The ICv2 Awards are the on-line continuation of a tradition that began in Internal Correspondence, the print predecessor of ICv2, over a decade ago. These awards are given as a way of reflecting on the events of the year and to draw some conclusions from them. They're based entirely on the business impact of events on retailers, as determined by the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Game Company of the Year -- WizKids
With the continuation of its hit Mage Knight franchise and the launch of three new collectible miniature games in 2002, WizKids earned our Game Company of the Year Award by generating big sales for pop culture stores in the CMG category it created. WizKids began the year with strong momentum from a great year in 2001, when its success with Mage Knight, the first CMG, was our top game story of the year (see 'Top Game Stories of 2001'). It followed up by shipping three new licensed games based on major pop culture properties. First up was Marvel HeroClix, probably its biggest launch of the year due to the strength of the underlying properties and helped along by the connection to the biggest movie of the year (see 'Marvel HeroClix Shipping in Waves'). Next was Mechwarrior: Dark Age, based on the old FASA Battletech property. The CMG treatment of this venerable battling mech property debuted strong (see 'Mechwarrior Dark Age CMG is Lights Out'), due in part to a marketing campaign that's a finalist for a Toy Industry of America marketing award (see 'WizKids Nominated for Marketing Award'). And in September, WizKids released its second comic-based CMG, DC HeroClix, which also generated strong sales (see 'WizKids Releases DC HeroClix Sales Figures').
Along the way, WizKids built a league, demo, and tournament program that generates over 10,000 gaming events a month, probably the largest in the industry, and doubled its sales over 2001 (see 'WizKids Monthly Events Top 10,000'). Congratulations, WizKids, on a great 2002.
Game Product of the Year -- Yu Gi Oh! Trading Card Game
One of our first game stories of 2002 was the news that Upper Deck had scored a major coup by signing a license for the CCG that had been bigger than Pokemon in Japan (see 'Upper Deck Gets Yu Gi Oh CCG'). The first shipments of the product in March were allocated (see 'Upper Deck Allocates Yu Gi Oh'), portending supply-demand imbalances that continued for months after the initial release of the product. Demand was so high that sell-outs were common and prices spiked well above the MSRP (see 'Yu Gi Oh Is White Hot!').
By summer, the New York Times reported that Upper Deck sales of the Yu Gi Oh CCG hit $17 million in the second quarter of the year (see 'U.S. Yu Gi Oh CCG Sales Hit $17 Million in Second Quarter'), making it Upper Deck's largest line -- larger than baseball cards. Sales at this level undoubtedly make Yu Gi Oh the biggest game product introduction in years, probably the biggest since Pokemon. By the end of the year, supply problems had eased and most pop culture retailers were receiving adequate supplies to meet demand. Sales also appear brisk in other channels, and Yu Gi Oh made many lists of the hottest toy products for Christmas. With a full year of sales ahead and TV ratings for the anime at consistently high levels, Yu Gi Oh is set for an even better year in 2003.
For part 2 of the ICv2 2002 Game Awards, see 'ICv2 2002 Game Awards, Part 2.'