How to create a billion dollar entertainment brand? First, you need to have a really great piece of work. Readers, audiences, fans love your character, your story, and they continue to spend money buying books, stories, going to the cinema, buying merchandise…
‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ over 10 billion USD manga from the ‘king of the game’ Magic cards
That seems to be the only process by which major brands in the world achieve success. Star Wars in the US, Harry Potter in the UK, or Dragon Ball in Japan all developed this way.
But, there is a billion-dollar brand that has completely gone against the above rule. As a Japanese manga series with an 8-year life cycle (1996 – 2004), the number of printed books is only 40 million copies, too modest compared to more than 400 million copies of One Piece , or 300 million copies of Dragon Bal. l . But the franchise brought in huge revenues: $20 billion , on par with the best-selling manga of all time.
What’s special is that most of that sales come not from the series itself, but from a fictional game in the story. That manga is called Yu-Gi-Oh! , known in Vietnam by the more familiar name: “King of Games”. A
fictional game from the story is brought to life, not too strange for readers. The most prominent example is the Quidditch game in the Harry Potter series, which is very popular with fans, which has been brought to compete with lifelike Quidditch tournaments held scattered around the world.
But the story of Dual Monster (Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game) is on a whole different level. This card-collecting game that Vietnamese youth used to call “Magic cards” achieved an unbelievable success, despite initially appearing in only one chapter of the Yu-Gi-Oh! .
Officially released by Konami game company in 1999, 3 years after the release of the series, this card game has rapidly gained popularity around the world. After 10 years, on July 7, 2009, the Guinness Book of World Records honored Yu-Gi-Oh! is the world’s best-selling collectible card game, with over 22 billion cards sold.
Yu-Gi-Oh Tournaments! held continuously in many parts of the world, with extremely attractive rewards, attracting a large number of players to attend. Fan of the card game Yu-Gi-Oh! don’t waste money to own rare cards. There were cards worth thousands of dollars. One of the most expensive cards ever for sale is the 3-Headed Blue-Eyed White Dragon, a unique reward version for former Asian Championship Series winners, signed by series creator Kazuki Takahashi himself.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is the first successful series of author Kazuki Takahashi, and also his only successful work. Starting to create manga in 1982, he did not have a significant work during the following years.
At the launch of Yu-Gi-Oh! in Jump magazine in 1996, the series wasn’t too prominent at first. Everything changes when in one chapter Takahashi “invents” a card game for the characters to play against each other.
Originally, this game was called “Magic and Wizards” by the characters in the series, influenced by Magic: The Gathering by Wizards of the Coast, the most popular card game in the world at the time. That chapter ended, and Takahashi had no plans for the magic cards, either, until the Jump magazine office was flooded with letters from readers asking to see more of the exciting card matches.
All subsequent chapters of Yu-Gi-Oh! talk about magic. The series develops in the direction of mythologization, with adventures to the world of ancient Egypt, but ultimately everything is resolved by card duels. And readers are still crazy about “Blue-Eye White Dragon”, “Black Dressed Witch” or “God of Strength”.
With the huge success of the game, Takahashi decided to take a break. He ended the main series in 2004, and acted as a consultant on the development of the card game and subsequent spin-offs. Not only stopping at a comic series, Magic card became a craze among young people. In late 2000, early 2001, the shops at the secondary school gates of many schools often sold comic books, imported many boxes of Magic cards printed in China with colorful colors, and were always sold out.
At the Play Station arcades back then, the Yu-Gi-Oh! played as much as the PES football game. The charm of Yu-Gi-Oh! So big that after releasing 21 volumes of stories, the publisher had to decide to stop publishing because… creating too much public opinion. (At that time, many parents panicked when they saw their children begging for money to buy cards, thinking it was a gambling game.)
Today, when the board game trend is popular and returns to Vietnam, the Yu-Gi-Oh! is spreading across the country. Many small tournaments are held, many young people are also determined to invest in original decks and exchange with each other in card matches, with a similar organization in the world. Yu-Gi-Oh! is a special case in the manga world in the world, when the spin-off product has sales dozens of times larger than the sales of the book.
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