marvel snap is undoubtedly one of the best free mobile games on the market. With over 14 million downloads and counting, it’s clear that the quality, as well as the casual, card-based nature of the title, is doing a great job of keeping players engaged.
WONDER BROOCH | game announcement
However, the beloved card game began to change as its popularity grew. marvel snapThe once-low barrier to entry has gradually increased since its release, as its microtransaction model created an undeniable pay-to-win problem in a game that was initially celebrated for going against the trend.
marvel snap is a digital collectible card game in the same way that Home and Magic: The Gathering Arena. The trick up its sleeve, however, was that it was a custom card game with a focus on smaller decks and easy-to-understand interactions. I think it’s the perfect gateway into digital and physical trading card games…or at least it was before I realized the underlying issues that developed over time.
To understand the problem, we need to see the basics. marvel snapcard acquisition system. The game is based on leveling up four different things: the collection level, the player ranking, the cards you own, and if you have them, the season battle pass.
Leveling up the battle pass and reaching different ranks earns players the two in-game currencies, gold and credits. Gold can be purchased with real money and is used to purchase variant cards and more credits. Credits are used to upgrade cards, which in turn increases the level of the player’s collection. Every four levels, players have a chance to get gold, credits, player icons, titles, tokens for a token store that has a new random map every few hours, boosters that allow maps to be leveled, and the maps themselves.
Therein lies the problem. Like any card game, there are always decks that are stronger than others, and those higher level decks require special key cards. Unlike physical trading card games, there is no store to buy free cards, marvel snap a game of patience when it comes to unlocking them and playing as you wish.
This is a problem with the more complex matchmaking system in the game, which matches players with those at or near their range. Player rating is not equivalent to collection level, so some players will have stronger decks, with better synergy, despite having the same “skill level” as their lower tier opponent. This problem is exacerbated when player ratings are reset each season.
The imbalance of power is also reflected in their battle pass, as each one usually comes with a very powerful card that sometimes changes targets. This elevates the game from a free experience to something more like a win-win game as your skill cap increases. New players who joined after previous battle packs decided they were going to miss out on a map that can completely change the way you play.
Of course, there are plenty of playable cards that are just as strong as the ones in the Battle Pass, but that would mean playing for months and praying they’re unlocked through random collection levels. The slow progress up this ladder makes players, myself included, embarrassingly give up and eventually throw some money in gold to unlock credits. It’s the only way I can keep up with my opponents after a certain point.
Developer Nuverse tried to give players another way to unlock the cards they desperately want through the Token Shop. With 1,000 to 2,000 tokens, players can unlock different cards that change in the store every few hours. However, these tokens are currently few and far between. Plus, they’re mixed in with collection-level rewards, which means cards and credits aren’t unlocking as often as before. An update aimed at combating the slow progression issue inadvertently worsens the problem by having fewer opportunities to earn free credits.
With each update, marvel snap seems to be getting further and further away from what was originally praised. It’s gone from a newcomer-friendly experience that doesn’t require anyone to spend a penny to another sink that rewards those who get in early and start spending. While it seems to be maintaining its popularity, I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time before players get tired of emptying their wallets and move on.