It's been a little over half a year since I last addressed the bigger picture of what's going on at Cardmarket. All these months later, I felt it was long overdue to give you an update on our current situation, our plans, and our vision for the coming period.
By the way, in the meantime, a few of my co-workers here at Cardmarket have also shared a lot of information from their perspectives. If you haven't already, be sure to look up those articles to gain an even better understanding of the people behind Cardmarket and what it is that we do. But now, without further ado, let's jump into some hot topics.
As I mentioned in my previous article, 2021 was a hectic year for us. The pandemic, the surge in demand for trading card games (especially the Pokémon TCG), a shift within the company structure, a lot of new employees, and the performance issues that our platform experienced all forced us to tackle many issues at once.
Much of the dust has settled in 2022. I am happy to say that we've taken a lot of measures to keep your favorite TCG marketplace up and running more than 99% of the time. While we still are subject to server maintenance and other minor inconveniences, the website is working like clockwork. Big props to our relatively new system engineering team for making this happen!
We've also added the Digimon TCG based on feedback from our users and have expanded our product catalog department to four full-time people. (It's no easy feat keeping up with all the games and their releases.) Naturally we keep our eyes open for any other interesting TCGs. (Looking at you, OnePiece.) Your feedback regarding the addition of new games—whether through the comment section here on Insight, our support helpdesk, or social media—is welcome and appreciated. Just keep in mind that adding new games is always a question of resources.
Speaking of resources, I'm happy to announce that we recently hired our 55th employee! I feel like it's important to share this number, as it's a large milestone for us and really shows the growth Cardmarket went through over the past three years. I remember starting back in 2017 when we were less than fifteen employees. You can imagine the organizational challenges that come with hiring that many people in such a short time.
Nevertheless, I am so proud of how far we've come. Our team is a collection of different nationalities and personalities, not just from Europe, but from all over the world, and everyone works together toward the same goal: providing you the best TCG marketplace experience.
A big part of my article earlier this year was to announce the largest software project we've ever undertaken in Cardmarket's history: not overhauling but completely rebuilding all of the system from the ground up. I am sure you are eager to learn what the status is.
Unfortunately, this task is not just as hard as we initially estimated but a little harder still. As you know (if you read the previous articles in this series) a lot of Cardmarket's code was written in the 2007–2014 era, before we had a proper IT team and software engineering principles, and most importantly, when we served a much smaller userbase.
While we now have a fully dedicated engineering team, working on a state-of-the-art API, there is still the technical challenge of how we migrate data and business logic from our legacy system to the new architecture. Development of this new infrastructure is well underway and making progress, but we're now tackling this migration.
One of the most important aspects we're looking into changing is what services we build in-house, and what services we outsource. As you might (not) know, Cardmarket's helpdesk and Insight are completely developed and maintained in-house. While they may be crucial to your experience as a user on Cardmarket, they are not directly part of Cardmarket's core business logic, the marketplace.
We've decided to do a gradual rollout of the new system, starting with exactly outsourcing these two components. We've already selected proven software solutions, and we will use this as our pilot for the migration of data and the marketplace in the coming months. If you notice some small changes on Cardmarket Insight or the helpdesk, it's because we're slowly decoupling it from our legacy system.
Naturally it's important to us that changes to your experience as a user are kept to a minimum, except of course when the opportunity for improvements arises. A feature like Cardmarket Insight can benefit a lot from using industry standard solutions rather than a product developed in-house. I am looking forward to these results.
This also means that the "new API" will not be ready in the first quarter of 2023. Rather it will be an ongoing process where we define new endpoints between the old and the new Cardmarket. Not only does this make for a smoother transition for all users depending on the API. It also gives us more opportunity to implement feedback and to improve compared to a "hard switch."
Another major topic that I quickly want to address is the current state of the TCG industry. We've been monitoring the mergers and acquisitions in the United States and it's only fair that we as Cardmarket share our thoughts on it:
We are incredibly grateful for the amazing community that we have on our platform, and it is our mission to keep providing you with the service you are used to. We have no plans to merge with any other platform, nor do we plan to increase our pricing structure. While we keep an open mind when it comes to expanding to new regions, products, and services, it is our main concern that the base operations of the platform do not suffer from any possible new ventures. We understand that we rely on you as a community to make this platform successful, and this will always be our focus.
The last topic I want to discuss is a rather difficult one, the future of the Cardmarket Series. For those of you unfamiliar, the Cardmarket Series was our very own tournament series in Europe.
We all know what kind of toll the pandemic has taken on organized play and events, and it wasn't any different for the Cardmarket Series. We had planned and already partially organized a fresh series on different locations in Europe for 2020 when the arrival of the corona virus forced us to cancel all events. Since then, it has been equally hard trying to organize things for the past two years, with lockdowns ending, new lockdowns coming into effect, and every country having different rules.
The Cardmarket Series has always been an important tool for us to stay in touch with the community and to foster paper play. But it also is a very costly and organizationally demanding operation.
This is why we have decided that the Cardmarket Series will not return in the foreseeable future.
I know this is difficult to accept, and I understand the importance of Cardmarket's contribution to the European tournament landscape. However, this doesn't mean Cardmarket will no longer be involved in any organized play. Rather than trying to organize one major event, we will be focusing our efforts on a more local level. This means we are looking to partner up with local event organizers. This way we will hopefully provide more ways to play, for more people, at a lower barrier of entry, rather than competing directly with the events that the game producers organize themselves. Stay tuned for more information on this later.
In addition to this, we've also expanded our video channels. Our YouTube channels for Magic: The Gathering and for Yu-Gi-Oh! are aimed at providing you with quality, quirky, and regular content and will serve as one of the major ways we are interacting with you as a community. Be sure to check out the channels for collaborations with your favorite TCG celebrities, live gameplay, wacky content, and of course the occasional giveaway.
I hope this article has given you a better understanding of the current state of Cardmarket. We'll do our best to release these updates twice a year to inform you of any changes that are happening at our company.
From everybody at Cardmarket, thank you for being here with us. See you in a few months!