Crisis in Infinite Games – Upper Deck Kills Vs.

The Anti-Monitor hates gaming.

The Anti-Monitor hates gaming.

More grim tidings for comic book loving gamers – superhero collectible card game Vs. has been given the death sentence by Upper Deck. All we can do now is hope that next year, we’ll find out this cancelled Vs. game was really a cosmic entity only pretending to be Vs., while the real Vs. was in suspended animation on the moon.

This economic crisis really sucks. Just when we really need escapist fun, all our entertainment industries are slashing, burning or just flat out collapsing. Even the Hollywood film studios are feeling the crunch. Upper Deck has already been through two rounds of layoffs, and are embroiled in a major lawsuit over the Yu-gi-oh! CCG. Vs. suffered from the same problems as so many other collectible games – dwindling interest, too many lackluster expansions shoved out the door one after the other, and not much in the way of a local tournament scene to sustain the playerbase (with a few exceptions). Feel free to read the official announcement.

With Wizkids dead and the HeroClix sale in limbo, the comics/games crossover market is totally flatlined right now. Your options include Marvel Heroscape and some old Spider-Man pogs you found in a closet. The silver lining when any collectible game dies is, of course, that Vs. boosters should be cheap to come by, and it’s still a fun game to play with your friends. Some of the expansions were already selling for bargain basement prices, so it will be easy to stock up and build a bunch of fun theme decks.

So what is the shelf life for a collectible game these days? Back when HeroClix and Vs. came out, they seemed like strong games that would last forever. Name a single collectible game (cards, minis, whatever) other than Magic and, uh…Pokémon, that’s been around for more than five or six years.

7 Responses to Crisis in Infinite Games – Upper Deck Kills Vs.

  1. Off the top of my head? Legend of the Five Rings (1996) and Vampire: The Eternal Struggle/Jyhad (1994) are still actively supported.

  2. Bummer! On one hand I really hate that there isn’t a gaming shop close, so I was never able to get into a lot of these different games, but it sure has saved me alot of money over the years!

  3. YMGJason: Good call. This brings up another question – what’s different about those games that has kept them around so long? How do they maintain a solid playerbase without the big “world championship” tour promotions, weekly tournaments in every town and tons of prize support (which seems to be the model most CCGs and CMGs are based on)?

  4. Pingback:   Vs System CCG Canceled by Purple Pawn

  5. The thing about both Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) and Vampire/Jyhad (V:TES) is that they fill very strong, specific niches in the industry. There isn’t much growth to the properties but the Alderac and White Wolf have solid demographic information to control their production and marketing. Those games are also internal IPs which lowers production costs since there is no licensing fee. In contrast comic based properties, and probably licensed properties in general, are trying to reach a generally larger market and have to pay the comic companies just to produce their products.

    Marketing aside, I think L5R and V:TES solid player base comes from relying on relationships between players as opposed to building a system where players are only competing. Players of L5R and V:TES already love and share those worlds through fiction, role playing, board games, etc. Playing the card games are just another way of experiencing those worlds. Comic book properties are hurt because comic book fans don’t have a strong community base from which to build a player base. Comic fans are naturally fractured to DC vs. Marvel, Superman or Batman, etc. While the initial pull is playing in the comic book universe something needs to retain those people. The prize system as retention device only plays toward the contentious relationships of fandom as people are attempting to be the best player of the group as opposed to enjoying playing in the world that they love with friends.

  6. Another thing about Jyhad at least is that it has some excellent and dynamic multiplayer and pseudo-political concepts in play. Many games especially CCGs are best in pairs or very small groups. Jyhad/VtES can plays best in groups of 4 or more with each person and their individual deck completely altering strategy for all involved.

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