UDE Vs. DC Vs. Marvel Vs. Me; Vs. System

We all know there’s been a lot of speculation about the future of Vs. lately, especially on Vsrealms.com. In a way this situation kind of reminds me of our country’s current political situation because people are so busy trying to predict the Democratic frontrunner that they’re unwilling to wait until things sort themselves out. Most people are of the opinion that Hillary Clinton’s decision to stay in the race is damaging to the Democratic Party’s chances of winning a presidential election at all. If it weren’t so tragic this would be an almost hilarious contrast to the beginning of the race which saw the first real chance of a black man or a woman taking the mantle “Commander in Chief,” the very idea of which got tons of people into politics for the very first time.

What does this have to do with Vs.?  Well, some Realmers first got word that UDE might be done making DC sets because some info. was leaked about the next Marvel set while we hadn’t yet heard a peep about DC’s next outing.  This got the speculation train rolling, and I’ll admit my cogs were turning too.  What would my game be like with no DC?!  The first thread on the matter can be found here:

http://www.vsrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=58193

I think a huge problem that a lot of players had was the way that they found out about all of this.  Essentially, one player stumbled upon the news on a third party site.  We were not hearing all of this from the source itself.  This led a lot of players to feel immediately betrayed by the company that they had supported through thick and thin.  It was almost like UDE had tried to release back-to-back Marvel sets without telling us just to see if we’d notice.  This is really one area that UDE dropped the ball.  They were coming off strong sales for three straight sets and probablly did not want to drop the news until they absolutely had to.  But to avoid this negative backlash they also should have delayed the news about Marvel Evolution, even to distributors, especially since the hype around Marvel Universe has been nothing but great.

But the staff at UDE were quick to respond in an official capacity.  They made an announcement on Vssystem.com that went something (read: exactly) like this:

“We have been in ongoing discussions with DC Comics to expand our licensing category, and instead of delaying the release of our next set, we’ve decided to deviate from our alternating release schedule. As a result, the upcoming release of Marvel Evolution will mark the first major, back-to-back Marvel launch.”

What does this mean?  Not a whole lot at the present time.  It means Marvel Evolutions is the next set and all the speculation in the world won’t help keep or lose the DC license any faster.  That’s not to say that DC fanboys such as myself don’t have something to be upset about.  In fact it’s quite the opposite.  Many Vs. players got into the game for one side or the other; Marvel or DC.  I first played a demo for Vs. at Gen Con shortly after the game first came out (2005 maybe?).  My friend Dave (that would be that “dizzle” guy that keeps saying “IMO” to everyone of my articles) and I were given the Spider-Man/Sinister Syndicate starters and my first Vs. game commenced.  I HATED IT!  Dave had Vulture on board all game gaining him a crapload of endurance and I missed a couple of drops.  “What a silly game,” I concluded.

The next summer Dave and Rob (another friend) bought the Gotham/Arkham starters and convinced me to play again.  This time I ran the Arkham starter and recruited Joker, Laughing Lunatic on turn four.  Two turns in a row my opponent triggered the Lunatic’s ability and picked The Joker, The Clown Prince of Crime burning him for 14 endurance!  “Hilarious!” I thought, “This game rocks!”  Now, it would seem that I liked the game when I was winning, and hated it when I was losing, but that’s not actually the case.  I liked the game because I was winning with the Joker, one of the coolest villains ever.  I hated the game when I was losing with Spider-Man, who I remembered as this whiny, weight-of-the-world-Superhero that I cared nothing about.  No offense intended to the Spidey-lovers of the world!  Immediately after this starter deck game, my friends told me that the Man of Steel set had come out that week.  I went straight to the card store with them and bought a few boxes to make a Superman deck (which was pretty much the same as Phantom Phone Booth).  This is when I was officially “in” the game of Vs.  I hit ebay and caught up on old sets.  I was in love.

What’s the point of filling you in on my boring backstory?  I’m really only pointing out that I got into the game as a fanboy.  The mechanics kept me in the game, but I got in for DC.  I love Gotham Knights; I love Team Superman; I love Green Lanterns.  So, this brings up another good question… is UDE actively looking to get new players into the game?  The truth is no, they are not ACTIVELY looking to get new players into the game.  Once they cut OP from the game, they realized that a large chunk of the fanbase stuck around.  It was a large enough group to keep UDE operating in the black (making money) as long as they cut back their print runs to guarentee selling out of their product.  They’ve stated that every time they do sell out they will print a little more next time.  This means that they are only looking to meet a current demand, and not interested in having surplus for new players.  This really does make sense for a game that’s not advertised and does not have much OP.  The only problem comes from the fact that many of the current players long for the days of old, and realize that a lack of extra product hinders their ability to get new players into the game.  To make matters even worse in this requard, UDE has released a “super-set” that is one third rares, which means that even the current player base can’t get playsets of all the rares.

Again, a lot of these moves might seem silly for a big company like UDE, but Vs. is considered stable to them.  1) They make X amount. 2) We buy X amount. 3) They use the small profit to help out other games they consider to be more valuable licenses like Wow and Yu-Gi-Oh.  They have nothing to gain from the risk of printing more, or putting the OP back to where it was, because they can’t guarentee those players that were alienated will come back.  My own roomate left when PCQs and $10Ks left, and he’s said he won’t play a card game again, so I understand UDE’s concern on this one.  The best we can do for this situation is to make sure that they do keep selling out of each set, so that print runs continue to go up.  This will lead to more cards in our general card pool, and a lower cost on ebay for singles.

Now, back to the DC license.  UDE wants to keep operating in the black.  DC wants original art on all of its cards.  I’m just guessing on the number, but it seems like UDE only reprints like 15 cards a set.  Is original art for those 15 cards going to cost so much that UDE will be operating in the red (losing money)?  The answer is no.  They will be making a little less money, but they will not all of the sudden start losing money, otherwise the price per pack of Vs. would have gone up long ago.  If they’re really worried about original art, here’s my suggestion:  Order more stacker-type art.  It’s a cheap way to get two or more cards for the price of one piece of art.  Sure the one piece of art might cost more, but it’s going to cost less than two pieces of art depicting the characters seperately.  This should be obvious to anyone who’s milled around the art section in the distributor hall at Gen Con.  They could even do team stackers.  Every Teen Titan character could be part of a larger picture.  I think that would actually be pretty cool, and a nice bonus for fanboys who run mono-team decks.

There are also those that say DC is being the bully here by having such high standards for their license.  This is a ridiculous claim.  The DC universe is a very important license for Warner Brothers.  If it becomes tarnished in some way, that license loses value.  For that reason, they will always have high standards.  This was the case when UDE first got the license, and will still be the case when Vs. System is nothing but a fond memory (I hope this doesn’t happen in my lifetime!).  To claim that this is ALL OF THE SUDDEN the reason UDE can’t manage both licenses is a little ridiculous.

Would the loss of the license hurt DC Comics?  Yes.  I loved DC heroes from Saturday morning cartoons: Justice League, Teen Titans, Legion of Superheroes, the Batman and Superman Animated Adventures, etc.; but I didn’t start to buy their comics until I got into Vs.  The flavor text on the cards, the art, whalloping people with an OA activation… I just had to know more.  I now subscribe to JLA, JLA Classified, Green Lanern, Green Lantern Corps, and any DC-wide crossover series like Infinite Crisis, 52, and Countdown.  Similarly, Martie, a roomate of mine that I got into Vs., bought all the X-Statix comics when he fell in love with their single character theme.  Chapman, another roomate of mine that I got into Vs., started to buy all Gotham related comics because Vs. resparked his interest in the comic world.  Does Vs. get people into comics?  ABSOLUTELY!

Would the loss of the license hurt UDE?  Yes.  As I mentioned earlier, it was DC’s characters that made the game more than just playing Candy Land over and over again with my friends.  The flavor is what keeps (many) people coming back.  A Marvel CCG would still be fun, but not as fun after you were used to a Marvel and DC CCG.  A lot of people would jump ship, not because they all of the sudden hate Vs., but because it’s expensive to support a game that’s a shadow of the game you were playing.  It’s like uninstalling your Wow expansions after playing with them for a year.  It’s a step backwards.  I’ve recently been playing the remake of Final Fantasy Tactics on my PSP, and I can’t imagine replaying my PSOne version anymore because the new one has cell-shaded cut scenes with voicovers and new Job classes.  I won’t take that step backwards, and I don’t think a lot of other people will either.

So what does this mean for me?  Nothing yet.  UDE hasn’t given up on negotiations yet, so I haven’t panicked.  Yes it will be lame to have more legal Marvel cards than DC cards for the tournament scene, but I’ll survive.  Also, Marvel Evolutions is supposed to have a Cyclops legend!  UDE knew exactly what they had to do to keep me dangling along!  Cyclops is really the only Marvel character I would actively pursue getting the legend cards for reguardless of how good he was.  All prior versions of the great Blue Leader have been subpar, but this time around, I’ll bet he’ll rock!!  Maybe Cyclops speculation can be next week’s topic.  Until then, we can only hope that UDE and DC follow the wise advise of Ari Gold when he says, “Hug it out b****!”

P.S. If you want to do something constructive to help keep the DC license, go here: http://www.vsrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=58222

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7 Responses

  1. Well said.

    DC got me into this game as well. My money goes into the DC sets first and foremost, and now I have to change how I spend it. When JLA came out, I ended up with a few boxes (and then a few more later). If they were pulled out even two years ago, I probably would have left with it. Now however, I have Gambit to look forward to.

    It won’t be the same without DC, I might even go more casual than before, but I’m still in it too.

  2. Dude, you are hereby granted the title of Master Ranter.

    I dig it.

  3. a very nice article, imo. i even read the whole thing this time.

  4. That’s got to be the most you’ve ever read! 🙂

  5. i read more than pizzle imo.

  6. also the best part was the part about me owning with vulture imo.

  7. you may read more dizzle, but i am better at wow imo.

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