Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS' producer Akitsu Terashima discusses the popular card game's ongoing success

Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS' producer Akitsu Terashima discusses the popular card game's ongoing success

Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS is currently celebrating its sixth anniversary. The digital adaptation of the popular Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG has proven popular since its launch, with over 150 million downloads and 77.7 billion cards distributed.

We recently had the chance to gain some insight into the game's ongoing success by chatting with Akitsu Terashima, who works as a producer on Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS. Together, we discussed the game's continued success, where the idea originated, and any challenges the development team faced along the way.

Please could you introduce yourself and your role on Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS for our readers?

Hello, I’m Akitsu Terashima and I’m in charge of producing Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS.

Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS hit two major milestones this past year – 150 million downloads and 77.7 billion cards distributed. Naturally, they are both fantastic achievements, but does one mean more to you than the other? If so, which and why?

I think it is 150 million downloads.

We were able to achieve this number not only in Japan, but worldwide because people from all over the world are playing Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS.

Thank you very much to everyone who has played Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS.

Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS first released worldwide in 2017 (2016 in Japan). In gaming terms, that's a long time and it can be difficult to stay at the top. What would you cite as the reason or reasons for the game's ongoing success?

The reason why this game has continued is, of course, because of the many fans who love Yu-Gi-Oh! But also, because the production and management teams are always thinking of ways to entertain and surprise the users and link this to their output.

Regardless of their roles, they come up with a variety of ideas and give them shape. I don't think this attitude will change in the future.

Were there any challenges since the game's launch? And if so, how did you overcome them?

I remember the difficulties we had when the World Championships (WCS), which we used to hold every year, could no longer be held.

When it became impossible to hold a tournament where players from different countries gathered together, we decided to hold the KC Grand Tournament (KC GT), an online tournament to determine the world's No.1 player, as an alternative.

We wanted to make sure that the players who participated in the tournament as well as the viewers would enjoy the tournament, so we prepared for the tournament through a process of trial and error.

We have held the KC GT three times from 2020 to 2022, and we feel that each time we have held the KC GT, we have been able to showcase more and more exciting Duels that are worth watching. I would also like to thank all the Duelists who have participated in KC GT.

Can you tell us a little bit about how the idea for Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS came about in the first place?

Our starting point was to offer the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game experience as a mobile game.

We thought that a mobile game would not be suitable for playing long hours, so we adopted the "Speed Duel" ruleset, in which each Duel is short and develops speedily.

We also adjusted the details of the cards’ visual effects in order to make the Duels enjoyable at a high tempo and transformed them into their current form.

Historically, KONAMI has created Yu-Gi-Oh! games with adjusted rule sets (Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories, Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS and recently Yu-Gi-Oh! CROSS DUEL) Why do you think it's important to give players new and interesting ways to play the TCG digitally?

We believe it is important to take advantage of all the benefits of digital gaming.

Digital card games can be played in a variety of environments, regardless of location, and can be played more easily against people from all over the world.

Furthermore, we believe that offering different kinds of play experiences and rulesets in comparison to the physical card games will further expand the playability of Yu-Gi-Oh! We hope to continue offering unique digital versions of Yu-Gi-Oh! for fans to enjoy.

Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen Gregson-Wood
Stephen brings both a love of games and a very formal-sounding journalism qualification to the Pocket Gamer team.