Monday, 3 December 2012

Schumpeter's Theory Of Creative Destruction

Nope, this is not a post on economics (although I am an economics student). After playing Yu-Gi-Oh! for so many years, the rate of how the game is changing is beyond imagination if we were to put ourselves in our own shoes years back when we first started this game.

Indeed, when we first started playing this seemingly easy-to-play card game where vanillas were the absolute power, it would never cross our minds that one day the game would evolve into its current state. Nowadays. its no longer as easy for young kids to pick up this game as it was years back, the game rules are more complicated than before.

Of course, there are various other reasons such as emerging card games like Vanguard, parental pressure on studies (not a significant factor though) and etc. However, it is obvious that even without these other factors, Yu-Gi-Oh! does not appeal as a new hobby to the younger generation today as it was before. In Singapore, you hardly see any young players anymore, majority are in their teens who have already started playing way back.

This poses the problem that there will be a small proportion of younger players coming in to replace the older players who have quitted, i.e the replacement rate does not suffice to equate the quitting rate. In due time, Yu-Gi-Oh! might become a game like Magic The Gathering where younger players find it hard to integrate into the gaming society that is dominated by the older players (this is of course with reference to Singapore context only as I am not sure on the situation in other countries).

However, all these conclusions are only deductions based on the current game trend, anything remains an uncertainty until it actually happens. Who knows, Konami might come up with some mega recruitment programme to entice the younger generation to pick up Yu-Gi-Oh! and we could find these deductions being overthrown.

Moving on today's topic, although the game state can be easily altered, some things are not as easy as ABC, exactly like how the game is progressing, it seems to imitate Joseph Schumpeter's Theory of Creative Destruction. From years back when Dark Armed Dragon was first introduced in Phantom Darkness:

The instant fame of Dark Armed Dragon seemed to pull all the players into a frenzy craze to acquire this card, and we saw the game changed siginificantly with Dark Armed Dragon leading this revolution. However, no a lot of players minded this change because it was, at that time, a solution for players to win with the sheer power of this card.

Then the initial period ended, and players started to find Dark Armed Dragon too powerful. Players complain, then came the Gladiator Beast era which showed promise and players jumped onto this new bandwagon and people were contented for a short period of time. But alas, synchros were soon introduced into the game, and Dark Armed Dragon found its way out of the accumulated dust in trade binders and returned as TeleDaD. Players were once again, glad for this change, and saw TeleDaD as a solution against Gladiator Beast.

However, the same problem arised again, and soon people were complaining about TeleDaD being too powerful and then came the usual forum rubbish about people saying they will quit the game if no change is implemented (but how many of these players actually quit? Not a lot, they were just ranting for the sake of ranting). Therefore, Konami had to introduced new deck themes or use the banlist to control this disaster. They would normally use both methods and the gaming community would once again witness the entrance of these creative-destructive forces that force the destruction of the current format and find its rebirth as a new format.

Up to this point, everything seems fine. A problem arises, a solution is implemented, everyone is happy. However, how long and how far can these creative-destructive forces actually command the stability of the game? The problem now is that decks are becoming increasingly fast and powerful, innovation is simply not a deriative anymore if you want to maintain dominance. Mermails, Wind-Ups, and the new Firedance and Fire Lord themes are wrecking the pace of this game.

Its a good thing that Konami used the term 'Structure Deck' instead of 'Starter Deck' because the cards in them are simply not as before. Look at Garunix from the upcoming new Strcuture Deck and compare it with Red-Eyes Zombie Dragon from SD1. The game is changing to a state where creative-destructive forces are now simply destructive forces to kill the balance of the game. Sooner or later, this will cease to be a solution. Decks will become so powerful that the banlist will not help to ease the burden of the players.

Inzektors may have feel the hit of the banlist, but few years down the road, whenever a new card is hit, it might not do any siginificant damage to the deck theme itself. Banning multiple cards is not a solution either as this will burn a big hole in the pockets of players and people will just become more discouraged and disgusted with the game.

Konami needs to re-stabilise the game, preferably back to the state of the Gladiator Beast era to ensure that these creative-destructive forces will continue to work their charms, being solutions for a short-time period rather than being permanent threats. If Konami continues to implement this ridiculous "Stronger beats strong" trend, it will find the game going down to the extent that it can no longer be resuscitated.

Vanillas, primitive as they are, were actually the charm of the game back in the past, Konami needs to rework and rethink what is beneficial for the game.

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