During lockdown, Digimon TCG players couldn’t attend locals or tournaments in person, which meant that the majority of play was done over webcam. Although this was a perfectly good solution during a global crisis, it did highlight the need for an alternative way of playing in a controlled and automated format, especially for official tournaments where cheating or accidental misplays could have a serious impact on high-stakes events.
Why have an online client?
Some people are just not comfortable with meeting in person or interacting over webcam with strangers. This could be down to anxiety or fear that they are not experienced enough with the Digimon TCG to play with others. Those that avoid playing with others for these reasons then miss out on honing their skills, let alone enjoying the game they love. An online client would allow these players to grow more confident without feeling the social pressures that come with playing in person.
Often, players find themselves living in an area with no other players nearby, forcing them to travel to cities just to play a few games. An online client would let these people enjoy games more leisurely and frequently, without having to pay travel expenses.
Not all players of the Digimon TCG have the money to invest in new cards regularly. An online client would allow people to try out cards that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford, or simply let curious people try the TCG out before investing any money in it. Playtesting would also become far more efficient if there was a system to search and quickly find opponents of the same skill level. Often, players will turn to tabletop simulators to give them this kind of tool, although these unofficial mods don’t always run as smoothly as preferred and can make it difficult to meet new players outside of online social groups.
Unlike the DBS CG, which have multiple franchise licence holders, Bandai owns all the rights to the Digimon TCG. This means that they wouldn’t need to make deals or get around other companies to develop and maintain an online client. Not having others to answer to would speed up progress, remove licensing hurdles and would make the whole project cheaper as there would be no one to payout.
An app already exists –
Just like how Bandai made the DBS CG tutorial app to help players learn the rules, there is also one for the Digimon TCG, although it is far simpler in comparison. The DBS CG tutorial app has multiple starter decks, whereas the Digimon one only has the original three. This gives the indication that they don’t see the need to develop the Digimon app any further, which is a shame as the app could be the base platform for an online client if it was updated with all the new effects and mechanics. Because the game is less than a year old, it wouldn’t take too long to implement the current library into the game.
The Digimon TCG has far simpler mechanics compared to other TCGs like Yu-Gi-Oh and the DBS CG, where things can get complicated when understanding play windows and the order of a chain. This would mean that programming specific card effects into a Digimon TCG online client wouldn’t be as complex, especially at such an early point of the game.
Would an online client ruin the physical game?
Having an online client always runs the risk of alienating the physical game by making it more convenient. The truth of the matter is, those who enjoy the social aspect and the physical experience of playing will always favour in-person events over playing solely online. This is an aspect that cannot be replicated in an online format, especially if there is no way of communicating with your opponent.
For those who would prefer to play via an online client, there could be incentives built in to ensure that physical boosters are still purchased. For example, Bandai could use the same format as the Pokemon TCG by including codes to digitally replicate the pulls from a pack. Older cards from previous sets could be available in packs purchased from the online store or earned by completing daily objectives or competing in ranked matches. Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links even repackage cards to create new mini sets for players to obtain – could this be beneficial to a Digimon TCG online client?
It’s clear that Bandai are willing to listen to the community and will make changes if there is a big enough outcry for change. With more people insisted that there is a place for an online client for the Digimon TCG, it may just be a matter of time before they get it.
Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media
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