What took them so long?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 March 2016, 2:44 am
While I don't claim to have a complete overview of all the new Free2Play games coming out, I did notice a kind of a trend: More and more "free" games on various platforms are using game elements coming from trading card games like Magic the Gathering. Many then combine classical Free2Play elements like leveling troops or fusing them with the trading card method of finding cards of various rarities in random boosters. As the potential as money pit of random boosters has been known since the 90's, I'm just wondering what took them so long. A completionist wanting every most rare card fully upgraded can spend thousands of dollars on such a game, so the attraction to the game company is obvious.

What is less obvious is that the system isn't actually all that bad for the players either. There is always a limit to how many cards you can take into a battle, so having twice as many cards doesn't make a richer player twice as strong. Frequently there are even other resource elements in the game, so the more powerful rare card is costing more resources, which somewhat balances them out. Yes, to some degree this is Pay2Win, but it isn't as blatant and unbalancing as other systems where money buys you a linear increase of power.

You know trading cards are main stream when Supercell releases a game that has them, called Clash Royale. Supercell tends to make highly popular "free" games that earn them millions of dollars per day. Having said that, I find Clash Royale not a very good game. The basic premise of playing a single-player MOBA / tower defense game with trading card troops has promise; but every win rewards you with a chest, and you either need to wait hours for a chest to open or pay to open it. As you only have 4 chest slots and even a simple silver chest takes 3 hours to open, you quickly get to the point where you are informed that you won't get any reward for winning any more, because you have no room for those chests.

So I'm sticking with Gems of War, which has trading card games in a Puzzle Quest type of game, and which doesn't push me all the time to spend money. And my level, currently 65, depends on games played, not on money spent. Spending money on cards is more like spending money on added content, as it allows me to build different decks and try out different strategies.
Tobold's Blog



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