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Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS sixth anniversary celebrates in style

In the year of its sixth anniversary, our Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS interview with Akitsu Terashima, producer at Konami, looks back at the success of the title

Screenshot of Yugi and Yusei drawing cards for Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links interview

Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS has been thriving for over six years now, with thousands of cards in-game, six series of the anime now represented with characters and archetypes, and a long list of successful events held to bring the community together. As part of the celebrations surrounding Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS’ anniversary, we got to chat with Akitsu Terashima, producer at Konami, about the past, present and future of the series

Pocket Tactics: With Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS celebrating its sixth anniversary, what plans have you got in store to celebrate the achievement in-game? 

To celebrate the 6th anniversary, we are planning to hold an in-game campaign to distribute fantastic items such as a Legend Foil Rarity of Mirror Force, “UR Dream Tickets”, “SR Dream SR Tickets”, and 1000 Gems. We hope you will take this opportunity to check out and play Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS.

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Starting from the beginning, did Konami anticipate the level of success and longevity that Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS would go on to have? 

This was our first Yu-Gi-Oh! mobile game so we had to do a lot of exploring and research. We also made sure that the “Speed Duel” ruleset would be accepted by users, and over time we’ve continued to work on the production and operation of the game. As a result, many Duelists around the world have been playing Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS, so we were able to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the game. We would like to thank all the Duelists.

Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS deviated from the classic format of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TRADING CARD GAME (TCG) from the outset, can you share what ideas or influences helped to shape the game in the early stages? 

The concept of the project was “This is Yu-Gi-Oh! card battling”. We wanted people to enjoy not only the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG, but also the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! And we wanted to increase the number of Yu-Gi-Oh! fans around the world. Based on this concept, we chose mobile as the initial platform for the game. The Master Rules of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG lead to longer Duels. Since many people enjoy playing mobile games on the move, there was the concern of disconnections during the game due to external factors like poor signal. That’s why we decided to use the “Speed Duel” ruleset, which allows players to enjoy Duels more easily and speedily.

Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS has consistently managed to balance the game while adding new cards, how difficult has it been to find that balance for over six years? 

The number of cards was just a few hundred after launch, and now it’s several thousand. As you can imagine, each time we add a new card, we must check the consistency with the existing cards, and the cost of checking the consistency rises year by year. In addition, we are constantly checking the Duel logs and the ranks of all the Duelists on our servers and adjust to avoid bias toward extremely strong themes.

Classic Yu-Gi-Oh! anime characters Yugi, Jaden, and Yusei looking at the camera for Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links interview

Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS has always had close ties to the anime series, especially when compared to something like Yu-Gi-Oh! MASTER DUEL, how important is that to you? And how important do you think it is to Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS players? 

As I mentioned earlier, the concept of this game is “This is Yu-Gi-Oh! card battling”. So, we consider this relationship to be very important. We believe that one of the most appealing aspects of Yu-Gi-Oh DUEL LINKS is its ability to recreate the exciting Duels, awesome Summoning sequences, and character voices of the anime series. We are bringing new worlds from our anime series each year, and each time we do so, we receive many positive comments from fans. That makes us realize that there are so many fans who love Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series and it is a very important element for players. We believe this is a very important factor for our players. We have taken great care to preserve the characters and worlds of each Yu-Gi-Oh! anime series, while ensuring that the reactions and other aspects of their appearance in the Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS world can be enjoyed authentically by anime fans.

With three KC Grand Tournaments down in three years, how much do you think the competitive side of the game has helped it thrive into its sixth anniversary? 

The KC Grand Tournament was held as an alternative to the World Championships (WCS), and although we were not sure how to organize and stream this online tournament at first, we feel that we have been able to deliver exciting Duels more and more as we have held the tournament each year. The KC Grand Tournament held in 2022 was especially worthwhile, and we feel that it was a great success. We would like to thank all the Duelists who participated.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Vrains protagonist Yusaku in costume for Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links sixth anniversary interview

Looking back on the legacy of Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS, does the runaway success of the game change how Konami looks at the future of Yu-Gi-Oh! as a whole? 

My focus is that Yu-Gi-Oh DUEL LINKS will continue to grow from strength to strength.  The production and management teams will continue to work hard to maximize the appeal of the anime and to bring speedy and heated Duels to as many people as possible, so please give us your support.

Has the success of Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS, as well as other Yu-Gi-Oh! mobile games, led to a point where the future of the franchise will always be in free-to-play games? 

I do not think so. We would like to explore various possibilities for console and mobile titles so that all Duelists can enjoy the unique features of each game. Please look forward to future Yu-Gi-Oh! digital titles.

There you have it, our interview with Konami for Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS’ sixth anniversary. For more from the iconic card game, check out our Yu-Gi-Oh! Cross Duel interview or Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel review.