Wizards of the Coast has announced that it will launch its highly anticipated Duel Masters collectible card game (CCG) in March 2004. Duel Masters occupies the number one spot in toy and game sales in Japan, and its number one ranking over the past eight months demonstrates the same dominance in these categories enjoyed by Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh in previous years. WotC will support its launch of the Duel Masters CCG with a 15-city 'mall tour' offering learn-to-play clinics and tournaments for all ages and levels of players, but other factors including the placement and success of the Duel Masters TV series may play the determining role in the impending struggle for CCG supremacy.
Duel Masters, which all about battling monsters or 'Kaijudo,' is a multi-media phenomenon, and WotC's release of the Duel Masters CCG is just one piece of the puzzle. Dreamwave Productions is launching a Duel Masters comic, the first issue of which will be bagged with five game cards (see 'Duel Masters #1 Includes 5 Different Game Cards'). Hasbro (WotC's parent company) will also release Duel Masters action figures and Atari is prepping a Duel Masters Gameboy game. The real key to making Duel Masters a major CCG phenomenon like Yu-Gi-Oh is the Duel Masters anime series, which should get major US TV exposure in 2004 -- a major announcement concerning the Duel Masters TV series will be made shortly. Will Duel Masters eventually supplant Yu-Gi-Oh in the US as it has in Japan? A lot depends on the success of the TV series. Like Yu-Gi-Oh, Duel Masters is targeted at a slightly older demographic than Pokemon and features more frightening monsters and excellent fantasy-inspired art.