Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel producer discusses balancing the game’s 10k+ cards


YU-GI-OH! Master Duel was the surprise success of last year, as the free-to-play card game found its way into players’ hearts.

In the year since its release, it has seen more than 50million downloads, which has launched Yu-Gi-Oh! straight into the mainstream.

Master Duel has over 10k cards.

GLHF spoke to the producer of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, Kenichi Kataoka, to discuss just what’s next for the game.

For all of the upcoming insight into Master Duel you can read our full Q&A below.

GLHF: Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel was incredibly well-received at launch and many people have downloaded and played the game. Was this anticipated?

Kenichi Kataoka: We were definitely confident in the game’s quality and that it would be well received.

The number of downloads has exceeded our expectations. 

We’ve seen the game be introduced to new audiences by so many people, especially influencers via social media, and it seems even people who were initially not familiar with Yu-Gi-Oh! have been playing and enjoying the game.

GLHF: Team Battle was recently added to Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, is there a reason Team Battle was added? Are there any other game modes you intend to add in the future?

KK: We could say that Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel and the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game (TCG), the physical card game, are differentiated because users can play Duels with others from all over the world anytime, anywhere, but we want to differentiate them even more. 

One of the elements we have added is ‘Team Battle’. We are considering having ‘Team Battle’ events in the future.

GLHF: How difficult is it to balance a game like Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, with more than 10k cards?

KK: I can assure you that it is terribly difficult. 

Just to add one new card requires checking its equilibrium with the existing 10k plus cards, which is a tremendous challenge for planners and programmers every time, and the challenge of doing these checks only grows every single time.

GLHF: Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel’s card selection is still behind the current Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG’s competitive ruleset. Is there an intention to have them be on the same card selection and ruleset eventually?

KK: The relationship between Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG and Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG is a bit complicated, not behind. 

For example, the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG has a different ruleset than the Japanese Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG. 

The Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG and Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG are physical card games, but Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel, an online game, allows players to play against Duelists from all over the world at any time.

So, the ruleset and cards’ regulations must be designed exclusively for Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel to maintain fairness.

GLHF: Has Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel’s success been impacted by the development of other Yu-Gi-Oh! games?

KK: Of course, but I would say that Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has itself been influenced by other Yu-Gi-Oh! games, especially Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. 

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel was born from the experience of developing and running Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links.

GLHF: What can we expect to see in the future of Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel?

KK: The blueprint for Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel is ‘Online Yu-Gi-Oh! for both players and spectators’, but it’s still not even close to fully realizing that concept. 

In particular, there is more to be done in terms of entertaining the spectators.

 Even people who don’t know anything about football can understand that something great has happened when a goal is scored, but in card games, it is difficult to understand who is ahead sometimes. 

I believe that if people enjoy watching the Duels, the number of people who want to play Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel will increase, and I also believe Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG will get more fans too.

GLHF: Do you have a message for Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel players for the one-year anniversary?

KK: Thanks to all your support, Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel has reached 50 million downloads in less than a year since its launch. 

I believe this is thanks to the Duelists who love Yu-Gi-Oh!. Thank you very much. But we are not satisfied yet. 

We still have ambitions to increase the number of Duelists all over the world. 

Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel will continue to be the best possible game it can be to entertain Duelists worldwide, and we will continue to produce and manage it, so please stay tuned!

Written by Dave Aubrey and Georgina Young on behalf of GLHF.