What is the formal definition of a TCG?

I am wondering this because it seems to be a blurry line between TCGs (Trading Card Games) and CCGs (Collectible Card Games). Aren't TCGs collectible?

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    I switched the tag from [game-design] to [terminology], which seems like a better fit, and made a few other changes. Feel free to undo my edits if you like. May 15, 2017 at 21:37

2 Answers 2


According to Wikipedia, they are one and the same.

A collectible card game (CCG), also called a trading card game (TCG) or customizable card game, is a kind of card game that first emerged in 1993 and consists of specially designed sets of playing cards.

From Wikipedia the definition of a CCG (and hence TCG) is:

Collectible card games (CCG) are generally defined as those where the player acquires cards into a personal collection or library, from which they create customized decks of card within the game's ruleset to challenge other players in matches.

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    The two terms do indeed have the same definition, but I think there is a bias for which one companies choose. Looking at BoardGameGeek, it seems to me that "Trading Card Games" tend to be aimed at children and "Collectible Card Games" tend to be aimed at adults. May 15, 2017 at 21:47
  • @Thuderforge good points. I believe that TCG is also a bit of an obsolete term. On BGG there are three pages of games tagged with TCG and 21 pages with CCG; many of the TCG games (maybe all) are also tagged with CCG.
    – Mosquite
    May 15, 2017 at 21:52
  • I was just looking at the games that had either "Trading Card Game" or "Collectible Card Game" in their title. I would expect that BoardGameGeek would tag such games as both, since as you said, they have the same definition. May 15, 2017 at 22:21

With the advent of digital games, there is a bit more of a distinction. Many digital games allow you to build a personal collection, but do not allow you to trade the contents of your collection with other players at all (something that obviously doesn't really make sense in the physical world).

So a digital CCG is generally one where you are not allowed to trade with other players (for example, Hearthstone), while a digital TCG is one where you can trade with other players (for example, Hex: Shards of Fate).


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