Hex is in Trouble - Jaleyn - August 30, 2018

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Hex is a trading card game made by the company Cryptozoic, which has been up and running for five years after a successful Kickstarter campaign raising over $2mil USD. Some of you might remember Cryptozoic from the original WoW TCG, or the lawsuit from WoTC in 2014 challenging that Hex was too similar to Magic: the Gathering. Hex saw major success in its early years, having both a well developed and fleshed out PvE campaign, as well as a competitive ladder and tournament scene for most of its lifetime.

Currently, the game appears to be in a downward spiral, to put it politely. With delays in content, Hex’s head developer and part-owner of Cryptozoic has not even been logging in to the official forums for months. In addition, there appear to be major problems for some third party traders with orders being temporarily suspended, as well signs that these stores might be cashing out of the game.

If you look into the subreddit you will see threads asking about the future of Hex, wondering if customer service is canceled. On the official forums, you find more and more frustration with the lackluster posts from the development team with each weekly update. Unofficial resources that once updated regularly, such as “HexPVPTools” (a deck tracking API), now seem to be slowing down and even possibly shutting down in the near future as funding and support dry up with more and more people leaving the game.

As to why this happening, it's hard to pinpoint a precise reason. However, if I were to guess based on these numbers here, it’s a lack of funding and community interest in the game. The last time there was any increase in popularly and play in the game was this past March, with the release of Set 9, which was then followed by a sharp decline in its player base. Concurrent player numbers fell below 100 in June when it was announced that Set 10 would be delayed by two months. In addition to development setbacks, the two weekly tournaments had the prize support changed from a cash payout of $500 to the game’s premium currency, “Platinum”.

With veteran players leaving, what about new players? As mentioned above, Hex is a trading card game, like Magic the Gathering and Yugioh. You can expand your collection by buy packs, or you can purchase specific cards that you want like you would in paper. While it is true that you could play Hex free-to-play, grinding its in game currency, “Gold,” would essentially be a second job. It would likely take over 100 hours to grind a competitive deck. Cryptozoic also does very little to market their game or grow the playerbase; the most recent initiative to expand the player population involved extending support to PS4, which lead to a small infusion of players. Minimal marketing and a high barrier to entry, combined with a content drought, prize support cuts and poor communication have made for a game that is unappealing for both new and experienced players.

What comes next for Hex? I expect more and more people will try to sell their collections and leave due to the lack of content, communication, and overall negative attitude. With new and exciting offerings coming around the corner from other companies most players are looking elsewhere. Why shouldn’t they, if the Cryptozoic appears to have given up on the game?  I’m not sure what could happen to save Hex, but I suspect in a year’s time, it will join countless dead card games and shut down its server.