There comes a time in many mediums - mostly television, but also films and games, especially games as a service; where the thing becomes a parody of itself and the road for its future predominately points downhill. I fear Marvel Snap is edging closer and closer to that precipice. I fear this, because, well, I really enjoy playing Marvel Snap, and put tens of minutes, maybe even an hour into it every single day. But a few design decisions are really starting to put me off.
I feel like I could be writing this same post about Destiny 2, a game I also play daily that is back in a sorry state after so much success. But unlike Destiny, who has no real rival in the looter-shooter space (Warframe? spare me) there is real competition for Collectible Card Games out there and it won't be hard to find an alternative. So where is it going wrong for Marvel Snap? Three key areas in my opinion:
- The developers don't want you to actually play cards. It would seem a crucial component of a CCG would be, actually, you know, playing cards. But decision after decision is making that simple feat harder and harder to do. Between the dumbest thing I've ever seen in gaming in Ego, doubling down on it with Krakoa, and more recent additions like the Sandbar (and again) the mix of actual lanes and restrictions on those lanes is making it harder and harder to find boards that let you... play cards.
"Not let you play, why on earth would anyone do that?" Glad you asked, because it probably has something to do with Jeff!, a recently introduced card specifically designed around playing into tough spaces. Jeff was introduced for tokens recently, which is a half hearted attempt to disguise the pay to win nature of the game by providing a path to earn cards without playing real money. Just use tokens, which are really hard to save up without, well, paying real money...
- The game has run out of A-listers. This is a game about Super Heroes from the Marvel Universe and the last few weeks we've released... Jeff!, Hit-Monkey, and Stegron. Don't bother googling them, they're not worth your time. I'm not sure it's fair to even call these guys c-listers in the Marvel Universe, they are probably d-list at best. Rather than settle into comfortable states of play, let players stockpile some in-game currency from regular play, and update larger changes on a cadence, the decision has been made to keep the treadmill spinning with more frequent updates, a card at a time. Again, this is seemingly to promote the in-game store than anything else.
- The community is bunch of emote spamming adolescents. I desperately want to use a different a-word in the title, but I'll stick to calling them children. There is no chat in Marvel Snap (thank goodness), but there are emotes. With that comes the opportunity to harass with emote spam and basically nothing else. I've played hundreds and hundreds of Marvel Snap games, and in all of that time have seen exactly four people use emotes in a positive way (I've kept a careful count because of its rarity). Multiple times I day I see people use it for grief. You have an entire feature built in to the game that caters to the worst in your player base and is used less than 1% of the time for anything positive. Yeah, sure sometimes people do the tired and worn out Spiderman point meme if you play the same card - the lone neutral use case. But far and away the only use of the feature is to taunt someone after the game has ended. "But what about good game emotes?" Yeah, I'm counting that in those four positive experiences above, because saying good game with the fist bump after you win is worthless at best, and just another form of a taunt at worst, depending on the recipient. It adds nothing to the defeated opponent. Saying good game after a loss, that is a positive experience, and I've seen it a total of three times in the months I've been playing Marvel Snap. For the love of the game can we just get an option setting to turn off emotes from all opponents like any mature PvP game should have?
Not being able to actually play cards, or being pigeon holed into specific decks that play to that forced meta that solely supports the latest card additions to line the pockets of the in-game store, additions that represent the least exciting corners of the Marvel universe, and a community that has only been given tools to be irksome - what a recipe for success!