Come the 2010 National Football League season, young fans of the sport will to have a new game to go along with it. 4Kids Entertainment, a global provider of children’s entertainment and merchandise, announced last week that its TC Digital subsidiary has teamed up with NFL Properties and NFL Players to create a new trading card game (TCG).
Unlike traditional TCGs, this new game will include a way to trade cards online.
The football-themed game will, obviously, utilize NFL teams and players, but what is most interesting is that TC Digital is attempting to revitalize the lost addiction that is sports card collection; an endeavor that we haven’t seen since UpperDeck announced a TCG virtual world, UpperDeckU, back in April. Based on the initial information available, it looks like the unnamed NFL TCG title will be a bit less of a virtual world, however, and more reminiscent of one of TC Digital’s existing online TCG games, Chaotic.
In a nutshell, Chaotic is based on a television cartoon series that allows players to collect various monster-like cards, build armies, and compete against and trade with other users online. As pointed out by Virtual Goods News, this likely means that the purchasable in-store cards will have a code of some sort that must be scanned in, allowing for use of a virtual counterpart. However, unlike the fantasy style that makes up the Chaotic world, the football concept is intended to encompass an entirely new demographic of sports-enthused kids.
This latest announcement marks the latest game in a growing list of developers looking to monetize their games using this virtual/tangible goods method. Not only is there UpperDeckU, but other online card games such as the Bella Sara TCG from Hidden City Games and Sony Online’s Free Realms have made use of this model as well.
And in terms of the pairing of physical and digital objects, there’s also Electronic Arts and Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop Online that makes use of the plush toys themselves to grant added bonuses within the virtual world. There’s also dozens of other dolls that appear to be offering online benefits (Dora the Explorer and Barbie are good examples). And, in an example of an online gaming company going offline, there’s SGN’s forthcoming project, ToyBots. Fact of the matter is that this marriage of the physical and virtual worlds seems to be becoming increasingly popular, and may very well prove to be yet another viable, and more common, monetization method as we make the turn into 2010.