Upper Deck is building on its success with Yu-Gi-Oh! to attempt to become a powerhouse in non-sports cards and collectible card games. In addition to cards based on Ang Lee's Hulk film
(see 'Upper Deck To Do Hulk Trading Cards
'), the company is in the process of putting together a new Marvel Universe CCG.
The initial starter and booster pack products are scheduled for July, with a booster pack expansion product planned for December.
In spite of a wealth of spectacular images and iconographic potential, previous Marvel CCGs have been not been successful. Fleer's Marvel CCG started out hot but died out quickly, while Recharge, the version created under the aegis of current Marvel COO Bill Jemas was a near total flop. Will Upper Deck be able to succeed where others have failed? A spokesman for a leading game distributor was cautiously optimistic, 'It's a property with lots of potential -- and they can't help but do a lot better than Recharge.'
Upper Deck promises a 'strong game design that is easy to learn and provides depth of play.' The latter comment could well be a veiled reference to Recharge, which was roundly criticized for its simplistic game mechanics . In addition to improving the game play, the key to Upper Deck's strategy for its Marvel Universe CCG is creating multiple levels of rarity including super-rare and ultra-rare foil cards to enhance the collectibility aspect of the game.
Upper Deck plans to support its Marvel Universe CCG with advertisements and marketing support in Marvel Comics as part of a comprehensive print campaign for the product. Even more importantly, Upper Deck plans to provide plenty of organized play and demo team support for local game stores, which will feed into a large-scale nationwide tournament structure. In-store gaming has proven to be the key element in the marketing of most recent CCG and CMG hits (see 'The Ins and Outs of In-Store Gaming, Pt. I' and 'Part II').