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Blockchain in Digital Collectible Card Games: Pros and Cons

Chill Clinton is a trading card enthusiast and investor who operates an online trading card store.

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Digital Collectible Card Games Merge the Fun of Collecting With the Convenience of Instant Matchmaking

Digital collectible card games such as Hearthstone, Legends of Runeterra, and Faeria offer players the ability to collect digital cards, build decks, and instantly play against thousands and even millions of other gamers from around the world.

Due to their convenience and relative affordability when compared to traditional physical collectible card games, as well as game mechanics afforded by the use of platform integrated technologies, these games attract droves of passionate players, eager to spend real-world dollars on digital cards they can use to do battle.

The popularity of these games has even attracted adoption by some of the world's leading collectible card game manufacturers, with digital platforms now allowing users to play Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokémon.

The Problem With Digital Collectible Card Games

These digital collectible card games, however, are not without their drawbacks. Though many players appreciate not having to store thousands of physical cards, one cannot ignore the significant and sobering limitations of playing these games.

Although many players spend hundreds of dollars per year acquiring digital cards to allow them to play, they do not actually own these cards. Instead, they purchase access to use the cards, and their accompanying gameplay mechanics, within the game's centralized platform.

This is to say that, theoretically, a digital card game developer could remove a card from the game, adjust the card to offer different mechanics, and even suspend a player's account, severing them from their collection of perhaps thousands of cards that they spent actual money acquiring.

And worst-case scenario, if the game developer ultimately moves on from the project and no longer supports a particular digital collectible card game, players will lose all of their cards and will be prevented from ever using their cards to play the game again.

Additionally, players also often have no means of selling or trading their collections to other players, rendering the cards effectively worthless from a monetary perspective.

Fortunately, the use of blockchain technologies could completely revolutionize digital collectible card games, allowing players to actually own their digital cards independent of the platforms hosted by the game developer.

As a result, players can easily trade their cards, build secure collections that retain monetary value, play the game on a variety of decentralized platforms, and know that their cards are protected from the decisions of the game developers to change, remove, or discontinue support for particular cards and games.

Digital trading cards supported by blockchain technologies, will be considered "NFTs", or non-fungible tokens.

Digital trading cards supported by blockchain technologies, will be considered "NFTs", or non-fungible tokens.

What Is an NFT, and How Would Players Actually Own Digital Cards?

You have probably heard of NFTs. Over the past few years, as blockchain has become a more popular topic of conversation, many are starting to take notice of this transformative class of digital assets. But NFTs are not only pictures of monkeys in space suits or avant-garde animated gifs. They can also be movies, songs, e-books, and even digital collectible cards.

"NFT" is an acronym representing "non-fungible tokens." Non-fungible tokens are units of data represented on and recorded by the blockchain, which is a decentralized network of millions of computers that all record and represent a shared ledger. This means that any digital asset can be truly owned, independent of the platforms used to access that data.

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Many people don't understand why this is so important and revolutionary, so let me explain. If you have ever purchased an e-book from Amazon to read on your Kindle, it may feel like you own that e-book, but in reality, you simply own the privilege to access the information within it, and your ability to access it must always be facilitated by Amazon.

It would be like if you purchased a book from a store, but the store told you that you couldn't take that book home, and every time you wanted to read that book, you would have to go to the store and ask the front desk employee to retrieve it so you can read it.

If the bookstore is closed, you're out of luck. If the bookstore chooses not to keep that book in stock anymore, you also have no recourse. Similarly, if Amazon's servers were to experience interruptions, you couldn't read the e-book, and if Amazon decided to discontinue hosting the e-book, they technically could.

However, if you owned an e-book that was an NFT, you could store it in your own decentralized digital library, and be able to access that library via a wide variety of applications.

Unless millions of servers owned by millions of different people around the world were to experience disruptions simultaneously, you would always have access to it, and when you're finished reading it, you could even give the e-book to a friend or even sell it to another reader!

So, when looking at digital card games, the same is true. Rather than purchasing access to cards that must be facilitated by one particular company and their servers, you could purchase cards that you could store yourself, access at any time on a variety of platforms, and sell to other players!

Though digital trading card NFTs offer a host of benefits, they are not without their drawbacks.

Though digital trading card NFTs offer a host of benefits, they are not without their drawbacks.

The Cons of Digital Trading Card NFTs

Though blockchain technology will offer a host of benefits to gamers who want more control over and ownership of their digital trading cards and how they use them, the integration of blockchain technologies in this industry is not without its drawbacks.

Of course, owning the cards independent of the platform on which players use them places the responsibility of tracking and maintaining collections in the hands of their owners.

For example, if your Hearthstone account were to be hacked, there is not much a hacker could do to ruin your account. Because you don't actually own the cards, there is no data that can be transferred out of the account, so your collection would be safe. But if a hacker were to find their way into your wallet of NFT trading cards (where you store the cards), they could feasibly steal your entire collection, and once those cards are taken from you, you have no recourse at all.

Additionally, because each time you log on to play, you will be required to port your chosen cards into the platform you are using, and then port them out of the platform once you are done playing, you will be required to register at least two transactions on the blockchain.

Both of these transactions will take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or two, depending on how active your chosen blockchain network is at the time. Also, each transaction will require you to pay a small fee to compensate the individuals and companies that own the servers registering your transaction. However, this fee will usually be only a few cents and can be paid using the funds in the same wallet where you store your cards.

The Future of Digital Collectible Card Games

I am confident that NFT trading card games will eventually become the standard for the digital trading card market due to the myriad benefits that they offer gamers.

Ultimately, blockchain integration into the trading card game space will best benefit players by facilitating true ownership over their digital cards, allowing players the ability to trade and sell their cards, use their cards to play on hundreds if not thousands of different platforms, and retain guaranteed 24/7 access to their cards as if they were physical trading cards, stored in a shoebox under their bed.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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