Livescore Sunday, April 21

Just last week, The Pokémon Company officially retired Pokémon TCG Online and launched Pokémon TCG Live out of beta, ushering in a new era of online play for the popular card game. Unfortunately, the new live platform is littered with bugs destroying the experience and leaving the community searching for alternatives, with one coming from an unlikely source.

Since launching from beta on June 9, TCG Live has been missing core features like collection viewers and tournament options that PTCGO already offered before being taken permanently offline. There are also numerous bugs like certain card interactions crashing the game, assets failing to load mid-match, a range of soft locks happening at any point from the loading screen to playing a card, and cards simply taking way too long to resolve. 

Not only that but every time new cards are added, the game tends to break even further. For example, two of the most popular decks in the current, post-Paldea Evolved format are Gardevoir ex and Baxcalibur, but both decks can’t be reliably used because key cards cause the game to bug out

With all of these issues compiling into unexpected downtime on June 13, the player base has had enough—including popular Minecraft and gaming YouTuber Daniel “DanTDM” Middleton.

In the midst of the outage, Dan posed a question to his own and the Pokémon TCG communities, asking if anyone knows what it would take to create an in-browser simulator for the card game. And, while he didn’t specifically say that this would be a rival for TCG Live, he did liken his plan to Dueling Book, a popular browser alternative to Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel.

With Dan bringing up the idea and openly talking about how he wants to make or fund the project, the TCG community answered the call, with multiple developers who actively play the game or that have already been working on similar projects already reaching out. This includes members of competitive TCG tracker PokéStats and Pokegear app developer Jake Gearhart.

Considering the success of offshoot simulator projects like Dueling Book, a creator-funded, community-built alternative would be great for the Pokémon TCG. Specifically, it would benefit people really trying to play at high levels, practice, or create content.

Related: Pokémon Trading Card Game Online is officially gone, outside of one feature

The one area unofficial simulators face is a lack of built-in interaction mechanics, meaning players need to know how cards interact before manually and accurately resolving effects within the scope of rules. This could limit accessibility for newer or casual players, but that isn’t the demographic a product like this would cater to primarily.

There is also the main hurdle whoever might start this project has to face—the potential for legal action of DMCA takedowns from The Pokémon Company. Monetization, outside of what DanTDM would be able to privately provide to developers, would not be possible since any part of selling the product or monetizing production publicly would heighten the chances for TPC to step in, hence why even some massive Pokémon ROM hacks are created by small teams with no public funding for individual development projects.

Legality aside, the community is excited about this potential option to get out of being railroaded into TCG Live and waiting for fixes that haven’t seemingly haven’t been prioritized or are potentially overwhelming the dev team. As multiple players have said, this is the Pokémon TCG Avengers assembling and could foreshadow big losses for TCG Live.

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