Ben Brode Weighs in on Marvel Snap’s Monetization Philosophy
With the official soft launch of Marvel Snap into select regions on the iOS and Android platforms, one key change had been made on the Premium Season Pass: It can only be purchased with cash (Gold could be used in the closed beta), and it comes with a new card (Wave) that players cannot obtain until a much later date.
This change has caused a bit of backlash with the community, and Ben Brode, the Chief Development Officer at Second Dinner, has chimed in on the philosophy behind their decisions on the official Discord server.
One important thing that was highlighted was that Marvel Snap cannot release hundreds of new cards, or even thousands, unlike the other collectable card games. Limiting the speed of card collection via Collection Levels means that players can experiment more with their collection and make more use of their existing set of cards.
Conversely, the current model revolves around players obtaining new cards as they advance on their Collection Levels. There are certain pools of cards that can be collected according to the level, and so far Pool One (18 to 214) and Pool Two (222 – 450) are fully known. This leads to players having a similar set of cards with each other and has lead to seeing similar meta decks at similar times. For example, Nova decks has seen a lot of play recently as players found out the deck’s strength.
Below is the original question and answer (not modified in any way):
Parz: Are the monitization methods right now not up for debate/under your control at second dinner? I see a lot of people calling it predatory and controversial locking cards behind the paid season pass.
Ben Brode: Monetization is obviously a tricky topic, but i’ll talk about our philosophy a little.
A lot of devs got into their career because they love the craft of making games. At the same time, devs generally want to make money so that the studio can stay alive and continue to grow and attract talent, and players who enjoy the game want the studio to succeed there so that the studio keeps making more of the game they enjoy. So we’re all very aligned in creating something that keeps the lights on for everyone. 🙌
MARVEL SNAP is a pretty unique game when it comes to monetization. The classic TCG monetization method is booster packs, but that direction requires a HUGE amount of cards each year, sometimes in the 1000s, and SNAP just isn’t the kind of game that needs or would benefit from that quantity. The other big comparable genres are hero collectors or games like Clash Royale – but we don’t have the option to let you upgrade a card’s power-level because it breaks the balance in a turn-based game where the numbers are exposed. So we really had to start from scratch on how monetization should work.
One big inspiration for us was thinking back to collecting MARVEL trading cards or other CCG’s back in the early 90’s. This was a pre-internet era, and so nobody really had “complete” sets, and everyone had different decks based on whatever specific cards they’d manage to collect. It was kind of a magical time, with such a focus on collecting. We wondered what a card game that intentionally slowed down the collection experience would be like. You’d get more focus on each card, and more time to spend with each card as you collect them individually. That feeling of experimentation and invention as the collection organically grows might be possible again. It’s a pretty big departure from other digital card games, where you can just day 1 drop hundreds or thousands of dollars and acquire every card, but we think it’s pretty interesting to explore this direction.
We knew we wanted to monetize cosmetics, but in most games (and I realize this runs counter to what some players believe), this has not proven to be an effective way for games to monetize. I realize there are very high-profile examples to the opposite, but they are usually cooperative games (where you want to show off to your friends), and so giant that even small amounts of monetization per player ends up being a lot.
So how do we bridge the gap? Well, for card games, the traditional F2P model gives players access to all the cards eventually, but not immediately. Paying players get to get all the cards super fast, but F2P players end up getting those same cards after spending a bunch of extra time. We tried to adapt this philosophy in our unique progression model. You can get all the cards eventually by playing for free, but paying players get those cards faster.
One of the nice things about card games is that more cards doesn’t necessarily mean more power. It means more options. You can build a fantastic deck without every card in the game. But if you want more options faster, that’s something we feel great about providing an option for players to buy.
We’ll be trying other monetization things (like Nexus Events) over the course of the coming months, but our goal is to create an awesome experience for every player. For players who choose to pay, we want them to feel great about their purchase. For non-paying players, we want them to be able to get access to all the cards eventually while making meaningful progression.
Even though we have been playing and testing Snap for years, Monetization is one of the hardest things to test because there is so much we only learn once people are playing the game and deciding what they want to buy. So we are learning a TON right now, and we are going to keep learning and trying things out. Your feedback is super valuable as we tune this stuff and prepare for global launch!
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