TDmonthly Magazine!
January 2006 | Vol. V - No. 1


Licensed to Mint

What Will Be the Next Magic: The Gathering?

"The main thing that I look for to see if a product is going to be successful is customer requests before it comes out." Scott Thorne, Castle Perilous
Are there any new collectible card games (CCGs) on the horizon likely to sell as well as Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh?

Now that’s a $64,000 question. Better yet, 64 million dollars — a mark all three games easily surpassed in annual sales at their height.

“Magic was an entirely new product — never seen before. This new product drove new customers into the stores and maximized the sales by using the customers’ own ‘need,’ or ‘collectibility,’” said Bob Brynildson, a partner of Adventure Retail, dba Source Comics and Games in St. Paul, Minn.

Even if the revolutionary concept of Magic, the granddaddy of them all, cannot be duplicated, that doesn’t mean its commercial success will not be, either.

It’s also no coincidence that nine of the current top 10 CCGs are licensed properties. Virtually half of the sales are done for the publisher when a title is attached to a fad. The trend has been the “hot Japanese animation of the month” for several years now.

Nor is it an accident. The anime machine presently dominates the entertainment landscape. Given that a good, or even excellent, game engine alone does not guarantee success in the glutted CCG market, adding the brand recognition of a fad license to prompt dollars from the devotees is but a solid, sound tactic.

Bandai America Incorporated, maker of the Zatch Bell and Teen Titans CCGs, for instance, is releasing more hot licensed games such as Naruto and One Piece. According to Daniel Satyapan, Bandai’s marketing manager, the company is doing “1000 percent better than last year,” thanks to aggressive convention presence and marketing programs like “exclusive hobby launch for three months” that allow specialty shops to receive and sell the new games before the mass-market outlets. But Satyapan attributes the success primarily to the fact that Bandai “hit all the top properties. TV networks are snatching up anime because they are hot, so a lot of people are trying to get anime properties [for CCGs].”

Erik Yaple, who leads product development at Sabertooth Games, agrees. Although “kids’ market with simplified games” is the trend he sees upcoming, Yaple believes that “licensing will become more popular and important than kids’ games ... because that will draw in new players and introduce old players to new games.”

On the retail end, the “name game” has not escaped experienced vendors. Chris Shorb, owner of Third Planet, in Torrance, Calif., said the first sign he looks for in deciding whether to carry a CCG at his store is “the license, if there’s one. Anime and manga properties sell well.” The buzz often creates new interest and, subsequently, purchases.

“The main thing that I look for to see if a product is going to be successful is customer requests before it comes out,” agreed Scott Thorne, who owns Castle Perilous in Carbondale, Ill. "If my customers don't ask for it — like Alderac’s Humaliens — I am very likely to skip it.”

Shorb also points out that “people aren’t actively seeking new CCG at this time.” On the flip side, that has made top licenses with a built-in fan base even more undeniably attractive. You can always count on their fans for sales.

As for the next big hit, Shorb has high hopes for Full Metal Alchemists. This CCG from Joyride Entertainment is “targeting an older audience with a more complex game,” going for a wider appeal with sophisticated game play, but without rules so difficult as to lose the show’s younger fans and newcomers to CCG alike.

Plus, it’s the ace in the Cartoon Network lineup. And there have been plenty of customer requests for the game.

Will it reach the incredibly high bar set by Magic: The Gathering?

Why, that’s a good $64,000,000 question.

But it’s got a good shot.

What follows is more information on CCGs mentioned in this article.

Age Range: 13 and up
Gender: Boys
Category: CD-ROM

In 1993, the Magic: The Gathering trading card game started a gaming revolution that continues today with six-million players worldwide. This CD-ROM features exciting games that cover the key aspects of Magic play, plus the Magic Online program. You can join one of the biggest communities of players and participate in local events and global tournaments. Additionally, the game box includes two decks featuring illustrated cards of creatures and spells, a 14-card pack with more advanced cards for expanded game play, a collectible premium card, two play guides for step-by-step play, an easy-to-read rulebook, two playmats with scorekeeping counters and a credit for online versions of all the cards.
— “I couldn't even quantify how many of these I sell,” said Dustin Gilliland, owner of Crimson Castle Chess & Games in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in early 2011.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 4928      (added 10/5/2005)

MSRP: $19.99
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys
Category: Collectibles
Card Games

Duelists can now stack their decks with a collection of booster packs designed to increase complexity and power during Dueling matches. Each unique tin offers an assortment of the game´s top-selling booster packs, which include Dark Beginning 1, Dark Revelation 1, Soul of the Duelist, The Lost Millennium, and Flaming Eternity.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5275      (added 11/1/2005)

Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys
Category: Trading Cards

This set is tournament-ready right out of the box. Each deck includes staple cards for experts and beginners alike to use in their quest to become "The King of Games." Each structure deck contains 40 cards, one rule booklet and one game mat. In addition, each deck will contain one Ultra Rare card and a Dueling Guide to help beginning and expert Duelists improve their current decks.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5272      (added 11/1/2005)

MSRP: $9.99
Age Range: 6 and up
Gender: Boys
Category: Card Games

This Yu-Gi-Oh! structure deck is straightforward enough for beginners yet includes enough challenging aspects to hold the attention of experts as well.
— It was a top seller on in March 2005, where it received high ratings from adults and kids alike.
— It is a good deck with powerful cards that is popular amongst players and collectors, according to reviews on
— In 2004 the Yu-Gi-Oh! collectible trading card game was listed as one of the most highly sought-after toys in Business Week, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, according to Upper Deck.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3271      (added 3/21/2005)

Gender: Boys
Category: Card Games

Like the “blocks” before it, Champions of Kamigawa is the first of three expansions that will chronicle an era of a world in the multi-planar mythos of Magic: The Gathering. The setting is inspired by late 15th-16th century feudal Japan, the warring Sengoku period. Gameplay features an innovative “hero” mechanic, where ordinary creatures can turn into legends thereby becoming more powerful. This is done by “flipping” the cards 180 degrees after fulfilling the indicated conditions to show an entirely new statistics block — essentially, these are “double” cards! This and other innovations, combined with the fantasy Oriental background, have already made Champions of Kamigawa a favorite among Magic players since its recent release.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 2074      (added 12/27/2004)


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