Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Card Wallet Kickstarter Fails to Reach Funding Goal

October 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Konami, Other Stuff | 15 Comments
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The Yu-Gi-Oh! Game Wallet Kickstarter failed to be funded

Today is a sad day in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! licensing. The first-ever official Yu-Gi-Oh! product to be the center of a crowdsourcing and crowdfunding campaign has failed to reach its funding goal. WizKids/NECA’s Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Card Wallet Kickstarter campaign did not reach its $80,000 target after a 42-day run and the item will not be produced. The project garnered $31,985 from a paltry 148 backers. The design of the wallet had been decided entirely through a voting process back in June and July.

“Without […] fan support, we just can’t get enough demand from our normal distributors and retailers to make this wallet a reality,” a company rep previously said when asked what would happen if the campaign weren’t fully funded.

The implications of this Kickstarter failure extend far beyond the mere non-production of a game wallet. Yes, this result is damaging to WizKids/NECA, which put valuable time and money into the project, gave away a lot of free swag to publicize the endeavor, and now have nothing to show for it. But it is also a black eye for the entire Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. A failed Kickstarter campaign is a very conspicuous event and speaks volumes not only about the product and the people behind it, but also about the backers themselves (or the lack thereof). Potential merchandising licensees could very well view this failure as a reflection of the weakness of the Yu-Gi-Oh! brand and decide against partnering with 4K Media/Konami to produce new products in the future.

The days when anyone could slap a Yu-Gi-Oh! character on cereal, toiletries, school supplies, and other products and have them sell like hotcakes have long been over. Now, even a Yu-Gi-Oh! product whose design was completely crowdsourced by the fan community itself apparently can’t gain enough traction to be produced. For shame.

WizKids/NECA was the first company to close a licensing deal with 4K Media for new Yu-Gi-Oh! merchandise after 4K Media landed the Yu-Gi-Oh! property rights from 4Kids. After this disaster, how many new licensees will want to line up to do business with 4K Media?

Backers of the project may (or may not) be pleased to know that WizKids/NECA will still release another version of the wallet in the near future. It will not, however, be a high-quality, premium product with the Kickstarter-exclusive designs and features that fans voted for. The chance to own one of those is forever lost. As it stands, there are already so few people willing to buy a premium product, so how many would seriously spend their money to get an inferior substitute?

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  1. I wouldn’t say that licensing for Yu-Gi-Oh! is going to be dramatically affected by this. Let’s keep in mind that this is a Kickstarter that essentially offered a single product. Yes, I suppose it proves that you can’t just put out any Yu-Gi-Oh! product and expect fans to come buying it droves, but was the demand for a card wallet really there in the first place? Sure, there were about 2000 people who voted, but I feel like that’s not exactly a huge number given how Yu-Gi-Oh! is supposedly the best-selling Trading Card Game of all time and how a single Yu-Gi-Oh! event in 2012 (Long Beach’s Championship Series) had well over 4000 players just at that event.

    That’s not to say I’m not disappointed by the lack of support. I pledged a considerable amount but I really wasn’t feeling that a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh! players were into the card wallet. I know I was a lot more interested in the other merchandise, which is going to be offered outside the Kickstarter campaign anyway.

    Now, if the Cinedigm’s DVD releases and NECA/WizKids’ other plans involving Yu-Gi-Oh! licensing with all the merchandise and games like HeroClix and Dice Masters go bust, then yes, I will agree that Yu-Gi-Oh! licensing is in trouble. But I think you are analyzing this particular campaign for more than it’s worth.

  2. Yu-Gi-Oh! licensing may or may not be dramatically affected by this, but I nevertheless think my assessment is justified. The issue here is what this failure does to the perception of the Yu-Gi-Oh! property. Imagine that you are a manufacturer of widgets. Different companies come to you and pitch their brands, hoping that you will sign a licensing deal with them and put their brands on your widget. One day, Konami comes to you and asks you to create a Yu-Gi-Oh! widget. They tell you lots of great things about Yu-Gi-Oh! and what a successful property it is. So you do your due diligence and take the time to learn more about the property. During your research, you stumble upon this failed Kickstarter project. You learn that this project was part of a larger crowdsourcing endeavor where WizKids/NECA worked directly with fans to design and build a product. You also learn that despite the positive response from those fans, an insignificant fraction ultimately decided to pony up the cash to buy the product that they helped design. After learning all this, would you feel comfortable signing a deal with Konami and producing a Yu-Gi-Oh! widget?

  3. I actually just bought the first season of Yu-Gi-Oh! on DVD today! Dx I feel so bad for them!

  4. @Dubbs
    I agree with your comment about the relatively low number of responses. I’m sure we could spend a whole other post examining what WizKids/NECA did to engage with the fans and promote the endeavor, and how they could have improved or changed their methods to get an even better response. I’m sure we could also spend a lot of time examining the product itself and how that can be further improved or changed. But at the end of the day, the result and people’s perception of the result is key. I agree that if the Yu-Gi-Oh! DVDs and games flopped, that would be disastrous for the brand. But who would really know the details and the numbers behind such failures if they were to occur? Those failures would not be as conspicuous as a failed Kickstarter campaign. WizKids/NECA’s Kickstarter project is an indelible blemish to the Yu-Gi-Oh! property and is out there for everyone (consumers, licensors, and licensees) to peruse.
     
    @Charles Martin
    Yup. I get the feeling we won’t be seeing another Yu-Gi-Oh! Kickstarter for quite a while.

  5. This better not affect DVD production. I want to buy all 5 seasons of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal.

  6. I kinda doubt the wallet would have sold much anyway. Most of the people this is aimed towards are perfectly happy with their $5 deck boxes or the tins the TCG comes in.

    This could damage YGO’s marketability somewhat, but it’s not like there was a lot of merch before this. Outside of the TCG, DVDs, and video games, most Yu-Gi-Oh merch was based more on The Abridged Series than the actual franchise.

  7. @Charles Martin
    Don’t worry, this doesn’t affect the production of the DVDs. Different companies.
     
    @Duke
    This wallet was a Kickstarter exclusive. They knew that it’d be way too expensive and way too high-end for retail, but I doubt anyone could have predicted such a low number of backers. There wasn’t a lot of merch before this because the Yu-Gi-Oh! License had been locked up for two years thanks to the lawsuit.

  8. I’m sure if they actually got it onto shelves, it would be successful. They would just have to put this right by the Yu-Gi-Oh! cards

  9. Even without the lawsuit there wasn’t much. The toys didn’t get past Season 2 Classic and got a very brief revival for 5Ds that lasted even shorter. After Classic Season 4, the only merch 4Kids was focused on was Pokemon (which technically wasn’t in their control) and One Piece.

    Then again, it’s not as though the franchise really lends itself to anything besides the TCG and Official Cosplay Gear.

  10. @Duke
    I can’t believe you don’t remember seeing all of the amazing Yu-Gi-Oh! goods out there. In its heyday, there was a ton! I personally bought Yu-Gi-Oh! soap, toothbrushes, stickers, books, clothes, Duel Disks, cereal, pencils, and a lot of other stuff that’s probably long gone or stored away in some boxes. I also remember seeing watches, linens, drapes, backpacks, figures, key chains, pins, party supplies, snacks… Those days may be long gone, but when it was popular, Yu-Gi-Oh! was everywhere! Trust me, the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise is all about licensing. :)

  11. @ravegrl

    “After learning all this, would you feel comfortable signing a deal with Konami and producing a Yu-Gi-Oh! widget?”

    Well, that depends. If Konami shows a company strong sales for Cinedigm’s DVDs and NECA/WizKids’ other Yu-Gi-Oh! products that are coming out, then that very well may overrule the bad perception of a failed Kickstarter campaign. As far as how we know if the other products succeed or fail, if they succeed, they’ll make more; if they fail, they won’t. It’s not as black and white as a Kickstarter campaign, but I’m sure a potential company investing in the brand would look at the bigger picture.

    Yes, obviously this will hurt the brand’s image to some extent. But I guess I’d rather look at the glass as half full instead of half empty.

  12. Yup, and I hope that other potential licensees look at things in the same way that you do. The fact that new Yu-Gi-Oh! cards continue to be produced and new TV shows continue to air really shows the toughness of the brand. I think that as long as both of these things remain constant, Yu-Gi-Oh! will always be marketable, even if its best days are behind it.

  13. Do we know if TV Tokyo and NAS want to continue bringing the TV Show to North America after that whole lawsuit with 4Kids? Even though it’s with Konami now, I’m worried that they’ll stop licensing it out once the contract expires.

  14. They will absolutely want to keep bringing the TV show to North America, and to other countries as well. Having a cool, collectible product is not enough. They need to have a way to deliver the brand to new eyes, and to constantly keep the brand on the minds of people who are already familiar with it. Having Yu-Gi-Oh! on TV is the most powerful way of connecting with consumers. If Yu-Gi-Oh! were to ever disappear from the airwaves, most people (children, especially) would simply move on to the next big thing. Out of sight, out of mind.

  15. I’m also hoping 4K Media Inc. is planning to re-release Capsult Monsters, The Pyramid of Light Movie, and the Bonds Beyond Time Movie on DVD.


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