Namco Bandai is launching Tekken Card Tournament's physical booster packs at retail this month.
MCV finds out what the firm is doing to ensure the cards are welcomed by fans and those yet to try the free-to-play title.
Back in February, Namco Bandai launched its first free-to-play title: Tekken Card Tournament. Based on the publisher's flagship brawler, this retained the series' 3D battles and turned them into a turn-based strategic affair.
More than four million people have downloaded the game across iOS and Android, with more playing in browsers.
But that was just the first step. This month, Namco will release physical trading cards that interact with Tekken Card Tournament, bringing the original vision for the game to fruition.
Stocked by selected retailers, these packs of five cards will be available for a pocket money price and, once scanned by a smart device, add to players' arsenal of moves in the game. They also add some other functionality to the title.
The physical booster pack cards are cost effective, and they allow you to engage in Augmented Reality features,” explains senior product manager Sean Walsh. The AR functionality enables 3D characters from Tekken to come to life. You can take pictures of them and share across Twitter and Facebook. Also, the cards are collectable, have a separate rule set and you can upload specific ranges of moves that you can't unlock in the game.
We have been working on possible attachment rates to current users and we feel that this is something that will build over time.”
The opportunity to convert existing players into early adopters for the physical cards is an obvious one, but not one that will happen automatically. Namco Bandai has been informing Tekken fans about the cards through the game directly, as well as via Facebook. It is also working hard on attracting new users.
We are working on this daily,” says Walsh. The game and promo cards have been appearing at all relevant events including Eurogamer Expo, MCM Expo and Hyper Japan. We are taking advantage of every opportunity to introduce the game to people and showcase how addictive and fun it really is.
We are concentrating our efforts on core Tekken fans initially. We are carefully launching the cards with a focus on educating people, as well as supporting with marketing activity. The long-term strategy is to build word-of-mouth, community and PR activity, and to work with retailers to maintain interest and awareness.”
Namco Bandai views Tekken Card Tournament – both the game and the physical cards – as a long-term investment, and as such it is in no hurry to chase certain milestones.
Says Walsh: Active players and attachment rates are important, but we need to see how the transition between a fighting card-based game and physical card really works.
We are confident that we have something unique, but we are also realistic and understand that it is going to take time and effort to keep this growing.”