Marvel Snap is the latest Collectible Card Game (CCG) that is shaking up the online card game genre. It recently won The Game Awards best mobile game of the year award as well. This warranted me visiting the game and trying it out after being an avid Hearthstone player for years now. However, my journey that started off with a very rewarding $2.99 welcome bundle that offered a lot of great value quickly turned sour when I saw how steep Marvel Snap Microtransactions were, even the ones not visible to me as a new player.
Let’s take a walk through Marvel Snap and the problematic pricing that the game currently offers.
Marvel Snap’s Biggest Villain Is the Microtransactions
To preface all of this, we need to go through the basics of Marvel Snap.
Unlike Hearthstone, Legends of Runeterra, and other trading card games, Marvel Snap is a quick game that can have game sessions last from 2 minutes all the way to 5 minutes maximum. Your deck only has 12 cards, and every turn is played to 6 energy/mana. Nothing can prolong the game except the occasional location in the game that forces a turn 7; locations, too, are completely RNG, so it’s not guaranteed to get that location.
You win Marvel Snap by winning 2 of the 3 locations on the map, with each location having its own perk or handicap. Some locations will reward you for having cards on them, and others will punish you by destroying your card if you play it at a location or other conditions set by the arena.
While I am not here to go through the entirety of the game, here is a rundown of the game’s economy in its current state:
- Credits: These are exclusively used to upgrade your cards. Upgrading your cards allows you to unlock more cards, credits, and boosters and increase your collection level. This is a virtual ladder in the game, allowing you to increase your card library. Upgrading a card requires a combination of credits + boosters for that specific character.
- Gold Bars: These are used to buy more credit or more variants of your existing card from the in-game store. Variants are just cosmetic and are just different-looking versions of your standard card, offering no competitive advantage.
- Collector Tokens: A currency that lets you directly buy specific cards from the item store instead of relying on the collection level for cards you may need to complete your collection.
- Season Pass: The game has a monthly season pass for $9.99, offering unique cards like The Collector, Silver Surfer, credits, gold bars, boosters, avatars, and more. However, these cards can also be earned from the collection level but after a certain amount of time from the end of the season.
From here on, all of the links, data, and images are thanks to Marvel Snapzone, as these are deals I am unable to see due to my current collection level, by the end of it, you don’t need a degree in economics to see just how heinous these combinations are.
Marvel Snap’s Worrying “Bundles”
These are the bundles as of the time of writing, and this is indeed a worrying state of affairs.
We will be going from cheapest to most expensive.
The Welcome Bundle – $2.99
What you get:
- Captain America Card Variant + Avatar
- 700 Gold
This is easily one of the best bundles in the game. I used my earnings from Google Opinion rewards to buy this without a second thought. Especially at $2.99, who can argue at the value?
The Line in The Sand Bundle – $19.99
What you get:
- Chibi Spider-Man Card Variant + Avatar
- Chibi Sandman Card Variant + Avatar
- 500 Credits
You can see that for $19.99, you are getting two variants of cards that you will get automatically. 500 credits as a part of that are absolutely not worth it, as you can easily farm that from doing the daily missions for 2-3 days.
Hearts Wild Bundle – $46.99
What you get:
- 90’s Gambit Card Variant + Avatar
- 90’s Rogue Card Variant + Avatar
- 1500 credits
As much as I am a fan of the 90’s X-Men cartoons, $47 for just two cards is outright ridiculous, especially if it is only getting me 2 cards that I will get by playing naturally anyway.
Starlit Connection Bundle – $49.99
What you get:
- Angela Card Variant + Avatar
- Sera Card Variant + Avatar
- 4000 Credits
Admittedly, you are getting more than double the credits that you would from the Hearts Wild bundle, but $50 for 2 cards is, again, such a steep asking price.
Shielded Heart Bundle 5000 Gold ($49.99 – 3850 gold + $19.99 – 1450 gold = 5300 gold)
What you get:
- Mister Fantastic Card Variant + Avatar
- Invisible Woman Card Variant + Avatar
- Doctor Doom Card Variant + Avatar
- 3000 Credits
This is where the game now pushes you to the in-game store to buy gold bars. You must buy one bundle of the $49.99 gold and the second bundle of $19.99 gold making this a total of $70, for only 1 additional card.
Winter Wonderland Bundle – 6000 Gold ($49.99 – 3850 Gold + $34.99 – 2600 Gold = 6450 Gold)
What you get:
- 100 Sunspot boosters
- Sunspot Card Variant + Avatar
- A title
- 2000 Collectors Tokens
- 8000 Credits
Once again, we are made to buy gold from the store with real money. However, this time you are only getting a single card, a title that is basically a badge that comes under your name when matchmaking, and the first time we see Collectors Tokens, which is a to-be-decided currency. The bundle will cost you a whopping $85.
Cyber Holiday Bundle – 7500 Gold ($49.99 – 3850 Gold * 2 = 7700 Gold)
What you get:
- Apocalypse Card Variant + Avatar
- 155 Apocalypse Boosters
- 3000 Collectors Tokens
- 9500 Credits
All of this for a full $100. Just like the previous bundle, you are now only getting 1 card, albeit a very strong card, but at such a steep price.
My Take on the Current Bundle Situation
Admittedly, one can argue that the value you are getting from the credits and Collectors Tokens for $100 is worth days of grinding, but as it is, earning credits is a paltry task. I easily make 500-1000 credits a day just by doing the daily challenges and the season pass challenges or rewards from the collection level. I am a very casual player as well, just looking to climb with the help of my daily challenges, and once they are done, I hop off the game.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you buy the variant of a card (a different cosmetic version of it), it still doesn’t stop you from getting that base card from the collection level. You are effectively ensuring you have a duplicate before the original card, which you will still get anyway.
Collector Tokens, too, serve a single purpose of letting players buy a card that they may be missing from their collection on higher levels of the collection level. The costs of cards to these tokens vary, but it’s still a useful way of getting cards without relying on the RNG of your collection level at higher levels.
Ever since starting the game, I have only indulged in the welcome bundle, which is the only bundle I can fully endorse as a purchase as a new player. Still, only if you like the quick credits do you get paired with a good card like Captain America that does great in the first pool of cards you unlock.
Further Price Breakdown
Buying all 6 bundles (excluding the welcome bundle) will cost you a whopping $331 USD. There is a breakdown of what you are getting with regard to credit, gold, and other rewards on a post by Reddit user, camoufudge.
These in-game purchases are also only visible to people who have climbed the collection level to a certain point. At my current level, I could only see the welcome bundle and the Line in the Sand bundle, but otherwise, the rest of the deals were brought to my attention thanks to the game’s discord and people discussing it.
You don’t need a degree in economics to see that some of these bundles are indeed very poor in value. Whereas other games like Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering Arena, and other trading card games do make you buy premium packs for unlocking random cards via booster packs, you are at least getting some sense of value. People are currently paying outrageous amounts for a varying number of cards and a currency that is currently only favorable to people who are in the higher collection levels of the game.
Is It Really All That Bad?
There is another Reddit post that calls out the $20 Line in the Sand bundle by Reddit user soundsnicejesse. Once again, this is a post with a lot of engagement, and unanimously agrees that the current bundle system is not very favorable for the consumer.
Yes, one can argue that the economic systems of Hearthstone and Magic do encourage “pay to win”, the same is also applied here. People who use the fast upgrade route on the store every 4 hours to speed through the collection level.
The Fast Upgrade is a feature in the store where you pay almost double, and sometimes more, in credits to upgrade a card without necessarily having the boosters for it. Some of these upgrades can get you through +4, +6, or even +8 points on the collection level, speeding you through the collection level with credits, and refilling credits with gold is a faster way of climbing the collection level.
The Most Viable Bundle
Admittedly, I am a novice to the scene, Reddit user, EdgeOfDreams, literally did the math, and so far, it seems like the Sunspot bundle is by far the most viable bundle explicitly due to the Credits, Gold, and Collectors Token offered to players.
Similar to my complaints with Fall Guys and Multiversus, Marvel Snap is still a thoroughly enjoyable game that needs better planning for microtransactions. Yes, it is a free-to-play game, but the prices for the content they offer are absolutely exploitative. I would recommend waiting until the developers work on the economic model of the game before you decide to spend any money on the game.
I do believe that free-to-play games have the right to monetize as they please, but when you are gaining popularity and traction like Marvel Snap, it’s important for the bundles to make logical sense as well.
All in all, I encourage people to think with their wallets before indulging in these purchases. I personally can never see myself spending $80 on in-game currency when for the same price, I got much more value from Hearthstone packs when pre-ordering the latest expansion. Those offered much more value to me, with even dust afterward for me to craft the cards I would need for the meta.
Wrapping up, as a new player, these prices are just plain predatory and not worth the value. If the game offered more value with cards rather than items mostly used in the store, it would have changed how I felt about these bundles.