Micro-transaction digital TCG's are flooding the market right now, and I wanted to provide some distinctive comparisons between the most popular digital TCG's recently released, or that will be available in the next few months. I will also add quick comparisons to MTG:O.
Why digital TCG's, why now?
The rise of free-to-play micro-transaction games, like League of Legends, fosters an era of gaming where large communities and casual players have easier access to games. Micro-transactions have found their place in many social games, like Farmville and a lot of games in the broader iOS market for quite some time now. Casual gamers tend to feel more comfortable jumping into these games with no need to invest $50 or $60 in a boxed or digital game.
To make these games popular, the hook is to give a little early, and make the rest available through gameplay. The problem is after the initial early gifts, the gameplay required to earn a bit more begins to take considerably longer. To unlock more, you need to play more, or alternatively, spend more.
This is where terms are loosely thrown around like: Play-to-Pay, or Pay-to-Play are mentioned. Most of these games narrowly avoid the Pay-to-Win bucket of gaming that is heavily frowned upon, although some people may feel the games should still be labelled that way.
TCG's fit in because they have always been a collectors game, and obtaining what you play with is the largest part of the game. Where many games are limited to features to enhance your play, or items that change the way you can play, TCG's are all about the cards you collect and play with. Every aspect of a TCG encourages the trading and purchasing of cards.
Creating TCG's in a digital space for free, move them out of a niche market, to be something everyone can play and enjoy with money not being a limitation to entry. Like the genre MOBA (which was a niche market for many years as a Mod-Map of a Real-time strategy game (Warcraft3)), competitive TCG's can have a large place in the gaming industry if introduced in the right way. Because this has not yet been explored thoroughly, there is a frenzy to releasing these type of games now, and releasing them as well thought out as possible.
Digital TCG's - Everybody wins.
The developer / publisher: Make income based on the games popularity and the value or wow factor of the free content they provide. They make a unspoken pact with gamers to listen to them and continually improve the game, as that is the only way for them to continually make revenue from the game.
The hardcore gamer: Has the opportunity to play skilled players at the highest level to win prizes and notoriety. They also have the opportunity to profit off their accumulated wealth and ability to min/max and understand the intrinsic value of a card. The strategic opportunities TCG games present by turn-based play also allow these players to enjoy a less stressful gameplay experience as opposed to macro and micromanagement in real-time games.
The casual gamer: No investment needs to be made by the casual gamer. It is all a matter of preference to a casual gamer, but they are the largest audience, and the audience most likely to spend money. This is where easy to learn, and fun to play become core concepts for designers to appeal to these social gamers. The hook developers create for casual gamers is once they do play, learn, and enjoy, they decide to spend a little money. As they invest in the game, they become more attached as they want to get more value out of content they purchased.
So, What the hell does this all have to do with this posts Subject?
Here is a simple break-down of the 5 games presented (MTG:O added as a benchmark):
direct link: http://imageshack.us/a/img211/499/56g.png
You may notice there are a lot of similarities and a lot of differences between the games. Most of the games have varying game lengths and game modes. All games have deck building modes as a main part of the game experience (this is not listed in the above chart). There is no best or better game. It comes down to your personal TCG preferences and whatever resonates with you more.
What I like about Hex is that it is being developed with substantial content and game modes in mind. This adds a level of complexity and replayability to Hex that all the other games listed do not even come close to offering at this time. The MMO aspect, is a big draw to me, not because I want to play another MMO, but that I am able to have a social connection to a specific group of players, and that it provides a support grid in game to give it personality, like playing in a local card-shop may provide.
I hope everyone is happy with their choice in Hex. Don't feel like that needs to stop you from playing these other TCGs. I know I will enjoy Hearthstone a bit when it is out, and already enjoy the SolForge and Scrolls beta as casual and quick TCGs on the side. They just lack the strategic depth and versatility I am looking for in a TCG.
Originally posted on our Guild Forums here: http://forum.cornerstoneguild.com/vi...c.php?f=6&t=61
Added Card Hunters. May add Infinity Wars. Not planning to expand past that. Thank you for your interest, please understand this was for illustrative purposes, and not meant to be a expansive reference sheet. If you would like to use this and expand on it, I would be happy to share the excel file.
Special thanks to: Credendo, hmdrake, Random360, Punk and everyone else that contributed to comparison updates.