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Method of publishing customisable card game

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CCGer
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Joined: 07/28/2011

I am thinking of creating a card game whivh involve deck building (something like collectable card games). I wanted to know what is the best form to publish this game. These are the forms that I am currently considering:

1. A CCG. Most people will be familiar with MTG and the way they sell the game. This will include random boosters, card rarity and perhaps special promo cards. At first glance, it looks like a popular method for making money, but I have read that this method is less likely to be successfull. People are saying that there are only very few CCGs that still survive and going good while most of them could not last for long. But that was mostly in the USA. It seems that things are quite different in Japan. Japan has a lot of surviving CCGs and some of them are new. For example, there is Battle Spirits TCG by Bandai (I wonder why it failed in USA), Weib Shwarz (anime based TCG) and the new Cardfight! Vanguard. It seems that Japan has a huge CCG market but USA didn't. Can somebody explain why?

2. LCG. This method was started by Fantasy Flight Games, but I am not very familiar with it. This method seems like a cheaper version of CCG since players will spend much less money on that game. However whether it is profitable or not is another question. I live in Malaysia and I think none of the LCG are popular here. (CCGs like Magic, Yugioh and Pokemon are popular here) I think I need more info about this LCG thing.

3. Deck building game. I am not too familiar with this as well, but I think it means releasing all your cards in one whole set. My game has expensions (New cards are made and release on a period of time )and I fear this method will hinder it.

Please advice me. Thanks

Dralius
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Deck building Mechanic

A deck building game means that the deck is built during play rather than beforehand.

In the ones I have played everyone starts with a small base deck that is the same and then either buys or earns cards from a public pool which are added to your personal discard pile. Once you run through your deck it is shuffled bringing the new cards into play.

lather rinse repeat.

questccg
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Making your product PROFITABLE

CCGer wrote:
I live in Malaysia and I think none of the LCG are popular here. (CCGs like Magic, Yugioh and Pokemon are popular here) I think I need more info about this LCG thing.

Okay let me first say that the barrier to entry of a card game is VERY difficult. Our product has great reviews and still the sales have been very, very, very difficult.

Of course games like Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon are popular - they are popular EVERYWHERE. But that is them, as someone on BGDF pointed out to me - YOU are NOT THEM.

What I think, having the experience of trying to bring to market a collectible card game, is you need to find out how you can make the MOST amount of money with a format. It's not because CCG are money pits that this is the best model for you. Yes for the big ones (mentionned above) it may be... But you need to figure out if you can SELL your game with a higher profit margin.

So what that means is figuring how much will it COST to manufacture. Then find a retail price you can get people to BUY the game at. Next you need to factor in 50% for retail, so if your product sells for $30, $15 goes to the retailer. Now you'll want to factor in DISTRIBUTION, another 10%, so we're at $12. Now how much to make it, let's say $6... So your profit is $6... You need to figure out is it worth it for $6.

Remember that $30 is the LCG format. Pay upfront for a complete deck with the possibility of expansions SOLD SEPARATLY.

Now if you do the math with a CCG... It gets really tough. So people on BGDF have told me that a CCG should retail for no more than $4 per booster. That means $2 for the retailer and $0.40 cents for distribution. You are left with $1.60... I CAN'T get my product manufactured for less than $1.75... You now need to factor in the COST of manufacturing... If you can get it printed and packaged for $1.50 that leaves you with $0.10 of PROFIT. Can you live with $0.10??? Is it WORTH your while???

My experience has taught me that making a CCG is not viable for most people. Only big, large companies like WoTC. LCGs are more viable.

But remember, again the experts on BGDF will say, the entry barrier for a card game is VERY, VERY difficult. Your best bet is trying to convince a publisher to make and sell your product. Self-publishing is a very hard business. Don't FORGET you will be competing against Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon... Most people will buy those games and not yours...

I'm not trying to dissuade you. Just make you aware. On our game, I needed to renegotiate my royalty for artwork because I was only making $0.15 on my CCG... Now I make $0.25. BIG DEAL. That's still peanuts... HOWEVER if I had the VOLUME of MtG, Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh! that $0.25 may actually be worth something. But realistically find a distributor to resell your product or you'll be cooked before you've even started...

CCGer
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CCG doing well in Japan

Well, I understand about the cost to start a CCG. But I still don't get why some new CCGs (Weib Schwarz, Battle Spirits , Vanguard, etc) are doing well in Japan. Battle Spirits has been popular in Japan when it started, but for some reason failed in the US. I don't think it is as simple as those games are funded by big , rich companies (correct me if I am wrong). I don't remember Bushiroads (Weib Schwarz and Vanguard publisher) being a big and rich company, in fact it is still fairly new. Could it be that People in Japan are more attracted to CCGs compared to Americans?

questccg
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New can be rich

CCGer wrote:
I don't remember Bushiroads (Weib Schwarz and Vanguard publisher) being a big and rich company, in fact it is still fairly new.

I would not confuse NEW with RICH. The company may be newly founded with money from another source. So they can still be new and rich... Look at companies that get VC money: they are new but also they have investor's money to pay for their operational needs. Another possibility is two (2) companies making a joint venture could found a new company; the company may be new but they may also be rich...

I recently visited a game store (cards & board games) for a demo of my product. They have games with several having expansions... They just are not as popular as those famous CCGs (MtG, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!).

Look at Chaotic cards: they were popular and now all of a sudden I don't find many game stores selling the game...

Another game designer pointed out that "Dual Masters" the game from WoTC also did not make it in the USA but was successfull in Japan... It is supposed to be BETTER than MtG (in terms of design). And still not popular in the USA.

guildofblades
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If you had the volume of a

If you had the volume of a Magic the gathering, your booster pack production costs would likely be running about $.15 to $.20 each at most.

Do a large enough CCG run and the price comes down immensely. The lions share of cost of driving a successful large scale trading card game is the marketing. From what I understand, marketing costs for such a game can often comprise 80% or more of the overall budget, leaving just 20% for art, design and development and production.

As for Japan, Japan is a different market than the US and has traditionally be able to support more different trading card games in the market at the same time. At just a guess, its a matter of space. Trading card games are compact and travel well and don't require large spaces in order to play, for which space can be a dear commodity in Japan.

Ryan
GOB

questccg
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Maybe if done in China

guildofblades wrote:
If you had the volume of a Magic the gathering, your booster pack production costs would likely be running about $.15 to $.20 each at most.

My production run was 100,000 cards or 10,000 boosters. The price per booster was $1.00. Then I had to have the cards packaged in booster packs, that cost another $0.40 cents. Add to that a small royalty for artwork of $0.50 and that's $1.90... I don't know where you're getting $0.15 to $0.20 to manufacture...

Perhaps if you print your game in China, then the pricing may be very different... Then maybe you can get it printed for around $0.15 to $0.20 (from an actual price quote). It is *seriously* making us consider China as a potential manufacturer of an expansion edition.

questccg
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Not quite certain I agree

guildofblades wrote:
The lions share of cost of driving a successful large scale trading card game is the marketing. From what I understand, marketing costs for such a game can often comprise 80% or more of the overall budget, leaving just 20% for art, design and development and production.

I don't know if I believe that WoTC are "marketing" MtG. From what I understand is that the game is popular enough that any game store want to carry MtG cards.

20% for development would imply and 80% for marketing would imply that it would cost us another $75,000 dollars for marketing... I'm not certain that is how CCGs get "known". To me it becomes strictly a question of DISTRIBUTION. If you have a company that agrees to sell you product (a distributor) well then you will have retailers that will also be willing to sell your product.

Since a distributor can have 100 to 500 retail outlets they deal with, then a production run of 100,000 cards can easily get sold... BUT if you have to deal with individual game stores, who are not even interested in buying a single box of your product to sell, well I doubt you will get any volume...

Currently we are "trying" to sell on consignment. We don't want any stores to say $265 for a box is TOO much for an unknown product. So we have tried consignment and we currently have our product in ONE store... FAR from 100 to 500 retail outlets.

My belief is that a CCG can get popular if the product is of great quality AND it is sold at MANY retailers. Then it becomes a "word of mouth" type of situation: one player tells another gamer about the game and then the product goes viral in this fashion.

questccg
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Another factor

questccg wrote:
My belief is that a CCG can get popular if the product is of great quality AND it is sold at MANY retailers. Then it becomes a "word of mouth" type of situation: one player tells another gamer about the game and then the product goes viral in this fashion.

Also if you can CONVINCE the retailler that your product is good and that THEY can make money with it... That's another way you might be more successful.

Off the top of my head, this would be something like having the retailer make EVEN MORE money (higher that 50% margin). Store, in my experience, care about products that SELL. But if they can make more money selling your game, they might be more inclined to "push" sales. Say for example they have a Yu-Gi-Oh! group that plays every Saturday. If your game is good fit from them, maybe the store personel MIGHT sell your product (if the incentive is there...) to those people. And then those people play your game and share your game with other players say at school or elsewhere...

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