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[Column] General: You Got Your CCG in My MMO

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,596MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In his latest column for MMORPG.com, Matt Miller takes a look at the way collectible card games have wormed their way into MMOs. It's a fascinating look from an insider's perspective and one you won't want to miss. Read on before sharing your thoughts in the comments.

Collectible Card Games became an entire subset of the gaming industry. Companies rose from nothingness with innovation, and just as many crashed as printing and development costs outweighed any profits they attempted to see. The thrill of opening a pack of cards and seeing what it contained was like Christmas morning every time you went to the game store. It was only a matter of time before this concept was married into games where you were already spending money on a monthly basis.

Read more of Matt Miller's You Got Your CCG in My MMO.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • adam_noxadam_nox hays, KSPosts: 2,035Member Uncommon

    There's currently no model that properly emulates the idea of opening a pack of magic cards, where you might find something of real value, something that could drastically change the way you even play the game. 

     

    The way it's setup currently, the system preys upon casuals, to pay the way of hardcores, and I believe it should be the other way around, given that one uses up a lot more resources and whines more about lack of content.

     

    Further, it's always been my opinion that the business model between MTGO and real life magic are not comparable, and to sell virtual packs misses the point entirely, and insults my intellgence.  Real life magic is a completely different experience, and for the social aspect, and being a true hobby and the usage of collectibles that might someday have value outside the virtual space is well worth the price. 

     

    But wizards have created an inevitable entropy with MTGO, as games eventually die, and magic had already waned when they started that venture, but now they must forever pay for the virtual space and some version of the software and network, otherwise cards lose their value and likely lawsuits will emerge.  But even then, the lack of many players paying for new cards lowers the value of virtual cards all by itself. 

  • Jerek_Jerek_ tulsa, OKPosts: 409Member
    the problem is that MMO's aren't CCG's.   If I were to play magic against a friend wotc wouldn't just show up at my house and give me cards, but thats exactly how MMO's like swtor are designed- you play the game and get things, thats the most basic concept in a themepark game.  The packs screw up the entire thing and people shouldn't be happy about it.  Simply avoiding the packs if you don't like them does nothing to address all the problems they bring with them into an MMO.
     
    you also knew what the deal was with magic at that demo before you bought anything.  They didn't have you play it for a year and get extra cards for winning, then bring out booster packs.  The way its been done in games like swtor has more in common with selling crack than CCG sales. 
  • XarnthalXarnthal Landenberg, PAPosts: 130Member
    Originally posted by adam_nox

    There's currently no model that properly emulates the idea of opening a pack of magic cards, where you might find something of real value, something that could drastically change the way you even play the game. 

     

    The way it's setup currently, the system preys upon casuals, to pay the way of hardcores, and I believe it should be the other way around, given that one uses up a lot more resources and whines more about lack of content.

     

    Further, it's always been my opinion that the business model between MTGO and real life magic are not comparable, and to sell virtual packs misses the point entirely, and insults my intellgence.  Real life magic is a completely different experience, and for the social aspect, and being a true hobby and the usage of collectibles that might someday have value outside the virtual space is well worth the price. 

     

    But wizards have created an inevitable entropy with MTGO, as games eventually die, and magic had already waned when they started that venture, but now they must forever pay for the virtual space and some version of the software and network, otherwise cards lose their value and likely lawsuits will emerge.  But even then, the lack of many players paying for new cards lowers the value of virtual cards all by itself. 

    First off it's clear you've never read into or played MTGO. The cards have a real-world equivilent, you can only redeem them in sets however. The current rate of $1 in game is $0.96 in USD. So no matter how you look at it, via trade or official redemption, the cards do have real value. The social aspect is still there in the same way that MMO's are social. Some people feel that looking a person in the eye is equivilent to social interactions while others believe that it's the communication aspect that is more important. If you want to talk about it being a hobby, are you then to suggest that PC-gaming is not a hobby? I can state for a fact that I get just as excited opening an old virtual booster with a Tarmogoyf as I would if I opened one IRL, if not more excited for the virtual one.

     

    Once again, I'd like to reiterate that you have not and do not play MTGO by your description of it. Drafts are going off every 10 minutes still and chat lobbies are full of thousands of players. It's not a dying game, it's the same as it has been for years. I've recently started playing again aftaer a 3-year hiatus.  

    I'm an avid M:TG player and have been since I bought my first Unlimited packs in 1993, the game is just as popular now as it was back then. I've bought and sold tens of thousands of cards over the years. The sets are still fresh, the mechanics are only better, and without a doubt it is still the best strategy game to be created since 1990.

    Sennheiser
    Assist
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  • koboldfodderkoboldfodder Danbury, DEPosts: 390Member Uncommon

    SOE games all had card games in them like MTG.  Their card game was pretty much the same thing.  You got cards packages and made your deck, and could buy additional packs in their cash store and have a chance at loot cards which meant an in game item.  Maybe it was a mount, or an outfit....something not obtainable in the game without going through the card purchases.

     

    People spent lots of money on those card decks.  Of course, you would not play the MMO only for the card game so the game had to be good.  EQ and EQ2 card game was linked, so players of one game could play against players in the other game.  You choose to get EQ loot or EQ2 loot.  SWG had a card game as well but it was way less played, simply because SWG was way less played.

     

    The idea is basically still in the game with lootboxes.  It's all gambling.  Lots of something (lootboxes, in this case) and they could only be unlocked with store bought keys.

     

    IMO this type of thing crosses the line into gambling and needs to be regulated.  I think game companies are now just glorified gambling houses where the actual product is not the main focus of the development, but instead they focusin on developing a core gambling system in the game.

     

    Age of Wushu is a perfect example of this.  When you really look at the game you see it for what it is intended to be, a Pay 2 Qin shop....and isn't that the entire purpose of MTG.  You pay to win.

  • elockeelocke Manassas, VAPosts: 4,205Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by adam_nox

    There's currently no model that properly emulates the idea of opening a pack of magic cards, where you might find something of real value, something that could drastically change the way you even play the game. 

     

    The way it's setup currently, the system preys upon casuals, to pay the way of hardcores, and I believe it should be the other way around, given that one uses up a lot more resources and whines more about lack of content.

     

    Further, it's always been my opinion that the business model between MTGO and real life magic are not comparable, and to sell virtual packs misses the point entirely, and insults my intellgence.  Real life magic is a completely different experience, and for the social aspect, and being a true hobby and the usage of collectibles that might someday have value outside the virtual space is well worth the price. 

     

    But wizards have created an inevitable entropy with MTGO, as games eventually die, and magic had already waned when they started that venture, but now they must forever pay for the virtual space and some version of the software and network, otherwise cards lose their value and likely lawsuits will emerge.  But even then, the lack of many players paying for new cards lowers the value of virtual cards all by itself. 

    I agree 100%.  Let me also add that currently only one game, well 2 but one developer, really only incorporates a CCG into their MMO.  EQ/EQ2 and personally, I hate having to spend extra money to play it and it's not really that addictive or as addictive as it could be such as MTG is.  What I would like, is for MMOs to creat MTG style CCGs within the game world themselves.  Much like FF8 and FF9  did, where you play NPCs for better cards or maybe they drop off of mobs. 

    Honestly, this is an untapped mechanic that would be awesome in various forms in various MMOs.  Imagine having parts of the Auction House devoted to trading cards alone and then having parts of those large capital cities that are so unused be modified to hold CCG tourneys and such, bringing a whole new level of roleplaying to the gameworld.  The possibilities are endless and would help with the immersion factor and "world" feeling missing in current MMOs.

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  • RyahlRyahl Houston Metro, TXPosts: 47Member
    Originally posted by adam_nox

    There's currently no model that properly emulates the idea of opening a pack of magic cards, where you might find something of real value, something that could drastically change the way you even play the game. 

     

    Others have tackled the online CCG side of @adam_nox's post, I want to touch on it from the MMO side, where I suspect his statement is a bit more on course.

    In the CCG, you buy all those packs to craft a deck.  It does all of the things Matt referenced in the article.  It prey on the compulsive and it works.  But there is a purpose.

    That's not really what's happening in MMO's.  The mechanic, as employed in MMO's works more along the lines of a slot machine.  Plug in enough coins and eventually something shiny is spit out.  I don't play the slots, but I don't begrudge their existence in real life or virtually.  

    The other way it plays out in MMO's is when the MMO has a side CCG, but so far those aren't really integrated into the MMO itself.  They play out on the side.  For it to be integrated, you would need to see something like Vanguard's diplomacy integrated with a Pokemon or Magic model.  Not as a side game, but as a primary means of advancement directly integrated into the world.

    As to the preying on the casual or hardcore, I look at it as making sure that F2P isn't.  Don't get me wrong, if someone is playnig a game and enjoying it, I think they should be plopping down some coin and that the folks making these games should be making money.  I like shiny things and I'm  happy to pay those who make them.  In the current wave of everything is free (which is a misnomer), it makes sense to include monetization paths that are more optional and micro.  

    Playing the slots is one of them.  It works, I need go no further than the border of TX and OK or TX and LA to see it in action!

    Ryahl - writer of eye-bleeders
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  • nightarixnightarix vancouver, WAPosts: 7Member
    i know it's somewhat irrelavent because you were using it for a comparison but there was no card game in ff7, though you are right about 8. triple triad was the ccg in 8 and tetra master was in 9 (9 also had blackjack, but i don't think you needed to find cards for it) and before anyone "salutes" my knowledge i had to look it up to be sure.
     
  • LustmordLustmord Mt. Gilead, OHPosts: 1,095Member Uncommon

    I don't like loot boxes, and I refuse to buy a key.

    I do like trading card games, and I would buy them within an MMO, if it was a good game, and it had a good interface within the MMO.

    I would also buy chess.

     

    Why don't more MMO's have Chess Rooms where your avatar can sit down and enjoy a game of chess with an ingame friend?

     

     

     

     

  • itchmonitchmon west islip, NYPosts: 1,714Member Uncommon

    @ the OP.

     

    i loved the anecdote you shared with us about MTG.  a game that is as near to my heart as any MMO if not more.  (i still play magic in paper cards and online at least once a week).  but, one of the main things that made MTG unique among these "rare item acquisition" games / metagames was omitted from your article.

     

    that being the fact that magic, in addition to its collectability, was and still is one of the best designed games of all time.

     

    that's the reason that magic is celebrating its 20th this year (can you believe it?  i know) while, for instance, the LOTR card game and RAGE and vampire" the eternal struggle are nowhere to be seen.  these games were every bit as collectable as magic (i remember that the LOTR ccg had a "one ring" card worth 100 bucks at the time) but they were simply not as good, game wise, as magic.

     

    this applies to MMO games with gambling packs in them as well.  the better the game around the "prize pack" is, the more likely i am to be willing to plop some cash on one.

     

    thanks

     

    itch

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  • bobfishbobfish SouthamptonPosts: 1,688Member

    You know they made packs like these in online and mobile games illegal in Japan last year and they are subject to very strict laws in Korea too now, because they are considered too similar to gambling to be unregulated.

     

    Only a matter of time before it happens over here too.

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,187Member Uncommon
    Cards worked in board games, I do not find them of any attraction in a MMO environment.  In fact I won't even try a card based game anymore, they just seem so archaic.
  • elockeelocke Manassas, VAPosts: 4,205Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by nightarix
    i know it's somewhat irrelavent because you were using it for a comparison but there was no card game in ff7, though you are right about 8. triple triad was the ccg in 8 and tetra master was in 9 (9 also had blackjack, but i don't think you needed to find cards for it) and before anyone "salutes" my knowledge i had to look it up to be sure.
     

    Thanks, it's been a long time since I played those, my memory is hazy.  I edited my post to reflect the "truth" hehe.

    image
  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,026Member Uncommon

    SOE has messed around with this pack ideas for a while it is called lon.   I know there are quite a few folks who actually play the game win loot.  there was a website that actually sold the loot from lon.  

    Meanwhile I just log into lon once a month to gt my 5 free pack.  I never learned how to play that game. I could care less.  Just give me my  free packs.   I got a feeling there are a lot more folks like me.   I know that is a fact.  SOE last month posted an actual new deck something with the name of ratonga in it.  The following statement was made on the website. "You must log in each month in order to claim your cards,  otherwise you will no longer recieve them, gone are the days you could let them accumulate"

    I actually had to log into my wifes account and get 2 years worth of packs, and I found there were quite a lot of folks like that, there was some grumbling about it on eq2wire. 

    Oh well, if they made the game easier to play maybe folks would just play it. 

  • MogusMogus Anderson, OHPosts: 169Member

    I still have about 6,000 WOW TCG Cards in the closet waiting for the day that it comes back!

    If they would just make an Online Version of it like MTG, I would be in Heaven.

    Loved my nasty discard deck!

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  • tawesstawess LkpgPosts: 2,535Member Uncommon

    well the WoW TCG is that sort of game that lives on by virtue of pets and mounts for your in game char tucked in with the normal rares and commons. And while there is a new company doing the cards it is still pretty much the same and no real promotion is going on for it (especially outside of the US afaik).

     

    I think that SW:ToR still do a good job with their boxes. At least there you can transform the stuff to coins.. perhaps not a lot but at least some.

     

     

  • SenadinaSenadina San Diego, CAPosts: 896Member Uncommon
     M:TG is still  my favorite game of all. But no one can deny it is an incredible money sink, and my friends gave up on it a long time ago. As a female, I was always too intimidated by the sea of males playing in the local game shops to play there. So I am forced to play Duels of the Planeswalkers endlessly on Steam ( closing in on 500 hours playtime).

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  • FrinkiacVIIFrinkiacVII Scranton, PAPosts: 45Member

    First off, since I missed the author's first column, I just want to say POSI IS AWESOME!  I have described City of Heroes to people as the game I waited my whole life to play, and it didn't disappoint.  I preordered it, it arrived, I promptly discovered that my computer couldn't run it, so I IMMEDIATELY bought a new computer, just to play CoH.  I waited 3 agonizing weeks, the new rig arrived, I was off and running around Atlas Park defeating purse snatchers.  The game was awesome (even when you had to wait until level 14 AND take Hover just to unlock Fly).  I still miss it a lot.  Good game, good people, good times. *sigh*

    Anyway, about the cards.    I play Magic (with real cards) and I get the impression that Hasbro would prefer to just run Magic as a videogame.  Saving money on printing and shipping cards for one, not having to deal with third party aftermarket card stores for another, and the best part is that the entire in-game currency (event tickets) is controlled entirely by the company.  Money get's into the system from users, and they reap the profits.  Even when someone pays 50 tickets to someone else for a chase rare, that's $50 that someone paid Magic Online.  As such it doesn't surprise me that MMOs are trying to cash in. 

    When I was young, the videogame industry's biggest problem was people cracking the security on games and copying them and playing for free.  Nowadays, the problem is that security aside, the competition in the videogame market is so vast that "free" is about the only price people will willingly pay.  When CoX rolled out the superpacks, a lot of people didn't like it, and I can't say I was in love with the idea, but I participated in it because, as I said on the forum there at the time, I believe in supporting my hobbies when I can.  I buy Magic cards from my local store, not off of the internet for cheaper, and despite that I've still seen my fair share of local comic and game stores go belly up.   City of Heroes was the kind of game where I would willingly buy superpacks to get costume unlocks and recipes primarily because I believed in the people that the money was ultimately supporting.   I would have paid cash money for an official "Spanky Rabinowitz for President" T-shirt or "Go. Hunt. Kill Skulz." coffee mug, and I don't even drink coffee. I can't say I would do the same for any other MMO, but then I haven't found another MMO I would play at all yet (yes, I'm another one of those "CoX ruined me for other games." people).

     

    "Well sure, the FrinkiacVII looks impressive - DON'T TOUCH IT - but I predict that within 100 years computers will be TWICE as powerful, ten THOUSAND times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them." -Prof. Frink

  • Beatnik59Beatnik59 Chicago, ILPosts: 2,229Member Uncommon

    When a card manufacturer, like Wizards of the Coast or Upper Deck, creates a card, they vest it with worldliness, or a value independent of the company who made it.

    Therefore, the card exists, sometimes for far longer than the printer who produced it.

    The funny thing about "e cards," or items from the item store, is that they are never vested with worldliness.  Therefore, the things have no existence independent of the ones who originally sold it.  If the publisher isn't willing or able to support your item's existence, it will cease to exist.

    While the behavior that underpins card collection may be the same as the behavior that underpins virtual card collection, real cards and virtual cards are quite different things.  Once a run is printed, the cards in distribution are what they are.  But for a virtual "card store," the distribution is whatever the publisher feels like it should be.  And the proportions of good cards to "junk" cards?  Those proportions can be altered without any trace that they've been altered.

    Someone made the comparison between this type of MMO monetization scheme and a slot machine.  I say that's a very insulting comparison...for the slot machine, that is.  Payout percentages on slot machines are clearly marked, verified and regulated according to state gaming laws.  But a statement of "1 in 100 chance" of gaining a special item in a card pack?  There is no real way to verify that, and no authority that will hold the publisher to that statement.  Indeed, if cash games were like slot machines, they'd be illegal slot machines.

    Those who fail to make these distinctions are going to get taken to the cleaners by this industry...and they are banking on it, quite literally.

     

    __________________________
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  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,658Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Lustmord

    Why don't more MMO's have Chess Rooms where your avatar can sit down and enjoy a game of chess with an ingame friend?

    After seeing the boardgames in both UO and AC, I was expecting to see that aspect of social/group gameplay in virtual worlds evolve.

     

    No such luck. :(

     

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
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  • Dren_UtogiDren_Utogi OuterSpacePosts: 1,710Member Uncommon

    Do you make moonshine ?

     

    reviews are !@#$ing stupid. Play what you love.

  • residentxresidentx Columbia, MDPosts: 88Member

    This was the worse article in the set to date. The psyschology of game players should always be talked about behind closed doors...

     

    As a child, I participated in Star Wars cards. I think in each pack, we got cards, stickers...some gum too. This was a nice reward when you got nothing but I think the packs were like .50-.75 each.  Not a big loss. Then Star Wars had the trilogy widescreen holographic cards and these were hard to find. Having a complete set was worth a lot...it paid for all the decks to get them. In my earlier 30s, I went through some problems and had to make some decisions about my things. One of the decisions I made was to make sure I destroyed my cards sets and comics books because I didn't want someone else getting my stuff that I worked so hard to acquire. I traveled the world to complete my collections and I wasn't going to allow someone with money to get these rare things that easy.

     

    I broke the addiction to attachments then. I put them in an oil drum and watched them burn!!

     

    In the MMO world, several games have tried this gambler approach. STO has the lockbox. I have never paid them for a key because I know how Cryptic is...you will never get the item ever!!

     

    COH at least, you guys gave us a range of items. So I knew it was going to be an incarnate something.

     

    Games are powered by software. Developers write software to their advantage. This part of the business is unaudited. Until they publish the ratio( 1/10, 1/100, 1/1000, 1/10000, 1/100000, or 1/1000000+), I won't ever participate. This is a short lived strategy that works only on the young. Once they get self-awareness this creates hard feelings.

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