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Who Created the LCG Business Model?

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Hello, I am working on writing a report on Fantasy Flight Games, and the innovative creation of the LCG system for card distribution.  However, it is unclear who actually came up with the idea of the LCG.  My best guess is that it was the main designer on what appears to be the first LCG (Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game) Nate French, but there doesn't seem to be any information confirming or denying that anywhere.

Are there any LCG veterans out there who remember the old days of LCGs who can help me?

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I'm not sure it's possible to track it as specifically as you seem to want to. It didn't even necessarily have anything to do with the designer of the game, as the design of the game and its distribution model are not entirely relevant to each other.

If you're trying to give personal credit for some reason, you might try asking Fantasy Flight (they would know what happened with their games better than fans on a forum).

You're also not entirely correct in terms of LCG being an innovative creation of Fantasy Flight - for example, off the top of my head, Warlord: Saga of the Storm was a card game with non-randomized expansions years before Call of Cthulhu. So the terminology was their invention, but the distribution model was certainly not.

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4 hours ago, Turan said:

You're also not entirely correct in terms of LCG being an innovative creation of Fantasy Flight - for example, off the top of my head, Warlord: Saga of the Storm was a card game with non-randomized expansions years before Call of Cthulhu. So the terminology was their invention, but the distribution model was certainly not.

https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/302015-who-created-the-lcg-business-model/?do=findComment&comment=3824255

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On 11/8/2019 at 7:36 AM, Turan said:

I'm not sure it's possible to track it as specifically as you seem to want to. It didn't even necessarily have anything to do with the designer of the game, as the design of the game and its distribution model are not entirely relevant to each other.

If you're trying to give personal credit for some reason, you might try asking Fantasy Flight (they would know what happened with their games better than fans on a forum).

You're also not entirely correct in terms of LCG being an innovative creation of Fantasy Flight - for example, off the top of my head, Warlord: Saga of the Storm was a card game with non-randomized expansions years before Call of Cthulhu. So the terminology was their invention, but the distribution model was certainly not.

thank you that was helpful.  I'll try that.

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Also to note, while not labeled as LCGs, the concept of purchasing a product with a fixed card pool was also introduced in various deckbuilding games such as:

  • Dominion
  • Ascension
  • Thunderstone

It may be relevant to discuss these types of games as well.  Dominion is the oldest one of these that I am aware of (Published in 2008), but there likely are other board/strategy games that follow a similar model that aren't typically labeled as LCGs.

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Thing is, Dominion-style deckbuilding and CCG/LCG-style deckbuilding are not the same thing. The former is about building up your deck over the course of a game (from a pool that changes every game), the latter is about making your deck before the game (from a pool that is valid for many games). And the latter also dates back at least to 2008, which is when CoC and AGoT switched from CCGs to LCGs.

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yes understood, the gameplay of LCGs vs Deckbuilding games like Dominion are completely different.

However, the distribution models are quite similar ("Core Set" + Expansions).

I would think that the success/popularity of Dominion may have helped prove that the LCG model was viable to companies.

CCGs are profitable because a single customer might purchase dozens or hundreds of booster packs for a single release cycle.  With LCGs, each customer purchases exactly 1 of each product, so you need a much larger customer base to reach the same sales numbers.

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On 1/8/2020 at 9:26 PM, Faranim said:

yes understood, the gameplay of LCGs vs Deckbuilding games like Dominion are completely different.

However, the distribution models are quite similar ("Core Set" + Expansions).

I would think that the success/popularity of Dominion may have helped prove that the LCG model was viable to companies.

CCGs are profitable because a single customer might purchase dozens or hundreds of booster packs for a single release cycle.  With LCGs, each customer purchases exactly 1 of each product, so you need a much larger customer base to reach the same sales numbers.

That's looking at it backwards. Collating randomised packs together after printing is very expensive and needs a large audience purchasing a lot to keep it financially viable. CoC and AGoT had dedicated fanbases that were ultimately too small to support their CCGs, so as a last ditch effort to get cards in their hands cheaply (a move that FFG saw as a 'thanks for the support, enjoy these last cards but this game is dead now') they released fixed (therefore cheaper to make) expansions for the two games. They proved popular enough that it prompted FFG to pursue LCGs as a model, selling customers on the benefits of fixed distribution and an even playing field and taking advantage of lower costs to still make money without needing a Magic- or Pokemon-sized audience.

(Op: FFG have posted articles on their site before covering these topics. Dig back in the archives of the older LCGs and you might find them. Particularly around the time AGoT announced the transition from 1.0 to 2.0 they were very introspective, as in addition they finally shuttered CoC, and revised the LCG model to include rotation as LCGs had proved successful enough to live until some of their cardpools were problematically bloated and hard to keep in print.)

I think the trend since has been showing that while LCGs can be profitable with a smaller player base than CCGs, *competitive* LCGs still need a large and active enough player base to have a thriving tournament scene, which can be difficult, while co-op/solo LCGs are easier to support as they work well as kitchen table boardgames with occasional in-store events instead of regular tournaments or leagues.

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