Classic trading card games (TCGs), especially the “Big 3” of Magic: The Gathering (MTG), Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh!—all introduced in the 1990s—are going strong. They continue to rank at the top of the TCG sales charts, are expanding into new media and licensed product categories, and are making cameos in productions not connected to their brands, raising their pop culture status.
Thanks to the recent success of the category, licensors of a number of entertainment properties have decided now is the time to jump into the trading card game space with licensed TCGs of their own. They are hoping to capitalize on the current popularity of the TCG format, and maybe eventually become a classic in their own right, as they launch their projects this year and next:
- Disney Lorcana, a trading card game produced by licensee Ravensburger, is scheduled to debut in August 2023, starting in independent gaming stores in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and a number of European territories. The storybook-style gameplay, with card sets called chapters, will feature characters from across different Disney franchises in all-new artwork. The game was first announced last August.
- The Star Wars: Unlimited trading card game, which will unite characters from all the different components of the franchise—movies, video games, TV series, comic books, and the like—was just announced and is planned for a 2024 release. It is being developed and manufactured by Asmodee-owned licensee Fantasy Flight Games, which is a long-time partner of Disney’s Lucasfilm division and has released other Star Wars trading card games in the past.
- The Lord of the Rings is making a foray into the TCG sector with a Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth edition of Magic: The Gathering. The game will feature all the characters and scenes from the book series by J.R.R. Tolkien, combined with MTG gameplay and MTG-style artwork. First announced in 2021, the cross-over is set for release on June 23, 2023. It is part of MTG’s Universes Beyond project, which features cross-over card packs with outside properties; however, this is the first full set produced with another IP.
- Zag’s Miraculous franchise just entered the trading card game market for the first time this year with Miraculous Secrets, developed in a partnership between the licensor’s Zag Play toy division and Epopia, its licensee for personalized and interactive storytelling. The game will debut in Germany and Austria before rolling out to other European territories. Game maker Amigo is the distributor.
Trading card games based on entertainment properties often have relatively short lifespans and do not make a lasting mark in the Big 3-dominated market. But that is not always the case. In March, the Final Fantasy Trading Card game, which was released in 2016 and is based on the video game franchise, reached the milestone of 20 million card packs sold across all sets over its lifetime. It was developed by Hobby Japan and is published by licensor Square Enix.
There has been some news on the Big 3 TCG front as well. For example, Pokémon last year added a Pokémon Go set to the classic Pokémon trading card game, marking the first time the popular mobile game, released in 2016, has made its way into the TCG format. It also released a collaboration this month in Japan with apparel brand Beams and artist Yu Nagaba, which includes a random Pokémon TCG card with purchase. Yu-Go-Oh!, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, debuted its first competitive e-sports event, and is expanding its licensing program with new apparel, collectibles, and restaurant menu items. And Magic: The Gathering has been pairing with properties such as Warhammer and Doctor Who for collaborative card packs, as well as expanding in recent years into new content categories including middle-grade publishing, comics, and a feature film.
RaugustReports will not be publishing next Monday, May 29, 2023, due to the U.S. Memorial Day holiday. We’ll be back to our regular twice-per-week schedule on Thursday, June 1.
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