What Was The First Modern Collectible Card Game?
Answer: Magic the Gathering
Although Collectible Card Games (CCGs) are now a firmly embedded part of geek culture, they are a very recent addition. In 1993, table-top Role Playing Game (RPG) publisher Wizards of the Coast released a hybrid-game that would change the face of gaming and introduce an entire new genre. Their new game, Magic: The Gathering, combined elements of role playing with the speed and ease of a card game. Players, acting as dueling wizards, unleashed monsters and spells which were fueled by pools of magical energy known as mana. In order to compete in the game against their friends (and later in tournaments) players needed to collect cards, organize them, and build them into effective decks. The combination of collecting, strategic organization, and the wide variety of potential decks, proved to be a hit with players; Magic: The Gathering has been in print ever since.
The popularity of Magic: The Gathering drove dozens of other companies to try their hand at crafting collectible card games. Since the introduction of Magic: The Gathering there have been at least half a dozen new CCGs introduced every year with 1995 standing out as a particularly busy year–over 40 new CCGs were released that year including ones based on Sim City, The Lord of the Rings, the Highlander movie/fiction series, and even the NFL.
While others have tried to grab a piece of the CCG pie, Wizards of the Coast clearly has a handle on what makes a game, well, magic. In addition to founding the very genre with Magic: The Gathering, Wizards of the Coast is responsible for the second most popular CCG around: Pokémon. Between Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon, they have the collectible card market, young and old, thoroughly covered.