Everybody and their pets must be playing the new Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel game because publisher Konami just announced that the trading card game’s new dedicated client has surpassed 10 million downloads, a figure due to continue rising thanks to a recently dropped mobile version for Android and iOS devices.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel first launched on consoles and PC in mid-January, delivering an accessible entry into the third mega-popular card game in the trifecta that includes Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon. Master Duel boasted a complete experience akin to Magic Arena and the upcoming Pokémon Trading Card Game Live, allowing duelists to compete in both ranked and casual matches alongside a bevy of other game modes.
Dicebreaker’s own Matt Jarvis characterised Master Duel as a version that finally overcomes the seeming impenetrability from outside the fandom. The anime that inspired the card game might me ready fodder for memes and references, but its cardboard counterpart is better known for multi-syllabic creature names and a confounding ruleset that only ties a thicker mental knot with each new release.
As of Feb 3rd, Android and iOS mobile users in 140 countries could download the digital card game client and learn about XYZ Summons for themselves. Master Duel soft launched its mobile client on Jan. 26th in 11 countries, mainly Japan and Europe, but can now be played by the majority of global fans.
All of that expansion was apparently met with enthusiasm from a global fandom that has already downloaded Master Duel 10 million times across console, PC and mobile. It became the third most played game on Steam the week it dropped, overcoming mainstays suchs as Grand Theft Auto 5 and Apex Legends. Its ranking has settled some since then, but the new digital version has clearly struck a chord outside of its previous core playerbase
Yu-Gi-Oh! has enjoyed plenty other digital adaptations in the past, but they either focused primarily on using the card game’s mechanics to structure a narrative or centred a more streamlined version of play, a la Duel Links or Rush Duel. In fact, both of those titles are still being supported by Konami - Rush Duel arrived on the Nintendo Switch late last year, and the company continues to add more anime-inspired story packs to Duel Links’ repository.
What release schedules and expansions will look like for Master Duel remains to be seen. Its economy, composed of a premium gem currency that can be purchased but also earned in dribs and drabs through steady play, mirrors other digital card games of its ilk and operates in much the same way. Once players finish the tutorial, cracking packs is one of the more consistent ways to earn new cards. That said, an included story mode allows newer players to experiment with advanced strategies against computer opponents while earning a few new cards for their trouble.
Yu-Gi-Oh! continues to be a massively popular trading card game, evidenced by the prices on some of its more rare card singles, and Master Duel is already making in-roads into the broader online space. Whether new to the duelling arena or looking to learn more about Yu-Gi-Oh! Dicebreaker has guides on the basic rules as well as current banlists for constructed and tournament play.