Master Duel draws a new era for the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise


Dominik Perez

“Yu-Gi-Oh!: Master Duel” has grabbed the attention of people across the globe. The game immediately garnered immense popularity and introduced the classic trading card game to an entirely new generation. Will the online popularity of the game draw new eyes to the game played in game stores like Win Condition and communities around the world, or will it remain a niche shadow of its former self?

Dominik Perez, Entertainment Editor

Master Duel draws a new era for the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise

Duelists from every corner of the globe coalesced online on January 19 for the release of “Yu-Gi-Oh!: Master Duel“. The game immediately made waves, becoming one of the most played games on Steam within its first two weeks of launch, and dominating streaming sites like Twitch for weeks after its debut. The game’s successful adaptation of the titular card game into a virtual format, and the surprising amount of support from its developer, Konami, have allowed more people than ever before to fully enjoy Yu-Gi-Oh!. 

Master Duel has brought back interest to the game which had remained somewhat stagnant in terms of players for the past couple of years. The card game, while still popular, peaked in popularity years ago, and card shops and tournaments began to see fewer and fewer new players. The new video game garnered the attention of countless new players, ranging from millennials nostalgic for their once favorite card game, to young players who may not have heard of Yu-Gi-Oh! prior to the game’s release. This new attention has led popular content creators in the community to speak out about the future of both the trading card game(TCG) and Master Duel.

“Yu-Gi-Oh! is literally having its platinum age right now. We’ve been getting sick new merch drops, Master Duel has been a huge success, the community is growing and there’s more interest in the game than I’ve ever seen,” popular youtube channel Team Aps said.

While the effects of Konami’s support for the franchise make itself apparent in online spaces like Twitter, they have begun to extend out into the real world as card shops begin to see an influx of new faces showing interest in the physical game thanks to Master Duel. These firm communities of long-time players would see new players every now and then, but their local scenes have started to shake up as new players find themselves a place within the community.

“I’ve had a lot more people come in [since Master Duel came out] that I haven’t seen before asking about Yu-Gi-Oh! packs and when we have tournaments. I’ve gotten phone calls asking when tournaments are happening at a much higher volume than before… We’re getting a lot more new people now, 2-3 people at an event. I’m not saying they’re coming back, but they’re at least trying out paper Yu-Gi-Oh!. Per event that is very good,” manager of the local game store, Win Condition, Sean Mogelgaard said.

This resurgence in interest did not arise simply because of Master Duel’s existence. The game owes its popularity to the attention and care put into it and the seemingly endless amount of support the developers have given it. It sticks out amongst countless virtual card games and simulators, like Arena for Magic the Gathering, for its accessibility to players not wanting to spend any money. A common criticism of the TCG comes from potential players and hobbyists alike disapproving of the undeniably high cost of entry to the hobby. A handful of staple cards, cards commonly played due to their power and ease of use, can cost as much as $42 dollars. Master Duel has entirely circumvented this problem by providing a version of the game where players can run essentially any deck they like for a fraction of the cost, or no cost at all.

“As of recently, I [mostly] play Master Duel simply because of the affordability. Master Duel is significantly more affordable when compared to looking for traditional decks and purchasing packs just to get a card you don’t need. [The game] has done a lot for newcomers by letting them ease into the game by allowing them to battle AI and easily access decks… I’m happy to see more people become invested in the game and I hope that continued support for it keeps bringing in newcomers,” senior Cameron Price said.

In terms of support, Konami has exceeded expectations by constantly releasing updates to address issues in the game, giving out prizes to players for community milestones such as receiving over 10 million downloads, and planning special events for players to participate in. The company plans to start the first major event on February 17, and let it run until February 24. The Xyz Festival will see players utilizing exclusively Xyz type monsters in their extra deck in order to add a refreshing twist to the card game and inspire creativity in deck building.

It would seem that now makes for a better time than ever for aspiring duelists to join in on the fun, whether through Master Duel or by joining their local communities at their nearest game shop. For players in the Kennesaw area, Win Condition serves as a welcoming place for newbies and veterans alike to gather and share their passion for the card game. This sudden growth shows no signs of stopping as the Yu-Gi-Oh! community welcomes new members in droves and Konami continues to support the most accessible format of the game to date.