While it may have taken a few years for gaming to ultimately get the respect and recognition it deserves, there is no denying that it is a massive and incredibly lucrative area of business these days. From the blockbuster success of titles like Fortnite to the growing interest in eSports, video gaming is in rude health. In recent weeks, this has been perhaps most exemplified by the fact that an Australian developer has been able to raise an incredible $15 million in funding simply to create a digital card game.
Sydney-based company Immutable has confirmed that it has raised the funds to support the development of Gods Unchained, its digital card game which will allow players to buy and sell items using technology based on blockchain.
The Series A funding round was led by Naspers Ventures and Galaxy Digital EOS VC Fund, while Apex Capital Partners also participated. While the funds will primarily be used on the game – which is already in beta but has reportedly already made $4.5 million in card sales – it will also go towards the development of an open-source toolkit which allows others to create games based on the concept of true ownership of digital products.
While all of this is undeniably huge news for Immutable, it is also a sign that digital card games have arguably breathed new life into what was once a very offline concept.
A major trend
Digital collectible card games have now been around for a number of years, with Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone arguably being among the most successful titles to emerge in the space.
The popularity of the concept is perhaps highlighted by the fact that others have attempted to get involved in the area, with Valve for example having an admittedly difficult time with its Dota 2-inspired creation Artifact. CD Projekt also entered the digital card game arena last year with the launch of its Gwent: The Witcher Card game. Derived from The Witcher novels and originally featured in The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, the game’s popularity led to its expansion and it is thought to now have a 100-strong development team working on it.
In many ways, the emergence of digital card games reflects the wider trend of games which were traditionally offline moving into the online space. This transition has been seen in many forms of gaming, with the role-playing and strategy genres for example comfortably making the switch onto consoles, PC and mobile. Similar trends have also been seen in the casino world, with examples such as Betway Casino giving gamers the chance to play the traditional table game of 21 online and without having to visit a bricks-and-mortar casino venue. There are also different variants of the game available on such online hubs, since they are not subject to the space limitations that apply offline, where you would need at least one physical table and one dealer per variant.
Signs of life
But while digital card games are undoubtedly capturing a lot of the attention at the moment, does this mean the end is nigh for actual physical forms of card gaming? Well, not exactly. In fact, there are many signs that there is still plenty of life in offline card games, with Exploding Kittens being just one example of that.
Designed by the minds behind the website The Oatmeal and our favorite holiday-themed name generator, the game was a crowdfunding phenomenon on Kickstarter and went on to become a huge seller upon its release in 2015. According to reports, 2.5 million decks were ordered in its first year, meaning revenues reached an estimated $50 million. The aim of the game? To avoid picking up an “exploding kitten” card which will remove you from the action.
Another tabletop card-based game which has proved popular in recent years is The Chameleon by Big Potato Games, a bluffing game in which a player has to essentially do their best impression of the infamous lizard by blending in and not getting caught out by the other players.
Fascinating and enjoyable experiences
All of this undoubtedly highlights that while digital card games may be attracting plenty of buzz, attention and – perhaps most importantly – funding at the moment, that hasn’t ultimately meant that the days of traditional offline card gaming are coming to an end.
In fact, it seems like there is a strong appetite for both, with each creating fascinating and enjoyable experiences that are bringing gamers back for more time and time again. It will be fascinating to see what comes next in this area, including whether Gods Unchained has what it takes to become the next big hit.
featured image from GodsUnchained.com