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"It's really more of a 'trading card activity,' or 'trading card goings-on.' Because the word 'game' implies fun and enjoyment."
—Strong Bad, Homestar Runner
A merchandising trope, this applies to the fact that long-lasting franchises of popular shows, movies, comics etc. will sooner or later end up creating and selling a Trading Card Game based on it. Usually, these games fail in contrast to those trading card games that are made for the trading card game's sake. Often tied to works of fiction of Japanese origins.
Not all TCGs based on existing franchises are 'lame' though - a number of them are quite fun to play. Others, Your Mileage May Vary on.
A related trope is the phenomenon, prior to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, wherein many non-videogame companies had a Gaming division. The Problem with Licensed Games applies very well to both. May be exacerbated due to CCG Importance Dissonance.
Based on Anime & Manga
- The Dragon Ball franchise has been in four completely different TCGs.
- The first was in a set of the Ani-Mayhem game, which used material from several Pioneer-licensed anime. As mentioned below, the overpowered brokenness of the Dragonball Z set might be responsible for that game's failure.
- Score Entertainment then made a Dragonball Z game - and later a compatible Dragon Ball GT game - that enjoyed solid success for several years, in spite of poor game balance that tried to reflect the story too closely.
- After going through the whole anime series, Score started over with a similar yet completely incompatible game, while immediately abandoning all support for the previous one, rendering the collections of their faithful customers worthless. Critics reluctantly admitted it was a better game, but everybody was so burned by the company that the new game completely failed.
- Currently Bandai is making one, using shared rules with the Naruto game. So theoretically...
- One Piece
- The long-running Gundam franchise has had two CCGs in its time. At the height of its popularity in the West, Bandai made Gundam MS War, which died quickly due to poorly thought-out mechanics and limited scope (only really covering the original series and Wing). A few years later they tried again, this time taking the pre-existing (not to mention better-designed and much more successful) Japanese game Gundam War and translating the cards into English. Unfortunately, by that point the franchise was on its last legs in the West and Bandai Just Didn't Care, releasing cards with terrible translations and Engrish, eventually pulling support after only two expansion sets despite the fact that the game had a cult following.
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has Bankett!.
- Sailor Moon
- Fruits Basket
- Bleach TCG
- Digimon had 3 TCGs in America, and has had at least four in Japan - the newest two of which are currently being produced at the same time. The first of the Japanese TCGs became a Canon Immigrant in Digimon Tamers, which was intended to come from a more 'real-world' perspective where Digimon is a media franchise.
- Even Berserk got this treatment. Which the Abridged Series mocks.
- Detective Conan
- Shaman King
- Ani-Mayhem was one of the first anime-themed card games, as well as one of the first multi-license card games (predating Vs System and others). The base set included Ranma ½, Tenchi Muyo!, El Hazard, and Bubblegum Crisis (the original). The first expansion had Project A-ko, Phantom Quest Corp, Armitage III, Dominion Tank Police, and a couple from Ah! My Goddess. The second and final expansion focused entirely on Dragonball Z, and is often credited with sinking the game by destroying any sense of balance.
- Initial D had a short-lived card game in the US, made by AEG, the company that handled the City of Heroes CCG.
- Death Note has one exclusive to Japan.
- Beyblade - That's right, in case you couldn't play with cheap, spinning tops, you can play a slow and incredibly expensive card game!
- Yu-Gi-Oh!, which is actually quite popular and pretty fun to play.
- With Yu-Gi-Oh!, it helps that the original source material is about a TCG based on Magic: The Gathering. The primary differences between the two are that in the show it's called Duel Monsters and Screw the Rules I Have Plot is the order of the day.
- Likewise, Duel Masters, sadly no longer going outside of Japan. Starting with the first expansion, the flavor text of the cards began receiving the same sort of Gag Dub treatment as the show, which made opening up a booster pack especially satisfying.
Based on Comic Books
- The VS System, a TCG built around comic books, primarily those of Marvel and DC, that was reasonably successful for a while.
- There were at least two earlier attempts to make a comic book TCG: Overpower (Marvel, then DC) and ReCharge (Marvel only).
- Make it three, lest we forget the Edutainment card game Genio, with Marvel superheroes involved.
- There were at least two earlier attempts to make a comic book TCG: Overpower (Marvel, then DC) and ReCharge (Marvel only).
Based on Film
- Both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings got one when the movies came out.
- Monty Python and The Holy Grail had a Collectible Card Game, put out by Kenzer and Company.
- This game is remembered even among non-fans for the presence of the "Get On With It!" card. When played, it obligates another player to stop wasting time thinking and actually make a play. More games should have this card. All games should have this card.
- Which was actually a pretty good game; it mostly died because Thunder Castle's release speed for new cards was positively glacial.
- Funny enough, the Kingdom Hearts CCG mentioned above has an optional rule set named this, where you can only have one copy of any level card (IE, one Level 1 Donald Duck, one Level 2 Donald Duck, etc) aside from Traverse Town.
- There is a new edition of the Highlander CCG, although distribution is limited.
- There have been at least four Star Wars TCGs in the past.
- The first one, Decipher's Star Wars Customizable Card Game, consistently ranked #2 in popularity, behind only Magic: The Gathering.
- ...But then Decipher cashed in and made some crap spinoffs, Jedi Knights and Young Jedi.
- The original stuff still sells though, even with being out of print. It has a cult following so great some of the "best sets" can sell booster and deck packs for at least the $80-100 they would have cost in their hay day.
- Then Lucas Arts cashed in by taking the license away from Decipher and giving it to Wizards Of The
CrapCoast, which created a TCG for Episode II as a Revenue Enhancing Device. It barely made it to Episode III.
- There was also the Star Wars Pocketmodel CSG (Constructable Strategy Game). It wasn't that bad before it got to the Clone Wars expansions...
- Austin Powers CCG. Really.
- Decipher and Wot C have both jumped on as many Intellectual Properties as they could. Wizards had a WCW game once, for heaven's sake.
- There's an Army of Darkness card game. There was something seriously wrong with it, as it was way too easy to win without really doing anything. It doesn't help that the instructions are written the way Ash talks.
- Decipher released a Massive Multiplayer Crossover CCG called Fight Klub based on one-on-one fights between famous movie characters. Jigsaw versus Hannibal Lecter, Mr Blond versus Ash, John Rambo versus RoboCop, Chev Chelios versus Scott McCoy, Tank Girl versus Sil, and more. How could this be anything but awesome? Complicated rules obfuscating simplistic gameplay, online-only distribution, and pyramid-scheme-style enticement bonuses, that's how.
Based on Literature
- A successful Middle-Earth CCG came out long before the Lord of the Rings movies.
- A Song of Ice and Fire has a spinoff card game, called Game Of Thrones. When first released, it was a fairly traditional CCG, with base decks augmented by booster packs. Starting in 2007, though, it converted to what the makers call a "LCG", or Living Card Game. A $40 starter set will get use the starting decks for four main Houses, with additional sets for players wanting to play as other Houses or with expanded options for one of the 'core' Houses (Stark, Banatheron, Lannister, and Targaryen). Since then, though, the makers have released monthly "chapter" packs: Basically 60-card booster packs with identical contents to eliminate random collections, arrayed in six chapter arcs built around a general theme or region, much like M:tG's card block system. One of the longest lasting card games on the market aside from M:tG and the Pokemon CCG, in continuous production since 2002.
- The Wheel of Time, using the same engine and mechanics as Babylon 5.
- Hyborian Gates, based off Robert E. Howard's writings, features 100% recycled Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell art.
- A literary trilogy almost 20 years old seems the least likely candidate for merchandising collectibles, but Steve Jackson made INWO based on the Illuminatus series. The Church of the Sub Genius, already a merchandise-based parody religion, jumped on the bandwagon to be included as a "secret society" in an expansion.
Based on Live Action TV
- Doctor Who has now had three; one released in 1996 which only made it to one set, and two kiddie-orientated new series tie-ins.
- WWE Raw Deal.
- WCW Nitro came out at pretty much the same time, but was doomed by the fact that it released shortly before the death of the WCW.
- 24 has one, of all things. Doomed by an odd premier release (Starters first, boosters two months later) and released during the '07-'08 WGA Strike, the only season skipped in 24's 8-season run.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The X-Files
- Both ironically and appropriately, the basic mechanics of the X-Files CCG were also used for a Scooby Doo CCG.
- In Japan, there's a Super Sentai trading card game called "Rangers Strike", which eventually expanded out and added Kamen Rider and Metal Heroes.
Based on Tabletop Non-Card Games
- The BattleTech CCG made by Magic: The Gathering creator, Richard Garfield, maybe? It saw about half a dozen expansion sets and a revamp of the main set (Commander's Edition) before folding. By CCG standards, that's fairly respectable.
- Even then, its folding was caused by FASA's buyout by Decipher, a rival to Wizards of the Coast who were releasing the CCG.
- A list of collectible card games on The Other Wiki has many more examples, including Aliens vs. Predator, Babylon 5 and The Wheel of Time (listed together because they actually used the same engine, so you could pit Sheridan against Rand al'Thor), James Bond and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- There were three Trading Card games based on Old World of Darkness table-top RPGs.
- First Jyhad, which was canceled and revived as Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, which is still going (but largely only available through White Wolf's website). This is based on Vampire: The Masquerade.
- Then an entirely separate game, Rage, based on Werewolf: The Apocalypse. This was published by two separate companies with two separate rulesets, one of which continues to receive fan expansions.
- Lastly, there was Arcadia, based on Changeling: The Dreaming.
- Deadlands had the Doomtown CCG, which had a decidedly niche fandom. The plot and setting were unique, and later ported over to Weird West canon. Perhaps best of all, every card in the CCG had a rank and suit--just like playing cards--so they could also be used for poker, or with the tabletop game as the mystical Huckster's spellslinging or a general initiative deck.
- Net Runner technically falls into this category, since its background drew upon R. Talsorian Games's Cyberpunk 2020 role-playing setting (despite the game itself being produced by Wizards of the Coast). Of course, even at the time that was arguably a fairly obscure property... (The game itself was pretty solidly designed, by the way, just sadly short-lived.)
- Rifts had a short-lived game, but when they came out with their new "half-edition", they actually took a lot of the original artwork and blew it up into quarter- to full-page spreads in the new rulebook.
- Acknowledging its failure, Palladium would later have a joke contest; what to do with 50,000 Rifts CCG cards. Which was how many the company had in storage after the CCG failed.
- Spell Fire, a hastily put together CCG based on Dungeons and Dragons and mostly reused art, created by TSR to cash in on the Magic fad while it lasted. Three years later, TSR went bankrupt and was bought by WOTC, the creators of Magic... but not before being reduced to using photos of TSR employees in extremely crude costumes as card "art."
Based on Video Games
- Kingdom Hearts had its own GBA game which incorporated cards. Huh.
- And then Square Enix saw fit to remake this game for the Play Station 2 as part of one of its Japanese rerelease packages, and even exported said remake as a standalone release in North America.
- It also had a very short lived TCG, while the translators, Fantasy Flight Games, teased of the fifth set, which would have been Japan's Sixth and Seventh Set, including whatever promos respective to that set. Which is very irritating to some people who wanted a Halloween Town themed deck, which was worthless without the Japanese cards, and the only Oogie Boogie card in the English series discarded Jack Skellington, the entire premise of the deck, from play.
- There was also a Sim City CCG.
- In the same genre, later versions of Civilization IV came bundled with their self-made CCG.
- .hack also had one.
- .hack//GU had an in-universe one, Crimson VS, that was made into an out-of-universe one, .hack//GU The Card Battle, which had different rules but could also be played as if it were Crimson VS.
- World of Warcraft has a TCG with rules loosely inspired by Magic: The Gathering. Interestingly, even people who hate the MMO enjoy the TCG, and it has a strong following.
- City of Heroes developed one, and released initial card sets, through the project got dropped well before it could be called complete (the player base has continued development somewhat). It did have one noteworthy feature, a website app and proxying rule which allowed players to generate and print tournament-legal cards representing their characters.
- The Mega Man Battle Network series had a TCG, made by Decipher, which lasted less than a year.
- It really didn't help that a card game based on a license which involved the combatants attacking each other with digital weaponry had only one way to win the game... by decking your opponent.
- Final Fantasy, of course, has a card game based on its series; Lord of Vermillion uses iconic monsters from the series, and marries traditional card gameplay with a video game interface (similar to Sony's The Eye of Judgment.) The sequel also includes characters from Final Fantasy IV, IX, and Romancing SaGa, along with guest fighters from Magic: The Gathering, Blaz Blue, The King of Fighters, and Sangokushi Taisen.
- They also produced a paper version of the Triple Triad game played within Final Fantasy VIII.
- Yarudora series vol.3: Sampaguita has a Trading Card Collection set. It uses the Good End 2 route as the canon storyline, with Good End 3, Normal End 2, Bad End 1, and Bad End 9 as Parallel Stories.
- Fire Emblem had a TCG Japan, covering from Monsho no Nazo through to Thracia 776.
- Touhou has one. In true Touhou fashion, it's actually named Rumbling Spell Orchestra.
- There's also the more recent Touhou Ginfuritsu, from the company that make Lycee TCG.
- Even Wing Commander had one, made by Margaret Weis, who also took the opportunity to make a CCG of her own IP, Star of the Guardians. Outside of a few "hardcore" fans neither was received well.
- Madden NFL has "Ultimate Team" mode, which is a TCG within the game (but for real money of course).
- Deserving special mention are Kamen Rider Battle: Ganbaride and Super Sentai Battle: Dice-O, games based off of two legendary Toku franchises that are played using arcade machines. In fact, each franchise has a series (Kamen Rider Decade and Tensou Sentai Goseiger respectively) that really carry the Merchandise-Driven aspect to the endzone: in both shows, the protagonists' Transformation Trinkets run off of modified versions of the game cards; Decade's Trinket is modeled off of part of the game console (which was changed to match up with Kamen Rider OOO), while the Goseiger have a Dice-O arcade cabinet that turns into a Robot Buddy and Humongous Mecha.
- The online card game Tyrant was based of the Facebook game War Metal.
- Pokémon, of course. The Pokemon card game was popular enough to inspire a (two actually) video game based on the card game... based on the video game.
Based on Western Animation
- Avatar: The Last Airbender and Pirates of the Caribbean each had one, and they were based on the QuickStrike system. So you could face, say, Katara against Will Turner...
- Also, the Shamman King card game is a "not officially recognized" QuickStrike, meaning you could have a battle between Chocolove, Sokka and Jack Sparrow.
- On this theme, Universal Fighting System has sets based on different Fighting Games, including Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, Soul Calibur and, oddly, Penny Arcade...
- Does the Penny Arcade deck have a "Fear Engine" card? Because if not, someone somewhere failed epically.
- In the same vein, we also had Epic Battles, which focused on Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Tekken.
- Ben 10 CCG
- Teen Titans TCG
- Xiaolin Showdown TCG
- Let's not forget the Geek Fight.
- Goes beyond shows, movies and games: A company called Cactus Game Design produces the card game Redemption - based off of the Bible.
- Also an example of The Moral Substitute.
- So God really does play games of random chance?
- Yes, but never with dice.
- Don't tell God what to do with His dice.
- Yes, but never with dice.
- Dragon Booster. Like pretty much everything associated with that show, it was poorly distributed.
- Super Deck
- SpongeBob SquarePants had one in 2001, based on the first season. The goal was to get customers to the Krusty Krab.
- Justin Bieber. No, really.
- There is a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers card game, but its rules tend to make little sense. The designers seem to fail to appreciate that resource systems are more about time than actual resources.
- Transformers had at least two, both primarily based on the live-action movies. The first was a "3D Battle-Card Game" that fell squarely into this trope: characters were represented as punch-out buildable cards that could either be built as vehicles/animals or out-of-proportion Off-Model robots (here's Optimus, for those interested), and the game could easily be played without the card models. Only two sets were released. The second is a more traditional TCG, currently exclusive to Japan; time will tell whether it'll be more successful.
- The Cosplay website "American Cosplay Paradise" parodies this phenomenon with its "American Cosplay Duel" game, originally intended as an April Fool's joke. The game represents making/wearing costumes and entering them in masquerades, and can technically be considered a multi-license game, except Lelouch isn't the real Lelouch, and Haruhi isn't the real Haruhi, and... well, you get the picture...
- Making TCG out of existing works is one half of Bushiroad's business, the other half is making anime, which then may or may not be made into TCG. Wait a second.... Derivative TCG from Bushiroad includes:
- Weiss Schwarz, which pits Cool anime characters versus Cute anime characters. Averted No Export for You, so far this seems to be the most successful amongst Bushiroad's non-original TCG. Cool characters come from series such as Black Rock Shooter and Fate/Zero, while Cute characters come from series such as Lucky Star and Zero no Tsukaima.
- Sunday vs. Magazine TCG, which pits characters from manga serialized in Weekly Shounen Sunday versus character from manga serialized in Weekly Shounen Magazine. Detective Conan versus Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, anyone?
- Victory Spark, which pits attractive female characters against each others. Has characters from Mayoi Neko Overrun, To Love Ru, and Hanasaku Iroha; the full list is somewhat long.
- †ALICE†, which is the same thing except with Bishounen series. Female characters are on the "Queen" side, male characters are on the "Joker" side. Has characters from Hakuouki, Togainu no Chi, and Junjou Romantica, for example.
- Chaos TCG, which seems to be focused on Visual Novel. Include characters from VN companies such as Nitroplus and Visual Arts, but also Anime such as Strike Witches and Ikki Tousen.
- Bushiroad also make non-gaming Trading Card for several series, this includes Clannad and Persona Trinity Soul.
- The Simpsons TCG, made by Wizards of the Coast. The goal here is not combat, but to create a setting with characters suited for that location. Despite everything about the premise suggesting it would fall on its face, those who've played it say it's very fun.
- Alice Cross