I have just had the most sinister, awesome idea. Bare with me:
Collectible card games are a section of the Dorkosphere I hadn’t explored until recently. Then I started playing Hearthstone on my phone. As I do with novel things, I got way too into it for a while, and then completely over it. But discovering all the fiendish nuances of the CCG pay model was almost as fun as the game. It really is awful and brilliant. Like being the target of some genius supervillain’s revenge scheme: You have to admire the ingenuity of everything that led up to this point, even as the horde of robot wolves tear you to pieces.
Another uncharted Dork land was Warhammer 40K, so I did the same thing: Bought a few of their mobile games and tested them out, mostly as an easy point of entry to the universe. But the Warhammer mobile games do something strange: They use the card model in titles that don’t fit it at all. Tactical strategy, chess, all kinds of genres. Now, if they had cleverly merged card mechanics into the game, that would be one thing. But these cards don’t do anything different, or uniquely card-like — they act exactly the same as equipment or abilities normally would in that type of game. The only difference is there’s now a virtual border around your gun, or sniper shot, or power-whacker, or whatever, and you can buy them in randomized ‘packs.’ The whole thing seems a bit unnecessary, and kind of sleazy.
But that got me thinking…
What if you took that approach one step further: A franchise universe (like Warhammer 40k or Warcraft) consisting of all types of games — tactical strategy, real time strategy, RPG, straight up CCG, lane defense, tower defense — united by a single deck. They all share the same cards. Maybe the abilities and stats are tweaked a bit, from game to game, but the key is that your existing card collection carries over into any new game released. Conversely, new games come with exclusive cards that you can earn, then carry back into older games.
That would give the player an unprecedented feeling of ownership – it’s not just a collection or a deck you built to play this one game. This collection is you. It’s your character across a whole world of games. You’d check out every new title, even if you weren’t interested in the game itself, just to get the new cards for the games you are interested in. This would also constantly breathe new life into old games, extending their revenue potential almost indefinitely.
On the one hand, it would be fun and, in a way, more fair to the players: It’s always exciting to find out what your special deck can do in this new game, and if you get bored with it, at least it wasn’t a waste: You added to your collection for use in other titles. On the other hand, it’s completely evil: Any one game could hook a player on the entire franchise forever, hemorrhaging money as they follow the Sunk Cost fallacy down the rabbit hole for all eternity.
I can’t decide if I want somebody to do this right now, or if I never want it to happen at all.