There seems to be a mini outbreak of collectable card games showing up of late, particularly on mobile.
It makes sense from a biz point of view; these games are quite popular with the public at large, monetise very well via selling booster packs etc., and magic: online has already blazed an impressive trail for others to follow.
Well over a year ago, we noticed this ourselves and decided to give it a go. Quite apart from the fact it was a (hopefully) good business decision, our little firm is packed (if a team of 7 can ever be considered packed) with magic and/or other rpg type players so it was a no-brainer for us.
Back then, the only competition on the horizon was the ever-present mtgo, both in its "proper" form and the new "duels" games being developed by Stainless, our friends on the Isle of Wight. Notch had made some announcement before then about scrolls too, but that was it.
Fast-forwarding to today, there's about a dozen of them either recently released or on the horizon. Which leads nicely to a plug - ours will be in open alpha some time very soon, within weeks. http://www.facebook.com/CombatMonsters
Every time one of these games was released, we sucked in a deep breath and downloaded it forthwith. And every single time we developed a slight smile and sense of relief, because what we found was not some direct competition, but another basically 2D game featuring nicely drawn pictures wobbling at each other!
Now, mtgo has to do that because it's an implementation of a well established 2D card game played ostensibly with real cardboard cards on a tabletop. And that's great, they've had plenty of my money over the years.
But new computer games do not have this legacy to contend with. They can go down any path the developers care to choose. So why is that nobody except us made the pretty obvious leap to having actual 3D creatures doing battle mano a mano inside a nicely rendered game world? Most games that are even remotely RPGesque are already like this - final fantasy, diablo, etc.
So why not the card games? Do you want a 2D picture waggling at another 2D picture, or do you want an animated orc model standing on the battlefield, armoured to the teeth, swinging a massive axe into his foes head and with zooming in cameras and particle effects? Do you want to say "My man did a fireball for 2 damage" or do you want to see your man hurling a fireball into his enemy's face?
I guess we'll get our answer once we ship this game out, but I can't help but feel that all the other guys are missing a trick here. Or maybe nobody wants this and it's us preparing for eggy faces. A couple of months will tell the story I guess!