Hearts the card game, UFS was a brilliant, unique, and extremely fun card that had all kinds of interesting liscences attached to it including street fighter, soul calibur, dark stalkers, king of fighters, samurai showdown, tekken, penny arcade, and even their own unique liscence Shadow War. I "quit" it because of two things, I didn't really have the finances to afford card games anymore, and there weren't enough players still playing in my area to justify continuing, but it was never because the game itself wasn't great. During its hay day it converted many magic players over to it, and got many to take it up as their second game. It also converted nearly all teenage or older yugioh players in my area.
They then go on to talk about what they call a Living Card Game. I'm not familar with it, but apparently they have a number of other card games using this format of card distribution and they have all be extremely successful. Heres what they mentioned:
"Players have shown us that they are tired with the chase for playable cards and the resulting exorbitant cost of CCG's. The LCG format offers better value for players, a constantly expanding card pool, and allows for greater innovation in game design."
There's also another extremely long farewell post on their official forum from the head of the UFS team. He also talks in depth about the history of the game, how popular it once was, how it faded, how they kept showing signs that things would finally turn around only to never quite sustain anything long enough to get back in the black, and how they desperately tried to ressurect it but found that while they still had a handful of truly dedicated players, most just weren't willing or were literally incapable of continuing to shell out the cash required to get new cards. He then also mentions CCGs and the LCG:
"Not only have we cancelled UFS, but we also announced today that the Kingdom Hearts CCG is cancelled as well. FFG is now officially out of the CCG business as the category has declined beyond the point where we can make it work for us. Only Magic and a very small handful of CCG’s are still viable in today’s market and nearly all of those others have a cartoon or anime behind them.
We will instead focus on our other categories where we are experiencing much greater success, including our LCG category which has beaten our most optimistic expectations. I know many will ask why we do not convert UFS into a LCG? The biggest reason is that it is not feasible to work with the multiple licenses it would require, and frankly with a player base of fewer than 1,000 players for over a year, it is beyond recovery."
So why am I quoting all of this? Well, as the topic title suggests, I'm curious if these guys are correct. Have CCGs declined in the US to such a point that, outside of magic its just not possible to turn a profit with a CCG anymore? Is it true that most card game players "... are tired with the chase for playable cards and the resulting exorbitant cost of CCG's." I have to admit, that statement holds true for me, and while I'm sure it doesn't hold true for every player, it does make me wonder if infact I'm not as alone in this feeling as I once thought I was. I don't know if its the decline in the economy or just the seemingly endless number of other, cheaper, forms of entertainment being throw at me every day, but I just can't seem to justify the spending on cards chasing rares that I once did, and almost all the people I knew who are still willing to invest in ccgs play either magic or yugioh, and seem unwilling to give new ccgs, including alteil, a chance when I've broached them about it.
I also wonder if this is just a US thing, I hear all the time about card games that are seemingly huge successes in Japan that either have really short runs, or flat out die horribly, when brought over here. That would seem to suggest thats its an economy thing, if not a cultural thing.
Then theres this Living Card Game thing. I haven't played any of them myself but I admit they do sound appealing and I have heard, as these statements suggest, that in this era of terrible CCG sales, that LCG sales have actually be quite good.
Now again, haven't played any myself, but from what I've heard they work like this. Instead of releasing whole sets every 4-6 months, they release "chapter packs", a new one every month. These packs go for about 10 dollars and include 40 preset cards, 10 triplets, and 10 singles. In this manner the 10 singles are still "rare", tradeable cards, but you can guarentee a complete set of cards for 30 bucks, and can potentially get a complete set of all the new cards you care about for 10 bucks if you trade away the rares for "colors/factions/spheres/etc" you don't plan to use in exchange for copies of the ones you do want to use. To put it in magic terms, I want to only play mono white, my friend wants to play mono red, and that creepy guy across the table wants to play mono black, we each buy only a single 10 dollar chapter pack, then I trade away all my red rares to my friend for all his white cards, and all my black cards to that creep guy for all his white, then my friend and him trade red for black, and bam, we all have max copies of every card in that months set.
This system has two other bonuses:
One, as many people will assuredly buy multiple "chapter packs" to complete their sets of rares, they will inevitably end up with tons of extra commons they don't need. Those cards can, in theory, become useful give aways for potential new players, giving them something coherent and focused to start with as they will be recieving full playsets of cards that were all built together and meant to be played together, not just a few random singles and doubles from random non-working together sets as is often the case among traditional ccg pack extras players give to new players.
Two, because a new set is released each month, the meta is constantly evolving, literally changing every month, never really being given a chance to grow stale. As with CCGs, you don't necessarily HAVE to keep buying new chapter packs, but with 10 dollars potentially guaranteeing you'll be getting every new card in the set that you want, its much easier on the wallet to keep up, and even if you don't other players are likely to at least have extras of commons they'd be willing to part with.
Early worries with the LCG were apparently from the collector population, worried that both that the game would lose something if you didn't have to chase after hard to get rares, and that the secondary market value of the cards would be horrible (you could never sell any card for more then 9 dollars as you can get at least one copy of any card by simply buying its chapter pack for 10), but from what I've heard this hasn't really proven an issue at all. The reality seems to be that, quite frankly, there are more players out there who'd rather have fixed cards then spend huge money chasing rares, and that the secondary market does more harm to card games then good. Further, if you can even sell two of your 10 rares for 5 dollars each, you basically got the other 38 cards of the chapter pack for free, so the secondary market really wasn't hurt as bad as many feared.
I have to say, though it has some issues to be sure, the whole LCG thing sounds pretty interesting and enticing to me...
So anyway, long rant short, anyone have any thoughts on this, outside of magic (and tv show of the week kids liscences) are CCGs a dead industry in the US? Also, has anyone played these Living Card Game things and willing to share thoughts on them? Is the LCG the new card game model to follow, at least in the US?
The bunnies of Lavato have special abilities, like 'Action Skill: Make Carrot Disappear.'