Table of Contents
- How It Started
- How It’s Going
- What Are the Developers Doing?
- Breaking Down the Problem
- What Can Be Done to Fix the Problem?
How It Started
In May 2023, Marvel Snap released an update to the game that included changes to the card acquisition system of the game. The old system was highly criticized as it was difficult for players to get excited for new cards, and frequently had to wait for Series Drops in order to gain access to new cards. While players had different experiences with card acquisition across a range of Collection Levels, one thing was clear to everyone: not every card needs to be a 6,000 Collector’s Token Series 5 Card. The developers seemingly agreed with this idea, and thus introduced their “flexible series drop” as part of their card acquisition system changes.
These changes were initially argued about over if it was a positive change or not, as it removed the consistency and predictability of Series Drops each month. The highly anticipated series drop of Darkhawk as well as Knull were delayed and replaced by a larger batch of series 4 cards that dropped to series 3. Many players expressed their frustration that they had waited on Darkhawk to drop to series 3, and that holding him in Series 4 was only because he was a competitive card and developers were holding good cards hostage behind a paywall.
Below cards were confirmed to be staying in Series 4 (3,000 Collector’s Tokens) until further notice.
How It’s Going
At the start of the newest Spider-Versus season, the season’s Series Drop was announced early, revealing that only 1 card (Shanna) will drop to Series 3, and two cards (Stegron and Snowguard) will drop to Series 4. Note that Shanna was initially part of the “permanent” Series 4 group above.
The community quickly expressed their concerns that meta cards like Darkhawk and now Jeff the Baby Landshark were being kept as expensive cards, while bad cards like Snowguard were being moved down series.
While the developers have been practically silent on the issue, popular content creators have not been. Twitch streamers voiced their concerns online that this new direction feels predatory and Pay to Win. Not only are meta cards not being dropped in Series, a newly announced bundle (that was not in the game’s data previously) which includes Darkhawk itself for $29.99 USD are capitalizing on players desires for these cards.
What Are the Developers Doing?
Content creators have shared that on the official Discord, Molly, Second Dinner’s community manager, commented on the content creator channel. The employee mentioned that they understood the current drops feel bad, but that it’s basically the groundwork for ongoing card acquisition changes. Without further details on what these changes entail, these comments feel like a small bucket of water trying to stop a growing fire.
The new acquisition system was exciting in theory, as cards like Spider-Man 2099 and Spider-Ham get to launch directly into Series 4 with the new system. This in itself is very exciting, as there will be potentially new, good cards launching at a more affordable price point for players. The issue is that these new benefits don’t feel as positive when the drawbacks are feeling so strong, like good cards being held hostage.
With no real comments from developers, though, it’s difficult to see the long-term gameplan here. Why are good cards seemingly freeing in Series, but bad cards move down Series still? Why prevent players from having access to content, or make them constantly choose between new content or content that may move series unpredictably?
Breaking Down the Problem
I feel the problems with the card aquisition system breaks down into a few fundamental factors:
1: It is hard to get excited for new cards when you can’t even access them
When a new card is released, currently there isn’t a way the average player can obtain every new card without spending money on every bundle and playing every day. This means they are left with a choice every single card release, which in itself creates issues of choice paralysis and buyers remorse. How are players supposed to be excited about cards when they can’t reliably get them for months on end? And if they decide to buy a card, will it be any good? If it’s horrible, they lost valuable tokens. If they don’t get it and get another card, they might have missed out on a meta defining card.
2: There are no refunds after nerfs
To go along with these card choice issues, nerfs severely impact buying choices. There are players who have not purchased Darkhawk, arguably one of the best cards in the game, because they think it will be nerfed and will be a waste of tokens. And the truth is, that could easily happen. As cards drop Series, more players have access to them, which then drives up usage. Once a card passes a threshold of usage and/or success rate, developers find a way to nerf it, as described by developer Glenn. If a card is expensive and really good, why would you risk buying a card that could get nerfed?
On the opposite side of card nerf potential, there are newly released cards that desperately need buffs or reworks. While I’m sure Snowguard has won somebody a game with her ability and there are someone has climbed to Infinite with her and swears by the card, it is objectively a bad card in its current state.
The developers playtest these cards before launch, so they (should) know if a card is good or bad before launch. As developer Glenn has said on the Developer Discord Q & A, not every card is designed to be meta and some cards are just good cards. So why is a bad card like Snowguard set to be the same cost as Jeff the Baby Land Shark or High Evolutionary?
4: There no way to plan around when cards move down in Series
In the old system, while it wasn’t perfect, players could reasonably plan for when to buy a card. Is Darkhawk meta, but it’s scheduled to release next month? I’ll save my tokens and get him later. Howard the Duck won’t be in Series 3 for a while though, so I’d like to invest there. These preparations don’t exist now with the new system, as there appears to be no pattern. If you can’t have a buying strategy, you only increase those feelings of buyers remorse and choice paralysis.
What Can Be Done to Fix the Problem?
I believe there is an easy first step that can solve several issues I mentioned while also showing the developers are keeping good faith with players. Simply announce the Series Drop schedule for a card at the time of their release! Here is an example:
Silk is set to release this month as a Series 5 card on June 13th. With the card release, developers should announce an action plan. “Silk will launch in Series 5, drop to Series 4 in 2 months, and then to Series 3 in 3 more months”.
Spider-Man 2099 is set to release this month as a Series 4 card. With the release, developers announce “Spider-Man 2099 will launch in Series 4, and remain as a permanent Series 4 card.”
This idea covers multiple issues. Players will know exactly when a card will shift Series, thus planning their token spending more effectively. Effective spending means less buyers remorse, less choice paralysis, and an overall happier player experience. It’s like being able to budget your income properly. You may not have enough money to buy everything you want, but you can effectively save for things you want and plan when it makes the most sense to buy them. Obviously having more money will also solve your problem, but budgeting can make things much more manageable without feeling overwhelming or restrictive.
This idea also helps keep faith with developers that nerfs won’t coincide with Series Drops. If a card is set to drop on a specific date, players who fear a nerf can rest easy knowing when they can get it for free, or know how much of a risk they are taking without worry the card will randomly drop Series and lose value. It also prevents cards that are simply good cards from being forever questioned if they will drop in series. Want to know when Jeff the Baby Land Shark will drop? You have a schedule! No more eternal wondering if the card will ever see your collection.
While this idea is not an all-in-one fix, it makes the system more palatable. Even though you still can’t have a full collection despite playing everyday, you can properly plan for how you will collect your cards. This even matches with Ben Brode’s initial mindset for the game, that all players will have unique collections and their own card collecting journey. A schedule system let’s you create your path, your order of cards you want, and be unique from other players who made their path for the cards they wanted.
Second Dinner has a massive problem that is turning players away from the game. While they have made claims the system is being improved, we have yet to see how these changes benefit the player experience. With simple solutions available to help improve the system’s foundations, I hope developers take action soon and address the growing issue.
What do you think about the new card acquisition system in Marvel Snap? Would this idea help? What ideas do you have to improve the system? Make sure to let us know in the comments!
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