Make no mistake: Marvel Snap is one of the very best games of 2022. I know that, as ever, the awards chatter was dominated by bigger console games – but seriously, I’ve now definitely played more of this free-to-play card battler than pretty much everything that came out last year that isn’t called Elden Ring. Marvel Snap is a near-perfect experience… except for when it’s trying to take your money.
Marvel Snap is the sort of rare game where I feel the need to show it off. Over the holidays, I prodded it under the nose of friends and family members who typically only play a couple of games a year. ‘This is a great time killer’, I’d enthuse. ‘It’s the perfect toilet game’. It is. Bathroom breaks have never been so exhilarating.
Part of this is just a brilliant combination of stuff. Synergy, you know? The MCU might feel like it’s stalling in the public consciousness just a little (over the holidays, I heard a variation of the ‘I was done after Endgame’ sentiment about six or seven times), but Marvel’s characters are now embedded into the public consciousness in a way they weren’t before. This makes the universe far more fertile ground for a great collectible card game than some of its rivals like Magic or WarCraft, which, let’s face it, are for us nerds.
So, Point One in Snap’s favor: there’s a mainstream appeal here probably only rivaled by the Pokemon Trading Card Game, which continues to fluff its digital versions for some reason.
Point Two in Marvel Snap’s surprisingly short plan for world domination is just that it’s a bloody good card game. It’s perhaps unsurprising, given the studio behind the game is full of ex-Blizzard folks who come from Hearthstone, an excellent card game that simply lacked that mainstream-touching property driving it. Hearthstone walked so that Marvel Snap could run. The Marvel IP is the gamma particles that morphed similarly great design into something that could be truly massive.
It could be. But, man, one element of Marvel Snap sucks. Have you seen how much they’re charging?!
At the time of publication of this article, and its primary inspiration, there’s a Marvel Snap bundle available which is £90/$100. Titled the Pro Bundle, it gives players an absolute bucket load of credits and boosters, which are used to upgrade cards, plus a boost of 250 to your ‘collection level’, which unlocks new cards and card variants. It’s a huge amount of money, and it’s stupid, and it’s gross.
This is just one of the recent bundles, however, and is more like the straw that’s broken the camel’s back and inspired me to write rather than the egregious first red flag. The game’s earliest bundles were a couple of bucks a piece, but quickly the price skyrocketed.
With its three currencies, all of which you have the ability to exchange real-world cash for, there’s that classic obfuscation of how much you’re actually spending. That sweet bundle with an incredible variant of a hugely popular deck-anchoring card is ‘only’ 6000 gold, yes, which sounds great ‘til you realize that’s about 70 quid. For a card, an avatar, and some other digital guff.
Honestly, it feels a bit like the folks behind the game are taking piss at our expense. Literally. So far, I’ve purchased every Marvel Snap season pass, monthly packages that’ll let you unlock a little more across a season than if you’re a true free-to-player – and nothing else. But seeing the price of the other bundles, and being priced out of cool card variants and such on principle (I refuse to pay £70 for a digital trading card, regardless of what’s in my bank account)… it’s testing my patience. It’s making me not want to buy the season passes either. Which in turn might push me away from the game.
But also – I can’t help but think of those friends, the most casual of gamers, booting into their virgin Marvel Snap accounts. One of the first things they’ll see is a bright red notification dot pointing them to the store and the latest ‘deals’. How many will these stupid-ass prices put off this otherwise brilliant game? A shame. Hopefully they take a step back, realize they might make more money with accessible pricing that’ll increase sale quantity, and get away from this nonsense.