Hello, everyone. FF-TCG Producer Tarou Kageyama here. After taking a break from this column last week, I’d like to talk about COVID-19 (otherwise known as novel coronavirus and essentially what triggered us to start this column series) and how it relates to the future of FF-TCG as of today. I’m going to try my best to keep it positive, so I hope you’ll stick around until the end.
Event Postponements and Cancellations
It’s been 5 months since last December when the virus initially started to go around, and as everyone is aware, it’s now widespread across the world. Many cities are on lockdown with restrictions on outings and shopping as well as stay at home recommendations that even cover work. I, myself, am experiencing mental fatigue and feel that my ability to perform daily activities, not limited to work, has dropped significantly. Under these circumstances, we are unable to conduct TCG tournaments, and we have seen many tournaments around the world driven to either postponement or cancellation.
We also had no choice but to announce the cancellation of the North American Fan Fair in March and the European Fan Fair in April early-on; despite it being something that couldn’t be helped, even at this moment, I feel truly regretful for everyone who was planning to attend. In addition to this, there are many upcoming events that are facing cancellations; specifically, in Japan, we are forced to make major modifications to the annual MASTERS tournament schedule. I typically travel ten times or so overseas for FF-TCG tournaments annually, and it goes without saying that there have been none since the beginning of this year, and the next opportunity has yet to be determined. Including the fan fairs mentioned earlier, the original plan was to travel to four locations up until May, but all fell through and it’s just very unfortunate that I am unable to see everyone in person.
Booster Release Timing
The spread of the virus has largely impacted the release of our upcoming booster as well. As already announced, “Opus XII: Crystal Awakening” has been postponed from the originally planned July release date and there is a reason behind this decision. Due to lockdowns experienced worldwide, “Opus XI” hasn’t had a chance to spread widely. If we were to release a new set under such circumstances, it would essentially mean that an environment for “Opus XI” had never been established.
There are no events nor retail tournaments, and when the next set releases, “Opus XI” immediately becomes an older set. It’s something to think about really... taking away the enjoyment from playing in a major tournament based on an environment with the latest set. I mean, wouldn’t we want to experience at least one big tournament in the “Opus XI” environment if possible?
If we were to add to this point, whether our distribution channels would also be back to normal by (the originally planned release in) July, or even if they’re not fully back to normal, whether we would be able to secure a certain distribution volume also contributed to the decision to some extent. At the time of writing this column (May 15th), it seems like there are more regions where economic activity is starting to resume, but there is no doubt that the situation remains unpredictable and requires us to exercise caution.
Columns and “Opus XII” Previews
Now, the current situation is as stated, but with that in mind, we want to ensure we do everything we can do and keep enjoying FF-TCG with all of you. This column is one method to achieve this, but aside from this, we have just started “Opus XII” previews. Perhaps you may think it’s too early to begin previews when the release has been postponed, but we plan on introducing the cards at a more leisurely pace compared to our usual previews. RB and I have been writing these previews until now, but Tim from the European team will also be joining us from this set, and the three of us will be delivering them to you. I’m sure these previews will be distinct to each of us, so I hope you’ll enjoy them.
In parallel with the columns and previews, I’m also looking into whether it would be feasible to restart our official streams for communicating information. It’s difficult to gather in a studio, but we may be able to achieve this if we use software typically used for online meetings. The thought about me, personally, streaming on YouTube or Twitch crossed my mind, but considering equipment and other factors, I feel like this would also be difficult until we are able to go back into the office. I’ve even started to think about topics that can be discussed in a 5 ~10 minute program, like “introducing the source material by using FF-TCG cards”, “the process that goes into making a single card”, or “this week’s card recommendation”, so it’ll be nice if I am able to bring this to you someday (laughs).
It may require some more time for all of this to settle, but I’ll also be doing everything I can on my front, so let’s all work together and get through this. I hope you, your friends, your family, and every single person remains safe and healthy.