5 Reasons Blockchain Will Revolutionize Collectible Card Games

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Tens of thousands of dollars worth of cardboard.

One of the biggest aspects of collectible card games (CCGs) is deck-building and the collection amassed through deck building. In a traditional collectible card game, players physically buy, sell, and trade cards — they own them and can use them in any way they like.

With the rise of digital collectible card games (DCCGs), things aren’t quite as clear. More than 70 million players have dipped their toes into Hearthstone and millions more play Magic Online or other similar games. The popularity of these games isn’t going anywhere. In fact, according to gaming intelligence group SuperData, the digital card game market is expected to rake in $1.5B in 2018 and rise to $2B by 2020.

And on the surface, digital card games appear to operate the same way — players can buy, sell, and trade their digital cards. Plus, they bring an added benefit of convenient access to card collections, wherever the player is, given they have a reliable internet connection. So, what’s the big deal if players can pretty much use their cards however they want?

Ownership.

Billions of cards are being slung at opponents and sitting in collections waiting to be used…but not a single one is actually owned by the players. Hearthstone, Magic Online, and other popular DCCGs require players to invest real world money to build virtual card collections that the games’ creators ultimately own.

Before we get into how we can improve, let’s quickly look at five of the most pressing issues with current DCCGs and card ownership:

  1. Support

The first and biggest concern for digital collectible cards is that if a game ever stops being supported, players will no longer have access to their cards. Unlike a physical card game, everything is lost. This is a huge financial risk and horrible from a playability standpoint.

2. Changes

Another downside for the lack of true ownership is that game companies can change things whenever they want, whether it’s the card rules, the art, or even whether the card can be played. With a physical card game, even if things are changed by the company, players can choose to continue playing the game as they always have.

3. Flexibility

Let’s say a group of friends wants to create a new game using their existing card collections. With physical cards, this is easy — just define the rules and get playing. With digital cards, it’s as of now, impossible. You can’t take your Hearthstone cards and bring them into The Elder Scrolls: Legends or Magic Online. Outside of their intended platform, digital cards have no use.

4. Collectibility

For true collectors and investors, digital games have very low collectability value. What if a fan wants to get their favorite card signed by the artist or game designer? What if an artist wants to do “alters” to the look of the card? What if a collector’s favorite digital game just releases millions of more indistinguishable copies and their “Uber Epic Legendary” card is now common? This may not matter much if the game is like Hearthstone and doesn’t allow trading or selling, but for games that do, this destroys collectibility and investment value.

5. Authenticity

In both physical and digital card games, there’s risk of high value cards being counterfeited via illegal printing and duplicated via hacking or program bugs. As a collector or investor, these issues can destroy the investment value of these prized cards.

So, how do we fix these issues? Enter blockchain.

For those of you who are not familiar, at its core blockchain is a shared, immutable, and distributed ledger that records ownership of digital assets…and a whole lot more. Here’s a quick primer if you need a deeper dive on the technology.

With card games that utilize blockchain, the true essence of ownership and collectability is brought to digital gaming. Assets that exist on a blockchain can be handled just like physical assets but have the same easy access as digital cards. Each card is recorded on the blockchain and is held in a secure wallet that can only be accessed by the owner. Best of all, even if the game’s creator goes out of business, players will still own their cards.

By having a verifiable ledger of card ownership, players can buy, sell, and trade their cards however they choose. Furthermore, since every card is recorded on the blockchain’s immutable ledger, it is impossible to counterfeit or duplicate cards.

Finally, with games created on the same blockchain, the assets can be transferable and playable across multiple games. Imagine being able to take a digital card collection and utilize it across multiple platforms or even gaming interfaces. This is what’s possible with blockchain. No single company or program will control ownership of cards anymore. If players want to develop a new way of utilizing those cards, they can.

There is something magical about sitting face to face with your opponent

Blockchain technology will undoubtedly push CCGs, DCCGs, and gaming as a whole to new levels of collectability and customizability. Gaining the benefits of physical cards in a digital world will be…well, game changing.

Now we just need to be able to harness the power of blockchain and apply it to physical tabletop games to bring the industry full circle. Taking digital assets back to the real world is another topic entirely and maybe I will discuss that in a future article.

Until next time, get out there and game!

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