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Old 10-21-2009, 09:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Interesting Interview with UD's Richard McWilliam

Richard McWilliam Interview
On the Future of Upper Deck

ICv2 recently caught up with Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam for an e-mail interview discussing the state of the market, Upper Deck's current initiatives, and the future of the company.

From your perspective, what’s the current state of the U.S. market for collectible games?
The market is slowing down a bit due to the proliferation of substandard products that are available to CCG fans. However, quality products are still winning out and being successful.


For entertainment trading cards?
The entertainment trading card industry is continuing at a steady pace. There’s been more innovation introduced and far better products in the market recently and it shows.


And for sports trading cards?
It depends on the sport. The different ends of the spectrum illustrate that basketball cards sales are still declining while hockey is enjoying an upswing.

What's your feeling on the role of the hobby market vs. mass for Upper Deck?
Both categories have their place. The hobby represents the foundation of our industry while mass-market chains are more appropriate for certain brands.

We’ve been seeing pretty good ratings for the recent episodes of Huntik that are airing in the U.S., but it seems like the TCG is having trouble getting traction, especially in the hobby. Can you update us on the status of Huntik here in the U.S.?
We are pleased with the Huntik rating. Growing a brand is a long-term investment and the TCG is part of our long-term strategy for the U.S.

What’s the status of Huntik toys in the U.S.?
Huntik toys are currently in development and the U.S. launch is planned for next year.

We’ve heard the property is doing better in Europe. What can you tell us about the performance of Huntik in markets other than the U.S.?
We are continuing to get a lot of traction abroad. We are constantly expanding the product lineup in Europe and are pleased to announce that Huntik will be a key program on a major television channel in India soon.

We’ve heard rumors that Upper Deck is going to cease production of new World of Warcraft Miniatures sets. Are there any new WoW Minis sets scheduled, or are you planning to schedule any?
We are currently working with Blizzard and our Hong Kong office on Souls of Vengeance, the next WoW Minis Booster.

Upper Deck recently announced a broad license with Marvel. In the past, your Versus game relied on both Marvel and DC characters. Are there any plans to add DC characters to the game you’re developing for Marvel characters?
While we are not ruling out DC, we are focusing solely on Marvel for the immediate future. Their film strategy is fantastic and we’re excited to transfer super heroes from the large screen to our games and collectibles.

Upper Deck has lost its two largest licenses in the last twelve months, in both sports and entertainment. Can Upper Deck rebound from the loss of those licenses (especially in the context of the current economic conditions) rapidly enough to survive? If so, how?
Very few entertainment brands last forever, and the nature of this industry is very cyclical. Upper Deck has and will continue to adapt and create the highest-quality collectibles and games for our fans. We will continue to work with the best licensors in order to bring fans the best experiences.

We are very excited to once again partner with Marvel. As the company celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, Marvel stands out as an example of the way a properly run Entertainment-based corporation can not only survive but thrive through tough economic times and continue to deliver the best content to its fans.

Can you discuss the allocation of your sales and future resources between sports, entertainment cards, and games in the near future vs. the near past?
Entertainment and sports will both continue to be major focuses for Upper Deck. We are retooling our efforts to bring our fans the best games and collectibles in the marketplace.


ICv2 - Richard McWilliam Interview
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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So McWilliams is admiting that they are going to focus more on entertainment cards rather than sports cards. Very interesting indeed.
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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ummm why would he say basketball sales have declined (lost their license) and hockey sales have increased (exclusive)? I don't think that's true. Is it?
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Old 10-23-2009, 08:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Drew View Post
ummm why would he say basketball sales have declined (lost their license) and hockey sales have increased (exclusive)? I don't think that's true. Is it?
I think what he said is pretty true industry wide. Basketball sales have been down across the board for a few years. 2 things happened...the lure of Ultimate and exquisite wore off when they were loaded up with crap and the exclusive contracts of 2007-08 really hurt stuff too. You had to buy Topps to get Oden and some other guys and had to buy UD to get Durant and some of the Gators rookies autos that year. Instead of buying 2x the product...people jsut bought singles or just boxes of one...or just didn't buy. 08-09 was a good year but the economy was in such bad shape a lot of people were out of the market for $100+ boxes.

Hockey is up because of the good job UD is actually doing in that category. RCs are worth something because they are limited, the high end releases actually deliver decent content for the $$$ and people can actually make some money (or get cards they actually want) in their hockey stuff.
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Old 10-23-2009, 10:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That's 2 interviews I've read with this tool and not one question about all the BS that goes on in their daily operations. WTF, get somebody with a pair to ask him the questions that people really want to know like why do you claim to be LCS friendly when you are obviously not or how do you explain 2008 SPA FB ? Who conducted these interviews, his buddy from Razor ???
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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They must of meant themselves when stating this little tid-bit

The market is slowing down a bit due to the proliferation of substandard products that are available to CCG fans.

And this for other card companies

However, quality products are still winning out and being successful.
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