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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

How Pokemon killed Magic

Posted by garrett Monday April 26 2010 at 12:57PM
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When Magic the Gathering came out it had changed games forever. Anyone who can remember gaming in 1994-95 remembers that those cards never stayed on the shelves. Wizards of the Coast was so successful in Magic that they purchased TSR and now remain one of the top paper & pen companies still around to this day. There are other, there are always other who have strived to create successful games. Some smaller companies have made better games, some have even been somewhat successful. But no one can match what happened.

Then after Magic's triumph a ton of card games hit the market. Most failed, some still exist today, but overall the card game industry remains.

Then came Pokemon.

Now, Wizards published Pokemon in the U.S. the game became insanely popular and continues to be to this day. Basically it brought a more kid friendly approach to card games and had fun anime artwork and gave kids a reason to spend endless money trying to collect cards.

Think about this event for a few minutes....1994-1996 we saw card games pulse. Then came Pokemon and the execs found that kids spend their parents money much better than the parents themselves did. The market shifted somehow...and games like Magic stopped being made.

Many will argue that I am wrong. Many will argue that Magic still flourishes today, and it does. I am not talking about one specific game or games, I am talking about an industry.

Ultima, Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, and ultimately World of Warcraft brought in a wave of gaming that looked like it would never go away. By 2005 there were endless MMOs in development with subscription models that would make the execs billions...BILLIONS!! (Muwaahahahaha!).

Then came Free to Play games. (The came Pokemon.)

Now, classic MMOs may never be seen again.

I am not going to go through a laundry list of reasons why I think these two comparisons are valid. You may entirely disagree. However...I do think that it gives us something to think about.

It is you know where your MMOs are?

alkarionlog writes:

F2P diferent from game cards, or rather is close to some degree, you have to pay for a certain item, its almost a lotery you buy a pack with 10 cards or a deck with 60(on my time was like that) then with luck you could get a nice card or even a rare one, I still remember the first one I bough I get a bolt card somewhere uncommon, I knew it was a good card when a "friend" wanted me to sell or trade that card XD. but old historys aside, the diference is some people like me would go to a sub game for balance,


if someone can play more then me that is ok I can leave with that, what I hate is people who pay $500 a month just to upgrade his equip to +25 so he can one shot you and still yell he is "good" he is "powerfull" and since I'm not stupity I can learn and make a diference with skills, but like a friend on that time said to me once, " you can't play magic if you are not willing to pay a lot for cards"(like I did back there) so F2p I play just to do something diferent or take a break from my main game, because in F2P games in the end will just get me frustated and that is not fun, and I find the P2P games a hell more fun, just because I know I have the same chance to win as the other dude.

Mon Apr 26 2010 2:14PM Report
arnaki3000 writes:

How you have the same chance to win as the other dude, when the other dude plays 20/7 and you have a work,a social life etc?

in the end why it is any different from the "guy that pay $500 a month" case?

Mon Apr 26 2010 2:42PM Report
Aristides writes:

As someone who actively gamed with the mentioned products during both described revolutions, and who now works in the MMO industry, I find the comparison raised here to be intriguing ground for further reflection.

Mon Apr 26 2010 3:48PM Report
gordunk writes:

Nope...invalid comparison, your analogy doesn't line up.

Target Audiences is what changed between MTG and Pokemon(similar to the difference between UO and WoW, Pokemon had a broader appeal than MTG did)

Business models is the change you are documenting, which isn't the same. The basic MMO gameplay remains un-changed, the target audience remains un-changed, what changed is how you pay for it.  There was no change in Business model between Pokemon and MTG.  There's a huge Business model change between WoW and Runes of Magic.

Mon Apr 26 2010 4:16PM Report
Khalathwyr writes:

"It is you know where your MMOs are?"

No, but I know where my meat body is. And if developers continue to steer the way they are my meat body is going back sum total to table-top PnP and war-gaming. If World of Darkness Online (and possibly Copernicus) aren't "games for me" (because they have sure been making nothing but only games for the "other guy" since 2004) then I'm out.

The Reaper Miniatures World HQ is 5 minutes from my house and they offer all kinds of table-top gaming.

Mon Apr 26 2010 4:23PM Report
pojung writes:

Pokemon killed MTG? WHAT?!?!?!? MTG has an *active* playerbase of 10 million. Pokemon boasts that? I'd be hard-pressed to believe that.

MTG is alive and well, and sponsors far more weekly, regional etc tournaments than does Pokemon. At least here on the eastern seaboard.

And MTG stopped being made? Uh, not just two weeks ago the most recent installment of the world's most played/popular card game hit the shelves. This year, mind you, is much hyped compared to last year's expansions, amongst enthousiasts. MTG is alive and well.

- So up to that point, your post really breaks apart. Let's dive deeper...

How, in what way, does F2P and Pokemon have similarities that are not immediately drawn to F2P and MTG? Because of the target audience being kids?

Something tells me the F2P MMOs that target children don't exactly turn profits like a P2P can... because what parent is going to relinquish their credit card information to a minor? This is e-trade we're talking about, not giving my little tyke 10 bucks for them to blow each week.

- Column full of bias fail.


2010... the year 40k gets unveiled, the year that FFXIV launches, the year we learn about Copernicus. I know where my MMORPGs are- right where they've always been: P2P, where the playerbase is set up on the most equal footing, so that gameplay itself doesn't suffer.

Mon Apr 26 2010 4:57PM Report
LadyAlibi writes:

Strangely, my husband owns a game shop, and M:TG is his #1 selling product. He doesn't even carry Pokemon anymore because it just wasn't moving.

Mon Apr 26 2010 5:02PM Report
itchmon writes:

funny, it's exactly the opposite effect that the original writer thinks it is.


Players play pokemon as kids --> players "graduate" to the real CCG on the block (which is of course M:TG and likely always will be).  Pokemon doesnt kill magic.  go to a magic tourney (there are 4 or 5 every sat within 15 mins of my house) and do an informal count of how many of the players originally played Pokemon or yu-gi-oh.


Same with MMOS.  Little kid with no credit card who plays a free MMO becomes young adult with credit card who subs to an MMO (eventually becomes an adult who subs to eve and is snotty about other MMOS (guilty = me!)


free MMOs just help perpetuate the genre, they dont destroy it.



Magic Player since '95

Mon Apr 26 2010 5:04PM Report
Disdena writes:

A quick glance at shows that, other than the fact that 1995 saw many more CCGs released than most other years, the trend of CCGs released per year has not noticably decreased across the genre's whole lifespan.

The only noticable difference is that most newer card games seem to be based on a movie, game, or TV show that already existed beforehand. It's hard to blame Pokemon for this because the simple fact of the matter is that Magic continues to dominate the genre. Creating a CCG from scratch with its own rules and its own setting and expecting it to draw a significant amount of players from the gargantuan behemoth known as Magic is foolish. And it's basically impossible to pull non-CCG players off the street with a generic fantasy or generic sci-fi CCG. You have to draw from a base that already exists, such as "people who watch Naruto" or "people who play WoW". In a way, Magic's own success is what reduced the CCG to TV show derivatives. It is so well-established that you can't beat it on its own terms.

Mon Apr 26 2010 6:02PM Report
Alberel writes:

By your analogy of pokemon to MTG I'd say that Pokemon doesn't equate to F2P games but rather WoW...

They both massively popularised an industry to an untapped audience and both are generally recognised as phenomena in terms of popularity. WoW also essentially 'killed' the older, more traditional MMOs since no publishers are willing to invest in developing such games (although as others have said MTG is far from dead).

WoW is the craze of the MMO world as pokemon cards were the craze of the playground...

Mon Apr 26 2010 6:36PM Report
Amorien writes:

I agree with the original post. It so Freaking true its Crazy.


Parents wil pay to keep there kids happy.

Its easy to let pokemon and or mmos like Free realm thats more geared toward kids, watch your kids for you. like a babysitter.

but for the older generations , we move on we get lives and so on.  kids get to be kids from what like age 5 - 18? thats alot of world of warcraft time.

Mon Apr 26 2010 7:30PM Report
Xyfire1 writes:

I still play Magic ;) I played pokemon when I was a wee lad, then I evolved.

Mon Apr 26 2010 9:32PM Report
Inktomi writes:

I really don't know why you keep writing as if these games are dead?

Last time I checked Magic: The Gathering wasn't dead. It is set to release a new game and has just released its newest set of cards.

The collectible card industry isn't dead. It just hasn't grown and evolved as much as the video game industry has. It is, was and always will be a niche market. Magic is just a niche of the niche. So is pokemon, yu-gi-oh and even the wow TCG are just small audiences that still enjoy a little head to head action.

Its 2010, and we are just in the second inning of a nine inning game, just look at some of the games that are looking to come out of the bullpen.

Play safe,


Mon Apr 26 2010 10:40PM Report
toasty420 writes:

I've got to say card games come and go. I know when WoC bought out AEG, Deadlands and L5R, went to a bitter end very fast. But Pokemon was targeted to a younger audience, as Magic was teen to mature.

Mon Apr 26 2010 10:45PM Report
Tarren602 writes:

If Pokemon is soooooo big then how is it every card or table top shop i go to there is about 8/10 groups, that are playing card games, playing MTG? The only thing 'kid' MMOs and card games do well is help pave the way to the adult games later on!

Tue Apr 27 2010 12:39AM Report
adam_nox writes:

magic may have made a small comeback in the late 00s, but it's nothing compared to the craze it was in the 90s.

I know because I've lived in small towns my entire life.  If you want to know if something is popular, live in a place with less than 50k people and see if it exists there.  Magic all but dissapeared from small towns after pokemon took hold. 

I used to play in the tournaments every month.  Not just T2 or sealed deck either.  They had all sorts of crazy tournies.  I miss those days so much.  Now at best a few places have friday night magic, and if I drive several hours I can go to a pre-release tournament.

Tue Apr 27 2010 2:06AM Report
Blazz writes:

I think that the comparison is fantastic.

Pokemon suddenly became huge, then subsided over the years.

F2P... well, including facebook? Yes, it's damn huge, and making millions/billions per year for now.

We'll see where games like farmville are in a few years, though, and in P2P games build up a bit again.

Tue Apr 27 2010 6:36AM Report
Zilverrug writes:

Collectable Cardgames can be used in an MMO analogy.

Suppose M:TG-as-it-was is Everquest. World of Warcraft are the current editions-with-shiny-foil cards.

Quite a number of direct spin-offs have been tried, including some big-name-IP ones. Some survived, but most didn't. The MMORPG analogies are numerous.

A number of very good quality, niche "specialist" CCGs have been issued. Some more or less died (e.g. Netrunner), some still get produced (e.g. Jyhad/V:TES). An MMO analogy would be EVE Online (funnily enough, CCP produces both the EVE Online MMO and the V:TES CCG nowadays).

And recently, FFG started with its Living Cardgames (Chtulhu, Game of Thrones, Warhammer Invasion), similar games to M:TG with as main difference that you know in advance what you buy, which addresses the complaints of people who think CCGs were just too expensive. An MMO analogy would be the Free to Play.

Tue Apr 27 2010 7:50AM Report
Faelsun writes:

Well MTG didnt die out I dont think it just was more popular because it was new in the 90s no serious magic player payed attention to the simplistic Pokemon card game. Good players can still rake in a substantial living playing MTG.

The only problem with MTG recently is just well badly designed sets full of weak cards. I have not seen anything that can really compete with the Urza bloc recently.

Tue Apr 27 2010 9:16AM Report
Faelsun writes:

Besides the fact that I was at a MTG tourney the day Pokemon officially died, rougly a year and a half of Pokemon compared to a still viable MTG is no contest, pokemon hasn't been an issue for years.

Tue Apr 27 2010 9:17AM Report
Sleaker writes:

I think the columnist needs to research before posting things like this.  This is largely unfactual and based entirely on feelings and inaccurate observation rather than actually taking time to look at the realities of what is going on in both markets.  Poorly researched, nothing else to say about it imo.

Tue Apr 27 2010 11:37AM Report
aithieel writes:


Tue Apr 27 2010 1:39PM Report
DespairsX writes:

I use to play pokemon card games and yugioh no doubt about that, but because i played with those card games I was exposed to Magic the Gathering and got into that as well but the comparison to pokemon and mmorpgs are completely 2 different things and i think it's biased simply to say that pokemon killed of mtg, it targeted 2 different audience all together and to say a kid's game killed off an adult game is like saying sponged bob killed off some popular adult television program like Lost simply because sponge bob has a higher audience.

Tue Apr 27 2010 8:37PM Report
Bioturn writes:

I've already been seeing this ever since WoHS, oh, wait, it's called WoW, isn't it, came out. With FFXI, I admit, that was a good outlook, but takng the concept of group play to that level is just too much for any mmo. Prior to FFXI, games such as DAoC, EQ, AC, and many other beloved mmo's, the community was mainly made up of respectable, well-rounded players. 500k players for one game was seen as a great feat. Now with FFXI and WoW, and not to mention the many other mmo's out, having a player-base of 500k just isn't big anymore. Now that the producer of Avatar has mentioned talks about making an Avatar MMO, and with this The Secret World and all other mmo's on their way to our doorsteps, I really do fear that the quality of the games are being cut for quantity of players.

Just my opinion, of course.

Tue Apr 27 2010 10:49PM Report
beeriemoo writes:

dude i totally agree , pokemon was ruled by the kids , magic was for kids and adults but all the kidz went crazy bout those pokemon , buyed games etc ..

my nephew was a BIG fan of pokemon , he hd all cards =.= it was VERY expensive collection , pokemon never seen any fun of it , games were cool but i mean magic was addicting i see it like a sport its fun ^^ ! while pokemon is about gaining power and beating eachothers pokemon asses xD

welll cye ^^

Wed Apr 28 2010 4:24AM Report
alkarionlog writes:

I guess some people don't get the time line XD, well what I get from this blog post was the time when pokemon card game came out, a lot of kids stop playing magic and played pokemon because it was new and opkemon back then as a lot more popular (that is what I can see when I as kid and my little cousin now), but of course after sometimes the hype died and people who still wanted to play just go back to magic and some new players who stopped to play pokemon to play magic because they started on this kind of games.


the diference here for me dude is, lvl cap and equips, sure after sometime they tend do put new things, but on that time I can catch the kids up,


with cash shop games, they try to make new items each month or try to you play lotteries to try to win equips and/or items to enchant equips, with can cost too much and don't matter the amount of time I play I will never get there without pay $500 for that over upgrade/enchanted equip.

in P2P games I can try to get close in F2P(should be called unlimited trial) can't without burn a lot more of cash

Wed Apr 28 2010 2:22PM Report
lyinggod writes: Perhaps pokemon has had a negative affect on Magic. But look at what Magic has done to the PnP market. I have bben playing MMORPGs since ever quest was in beta and since PnP RPGs for 30 years. When Magic came out, I was working at a game store. We saw the our over all sales go through the roof, thanks to Magic. However, our RPG sales plummeted. Heck, I even tried magic, but I only lasted about 6 months as I found I preferred imagination over strategy. To this day, the PnP market, at least in that area has not gotten close to recovering. This is probably because of the increase of computer and console gaming. The only imagination is from the designers. Again, I enjoy MMO's liike City of Heroes and WoW, but let's face it. They lack the potential and possibility the real (PnP) RPGs have in the implantation of roleplaying and imagination. So as we morn the death of magic, let's also morn the unfortunate decline of true RPGs and the death of imagination. Sun May 02 2010 10:39AM Report writes:
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