While you may not necessarily have the physical cards, you do have the option in the various video game adaptations of good ol’ Yu-Gi-Oh!. On the playing field this time is Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links senior producer, Kataoka Kenichi. Hold on to your Life Points, as we go through the answers we’ve gotten from our e-mail interview with him!
GB: To celebrate YGO Duel Links’ third year anniversary, we saw the release of YGO 5D’s characters and card packs. Do you have any plans for releasing game-exclusive/game-only characters, with related story and cards?
KK: There are still many unexplored contents in the world of original works and animations, I have no plan toward game-exclusive card or story currently.
GB:As a developer, how do you decide release schedules for YGO Duel Links?
KK: We analyze the data we get from the servers to identify the behaviours and preferences of duelists to review and implement suitable in-game events and campaigns, then apply them as appropriate.
Of course, we also check other sources such as feedback via social media networks, and other data in regards to behaviour and preferences of the silent majority.
GB: It’s possible for games to end even in the first turn when a player has all the cards, so how do you intend to balance/change that?
KK: Since drawing cards is a random factor that exists in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Original Card Game (OCG), you cannot win with a 100% chance, but you can still build your deck to minimize the randomness. You can build a deck to win in the first turn, and it is possible if you’re lucky, but it’s most likely accompanied with its various weaknesses as well. We tried to adjust and keep the balance that way.
However, we are always analyzing the data we receive from the servers, so if we find a way of playing that is extremely disadvantageous to the majority, we will revise accordingly and adjust what’s needed to balance it.
GB: The game is designed as a simpler version of the YGO TCG with a total of only 3 slots for monster cards, spell cards etc. How/why did you decide on this number of slots?
KK: This is to make it easier to play on smartphones. Unlike playing with real cards, you can’t see your opponent’s face online. If the opponent takes too long, then players could mistakenly assume the game has stopped working. Risk of disconnection also increases as duels get longer, so we wanted it to be settled in a shorter time.
GB: There are cards from the anime that haven’t been printed such as the “Negative Energy Generator” which can boost dark elemental monster attacks by 3 times. Are there plans to release those cards for Duel Links?
KK: We are actively considering these additions, so please look forward to it.
GB: Have the developers decided on a banned cards list – as some players have requested?
KK: As explained, the decisions we make in the game are not just based on the feedback we receive, but also based on the result of data analyzing.
GB: With the game now in its third anniversary, what other milestones do you want to reach?
KK: There’s more to come, but I want to keep them for upcoming campaigns, so I can’t reveal them to you yet (laughs).
GB: Game developers are increasingly including AR compatibility to their titles. Will Duel Links follow suit?
KK: Whether or not we will implement it to Duel Links is undecided for now, but we are always looking into such additions.
GB: Will you be updating the user interface (UI) for the game?
KK: We do always take into consideration our user feedback. For now, we are undecided, but should we come to it, we will inform players accordingly through our official social media accounts and in in-game notices.
GB: Regarding the game meta, many players have complained that decks get outdated or obsolete very quickly in a roughly 2 month time span. This makes it hard for them to be continuously updated with the meta. What do you think about slowing down card updates?
KK: As mentioned, we determine the update schedule not just on feedback, but also data analytics.
GB: The Ranked Duel system feels favoured to more hardcore players who bring meta decks. Would it be possible to implement a system of ranking for more casual players?
KK: We are currently examining the possibility while referring to the data and user opinions.
GB: What do you do with old cards and decks that used to be meta? Would you ever buff them or reintroduce them into the rotation to be playable?
KK: That sounds like a Special Duel. This is currently under consideration.
GB: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links on Steam currently doesn’t have the official Japanese voiceover. When will it be updated? If not, why so?
KK: Currently we have no plans to add the Japanese voices to Steam. If you prefer the Japanese voiceovers, we recommend you to play it on your iOS or Android devices that you can download for free.
GB: Would it be possible for Duel Links to ever use the original OCG rules?
KK: If you would like to play a Yu-Gi-Oh! game with the OCG rules, you can play the console games. Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution has been released for the Nintendo Switch, Playstationo 4, Steam and Xbox One. For the full duel experience, give that a try.
Last but not least, while this answer is not from Kataoka, some of you might be wondering about getting into the YGO OCG if you enjoyed the games, or even the anime. The OCG can be quite daunting for newbies who wish to try out the original game if they’ve come from the relatively simplified Duel Links, so we asked how the staff as a whole plan to encourage more players to participate in the original OCG community.
A: If you are new to the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG, you can go to an OTS (Official Tournament Store) and participate in a teaching class and get the staff there to teach you how to play e.g. like the ones throughout Asia. In addition, we are planning to hold local events for new users to enjoy duels, so please check the latest information via our official social media networks. Here are the links provided for the Asia region: OTS search, official Facebook page