Cory Jones (CEO, Hex Entertainment) is no stranger to TCGs. As a former professional Magic: The Gathering player, creator of the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, and the mind behind Hearthstone, his résumé is dressed to impress. But as we chatted he revealed problems with the genre I, too, had experienced.
One, in the risky market of licensed TCGs, things can end abruptly and badly. This wasn't just the fate of the WoW TCG; players of the Star Wars TCG found their card game ripped away from one developer to land at Hasbro. After evolving into a completely different game, it was scrapped completely.
Two, as those who played in their teens and early twenties continued to grow and mature, their lives changed. Marriage, kids, full time (or more) jobs, and other responsibilities meant no longer spending all Friday night at a store, nor staying at a buddy's place until 2AM playing matches.
Three, the demographic of the store didn't age with the player. All of a sudden, you could be a 30-something sitting in the middle of a group of teens, which can be a little awkward at times (even more so if you're female). Plus, eventually you run out of space to store all those cards!
The obvious solution: an online title, where cards are stored digitally, and online play sessions can be as long or short as a player has to spend. But the road to creating HEX was bumpier than anticipated. Cory shopped his idea for an MMOTCG around to publishers, and was met with largely glazed eyes. What the heck was an MMOTCG, and how would it perform? In early 2013, nobody had that answer to how TCGs would work in a digital space; Hearthstone wouldn't even be released for over a year (March 2014).
So Cory turned to Kickstarter, with the original campaign asking for a humble $300,000 USD. It went on to raise nearly $2.3 million, becoming one of the top 5 successful Kickstarters in 2013 (it's still one of the top 50 projects to date).
Realizing very quickly they'd promised a massive game that would take far, far longer than originally anticipated, the HEX crew had to make hard choices and quickly, electing to begin work on the PvP aspects of the game, first launching a PvP alpha, then the current beta, while slowly adding in Kickstarter promises as they went along. Nearly three years and four full card sets later, PvE is finally ready to be unleashed upon the world, with new mechanics, new cards, new maps, and a slew of surprises. Which only leaves the tantalizing question: what's next for HEX?