Prof-It! Episode 54: A Bigger Game, Part 2

After nearly a month of wait, part 2-of my series on expanding the game is here! Enjoy if you’re interested in this topic, and if not you can tune in next week for more traditional strategy stuff. Thanks for watching!

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Reader Interactions

26 replies

  1. Joshua Pikka

    Im not sure if we aren’t happy enough with what is going on now.  Sure TPCI is slow, inefficient, and clumsy; but so are most companies these days.  I don’t think having to pay to play this game is going to help things all too much.  If we wanted to play a game like Magic, we would play Magic, Pokemon has always been known as a gentler card game.  Its nice to have this discusiion, but I kinda think people are content with how things are right now. 

    • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → Joshua

      ‘If we wanted to play a game like Magic, we would play Magic’

      Agree with this. There isn’t one ideal way of doing a TCG that will please everyone. It’s nice to have a choice. Pokemon caters to a much wider audience than other TCGs.

      If you want entry fees and big cash prizes, there is MTG

      If you enjoy stacking and having your stuff stolen, there is YGO

      Pokemon isn’t perfect and there’s lots of ways it could be improved, but that doesn’t necessarily involve being more like something else.

      • Chase Nieman  → Jak

        While I do agree with you to an extent, I don’t think that is what is being said. I think of it more as this would be great and here is how someone else is doing it effectively, not Pokemon should be more like Magic.

    • Anonymous  → Joshua

      I get the Magic is Magic line of thinking.

      I just don’t buy it. There are certainly some of us (myself included) that LOVE the game play and mechanics of Pokemon much more than MTG. However, I would love to have some more competitive tournaments with real money on the line because of my competitive nature. We ultimately choose the more enjoyable game over the prize support, but why should we have to?

      There is no reason why we cannot have both official premier events just the way they are now, and on the side have a more heavily supported prize circuit.

      The premier events would retain their titles (Regional Champ, National Champ, World Champ, etc.) and there would be more money events for people who want that.

      I think that both would still get significant numbers (or at least numbers similar to current numbers) because people want the prestige of winning official tournaments, and they would be appreciative of the chance to make a little money on the side.

      If you don’t like the more intense competitive/professional scene that money tournaments would supply, then just don’t go.

      • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → Anonymous

        That last line is just the inverse of ‘if you don’t like the nature and Prize structure of Pokemon as it is, don’t go’.

        People who are competitive by nature don’t need big Prizes to get them to compete. They do it anyway.

        The big cash prize way of thinking just seems so totally out of step with the vision that Pokemon has for the game that it’s almost certainly academic anyway. Though I imagine there is absolutely nothing stopping people from organising private big money Pokemon tournaments. If the demand is out there, I’m sure they will.

        • Anonymous  → Jak

          I get that competitive people play regardless of the prize support. But it would be much more intense, therefore more competitive, if there were some tournaments with more money on the line. Competitive people normally want to compete on the biggest stage.

          If there is an option to create another big stage in Pokemon, why not?

          I do agree that it is not likely that Pokemon sets up an alternative circuit because it is not what they want. That does not make discussion about an alternative circuit (maybe from a 3rd party) bad in any way.

          As for the game, I’m not unhappy with the game. You do not have to be unhappy with the game to desire it to grow. You can be perfectly happy with it and still want to improve. Happiness and desire for growth/improvement/etc are not mutually exclusive.

      • Joshua Pikka  → Anonymous

        if all people felt like you did, then it would be nice if it were done.  I’m just guessing that you are in a very small list of players who want pokemon to be magic. 

        I play Pokemon because the Pokemon are cool and because of the friends I met.  If I can make some money, I wouldn’t turn it down, but that’s not what Im here for.  Would I like to put money in the pot every tournament for a chance at winning some of it back, probably not unless that tournament only happens once or twice a year. 

        I think most pokemon players are casual like that and don’t want to sink money into something that isn’t their life.  And we return to the “Pokemon has a lot of kids in it” arguement, and say that kids aren’t going to spend a lot of money, so the rest of the players have to go along with the kids. 

        If you really want prizes there is magic, I know that you want to have your cake and eat it too, but I just don’t know if theres alot of cake eaters in the game right now.

        • Anonymous  → Joshua

          I don’t want Pokemon to be Magic. It seems that I play Pokemon for the same reasons you do.

          My only point it that there is nothing wrong with opening an alternative circuit with bigger prize support. There is virtually no down side to having both the current premier structure and an alternative structure. By doing both you serve a more “needs” or “wants” without affecting people like the kids, casual gamers, etc.

          As for the number of people. You don’t think that if there was a tournament series that rotated through the country that paid $1500-2000 for first and paid out to 16th-ish and cost between $10 and $20, you would not get 300-500 players to show up? I absolutely think you would…

        • Steven Nilsen  → Anonymous

          I’m thinking how as a kid I paid that much to attend Minicon and it was in a nice place and 2000 people showed up paying about $40/ea = $80,000: then they hired out a hotel convention center, had sponsors and lots of people putting in untold unpaid hours to make it happen.  I’m even willing to bet Boiled in Lead played their 3 hour show for the fun of having an audience.  The invited guest were probably the biggest expense, like getting Gary Gygax to speak and they probably did it for a hotel room and comp meals.  After all, it is a hobbyist’s convention – not Boeing Aeronautical.  Ah, minicon, to be 16 and free from any parents eyes surrounded by strange adults getting loaded on “grog” and lots of other untold substances… 

          Back to topic.  While I’m really interested in this idea, my gut tells me its gonna be $40-$50/head just to have a payoff.  Think lottery odds.  Think ripping open a pack in hopes of Yanmega Prime being there and nothing else.  Yeah, I still think this will interest people.

        • Anonymous  → Steven

          I think that you have to keep it less than $30, likely no more than $20. But even at that, you could if 200 show you are looking at $4000. You give $1000 to the winner and then on average $120 to players 2-16. Then there is $1000 left over for “stuff.” I feel like this would be a good starting point.

          If you get 500 for $20, you have $10,000. then you could pay out like $2000 for first, and on average 350 to the top 16 and you would then have $2400 for stuff.

          I think that both of those results would easily be attainable.

          Heck we have 200+ for regionals where there is basically a $300 trip and two booster boxes on the line.

          Granted you could not hand out championship points, but i think you would still get people to come.

        • Steven Nilsen  → Anonymous

          I think you’re overlooking a HUGE aspect of the event.  A space.  Spaces are not free, at least not initially. I’ll start asking around at the gaming stores, locally, to find out what the small game conventions do about spaces.  The thing is, I want to hold this thing in a nice space.  NOT a swank space, just a nice space.  

        • Adam Capriola  → Anonymous

          The difference between $20 and $30 really isn’t that much considering these would most likely have to be 2 day events and many people would have to pay for lodging, food, and gas. It’s probably better to charge more so the prizes can be bigger. If you’re already spending $X just to get to the tournament, $X + 10 is pretty negligible.

          That said, I don’t know how many people would really show up. In the past, there were only 2 multi-day events per season (now with Regionals there are 4 I guess). I don’t know the average fall Regionals attendance this year, but let’s just assume maybe 300 people.

          How many of those 300 would pay to enter a cash tourny? It’s a huge change to have to pay for a tourny entry considering how much Pokemon has conditioned us to expect things to be free. I’m sure there are a lot of people who go to Regionals just for fun and don’t expect to win. If they had to pay to enter the tournament, they might not go. Of course, you might attract hardcore people from further away, but it’s so hard to guess until someone attempts this.

          Nationals or Worlds might be a good place to try running a cash event if there was a room available to use. You could maybe just run 16 man pods or something and have mini tournaments like that since trying to hold a huge tourny would be unlikely to work given time/space constraints. It would be like the equivalent of a Poker sit ‘n go.

        • Steven Nilsen  → Adam

          I made an escapade this morning on the phone.  Called around to find out that I could secure a nice conference room for 100 for about $1400 with insurance.  I found a local gaming store that would be much cheaper too.  Then, I was reminded, cash prizes with an entry fee is a form of gambling.  Bummer.  

          What if the prizes are booster boxes?  Well, then its a raffle and a raffle can be run with a permit.  Only, to get a permit, you need to be an operating non-profit for 2 years (in MA)….. so, uh, no.

          Well, maybe there’ll be a Pokemon invitational in MA two years from now.  For now, I can’t help.

      • Alex Holdway  → Anonymous

        I’m gonna have to agree with you here, bro. As a newish player with my first full season, I’m aiming for the invite to Worlds, and doing OK so far. 

        If it wasnt for that invite, I wouldn’t take the game so seriously and be so bummed out about when not doing well. And the thing is, ALL I’m aiming for is the Worlds invite. If Pokemon had these event where you could win cash prizes, or at least enough merch to make money out of it then the Worlds invite wouldn’t be such a big deal.

        Of course most players arent too fussed about prizes, and thats them; but I, and many others, are competitive players who may play Poker, bet on sports etc etc and want to win something for their time.

        What Josh is saying is right, Pokemon need to get their act together and start thinking about the players putting out weekends to get vital Cities points just to get the Worlds invite (with which we fork out X hunderd quid for a trans-atlantic flight!).

  2. Nicholas Inzeo

    I’m opening a store in NY with competitive tournaments with real money & prizes in 2012. for information

    I suffer from Moderate Chron’s so most Tournaments are out of reach & impossible to stay the whole time due to this condition.

  3. stephen shirley

    in the uk we have to pay for tournaments so i don’t see what the problem is about paying

  4. Anonymous

    I would love to open up one of these things.

    A few problems with my want: I’m 13, I lack money, and I do not have a location for this.

  5. beyblade1410

    The difference is simple: Pokemon is a kids game and is played by kids and adults. Magic is adults only which is more competitive due to player access. As a 13 year old my parents don’t like driving to tournaments while magic players just drive. Its the age of the game that makes Pokemon Pokemon. Its a kids game which makes it less competitive. 

  6. Steven Nilsen

    There’s clearly demand.  As a senior with some time and interest in providing an enjoyable experience for more adult players, I think that Josh has it right.  Now, I’m not in the best position to capitalize on this idea.  I’ve never staged a convention, but if 200-300 people entered, wouldn’t this work?  A decent sized room at a hotel and one/two days of play.  It’s just like running a little “con”, however, I’ve never done that.
    First, just figure out what would be needed.  Then advertise and make it plain and simple that if enough people commit (verbally) then the plan would move forward.  I’d guess 5-6 people need to form a little company to be at the head of it all, ready to put the money and suck up potential losses.  The thing about it is that it is a card game and could be thus construed as gambling, so something would have to be done to look into this too.It can’t be that hard.  There’s a laundry list of things you have to do, but seriously, it can’t be that hard.Do it once and then you know if it can work.  IMO, Pokemon attracts plenty of players who would do this – they’re willing to drop $300/year in cards, travel to tournaments… yah, there’s $ in the community and I’m sure that they would love some cash prize competitions.  There may have to be an 18+ age restriction, but that would be for the best.  This is for the long term fans and they will stick with it much longer if they had this sort of tournament to attend.  I can’t see why Pokemon wouldn’t have anything but increased revenue from this undertaking, so if they even had a legal stake in this (and perhaps this is where rewriting the rules a little is essential), which I doubt, what would cause them to get in the way?PM me if you want to hash it out – I would love to find out just how excellent this idea is.

  7. Mike v

    the thing im annoyed about is the championship points and how the ratings are. They never mention  like how  many you need for worlds if its an absurd amount why  waste my time traveling everywhere when the prizes arent even good either .i do think they should give prize support through top 8. i think they should give out pokemon playmat if you top 8 or top cut.

  8. Curtis

    I have the venue and means to start an outside tournament, they simply don’t have the money to offer as a cash prize. Also, I’ve had trouble recruiting players for their “tournaments” (Which are really just free-play mini-Leagues if you will. We’ve never had more than 6 people and never given out prizes.) If I could get this place (Ooples Apparel in San Antonio, Texas. Saturdays at 4pm, for those interested) running, maybe something like this could pick up.

  9. Aaron J. Walker

    I wasn’t very impressed with the “solution” presented after waiting nearly a month for Part 2 of the video. The first part raised some very valid concerns, but then to say creating a separate, private, pay tournament system as (one of) the “answer” didn’t make a lot of sense.

    Pokemon truly is what it is and has been designed to be: an easy, but fun (and “competitive” as you want it to be) TCG, not about “earning” money on the side venture. Competitive people compete on who gets to the door first, they don’t need money to make them compete.

    We already have a way to be crowned State Champion, National Champion and a World Champion for the truly competitive player. What more do you need? Extra cash on the side? Get a job. This is a game you’re supposed to be playing for fun, not trying to put cash in your pocket.

    I would not want to see J-Wittz’s “solution” implemented for Pokemon. 

  10. Anonymous

    I don’t have the time to reply to every single person here, but I thought I’d leave a response to some of the points I’m seeing brought up:

    *A reminder: like I say in the video, I never believe that this is needed for the game. The title of the two part series is “a bigger game”, not “a better game”. Bigger in the sense of greater prestige in the gaming community. As many of you have pointed out, you don’t want this and don’t think Pokemon is designed for it, and I respect that.

    -Some of the problems I bring up (better communication, more funding from Pokemon), cannot be solved any other way than simply begging TPCi to improve. As a longtime fan, this strategy doesn’t seem to be working. It’s really frustrating getting consistently late updates on news. Pokemon has a fixed budget on the game that hasn’t moved for years (you could even argue that it has decreased with the Regional Scholarship cuts and the loss of trophies). The best prize support the game ever had was back in 2006, five years ago. Pokemon has no reason to increase prize support because people will keep playing , so they slowly cut things away and still get the same returns. On the side of a business model, things are perfect for them. They aren’t going to reinvest in the game any more than the bare minimum that they have to.

    -Pokemon is expensive. Really expensive. A competitive deck usually ranges around 200$, and that’s just within one rotation. It’s not like we can control the market, but if you’re just playing this game strictly for fun, it can be an extremely expensive hobby. You can get the 500 card starter set of Dominion for 25-30$ and it’ll last you years with friends because the metagame keeps changing every game. You can get a year’s subscription to World of Warcraft for 130$. There’s nothing wrong with being willing to spend your extra money to play in Pokemon as a hobby, but I feel like if the game didn’t have such a competitive nature, it wouldn’t be so darn expensive.

    -” If you want to play Magic, play Magic”. I don’t want to play Magic. I have more fun playing Pokemon because of its simple and interesting mechanics, its artwork featuring an expanded universe I am familiar with, and the friends I’ve made playing along the way. Am I envious of the multiple structures that Magic has? Sure I am! Magic still has piles of casual players that gather at leagues and small tournaments and never bother with the big Magic events. You guys are acting like the two simply cannot coexist, but I don’t see why they couldn’t. If anything, adding more competitive events could drive the competitive players out of your smaller events, giving the smaller events a more friendly and approachable atmosphere.

    -One thing that I think people are misunderstanding is that they think that this is something I am trying to push for myself. If Pokemon ran higher level events across the year, there’s no way I could balance my lifestyle to actually go to most of them. My own seasons of hitting every premiere event of the year are extremely limited. I’m going to have a full-time career soon, and by then I’ll probably become the “casual player” that most of you guys are defending yourselves. I just think that having a centralized group of competitive tournaments outside of TPCi could give players the dedicated communication, respect, and prizes they deserve for the time and money they invest into the game.

    That’s about all I’ve got on the topic. I’m not angry whatsoever, but I feel like I might as well clarify my points while I can. The point of the episode is to promote conversation, and I’m glad to see that it’s doing just that. If you can think of another system to improve the game’s attention from TPCi to improve either funding or communication, I would love to hear it!

    For those of you guys who just couldn’t stand the episode, don’t worry! We’ll be back to “regular” Prof-It! next week ;)


  11. Lance Wilson

    I played Pokemon from Base Set to Neo Genesis and then quit to play Magic: the Gathering, played that competitively until I finally couldn’t stand the players, the attitudes, price, etc, etc, etc and quit in frustration. I then picked up Pokemon right after Rising Rivals was released and haven’t looked back. (The last 2 Nationals I’ve attended I’ve slowly been selling off all of my Magic, making almost $2.5k so far, if that says anything about what I had in that game and walked away from without a second thought) I like this game the way it is, it’s not perfect but it will get their in it’s own way without compromising everything like Magic and Yugioh do. My girlfriend of 3 years started playing with me shortly after I started back up and it’s a great hobby for a couple to share, we’ve made tons of friends playing this game. /2cents

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