Digital collectible card game

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Screenshot of players livestreaming Hearthstone, one of the leading games of the genre

A digital collectible card game (DCCG) is a computer or video game usually played online that emulates collectible card games (CCG), or in many cases, doesn't use card-like images at all, but instead icons, avatars or other symbols to represent game pieces. Originally, DCCGs started out as replications of a CCG's physical counterpart, but many DCCGs have foregone a physical version and exclusively release as a video game, such as with Hearthstone.

Gameplay

These games manage all the rules of a CCG, such as tracking the avatar's health, removing damaged creatures from the board, and shuffling decks when necessary. The games are managed on servers to maintain the player's library and any purchases of booster packs and additional cards through either in-game or real-world money. Some games, like Chaotic, Bella Sara, and MapleStory allow online players to enter a unique alpha-numeric code found on each physical card as to redeem the card in the online version or access other features. In other cases, primarily single player games based on the existing physical property have also been made, such as the Game Boy Color version of the Pokémon Trading Card Game and Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers.

History

Precursors to the DCCG genre include physical CCG games such as Magic the Gathering (1993) and Pokémon Trading Card Game (1996), console card battle video games such as Dragon Ball: Daimaō Fukkatsu (1988) which had card battle mechanics but lacked collecting mechanics, and monster-collecting role-playing video games such as Megami Tensei (1987), Dragon Quest V (1992) and Pokémon (1996) which had collecting mechanics but were based on monster battles rather than card battles. Both the card-battle and collecting mechanics appeared together in the Super Famicom card-battle/role-playing game Dragon Ball Z: Super Saiya Densetsu (1992), based on the physical Dragon Ball Carddass trading card series. Dragon Ball Z: Super Saiya Densetsu allowed the player to collect, buy and sell cards for use in card battles, making it an early prototypical example of a single-player DCCG.

The first DCCG games eventually appeared in the late 1990s. Early examples of DCCG games include Magic: The Gathering (1997), Chron X (1997), Pokémon Trading Card Game (1998), Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters (1998), and Sanctum (1998).[disputed ] Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon Trading Card Game were based on their physical CCG counterparts, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters was based on the fictional CCG from the manga Yu-Gi-Oh! (1996), and Chron X and Sanctum were original DCCG games with no physical CCG counterpart.

There have been CCGs developed solely for computer play and not based on any physical product. The first online CCGs were Sanctum and Chron X, both developed in 1997. Sanctum was taken offline in 2010, but has since returned due to fan intervention;[1] Chron X still exists, producing new expansions over a decade later. Chron X was developed by Genetic Anomalies, Inc, which later developed other DCCG-like games based on licensed content.

DCCG games first gained mainstream success in Japan, where online card battle games are a common genre of free-to-play browser games and mobile games.[2] Monster-collecting Japanese RPGs such as Dragon Quest V and Pokémon, and the manga Yu-Gi-Oh, were adapted into successful physical CCG games such as Pokémon Trading Card Game and Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, which in turn inspired a number of Japanese developers to produce digital CCG games, including adaptations such as Pokémon Trading Card Game and Yu-Gi-Oh! video games, as well as original DCCG games such as the minigame Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII (1999), Tetra Master (2002) which debuted as a minigame in Final Fantasy IX (2000) before becoming an online multiplayer game for the PlayOnline service, and Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge (2003).

In Japan, CCGs that are played on arcade game machines with physical card sets came into vogue in the early 2000s, which provided a boost to arcade profits and have been a mainstay in many game centers since. Arcade games of this type have been developed by companies such as Sega, Square Enix and Taito, and are most commonly of the real-time strategy or sports management genres, with some diversion into action RPGs. Players can purchase starter decks for most games separately, and after each play session, the machines will commonly dispense more cards for players to expand their decks.[3] Examples include World Club Champion Football (2002), Mushiking: The King of Beetles (2003), Oshare Majo: Love and Berry (2004), Dinosaur King (2005), Sangokushi Taisen (2005), Dragon Quest: Monster Battle Road (2007), and Lord of Vermilion (2008).

Related, many video games have adopted CCG-type mechanics as part of a larger gameplay mechanism. In such games, the player earns cards as rewards in the game, often following similar rarity systems for distribution, and can customize some type of deck which influences other areas of the game's mechanics. Early example of this hybrid game include Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution (2003), Baten Kaitos (2003), and Metal Gear Acid (2004). Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004) was a role-playing game where the combat mechanic was based on attacks pulled from a deck of cards constructed outside of the combat rounds.[4] Similarly, Phantom Dust (2004) was a third-person shooter, but where the player's attack and defense abilities were randomly selected from an customized "arsenal" of powers that they collected through the course of the game.[5] Other examples of CCG-hybrid games include Forced: Showdown, Hand of Fate, and Card Hunter.[6]

The success of Cygames' Rage of Bahamut established DCCG games as a popular genre in mobile gaming, leading to a number of DCCG games being developed for mobile devices. It was also the first DCCG game to become a major success in the Western world, becoming one of the top-grossing mobile games of 2012.[2] DCCG games with significant populations of players include The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls, Kantai Collection and Million Arthur. Cinderella Girls earns over 1 billion yen in revenue monthly,[7] whilst Kantai Collection has grown to more than 1 million players throughout Japan.[8]

Unofficial ways to play some digital versions of CCGs also exist, such as brand specific programs like Magic Workstation. The bulk of DCCG programs however are not specific to any brand, such as LackeyCCG and Gccg or general game simulators like Tabletop Simulator, though the legality of these systems relative to the CCG's copyright is dubious. Such systems are often used to play copyrighted games whose manufacturers are no longer publishing the game, most notably Decipher's Star Wars Customizable Card Game[9] and Precedence’s Babylon 5 Collectible Card Game. Most of these systems do not have the CCG's ruleset programmed into the game, and instead require players to perform the necessary actions as required by the physical game's rules.

Blizzard Entertainment released Hearthstone in 2014. Loosely based on the World of Warcraft CCG, Hearthstone features one-on-one match between players with custom made decks, built from a player's collection of digital cards. The game was designed to eliminate reactions by the opposing player during your turn to speed up the game and allow it to be played across a variety of devices.[10] By 2015, Hearthstone had an estimated $20 million in revenues per month,[11] and by April 2016, had more than 50 million unique players.[12] Hearthstone's success led to a number of similar digital-only CCGs in the following years.[13] Wizards of the Coast announced in early 2017 that they plan to create a new studio to adapt the Magic: The Gathering game into a digital format similar to Hearthstone.[14] Titled Magic: The Gathering Arena, it entered closed beta testing in early 2018.[15] The digital card game market was expected to be as large as $1.4 billion in 2017, according to market analysis firm SuperData.[13] Hearthstone sparked the digital CCGs Gwent: The Witcher Card Game and The Elder Scrolls: Legends.[16] Shadowverse from Rage of Bahamut developer Cygames has also been compared favorably with Hearthstone.[17]

In addition, there are several small, online CCGs run completely free by the card game creators and volunteer staff. These games at their most basic include a number of decks created for members to collect and trade. These cards are earned through games and contests at the CCG, with additional prize cards earned by collecting all cards in a deck (mastering) or completing a certain number of trades. Members typically visit each other's websites where they house their card collections, and propose trades to each other through forums or e-mail.

In some cases, new elements are added to the digital CCG to improve the experience that cannot be recreated physically. The online card games Sanctum and Star Chamber include, e.g.: game boards, animations and sound effects for some of their cards. The NOKs, on the other hand, offer talking figures and action-arcade game play. In a different case, The Eye of Judgment, a CCG that has been combined with a PlayStation 3 game, bringing innovation with the CyberCode matrix technology. It allows real cards bought in stores to be scanned with the PlayStation Eye and brought into the game with 3D creatures, animations, spell animations, etc. as representations. Hearthstone uses mechanics that would be difficult or impossible to recreate in a physical setting, such as cards that allow players to draw a random card from the entire card library currently supported by the game.[10] Valve Corporation's Artifact is heavily based off their multiplayer online battle arena game Dota 2, and thus features three boards (called "lanes") instead of the usual one.[18]

Impact

With the growth of mobile gaming and streaming viewerships, digital card games are a significant part of the video game market. SuperData estimated that digital card games will bring over US$1.5 billion in 2018, with a quarter of that from Hearthstone, and the potential to grow to US$2 billion by 2020.[19]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Sanctum Redux - Come play the game of Sanctum again". Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  2. ^ a b "The Rise of the Mobile Collectible Card Game". Gamasutra. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  3. ^ http://gameroomblog.com/guides/a-look-into-the-crazy-thriving-japanese-arcade-scene
  4. ^ Ricardo Torres (2004-08-30). "Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Updated Hands-On". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
  5. ^ Good, Owen (June 13, 2016). "Phantom Dust is back on for Xbox, arrives in 2017". Polygon. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Bycer, Josh (April 22, 2016). "The Pros and Cons of CCG-based Game Design". Gamasutra. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  7. ^ "Idolmaster Mobile Game Earns 1 Billion Yen a Month". Anime News Network. September 27, 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  8. ^ 2013-10-10, 提督100万人突破、そして島田フミカネ氏による航空母艦も実装決定! ─ 『艦これ』秋のイベントも実施準備中, インサイド
  9. ^ DECIPHER.com : Star Wars CCG Archived February 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ a b Goldfarb, Andrew (August 24, 2013). "Gamescom: The Origin and Future of Blizzard's Hearthstone". IGN. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  11. ^ Pereira, Chris (August 11, 2015). "Hearthstone Now Earns About $20 Million Every Month - Report". GameSpot. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  12. ^ Frank, Allegra (April 26, 2016). "Hearthstone now has 50 million players". Polygon. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Minotti, Mike (January 28, 2017). "SuperData: Hearthstone trumps all comers in card market that will hit $1.4 billion in 2017". Venture Beat. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  14. ^ Kohlar, Phillip (January 13, 2017). "Could we finally get a real Hearthstone competitor from Magic: The Gathering?". Polygon. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  15. ^ Orsini, Lauren (March 20, 2018). "With 100,000 New Invites, 'Magic: The Gathering Arena' Opens The Floodgates". Forbes. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  16. ^ Minotti, Mike (January 28, 2017). "SuperData: Hearthstone trumps all comers in card market that will hit $1.4 billion in 2017". Venture Beat. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  17. ^ Cam Shea (2016-07-20). "The Japanese Collectible Card Game That May Just Surprise You". IGN. Retrieved 2016-11-15.
  18. ^ Bailey, Dustin. "Artifact has 280 cards and three lanes of play". PCGamesN. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  19. ^ Minoitti, Mike (August 2, 2018). "SuperData: Hearthstone reigns over forecasted $1.5 billion digital card game market". Venture Beat. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
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