From 2013 onwards, there has been a tremendous surge in the number of card games for the mobile platform. Apart from the giant known as Hearthstone, there are other card games in the app stores that are a great hit with mobile users.
Some examples include:
Ayakashi Ghost Guild by Zygna
Valkyrie Crusade by Nubee
Guardian Cross by Square Enix
Indeed, these few years have set the ‘Card Games’ genre in motion with its popularity and sometimes simple to learn gameplay.
In this article, I will cover why ‘Card Games’ are popular these days, and what is in store for them in the future.
To put things into perspective, let’s examine the popular mobile app trends of the past.
For a period in time (2008-2009), games like Bejeweled Blitz were a great hit, especially if it were based on speed. Bejeweled Blitz was one of the top downloads of the past.
Next in line (2009-2010) was the games where you had to commit to certain timings to play. This involved reporting back at fixed ‘timings’ to harvest crops, collect money, build buildings, etc. This would probably be the most profitable the mobile app industry has been, since users would rather pay the money instead of waiting.
Finally, we see the champion of mobile games (2010-present) with games of a mixture of both elements. Candy Crush and Farm Heroes are examples of these games. They combine Bejeweled gameplay with the element of waiting to get things you want.
Now, there is an emergence of ‘Card Games’, where players are involved in strategic duels between others players or AIs.
One reason why card games are so popular is that the gameplay is relatively easy. There is no need for micro skills, ‘rhythm-based’ skills or even the speed needed for Bejeweled Blitz. It was simply how strategic you think and how you form your decks before playing. The learning curve is easy as well, where there is an abundance of tutorials and plenty of opportunities to practice with AI opponents.
Another reason for its popularity is that it incorporates the competitive element of games. Humans like to challenge each other, and this is accomplished with the multiplayer functions in each game. This pits a player against another and you can see whose deck and strategy triumphs the other. As compared to single player games such as Plants Vs Zombies, the competition between friends makes the whole experience more enjoyable. This can be further seen in other games such as Flappy Birds, where even without a multiplayer function, people compete against high scores.
Card games allow people to socialize with each other. You are able to talk to in-game players and even communities that exist outside of the game. More often than not, games are fun because of the social element it entails. Card games give people a common topic, and even facilitate discussions as there is not only one way to play it.
Building on the previous point, there is no ‘one way’ way to play the game. A good card game gives a lot of flexibility in play style and this certainly attracts players who want to play a popular game and yet want to find a personality that distinguishes themselves from others. Flexibility in gameplay is important and this can been seen by MMORPGs, where the distinguishing factor is and has always been the classes you can be when you play the game. Similarly, card games give each player a choice on what road they want to travel (by building different decks).
Probably what made the ‘Card Game’ genre so prevalent is the fact that cards are generally free. There is no need to physically go out to buy booster packs using your own money. You could pay for in-game purchases, but each game is generally free to pick up. This can attribute to a lot of players giving the game a shot. After all, the opportunity cost is low should they find out that they do not like the game.
The next question would be whether card games are here to stay, or whether they are a passing fad. This may be applicable especially for the mobile game developers out there.
While there is no doubt that there mobile card games are here to stay, it should be noted that card games have existed since decades ago, beginning with the likes of Pokemon, Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh!. The only difference is probably that the games are free and easily accessible. Even without those factors, games play Pokemon and Magic the Gathering have survived even till today. This is definitely something to take note of. It could mean that this is not the ‘creation’ of a trend, rather than a technological advancement that made a popular trend even more popular. This, of course, is pure speculation.