The death of the CCG?

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The death of the CCG?

Postby DanTheTimid » Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:07 pm

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?
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Re: The death of the CCG?

Postby Eldena » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:24 pm

I want to share my thoughts on this.

As a quite dedicated competitive MTG player i follow it, spending a lot of money to keep up. This really doesnt leave with options to pursue the chasing of rares of another CCG, although i have played many CCGs by borrowing some cards from friends.
My second CCG which i spent money on (wheneer a new set is released) is Alteil. I dont spend too much and thank god i can play a decent number of files with the cards i got. I believe CCG which rock tend to have a card pool which allows for variety in the form of many different decks/color combinations/ sphere combinations/ card pool synergies and combos etc.

Returning to the first paragraph, i have to say that card games in general are really expensive, and its a bummer you cant play many of them. Generally people tend to play the most popular, since the will find many players to practice their hobby around and trade for the cards they need. That leaves every CCG out there (exept the 2 major ones) who isnt amazing by its own to struggle for survival after the release of 3-4 sets (WoW excluded.I believe it sucks, and only the MMO fans are keeping it alive), since no one is willing to quit a card game they spent lots of money over the years for, just to replace it with another one they will most likely not find players to play after a while. It would be a waste of money.

So, to sum it up, a card game nowadays needs to:

i) Be a good card game
ii) Have a nice card pool (not only quantity wise)
iii) Give you the opportunity to play many decks
iv) Be cheap
v) Have sets which can be completed easily

LCGs provide iii, iv, v and its up to the creators of the game to fill in the other 2. It really seems the ideal solution when you give away an amount of your salary to play competitively 2-3 different games, spending 30 bucks a month per game and have all the cards you need to keep up and compete in big events or play a different fun deck every "FNM". This model's weakest point is though the limited part. You cant play limited formats with preset cards in packs.

I can only hope that we will see a lot LCG in the future. A believe a really good LCG maybe with RPG story element reflecting card releases every month (close to the L5R model) would rock the market soon and then have companies thinking about creating more of them.
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Re: The death of the CCG?

Postby ANIMEniac » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:46 pm

I was introduced to UFS a long time ago and have tried out Kingdom Hearts.
UFS was interesting b/c you play as characters in games you like and make decks around their "fighting" style.
KH was very much a fan game. I didn't really see much into it aside from wanted to get the popular characters.

On to CCGs in general:

They are pretty costly chasing after cards. Much of my family can't understand me spending so much on card board print outs...

What keeps the game alive?

1) Player Base
2) Variety
3) Prizing
4) Affordability

1) If you have people to play with, you have more fun. Also you will form teams and share ideas and cards. I played Spoils TCG and it was a great game. However, there were only a handful to play with locally and another group hour+ away. This greatly affects tournaments and events, which largely draw players in.

2) Being able to see and play a variety of different decks instead of just the "top meta". People do tend to play the strong decks, but they also like being able to either counter them or tweak them to their style. Also, with a large variation of abilities, people can try many different tactics and there shouldn't be a "one wins all (majority)" kind of deck.

Variety can also be in the way you play the game. Some games are made and sold to tailor constructed. In Naruto, trying to draft was a nightmare. They put no thought into the print runs, so you could end up with so few ninjas (units) and wouldn't be able to even play a decent team. Only Sealed with a Starter was feasible.

Players like constructed, but they also like challenging themselves through deck building and limiting themselves (and luck). There are many stories of top construct players failing at the final tables b/c they couldn't draft for their lives.

3) Prizing. We are battling and competing in this game. Prizing promotes more competition. Players will also feel that they can recuperate some costs of their time and money through some kind of earnings. Or just that winning something feels so damn good =).

Prizing can be as simple as a playmat (from Naruto) for weekly events. At huge conventions and "national" level tournaments people will fly in just for a title and that PS3 prize. Spoils was so huge b/c of the cash prizing and the big Cruise tournament entry.

4) Pretty much "how much am i expected to spend to play "well". Or perhaps how can I obtains cards without buying so much. This isn't about "how much you spend", but also how much you can earn.

Just look at local events. Sometimes you pay $5 for entry. You play a tourny for a chance at good prizing. You may come out with at least a pack for participation. So for playing an event you got a booster pack, not too bad.

I'll have to look into the LCGs now. You got me curious.
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Re: The death of the CCG?

Postby luckysvn777 » Sun Jan 10, 2010 2:37 pm

Hmm, the LCG sounds very similar to a system i was imagining at some point for "if i made an online CCG like Alteil, what would I do?"

The combination of online possibilities and the LCG format might make for a very well-rounded format for card distribution.. well a constantly changing meta, cheap cards to be accessed, yet still the ability to create sealed deck tourney type files and have things like lotto as well for alternatives / getting old sets.. plus the "constant gain in money from playing" that Alteil has would make things even nicer.

The problem of course is that "online game" usually seems to still be a bit.. what's the word i'm looking for here, i'm drawing a blank >.< but you probably know what i mean.

Slightly off-topic I guess.. but just a thought i've been having xD
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Re: The death of the CCG?

Postby ANIMEniac » Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:34 pm

From what i read, I think the LCG would kill off Sealed/Draft play. The thing behind Sealed/Draft is the random/luck of the cards in the pack you pick from and build around. LCG packs have complete sets as well as 1 copy of certain cards. It is almost like a construct deck.

Well, I guess you could still do Sealed/Draft. The only difference is you always know what strats you can do. In Draft, you just have to hope the other guy isn't planning the same strat you want XD
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Re: The death of the CCG?

Postby LoneKnight » Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:38 pm

You can sealed/draft chapters. Like, roll a bunch of d6 and you get those chapter packs.
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Re: The death of the CCG?

Postby ANIMEniac » Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:57 pm

Well, that could work if you were going to use multi chapter packs. But remember that these are not like normal packs (13ish cards). These are $10 card packs with like 40 cards in each.
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Re: The death of the CCG?

Postby luckysvn777 » Sun Jan 10, 2010 5:16 pm

If you get enough chapters out, you could always make random packs containing cards from a group of chapters... although they'd need more use than that to be profitable.. but i'm sure something like that could happen.
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Re: The death of the CCG?

Postby Otonashi » Sun Jan 10, 2010 6:25 pm

They could just come up of a bit list of simulated packs, but not actually make them. Then just give the list to people, they roll dice to see what "packs" they would have gotten, and hand cards out accordingly.
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Re: The death of the CCG?

Postby Eldena » Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:48 pm

luckysvn777 wrote:Hmm, the LCG sounds very similar to a system i was imagining at some point for "if i made an online CCG like Alteil, what would I do?"

The combination of online possibilities and the LCG format might make for a very well-rounded format for card distribution.. well a constantly changing meta, cheap cards to be accessed, yet still the ability to create sealed deck tourney type files and have things like lotto as well for alternatives / getting old sets.. plus the "constant gain in money from playing" that Alteil has would make things even nicer.

The problem of course is that "online game" usually seems to still be a bit.. what's the word i'm looking for here, i'm drawing a blank >.< but you probably know what i mean.

Slightly off-topic I guess.. but just a thought i've been having xD


In an ideal world, alteil would release a new set every month with the structure of EX packs (non character cards would be new of course). 2 Character cards, 3 Units/grims for each sphere in a preset pack which would cost 400-500 gran each (could also add a reprint from the regular setss each month :P) . Thats 4800-6000 gran a month you need to spent. Lets say you play a 15 gran MM each day, gaining 450 gran a month. Adding 100 points per week for the games in folrart (which is a good number, i believe and not many ppl reach it) we have 850 gran a month for someone and you can't even buy all the packs for your sphere of choice if you decide to walk the path of a free player. Wanting to have all of the cards, you have to pay 50$ for 6000 and have some spare change for the next release or spent low and get what you need for 1 or spheres of your choice. Of course, card releases are affected by a certain rpg-like story (like L5R :P).

...and BLAM!

Suddenly Alteil becomes cheaper and more approachable, entices more players to join and start paying low amounts of money without feeling the need to quit before the spending gets out of hand, the community grows, no one is complaining about the point card system anymore and the arenas are flooded with iczers, all having fun playing alteil, RP whoring or hunting certain bosses who reveal the story and are crucial to the releases of the next sets... blah blah blah.


It would be really fun and i believe it would work really nicely for everyone, but its really hard to do. Anyone got any thoughts on this? :D (i'm not suggesting to tell the Devs to implement it, i just want to see if anyone else had an idea on how it could work)
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