The lights are on
I'm trying hard not to become a stereotypical old guy. I've given up CDs for MP3s. I read ebooks. I don't mind purchasing games through digital distribution services. Why then can't I abandon paper collectible card games for the new digital titles that are so much fun to play?
I almost buried myself in Sony Online's PoxNora a few years ago. The title is a digital collectible miniatures game with units that level up across matches. The progression system is something that would be hard to integrate in a physical game.
I've dabbled in a couple of newer games, and I've only barely escaped with my wallet intact. Ubisoft's Might and Magic Duel of Champions is a creative application of the turn-based strategy property. Stoneblade Entertainment's SolForge (created by the minds behind the popular Ascension deckbuilding game, with input from Magic: The Gathering's father, Richard Garfield) is a brilliant blend of deck-building game and CCG. Both of these titles incorporate systems that wouldn't be easy to implement at the table. So, what's my problem?
The answer is simple: I'm scared of my investment disappearing. I've spent a lot of money in Magic: The Gathering. I don't currently play regularly, but any time I want to pick it up or teach someone the game, I have my decks right here. No matter what happens with it, even if Wizards of the Coast were to pull the plug (something unlikely to happen any time soon) I will always have my cards.
The same isn't true of Duel of Champions, SolForge, or any other digital-only CCG. The publisher could shut off the game with minimal notice and no recourse for players.
Sure, this isn't entirely unlike other free-to-play games or other microtransaction-based affairs. But something feels very different about building a collection that isn't really mine. Maybe it's the blind-buy aspect of opening booster packs. Perhaps its the emotional investment on top of the cash that goes into crafting the perfect the deck.
My feelings were cemented a few days ago when EA announced that Battleforge, its collection-based real-time strategy is being sunset. The game has been around for four years, but the player base has dwindled due to flagging support from EA. When the servers are turned off, all of the cards purchased by players disappear forever.
It's easier to look at an MMO subscription fee, a League of Legends skin, or even a power-up in a free-to-play game as a sunk cost. If Microsoft abandons the current avatar gear, I won't weep for the money I've spent dressing my mini-me as an Assassin or a Big Daddy.
Collections are different. They are personal and, in many cases, unique. The way the pieces fit together to make an individually-tailored whole is deeply personal. CCG players pour themselves into their decks, and the idea that those can disappear on a whim is enough to put me off.
I know I might be missing out on some experiences because of my trepidation. I know that my approach is likely to be considered old fashioned. But until I know that my Hearthstone collection is as safe as my Magic: The Gathering decks, I'll be sitting on the sidelines.
Email the author Mike Futter, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.
There's nothing like a Deck of beautiful cards to thumb through even if you're not playing.
I used to spend lot of time just reading the cards and studying the artwork. I really like the physical cards too, I don't think I could get into an electronic ccg
The loss of tangebility is an epidemic...
Jk im actually making my own card game
am i the only one dissapointed by the eventual loss of battleforge? It was a descent game and i spent a few bucks on card packs. I wish there was a way to preserve the single player portion of the game forever.
I also like to have the cards physically available, but there has always been a real problem with playing company for me. Because my friends don't play with TCG cards, I don't play a lot either, actually I bought some wow TCG cards but then I really did not find use for them because none of my friends wanted to buy any. But this online version of TCG's really opens a gate for me to play with lots of people, and I think it's great.
Disappearing into the internet is far more similar to disappearing into your closet than you might think. You just have to be able to let go, and not lug around a chest of cards for 20 years before you decide to pass them on, or sell them.
"I'm scared of my investment disappearing."
This is exactly why I embrace being a stereotypical old guy, eschewing digital purchases of any kind. Any company that uses digital distribution can shut off your access at any time they choose, or quite simply screw up and lose your data. It happens. I had a miserable experience with Xbox Live when I bought a new console and my license transfer failed. Never again.
Digital card games are *** stupid and that is all.