Thursday, January 19, 2012

Power Player interview: Adam Capriola

Hey all The Deck Out followers!

Today is a interview time once again! In today’s interview I am proud to ton interview one of the persons that have single-handedly affected the game a lot while most people haven’t even realized it. He is Adam Capriola – the founder and administrator of the famous Pokémon TCG SixPrizes.com website.

As you may know “Power Player” has a double meaning and therefore Adam certainly belongs to this category. Even though, he isn’t that active player anymore he is a very strong force behind everything that happens in the competitive Pokémon TCG scene. I believe that most of you have found your way through to my website via SixPrizes and have read the famous Eye on Japan: Part1 from Sixprizes.com as well.

In the “Power Player” interviews I want to bring forth the top players of the world but I also want to bring forth the forces that affect and develop the game widely while most people don’t even notice it. That’s why you’ll be seeing interviews of also top TOs, Judges and etc. in the future. I hope you enjoy the interview!



You’re one of the founder members of SixPrizes.com, where did the idea for SixPrizes.com come from?

First off, I'd like to thank you Esa for all the great work you've done with The Deck Out and for putting together this interview series; I'm stoked to be a part of it and honored you chose me as an interviewee.

Anyway... here's the story very few people know about how I came up with the concept for SixPrizes. I guess it was back in 2008/2009 and I was trying to learn about internet marketing because it sounded fun and I've kind of always wanted to make it on my own like my dad. (I sold things on eBay for many years and had been scheming a string of failed business ideas during my junior year of college.)

Doing something on the internet seemed cool since all you really need a laptop and wifi connection, and you're good to go. You could be anywhere in the world and work at any hour of the day.

One day I was Googling random queries, namely something about Serebii.net, and I came across this search result for the site called WebsiteOutlook.com. It basically gives you as estimate of how much ad revenue a website is making per day based on estimated traffic numbers, and it said Serebii was making something like $3000 a day off ads.

Needless to say my mind was blown and I was like "Dude, you could make a Pokemon website better than that!" Of course I had no idea what I was really getting into (and that the WebsiteOutlook estimates were severely inflated), but the basic idea was to start a Pokemon TCG strategy blog where good players would share all their best tips, tricks, and testing results, which was unheard of at the time.

The status quo back then was mostly to keep secretive about your findings so you'd have a better chance to do well at tournaments. I thought that if I'd instead just shared everything, then maybe people would want to visit the site and I could make a zillion dollars of ad revenue. People did visit the site which was awesome and it has continued to grow, but the ad revenue is nowhere close to what I originally thought it would be. It's good to be a little naive though!


SixPrizes.com is at the moment the number one site to get Premium Content (paid content). Why do you think that the Premium Content is so popular among players? Also, do you think that there is need for more Premium Content in the Pokémon TCG?

I think Premium Content is popular because it's easy to get obsessed with the Pokemon TCG, so naturally people will want more information that could help them out and enable them to do better at the game (and I'm proud to say that 6P Underground has helped a lot of people improve).

Like for example, if you really enjoy playing tennis (or guitar, or whatever) and you want to get better, or to the next level, you'd pay for lessons. Paying for the lessons not only gives you some professional instruction, but it helps keep you accountable to get better since, well... you have a monetary investment in the learning process. That's why lessons/classes are effective.

There isn't exactly a place to go get lessons from Pokemon pros, so that's where Premium Content comes in. Pokemon League is definitely an awesome place to learn the ropes from other people and improve, but not everyone can get out to a League or connect with top ranked players, so this is a way for them to do it.

As far as a need for more Premium Content, obviously I'd like to say no and have Underground be the only source, but for the players, the more Premium Content outlets and more choice they have, the better.


SixPrizes’ philosophy is quite unique in the Pokémon TCG since its main contributors are people who write free articles for the SixPrizes. Why do you think these people prefer to write on the SixPrizes and not for example on the Pokegym?

I think the reason it works is because when you go to SixPrizes.com (the homepage) and you see your name and your article there, it's a cool feeling. Thousands of people are going to see your article and you can become a household name in an instant. PokeGym's homepage doesn't usually show people's articles or make them as forefront.

I try to place as much emphasis as I can on the writers so the reader knows who wrote the article and can start to identify and relate with them. I guess it's a more personal experience than other websites. It's about the readers/writers, and not the website itself.

I'd like to think 6P is a little more "functional" than a site like PokeGym for organizing articles. They use forum software and it doesn't translate as well as a blogging platform. I also put a lot of effort into editing all submissions and making sure they look professional.

Finally, it's pretty easy to submit an article to 6P once you're approved. I've done a lot of work refining the process to make it really simple for the writer to get their article submitted, and the turnaround time before its published is pretty fast (usually less than a day or two).


SixPrizes.com is probably the most popular completely to competitive Pokémon TCG dedicated site. Has the growth been stable all the time or has there been a time where the popularity has been increased conspicuously?

I try really hard not to be a constant stat checker (because it can become addictive), so I'm going to log into Google Analytics right now and give you a graph you can publish. The only times I think grow may have spiked is around Worlds, but I'm not sure. This should tell the story:


That shows pageviews. It looks like during Nationals and Worlds this past year, things shot up a little bit and it's come down some since then. Again, I try to ignore my stats as much as possible and just focus on making the site better. That's the first time I've checked Analytics in months.


How did the people react to the Premium Content of the SixPrizes and has the attitude towards Premium Content changed during the years?

Some people loved it; some people... didn't love it. I knew I'd get flack over it, but that's fine. I believe in the program and it has helped a lot of people. We've had members win States, Regionals, and even Nationals a few months after joining; that's a pretty good track record.

The biggest thing people have taken issue over is the price, but it's pretty reasonable for what you get. If the price was lower, then the program wouldn't be nearly as effective. The articles wouldn't be as good, there wouldn't be as many articles per month, and the members probably wouldn't take it as seriously, thus performing worse.

Underground has only been around for a little more than a year, so I'm not sure how much attitudes have changed towards it. I would guess that people are a little more understanding now, but I don't know for sure.

I know there was one competing Pokemon site (which I'll leave unnamed) that ragged on us with their promotions for a while, pointing out how their site was completely free, and now they are trying to do a membership program, so I guess that says something.



How do you see the future of SixPrizes.com and other fan-based Pokémon TCG websites?

I hope they all grow! I think everyone wins when the Pokemon TCG gets more publicity and coverage. We can help each other out and expand the game.

I do wish TPCI would be in better contact with us fan sites though. It seems like PokeGym is the only site that has somewhat direct contact with them. It would be cool if they communicated with the other sites too.

And as far as the future of SixPrizes in particular, I don't really have any specific plans in mind. One thing I've wanted to do for a while is make it easier to search for articles that talk about specific decks, but it's just so hard to define different variants of decks. It gets confusing when for example you have ZPS which turns into ZPST, or all the varying builds of Reshiphlosion. There are a seemingly infinite number of decks and variants out there.

I also have wanted to create kind of a deck database which would provide a sample deck list and then links to resources for those decks, but again that goes back to the issue I mentioned previously regarding categorization.


You’ve also started the website PkmnCards.com for providing easy to access scans for players, do you have any other big plans for the future of SixPrizes.com or PkmnCards.com?  


Nah not really. PkmnCards was kind of an experiment to see if I could make a hands free website (meaning I don't need to constantly monitor and update it like I do with SixPrizes). It's doing very well so far and it seems like people are having fun with it, which is great. I was considering adding more features (like advanced searching), but I think it's pretty darn good as it is. Simpler is better sometimes.

I actually did recently add one new feature to the site though, which is a "Card of the Day" to hopefully generate some guided discussion. Right now the homepage updates each day with the new card at 12 PM EST and it gets beamed out to the PkmnCards and SixPrizes Facebooks and Twitters as well. Instead of having a designated reviewer (like on 6P COTDs), the idea is to have everyone to collaborate upon a critique. It's meant to be fun and at the same time build some content for newbies to learn a little about the card.

Anyway, I do think it would be cool to make a dedicated deck database website like I mentioned earlier, but I'm not sure how much drive I have to try and make one. PkmnCards was challenging enough to put together, and I feel like a deck database would take a whole 'nother level of skill.

I'm completely self taught with all this website and coding stuff the past couple years, so I'm not sure if I feel like attempting to build it and struggle for a few months. Maybe... we'll see.


Even though most people know you nowadays solely as the administrator of the SixPrizes, you have had great success as a player as well in the past. What do you think are your best achievements as a player and do you still have a hunger for competitive playing?

My best achievement as a player was helping to build Queedom which dominated Worlds in 2005. I unfortunately went 5-3 and missed cut with it, but Jeremy Maron and Pablo Meza piloted it to 1st and 3rd, respectively. That was a huge accomplishment which I'm still proud of. I don't know if a rogue will ever surprise and dominate everyone like that at Worlds again.

(I know Raybees and The Truth were impressive, but 1st and 3rd is nuts. It would have been 1st and 2nd if Jeremy and Pablo were on the other sides of the bracket.)

I don't really have any desire to play competitively anymore. I've accomplished pretty much everything I wanted to on the competitive scene, qualifying for Worlds a few years and performing fairly well at some of the bigger tournaments. It would be cool to actually win Nationals or Worlds, but I know that's Farfetch'd (pun intended). At this point I have plenty of fun showing up with a loaned deck for a few tournaments a year and just trying to make top cut.

Right now I'm busy enough anyway maintaining my websites and training to stay in good shape for tennis. I really love playing tennis and have channeled some of my competitive drive into that instead of Pokemon.

But who knows... I might get the itch to play Pokemon competitively again. I think first though I'd wait until they fix some things like the turn 1 rule and get the tournament point structure better formulated.


Choose one, pick one!
1. New player vs. Veteran player
2. Worlds vs. Nats
3. Paid vs. Free
4. SixPrizes.com vs. ProPokémon.com
5. Milotic vs. Blissey Prime
6. Nidoqueen/Pidgeot vs. Metagross d/Electrode EX
7. Pojo vs. Pokegym
8. Donk vs. Win-on-time

Haha, some of these are too easy!

1. Veteran I guess... newbies are cool too though!

2. Nats. I've had way too much fun at Nationals in the past acting like a goofball with my friends. I was going to link you to a video of a boxing match (with a set of real boxing gloves) we had in our hotel room one year, but I had to set the video to private because my friend is interviewing for a job and it was like the number 1 search result for his name on Google.

(On a side note, I wish Worlds wasn't in Hawaii this year. I would like to go and hang out, but Hawaii is too expensive!)

3. This is too ambiguous! Paid.

4. TheDeckOut.com

5. Milotic because it gave you the rush of worrying whether you might open with a lone 30 HP Feebas.

6. Hah, you really did your research on this one. Metagross d/Electrode ex was a fun deck, but I'll always have way more memories playing Nidoqueen/Pidgeot. I don't even know if I actually used Metagross d/Electrode ex at a tournament!

7. Pojo since that's what got me interested in competitive play back during the Base Set/Jungle/Fossil era.

8. Donk. Long games are too draining for me. I'll take any donk I can get during a tournament to save my mental reserves.

Is there anything you would like to say for the Pokémon TCG Community/The Deck Out readers?

This was a lot of fun Esa! You picked a lot of great questions and I can tell you put a lot of thought into the interview. Keep up the great work and I'm looking forward to reading more player interviews you do in the future!

If anyone thinks I'm interesting and wants to keep up with the non-Pokemon happenings in my life, you can check out my personal blog and follow me on Twitter/Facebook.

Later!


And that’s the end of the interview. I think there is no need to say “check out the SixPrizes” since most of you are familiar with already. However, if you aren’t for some reason, be sure to check it out! Huge thanks for Adam for agreeing to an interview.

As always, let me know what you thought about this interview and what kind of people and interviews you would like to see in the future! Thanks for reading.

9 comments:

  1. I thought this was a really good interview!

    Since I'm the owner of ProPokemon, I thought it might be mentioned a few times since it's the only other website to sell Premium Content aside from SixPrizes (you can show the name if you want by the way).

    When the Underground was first released, there was a lot of controversy about it, and I had the idea for a website where these writers could be paid by advertisements instead (making the articles free for everyone).

    I overestimated a couple of things when I did this. One was that it's really hard to make money from advertisements on the internet, whether it's from a blog or Youtube channel.

    Even though players like Esa or Pooka from the Top Cut provide great free content, and have the opportunity to place advertisements during that, it just doesn't make enough money.

    I think any Premium Content whether it's ProPokemon's or SixPrize's is generally deemed 'uncool' to subscribe to, which I personally disagree with (I think that it does improve people as players, and they can often make the money back from extra prizes).

    I assumed originally that with the negative feeling surrounding the idea, and a similar concept a couple of years earlier failing, people wouldn't be interested in the service. My concept of providing similar articles for free seemed great at the time, since everyone would be looking for an alternative.

    This was the other thing I overestimated because despite everything that was being spoken about, a huge amount of players were still happy to pay for any Premium Content, and gain that edge.

    The Underground has over 300 subscribers now in just over a year which is massive, and the ProPokemon Membership Service has attracted a lot of interest, with people signing up on a daily basis.

    Whether people agree with it or not, I think that the concept of Premium Content will stay around, and that possibly other people will try to sell their own as well.

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  2. Just saying ''Choose one, pick one!'' seems bad in my opinion as a name for a section. It is ''Valitse yksi, valitse yksi!''. I don't see why you'd have to be redundant, but I think something like ''Choose one, discard one!'' or something that implies putting something aside in favor of another one would be better to be honest.

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  3. Pokemon Trainer AndrewJanuary 20, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    Great interview! Though I have a question of my own and its a bit of a worrying question. This is probably more of a business and law question. How will SOPA and PIPA effect SixPrizes,Deck Out, and similar websites in the future? I think TheTopCut touched on it a night or two ago. It could make business impossible for anyone who may reference something that's copyrighted. Nintendo also initially supporter SOPA and PIPA before huge customer bases lashed back against the decision. Similar to what happened to GoDaddy, only not quite as extreme.

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  4. Great read. If possible, I would nominate PokePop from PokeGym as a next possible interviewee. As basically the head ruling Professor in Pokemon TCG, I have always been very interested in knowing more about him.

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  5. Nathan: Hey, I mentioned ProPokémon in one point! And this wasn't a SixPrizes commercial so I tried to keep things as personal as possible even though the SixPrizes is the best "achievement" of Adam. I think you're very correct about the Premium Content and how it will stay. It has come to stay and as long as the best players around the world will write for money, that long the players will pay for the Premium Content.

    Anonymous: Hmm, yeah, I'll look into that in the upcoming interviews!


    Pokémon Trainer Andrew: If SOPA will go through in the U.S. it will mean a new world order in the internet and I can't even imagine the world with SOPA being around. We'll see what happens.

    Lee: Thanks a lot! I will try to make PokePop happen!

    Najaa: I'm glad you liked it!

    Thanks a lot for the comments guys!

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  6. I just meant this point - I know there was one competing Pokemon site (which I'll leave unnamed) - I don't mind if you want to edit that.

    Don't worry, I didn't have any problems with the interview and thought you did a good job :).

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    Replies
    1. if anyone is wondering what Queendom is here's a link:

      http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Queendom_%28TCG%29

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  7. Premium subscriptions are stupid. Knowledge should be free, not something scum bags like Adam can make a profit off of. It baffles me how 6PUG can still be around after it was made known that these aren't the writers personal lists after US nats' "Yanmega gate." Six Prizes Underground is no different than your average infomercial or get rich quick scheme. I don't think Adam is nearly important enough to warrant a power players interview. He runs a website (which he admitted was purely for money) and helped build a deck once.

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