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Subject: Are Collectible Card Games still viable? rss

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Santon Vejil
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I am currently designing my own card game. My game is based off of a story written by Myself and a friend. I was wondering if anyone here thinks that a card game can still do well using the collectible card game style of selling product or is it just better to do it in a Living Card Game style like FFG card games?
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Cattlemark
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Without any sort of popular license, there is pretty much no chance of CCG publication.

Deckbuilding Games or LCG is a better avenue.
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S Pozun
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If you are designing Magic the Gathering cards, heck ya you'll sell a ton!
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Santon Vejil
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Yeah I kind of figured as much. I guess I'll just have to do it LCG style! I'll probably post my game here in a few weeks.
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Lizbeth
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I think the issue comes in several things:

1) M:TG eats bigger competitors than indy studios for breakfast

2) nobody is prepared to risk buying into a collectible game because chances are it'll be gone sooner or later and there fore, no more things to collect.


3) put the above 2 points together and try to figure out which causes the other, it's a bit chicken and egg really.
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Travis Worthington
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I think that even LCGs are going to be developed around a licensed property, and done so in-house (ie, by FFG staff designers).

As an outside designer, I think that deck building games have far more appeal to publishers.

CCGs/LCGS have very significant start up costs. Less so for LCGS, but still more than a deck builder that is self contained.
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Eric Jome
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The essential problem is the CCGs were victims of their own success. When in the mid 90s Magic was booming, everyone mistakenly assumed that making a CCG was a license to print money - gamers would buy anything and everything by the display. This resulted in many manufacturers making a great deal too much product, distributors grossly overordering, and retail outlets massively over stocking. When it became apparent that gamers would not buy any old thing in a foily wrapper, all levels of the business took a major loss.

As a result, retailers and distributors are very, very strongly against any kind of CCG. It is an extremely tough sell to convince them to even give one a try - and if they won't, you the local buyer can't and the publisher isn't even going to try to make one. Thus, CCGs are essentially dead unless they come with some blazingly, shockingly obvious way of selling like a major license tie in (and even then, people often won't pick it up, as several major license holders made awful games with their licenses)...

So, no. CCGs are basically dead. As I type this though, I keep seeing a repeating ad on the side which includes a splash about Race For The Galaxy. It seems games played with cards aren't doomed. Make your game a board game played with cards... just don't make it a CCG. Besides, you probably don't even want the game in boosters. You probably just want a configurable game space. That's what most people inspired to create CCGs want as designers - a game mechanic, not a retail model.
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Santon Vejil
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T Worthington wrote:
I think that even LCGs are going to be developed around a licensed property, and done so in-house (ie, by FFG staff designers).

As an outside designer, I think that deck building games have far more appeal to publishers.

CCGs/LCGS have very significant start up costs. Less so for LCGS, but still more than a deck builder that is self contained.


How exactly are Deck building games and LCG's any different in costs? They both are boxed sets with all the cards included.
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Travis Worthington
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SantonGames wrote:
T Worthington wrote:
I think that even LCGs are going to be developed around a licensed property, and done so in-house (ie, by FFG staff designers).

As an outside designer, I think that deck building games have far more appeal to publishers.

CCGs/LCGS have very significant start up costs. Less so for LCGS, but still more than a deck builder that is self contained.


How exactly are Deck building games and LCG's any different in costs? They both are boxed sets with all the cards included.


Its more of marketing the game.

A deck builder is a stand alone game, you buy it and can play it without needing to commit to buying more.

LCGs generally require players to make additional purchases in order to fully experience the game. That means that two people need to invest money to buy the game, and time to pre-build the decks. If that second person stops doing so, you'll want a third as back up, and that means you will generally need a fourth to start making that investment as you generally can't play an LCG with 3. So to make the investment in learning and buying an LCG you need to convince 4 people to do it, for a deck builder its just one. That means you need to spend more money marketing the game.
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Peter Boddy
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cosine wrote:
The essential problem is the CCGs were victims of their own success. When in the mid 90s Magic was booming, everyone mistakenly assumed that making a CCG was a license to print money - gamers would buy anything and everything by the display. This resulted in many manufacturers making a great deal too much product, distributors grossly overordering, and retail outlets massively over stocking. When it became apparent that gamers would not buy any old thing in a foily wrapper, all levels of the business took a major loss.

As a result, retailers and distributors are very, very strongly against any kind of CCG. It is an extremely tough sell to convince them to even give one a try - and if they won't, you the local buyer can't and the publisher isn't even going to try to make one. Thus, CCGs are essentially dead unless they come with some blazingly, shockingly obvious way of selling like a major license tie in (and even then, people often won't pick it up, as several major license holders made awful games with their licenses)...

So, no. CCGs are basically dead. As I type this though, I keep seeing a repeating ad on the side which includes a splash about Race For The Galaxy. It seems games played with cards aren't doomed. Make your game a board game played with cards... just don't make it a CCG. Besides, you probably don't even want the game in boosters. You probably just want a configurable game space. That's what most people inspired to create CCGs want as designers - a game mechanic, not a retail model.


This is probably your best answer. You want something like Fluxx or Munchkin (not necessarily their mechanics, but a smallish box, with maybe a small gameboard or something).

One of the things that put me off of Magic, and other CCGs, is the forced obsolescence of a large chunk of cards, done to get people to upgrade. At least with card games like Munchkin and Fluxx, when cards change it's because the rules have been errata'd, or the card turns out to be over/underpowered, not because the company wants more money. Adding in a Fluxx expansion or a Munchkin expansion doesn't screw up the rest of the game.

And both companies seem to get the pricing right, I've never played a Munchkin or Fluxx game where I thought, "Damn, I wasted my money." Magic on the other hand...
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Joe Mucchiello
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pdboddy wrote:
And both companies seem to get the pricing right, I've never played a Munchkin or Fluxx game where I thought, "Damn, I wasted my money." Magic on the other hand...

The most common complaint about all SJG games (like Munchkin) is that they are overpriced for just a bunch of cards in a big empty box. And the money I spent on Fluxx was completely wasted. YMMV.
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Peter Boddy
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jmucchiello wrote:
pdboddy wrote:
And both companies seem to get the pricing right, I've never played a Munchkin or Fluxx game where I thought, "Damn, I wasted my money." Magic on the other hand...

The most common complaint about all SJG games (like Munchkin) is that they are overpriced for just a bunch of cards in a big empty box. And the money I spent on Fluxx was completely wasted. YMMV.


True, it's always YMMV. But Fluxx and Munchkin are doing just fine, as far as I can tell. If their price point was off by any significant amount, then they'd not be selling as well as they are.
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Derry Salewski
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Also: It kinda shouldn't matter. The resoundingly obvious answer is that making plans to market something as a CCG is a bad, bad plan.

But as far as designing and developing your game, it shouldn't matter much what sort of box the game is going into when it's done. Just make it a good game.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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spozun wrote:
If you are designing Magic the Gathering cards, heck ya you'll sell a ton!


I disagree:

-- I don't think you'll get a lot of money selling your design to M:tG
-- I don't think you'll get a lot of money competing against M:tG
-- I don't think you'll get a lot of money making cards that look like M:tG


And mostly everyone else who has replied has explained why an independent collectible card game is likely to fail.
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Cattlemark
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Stormtower wrote:
spozun wrote:
If you are designing Magic the Gathering cards, heck ya you'll sell a ton!


I disagree:

-- I don't think you'll get a lot of money selling your design to M:tG
-- I don't think you'll get a lot of money competing against M:tG
-- I don't think you'll get a lot of money making cards that look like M:tG


And mostly everyone else who has replied has explained why an independent collectible card game is likely to fail.


I think he was basically saying, "Yeah, if you're making Magic, then you're going to sell it." in a sarcastic way.

But you're right, there's uncountable Magic clones out there that try to pass themselves off as something else ("Oh, but I added this new mechanic!") that are good examples of failure. Not just in marketing, which ripping off is pretty much okay, but mainly a failure in game design.
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Santon Vejil
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T Worthington wrote:
SantonGames wrote:
T Worthington wrote:
I think that even LCGs are going to be developed around a licensed property, and done so in-house (ie, by FFG staff designers).

As an outside designer, I think that deck building games have far more appeal to publishers.

CCGs/LCGS have very significant start up costs. Less so for LCGS, but still more than a deck builder that is self contained.


How exactly are Deck building games and LCG's any different in costs? They both are boxed sets with all the cards included.


Its more of marketing the game.

A deck builder is a stand alone game, you buy it and can play it without needing to commit to buying more.

LCGs generally require players to make additional purchases in order to fully experience the game. That means that two people need to invest money to buy the game, and time to pre-build the decks. If that second person stops doing so, you'll want a third as back up, and that means you will generally need a fourth to start making that investment as you generally can't play an LCG with 3. So to make the investment in learning and buying an LCG you need to convince 4 people to do it, for a deck builder its just one. That means you need to spend more money marketing the game.

And my LCG would be a stand alone game as well. The 7 factions would come in premade decks playable out of the box. If you want to you can customize the decks by swapping cards from one deck to the other but you don't need to do that to play. I can see what you mean though. But I have no interest in making a deck building game right now.
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Caleb
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well, RFTG is not a deck-building game.

Also, if you have 7 factions, consider the model of Summoner Wars and Blue Moon - rather than having all factions available from start, and then selling "reinforcement packs" containing cards in all the factions, you buy a base game with 2 of the factions. You play it, like it, you can buy more complete factions in boosters (plus the occasional all-faction reinforcement pack). If you don't want to spend more, you still have a totally playable game.

Contrast this with Wizard Kings v2.0 - it's a block game, but collectible. In the base game, they gave you 7 or 8 blocks in each of the 7 factions. Trouble is, that is NOT ENOUGH BLOCKS in each faction to have interesting games. So you're totally doomed into buying boosters, because the base game sucks. Wizard Kings 1.0, on the other hand, gave you 2 COMPLETE FACTIONS in the base game, and sold COMPLETE FACTIONS as boosters.

Bottom line, you have to ensure the base game is interesting enough in its own right so that people don't feel cheated ("yeah, sure, I have all 7 factions but only 10 cards per faction...this stinks"), or whatever.
 
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If its only 7 faction decks and no boosters then its not really a CCG

the example of Battleground comes to mind, each army is sold as a separate deck and I think there is also a "Reinforcement expansion deck for each army to give you more options, but its not really "collectible" per say.

you simply have to buy the components your interested in, but it is not something you need to amass large numbers of or buy boosters for, there are no "ultra rare" cards and everything is utterly standard, you know what your getting.

Despite that each deck was a separate army, you could play a tolerable version of the game from a single deck for both players (which was good for teaching how the system works)

I rather liked the marketing for this game.


Edit: I guess this is just the "LCG" everyone is talking about
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Sturv Tafvherd
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(edit to add context ... I'm referring to SantonGames in this response)

I'm not sure you understand the difference between LCG and stand-alone games.

As T Worthington said:
Quote:
LCGs generally require players to make additional purchases in order to fully experience the game.


Essentially, there would still be multiple releases to the game. And if you wanted to have a tournament-competitive deck, you would almost be required to keep up with the releases.


From the snippets you've provided about your game, it sounds more like a stand-alone game. This would be the case where you design and release all the cards in the game, and offer the entire package as a single unit.

That said, many players who do not play in the tournaments for LCGs would generally treat the "core set" as a stand-alone game.

Dominion and other of the recent splash of Deck-Building games are sometimes closer to the stand-alone idea; but you might consider others to be hybrids between the stand-alone and the LCG. In my opinion, I treat the base/core sets to be the base release of the game, and any other addition is really an optional expansion.


Going back to the original question of viability:

I think there's a good debate over the viability of LCGs vs stand-alone games. You might actually find a good discussion over that in the FFG forums.

But considering the current economy and the bad experience the market may have had over _collectible_ card games, it seems to me that CCGs are not viable any more.
 
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Santon Vejil
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Stormtower wrote:
(edit to add context ... I'm referring to SantonGames in this response)

I'm not sure you understand the difference between LCG and stand-alone games.

As T Worthington said:
Quote:
LCGs generally require players to make additional purchases in order to fully experience the game.


Essentially, there would still be multiple releases to the game. And if you wanted to have a tournament-competitive deck, you would almost be required to keep up with the releases.


From the snippets you've provided about your game, it sounds more like a stand-alone game. This would be the case where you design and release all the cards in the game, and offer the entire package as a single unit.

That said, many players who do not play in the tournaments for LCGs would generally treat the "core set" as a stand-alone game.

Dominion and other of the recent splash of Deck-Building games are sometimes closer to the stand-alone idea; but you might consider others to be hybrids between the stand-alone and the LCG. In my opinion, I treat the base/core sets to be the base release of the game, and any other addition is really an optional expansion.


Going back to the original question of viability:

I think there's a good debate over the viability of LCGs vs stand-alone games. You might actually find a good discussion over that in the FFG forums.

But considering the current economy and the bad experience the market may have had over _collectible_ card games, it seems to me that CCGs are not viable any more.

Yeah I had already pretty much given up on the idea of a CCG. I just wanted to come on here and see if anyone thought it was even possible anymore. I do understand that in order to play competitively in an LCG you would need to buy expansions but the Core Set could still be a stand alone game which is why I don't get why it would be hard to market. Deck Building games have expansions too. I am no expert obviously I am just a guy who has been designing games for a long while and finally found one that i am really sticking with. Thanks for all the comments guys and whenever I am ready to show off my game I will post it here on BGG
 
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S Pozun
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Cattlemark wrote:

I think he was basically saying, "Yeah, if you're making Magic, then you're going to sell it." in a sarcastic way.


Correct.
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S Pozun
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Here's a question: are collectable miniature games in the same boat?
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Sturv Tafvherd
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spozun wrote:
Here's a question: are collectable miniature games in the same boat?


No. Different boat. Where some might consider CCGs to be sinking, CMGs are essentially already at the bottom of the ocean. At least, that's my opinion.

The big difference is how much you get in a "booster pack" and how much you woud pay for it.

In the booming economy of the late 90s, the same things that fueled CCG growth helped fuel CMGs. Nowadays, well ... not that much money to throw around anymore, eh?
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SantonGames wrote:

Yeah I had already pretty much given up on the idea of a CCG. I just wanted to come on here and see if anyone thought it was even possible anymore. I do understand that in order to play competitively in an LCG you would need to buy expansions but the Core Set could still be a stand alone game which is why I don't get why it would be hard to market. Deck Building games have expansions too.


As a huge fan of the genre, I do hold out hope that now that the market isn't oversaturated, there's a chance for something truly different to rise up and catch on in geek nation.

I think the main problem for CCGs, and LCGs, which is inherent to their design, is player base. Multiple people need to invest similar amounts of both time and money into the same game. Sure, one guy could make all the decks, but that seems self-defeating, and your experience will be based on how well he balanced the game, not how well an experienced developer did so.

Still, if one million Board Game Geeks will buy Dominion, I think there is hope that a customizable game marketed to us could succeed. No CCG has *really* tried for our demographic, with the possible exception of the AEG games, and those came while the market was still flooded.

That said, I, too, have resigned myself to it being a waste of time for us amateur/independent designers to work on one. Which is a shame, because maybe my favorite game I've ever designed is a CCG.
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Eric Jome
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spozun wrote:
Here's a question: are collectable miniature games in the same boat?


Yes. Almost all collectible things are DOA with distributors and retailers. Minis are not completely over like CCGs, but they certainly seem headed in the same direction. Recent minis games have shown the same epic failure level that CCGs have shown... seems like headed to the same fate over time.
 
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