I would like to say I found “Tellar Triumph” this weekend at my locals. While I did go undefeated, it was something of a specious victory. I was the only one in attendance.
Granted, it’s not a large shop and turnout tends to drop during the holidays. However, this is not an isolated incident. I regularly go to tournaments at three card shops and all three have had difficulties attracting enough players. Attendance is so sporadic at one of the shops that the owner is considering dropping Yugioh altogether.
I have been playing this game long enough to recognize that local attendance can be cyclical. However, I think there have been recent changes that threaten the health of local stores. The first is the growing complexity of the game. While the PSCT changes are welcome, the newer archetypes and the addition of pendulum summoning can be mind-numbing. This complexity discourages casual players and those trying to learn the game. While experienced players may treat these groups with disdain, they sustain local shops.
The second trend is the growing influence of on-line stores and gaming. For those below the age of thirty, on-line gaming is a fact of life and not a trend. I realize DN and other forums have been around since the game’s inception. However, they do steal players from local shops. On-line play testing is faster, more convenient, and often can be done with better competition. On-line vendors offer product at lower prices and EBay can make unloading unwanted cards profitable. Together, they lower the incentive for both trading and playing IRL.
Local shops have had to deal with the game’s mutability and the internet for years. These factors have always made running a local shop a precarious economic venture. The final straw may be the rise of large “cash” tournaments.
Before you dismiss this opinion, you should realize that I enjoy big tournaments. At the very least, the current Swiss system insures that I will spend a day playing good players who know the game. However, these tournaments tend to be inaccessible to new players and most casual players will find them quite discouraging. In the meantime, they are drawing players away from locals.
The long term consequences of this trend could be devastating. Players are introduced to the game through locals and most will only continue to play if these early experiences are enjoyable. I can fondly remember my first local tournament. I played Robert, a big gregarious fellow who patiently explained how each of his cards worked. His ready laugh and lack of condescension made the dool fun. Despite losing to everyone, I wanted to come back. To this day, I try to treat less experienced players with the same attitude. The future of our game depends on it.
I realize my influence in the Yugioh world is small. Still, I would like to propose a few changes to save the game.
- Konami needs to reward players who attend local tournaments. This can be done in two ways. First, they can increase the number of valuable cards in each pack. Having decent cards in one of every five packs rather than one in every 40 packs gives new players a chance to have access to these cards. Such a change will make receiving a “Consolation Pack” worthwhile. Second, they should offer invites to those players who regularly attend local tournaments. My experience at nationals was a highlight of my Yugioh life. There is no reason this experience can’t be shared with more players. Besides, if you play in thirty-six local tournaments, you probably have enough experience to make a go at nationals. I wouldn’t expect these players to win, but I would expect them to continue playing the game.
- ARG and Konami need to bury the hatchet and coordinate their tournaments. Both organizations are contributing to the demise of local tournaments by offering more premier events. In this area, such tournaments have been within driving range for the majority of weekends in the past several months. Local shops cannot continue to offer tournaments if they only have players once a month.
- Experienced doolists need to support their local stores. It’s time to give something back. We should encourage younger and less experienced players. Our lack of participation reeks of selfishness. Instead, we should embrace the motto, “Show up and Share”
I do not pretend to speak for all players. Your local may be healthy and thriving. However, I am sure there are those that have made the same observations. Comments are welcome from all.