Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Collectable Game Burnout

This phrase was included in a description of the "marketing" shortcomings of our game, Clout: Fantasy. Burnout. Collectable Game Burnout (CGB). That resonates with me and what I have witnessed. Obviously collectable games can still be successful. I see a number of games doing what I see are the right things. The folks that do the Full Metal Alchemist CCG, for example, impress me with everything I see them doing. I hope they are successful, because it bodes ill for us all if they fail (assuming they are doing as good a job as it appears)

What are the solutions for CGB? I think they start with the products themselves. What has come before has either worked or not. In order to break through the burnout, there has to be innovation.

Cost - CG's are one of the most expensive gaming. Most players spend hundreds on them every year. Some spend hundreds every month. I think there are a few players who fear becoming that second type of players and dodge the games entirely because of it. The cost comes from the rarity schemes. Maybe the idea of 'rare' cards has run its course? How much should a customer pay to get a full set? These are conscious choices made by the publisher before printing.

Reducing cost won't do the trick alone. Obviously the game has to be good. Also, fixing rarity won't show up on the 'fearful' gamer's radar. There must be other changes.

Commons - The Mountain of Commons. When you buy that first pack, you get entirely new cards (or chips or minis or whatever. I'm just going to say card). Your commons collection fills up first, then uncommons, and if you spend a lot of money, your rares. Of course, by the time you get to where you only need rares you're not paying for the other cards any more. You don't need them so they are worthless. You are paying a full pack price for only one card. Ouch.

Why make those commons worthless? Build a game where you can always use more commons. Where 50 is better than 5. If you get 9 commons to every rare, make sure having 9 commons is just as good as that one rare.

I'm going to keep my eye out for signs of CGB, and what publishers are doing about it.

If the best CCG ever produced was released right now, with a small game company budget behind it, would it have a chance to succeed? If yes, how? If no, why?



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Anonymous said...

Most games are cost prohibitive now...I still think CCGs one of the cheapest forms of entertainment.

A starter is about $12...the same as a movie in my area. If you want expensive, play a minis game.

The question of tell you the truth, I pay for rares only. When I buy CCGs I do the cost per rare. All the other cards are "free"

When I buy that booster, i'm buying it for the one rare card. The only environment where i've seen commons that have value is on Magic Online.

Great blog, dude.

HCGAdam said...

I like that you mentioned paying for rares only. It makes sense from a very practical standpoint. All the collectable games I'm designing now (heaven knows if they'll be published) are designed to maximize the value of commons and uncommons. For my more standard CCG design, the goal is met by linking deck design to rarity. The common to rare ratio is 9:1 so the deck design rules allows 9 copies of each common to each 1 rare. The process is enhanced by making rares wholly different card types than commons, so fewer are needed/wanted. It's not only that you need fewer rares, it's that you can use a far larger number of commons.

(Unfortunately, I've moved on to a different design, more in line with what Hidden City Games is looking for right now.)

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