The FF TCG will celebrate its 5th anniversary in October, following the release of its 14th set, Opus XIV: Crystal Abyss on August 6th. Although this is an incredible achievement for any TCG, the big question is, will its popularity survive another five years and beyond?
A Perfected TCG –
Before the Opus series began in 2016, there was another FF TCG known as the Chapter series. This game began in 2011 and ran through to 2015, when the final set was released. The Chapter series was only released in Japan but share many similarities to the current FF TCG. The most striking differences when it comes to card aesthetics is the card texture, the text box frames and the base colour. The Chapter series, which consisted of 1,898 cards, was eventually cancelled. Although many speculated that this decision was a response to its dwindling fan base, the truth of the matter is that Square Enix wanted to end it so that it could be re-released with changes that made it palatable to worldwide audiences.
The main reason why Square Enix decided to start fresh with the Opus series was to take what they had learned from the Chapter series and improve upon it. Because of this decision, the latest version of the game is a perfected model built upon the experience gained over five years. Many other TCGs haven’t been so lucky when hitting the reset button, or have never attempted it out of fear of players and collectors abandoning it entirely. Thanks to the legacy of Final Fantasy, which is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time, the Opus series already had loyal fans that were ready to try out the new exciting chapter in the FF TCG. Any game’s longevity depends on the attitude and the size of its fan base – in the case of the FF TCG, its community shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.
Unfaltering Legacy –
Something that may suggest the FF TCG will indeed be around for the foreseeable future is the number of fans it has gained throughout its 30-year run. The Pokemon TCG, which has run side by side with the video games and anime series, is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary and shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Final Fantasy shares a lot in common with Pokemon in terms of the popularity of its characters, the stories told, and the exciting ways that the developers keep it relevant and modern so that they can please both old and new fans. Just like Pokemon, new characters are added to the Final Fantasy franchise every couple of years, which are eventually introduced to the TCG. As long as these new characters continue to be wildly popular with fans, those participating in the FF TCG will continue to show passion for the cards.
Solid Mechanics –
As previously mentioned, the FF TCG went through an evolutionary stage, polishing off an already fantastic game. This has resulted in the game mechanics being incredibly solid with tiered levels of strategy. This means that new players won’t feel overwhelmed, while more advanced players can stay on top of the meta.
What is more, the Starter Decks of the FF TCG are extremely straightforward to pick up and use, even having two players sets that allow friends to try out the TCG together. Power creeps exist in all TCGs across the board, especially the older a game gets. When it comes to the FF TCG, they have managed to control the power creep very well, with no huge leaps between sets. When it comes to the Starter Decks, the older ones can still compete with the newer ones, or at the very least, not get completely annihilated.
The decision to drop the ‘Opus’ number of the sets after Opus XIV is another sign that Square Enix wants to welcome new people, as having set numbers on the booster boxes can be daunting for new players and collectors who feel pressured to catch up.
With most top TCGs, sets go out of print after a certain amount of time. In the case of the FF TCG, they rarely do. This means that those looking to collect a certain set won’t have to pay over the odds to obtain the boosters. This also means that the FF TCG market is far more balanced and fair when it comes to buying singles. This allows competitive players to keep up with the current meta without breaking the bank and keeps the game healthy and more about skill, rather than giving an edge to those who can afford hugely inflated prices. A healthy TCG will always remain popular until fans are given a reason to boycott it.
On July 4th, the biggest World of Warcraft streamer, Asmongold, decided to give Final Fantasy XIV a try after his fans recommended it. Asmongold was delightfully surprised to find that he loved the game and its mechanics, despite having concerns about his lack of experience with the Final Fantasy franchise. At the end of the stream, Asmongold tells his viewers that the stream was most likely his highest viewed one ever. This is an incredibly good sign, showing that the FF TCG community is extremely active and supportive of the game.
World of Warcraft creator, Blizzard Entertainment, has recently been criticised by fans for the writing and execution of their most recent expansion, Shadowlands. When looking at Final Fantasy XIV, the storytelling aspects seem far more complete and less lost in the narrative. This, along with Asmongold’s switch to the MMO, has caused many players to give Final Fantasy XIV a try. In fact, many claim that Final Fantasy XIV has ‘beat’ World of Warcraft this year, although director Naoki Yoshida has modestly refused the claim.
Regardless of Yoshida’s thoughts, the fact that Square Enix has now sold out of digital codes for their game is completely unprecedented and proves that the popularity of Final Fantasy has skyrocketed. This shift in opinion is huge for the MMO space, as World of Warcraft has ruled supreme for the last 17 years. With a large chunk of the FF TCG’s popularity being credited to fans of the video games, a massive influx of new players is expected as more and more people discover the Final Fantasy franchise for the first time.
Swapping from World of Warcraft to Final Fantasy XIV is also interesting because of the age of the players. The average age of a World of Warcraft player is 28, with fans of the Final Fantasy video game series and the TCG being around the same age, especially for those who grew up with the franchise since the early days of the video game series. This age bracket will make it perfect for new fans of the online MMO to also dip their toe in the FF TCG series, as the game seems to steer toward older players.
Nostalgia Is King –
Nostalgia plays an incredibly big part in the popularity and longevity of a TCG. This can be seen with TCGs based on animes from the 2000s, such as Dragon Ball, Digimon, Yu-gi-oh! and Pokemon. Being able to reconnect to our childhood in an evolved format is incredibly appealing, especially for those who are in their late twenties and now have more of a disposable income to indulge in a game like FF TCG. Popular characters introduced and developed throughout these long-lasting series, such as Goku, Pikachu and Cloud, for example, will always ignite a person’s passion for their favourite childhood franchise, no matter how many years have passed.
As long as Square Enix continues to do a fantastic job of combining both legacy and modern characters within their sets, there will always be something for all Final Fantasy fans within the FF TCG, regardless of when they were first introduced to the franchise.
Opus XIV will be the next exciting chapter for the FF TCG series, which is set to release on August 6th worldwide. If you would like to learn more about the cards coming with the 14th Opus, or would like to see which cards are ranked the highest in terms of rarity throughout the entire game, head over to Anthos, the ultimate database for the Final Fantasy TCG.
Mathew Parkes – Ludkins Media
Have a story? Let us know