Every passing month seems to bring forth a new collectible card game trying to dethrone Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone as the #1 online CCG. And with good reason. According to gaming analytics firm SuperDataResearch Hearthstone brings in about $20 million a month for Blizzard due to its tremendous success on PC and Mobile. Prior to Hearthstone’s launch the online CCG industry was relatively small with only a handful of relatively unknown projects. After Hearthstone, it’s a whole another story. It seems like every major game studio worth their salt is chasing after the market that Hearthstone created. Obviously CCGs were around well before Hearthstone, but it wasn’t popular on mobile or PC, just offline.
Zenimax and Bethesda released The Elder Scrolls: Legends which tried to spice up the genre by introducing 2 different “lanes” where cards could be played. GameForge partnered with Hex Entertainment to release Hex: Shards of a Fate, a free to play card game similar to Magic: The Gathering from Wizards of the Coast. Even Jagex, the company behind RuneScape threw their hat into the ring with Chronicle: RuneScape Legends, a unique CCG with an actual board.
Every major PC collectible card game has a mobile equivalent version as well, but there are also a handful of mobile only CCGs. Shadowverse from Cygames for example launched on June 17, 2016 and features unique class based gameplay with card evolutions. Star Realms and Solforge also launched earlier this year and trying desperately to capture a slice of the lucrative CCG market. Despite a slew of new CCG launches though, most of these games are generally flops as most fail to retain a large enough playerbase to ensure the developers behind them remain profitable. Forgotten Myths for example from Anchora Games launched in March, 2016 but has a fairly low playerbase.Grand Sphere
from Silicon Studio isn’t fairing too much better despite having gorgeous artwork.
There are a handful of niche CCGs that seem to have a shot at survival. Nexon launched a CCG set in the Mabinogi universe called Mabinogi Duel late last year which has a pretty compelling story. It’s mobile only and boasts a fairly robust playerbase. My favorite of the recent slew of CCGs though is a game called Faeria which origianlly launched as a buy to play game after getting funding from Kickstarter. It went free to play and launched on Steam a few months after and regularly gets 600-800 players online at any given time (data from Steamcharts). The playerbase isn’t huge, but the core gameplay is really fun. The beauty of Faeria is that it’s not designed to milk players through microtransactions. The cash shop is modest and players can unlock every card in the game for a one time purchase of $50. Free players can slowly unlock cards by simply playing the game and earning booster packs as they level up too. My favorite feature though is the daily free “pandora” run available to players. Pandora runs are simply Faeria’s version of arena runs. Making arena decks and playing with them is my favorite aspect of Hearthstone, so being able to do that EVERY day for FREE on Faeria is excellent. The only drawback with Faeria in my opinion is that the card-art isn’t nearly as appealing as something like Million Arthur (an anime CCG from Gamevil) or Fantasica (another anime CCG from Mobage).
I don’t know whether Faeria will make it big or if any of these other games will manage to take a big slice from Hearthstone’s pie, but as a fan of CCGs in general, I’m glad there are so many games coming out in this space. Even on the mobile front, there are countless mobile card games out there and given the nature of these games, mobile is actually a pretty good platform for these kinds of games.