Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Putting the Collectable back into Collectable Games

A huge part of the collectable game experience is the collecting. Why then, do collectable game publishers work so hard to make sure their cards aren't collectable?

Restricting Play. Tournament systems that restrict what cards may be played. In many cases, entire sets are banned. Watch the card values plummet when they aren't legal in the most popular tournament format.

Reprints. Why reprint a card, ever? Make new cards that are as good. Don't steal from your customers by destroying the value of thier cards by reprinting them. If you must reprint, reprint the most common cards. Never reprint a card worth more than a dollar.

Disregard. Some game companies see the secondary market as something they have to steer clear of. Something they don't have control of, and can't be involved with. That's crap. Anything a publisher does to increase the value of the product is a direct benefit to their customers.

All three of these things must be considered when the game is created. One of the biggest knocks against collectable games are their expense, but they aren't nearly as expensive if you can get your some, all, or more money back when you're ready to play something else.

It's all about creating value, and collectable games have an unique potential for value, if that potential isn't wasted.



Dominique said...

Hi, Adam. Greetings from the Philippines.

Just wanted to let you know that I bought my Clout Fantasy starter set on the basis of your blog. I'm a bit of a miser so I don't usually buy game stuff (though I play a bit of YGO and have bought into VS ata bargain). However, I thought CF was unique enough to give it a shot. Vacillation, and then I read your blog and said, Hmmm....

What can I say? Your enthusiasm is catching.

I'm enjoying the game, just need more folks to play with. Oh, and my sister beat me at it. Criminy!

Adam Conus said...

Hi Dominique!

I'm always a little surprised when somebody reads my blog. Thanks! I hope you enjoy Clout. (I'm pretty sure you will.) I guess I'd better be clear that these opinions are my own, and not all of them are shared by the rest of my coworkers. I do champion my ideas, however. The no reprint rule, for example, is an uphill battle I'm probably not going to win. Of course, we haven't reprinted anything yet!

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gnome said...

I generally agree with your article, but I think there is an explanation...
Game Balance (especially in tournament settings) is THE most important factor for most companies... Don't forget that even (non-competitive) genres like the RPG are nowadays striving for balance. d20 is a prime example.

Adam Conus said...

Game balance is indeed the reason cards and sets get banned. To avoid this in a trading game, balance while adding new sets must be designed into the game from the outset. If releasing new cards damages game-balance, it's a weakness of the game. Not a fatal weakness, but a still a weakness.

Also, there's a difference between banning a set for game balance and banning in order to sell the newest cards. That choice has been made for the wrong reasons, on many occasions.

In Magic, at least, sets have been released which everyone knows will upset the game's balance (at least a little.) This is allowed because the sets will 'rotate out' before too long.

The planned lifespan allows Magic designers to be more bold with their designs. Or careless, depending on how you look at it.

gnome said...

Hmmm... can't say I disagree with you...

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