Chill Clinton is a trading card enthusiast and investor who operates an online trading card store.
What Is MetaZoo?
MetaZoo is a collectible trading card game that was widely released in mid-2021 after a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that was able to raise over $18,000 within a month.
Similar to more prominent games in the trading card space, such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, and Magic: The Gathering, MetaZoo focuses on a specific theme: characters from popular urban legends from North America about "cryptids," or creatures that some claim to exist but whose existences have never been proven.
Aside from this intriguing theme, MetaZoo distinguishes itself in its game design. While most trading card games are made with the intent to be played by two people, MetaZoo can be seamlessly played by at least two but as many as six players.
Additionally, MetaZoo sets itself apart from other games in the space by taking advantage of the physical environment in which the game is taking place. For example, certain cards receive additional bonuses if it is nighttime, snowing outside, or raining.
However, like many trading card games, the object of the game will sound familiar. Players will utilize a deck of cards composed of spells and creatures (called "beasties") to do battle with their opponent and reduce their life points from 1000 to zero.
Since its initial release, many products have become available in the MetaZoo ecosystem, including booster packs, booster boxes, promo cards, and spellbooks, which are similar to Pokémon's Elite Trainer Boxes, or Magic: The Gathering's Fat Packs.
The Rise of the MetaZoo Market
MetaZoo hit the market during a particularly interesting time in the world of trading cards. Due to a combination of factors, including supply chain troubles and increased interest in collectibles during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many properties, including Pokémon and certain sports cards, exploded in valuation.
Due in part to the increase in trading card speculation, MetaZoo released and immediately saw meteoric growth in its total valuation. For example, when the Cryptid Nation first edition booster box first emerged, it sold on the secondary market for prices in the low to mid-$200 range. Now, however, this same product will set buyers back nearly $1000.
Much of this market interest could be explained by the involvement of a wildly popular trading card game influencer, Alpha Investments, who, prior to the game's commercial release, received MetaZoo products directly from the publishers, and proceeded to promote the products to his subscriber base of more than 300 thousand.
However, the MetaZoo company has done its own work to promote wide market interest by creating gaming accessories and digital media related to the game as well as establishing presences at a number of conventions, including Collect-A-Con.
Is MetaZoo a Good Investment?
Full disclosure: I am a trading card investor and retailer with expertise in collecting and selling Pokémon trading cards. I do not own any MetaZoo products at the time of writing this article.
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Many buyers and sellers are speculating on the long-term success of MetaZoo, and it seems that the company is committed to developing its product line and brand. However, there are a few issues with this product that potential investors must consider before purchasing MetaZoo products.
One major issue is that the nature of the game utilizing a player's physical environment makes MetaZoo an incredibly convoluted game to play both on the competitive level as well as digitally.
As we've seen, every successful card game has expanded to use a digital platform, allowing players to connect and battle over the internet. But how will this be achieved for a game that depends on interpreting real-time information about a player's surroundings?
Additionally, competitive play should logically be heavily affected by the location of a particular tournament, leading to largely uninteresting formats where many of the same cards and play strategies will be used. How interesting will that be for viewers? Will these tournament events gain the support of advertisers to provide great attendee and player experiences?
Another issue I see challenging the long-term success of MetaZoo is the source material with which they can work. Part of this game's charm is its use of culturally recognizable characters, but how long will it take before the game has exhausted many of these more popular icons and needs to either begin generating original characters or draw its material from global sources with which the player base may not be familiar?
Investors should also be wary about the degree of present product marketing being facilitated by a relatively slim number of trading card influencers. As we all know, popularity is often fleeting on social media platforms, and should one of these personalities retire or encounter controversy, I fear what influence that could have on such an emergent market space.
One also cannot ignore that unique period of time during which MetaZoo released, with the value of the Pokémon market increasing over 500% between 2019 and 2020, perhaps leading to a sense of FOMO (or fear of missing out) on an opportunity to get in at the ground floor of a potentially successful game.
However, unlike Pokémon, which was released alongside a wildly successful international video game and television show, MetaZoo does not have a television show, video game, or the backing of any large international media companies. At present, there is no entry point for brand consumption outside of an interest in collectible trading cards.
Will MetaZoo Be Successful in the Long Run?
Will MetaZoo be a flash in the pan or the seeds of an incredibly successful trading card and media brand? Nobody can say for sure at the moment.
But until MetaZoo is able to sustain shelf space in big box stores and expand its brand to include popular media outside of the card game itself, I just don't see a compelling argument for the long-term success of this game from an individual investment standpoint.
Hopefully, we will see the brand succeed at landing more shelf space, particularly on those of big box stores like Walmart and Target, or perhaps working out a deal to develop a television or comic book series because I genuinely am a fan of the concept. I have tried the game and do enjoy playing it.
However, with speculation driving MetaZoo's prices higher and higher, I think the bubble will likely burst prior to MetaZoo developing the ecosystem necessary to sustain growth. If this burst and mass investor exodus occur, I worry that the MetaZoo company might discontinue the game, fearing that there won't be high enough interest to justify developing new sets.
Therefore, I'm not currently interested in investing in MetaZoo, and cannot recommend it to other trading card investors. However, if you want to pick up the game to play with friends, there are several affordable options including theme-decks and single booster packs, and I definitely recommend checking it out as a casual consumer and table top gamer.
Despite the challenges that impede its higher-level play, I do think the team has delivered a fantastic product. But at this time, I don't personally think that MetaZoo is a reliable trading card asset to acquire and hold at any significant scale.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.