What is a Digital Collectible Card Game?

edited August 2023 in Gaming

Digital collectible card games (DCCGs) are a modern twist on the world of collectible card games (CCGs). Although CCGs are a popular pastime, they can be expensive, complicated, and time-consuming. As a beginner, there is a learning curve to start playing, deciding which game is right for you, and following matches. DCCGs give new players a chance to try new games and practice at their leisure. This somewhat levels the playing field and allows players to develop an understanding of the game. So, if you're looking for a new way to spend your free time, or want to try out a new type of game, DCCGs are worth checking out.

What is a digital collectible card game?

As a rapidly growing genre of video games, digital collectible card games fuse the strategy and deck-building elements of traditional trading card games with the interactivity and community of online multiplayer games.

DCCGs typically feature extensive game worlds with hundreds or even thousands of cards to collect. Unlike most collectible card games, DCCGs are designed to be played solely online, with players interacting with each other in real-time.

DCCGs are often compared to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), as they both feature creative worlds and large communities of players. However, DCCGs typically emphasize strategic deck building and card play over character leveling and combat. Many DCCGs are free-to-play, with players able to purchase booster packs or individual cards to customize their decks.

The history and evolution from in-person to online card games

Although there are examples of collectible cards across the globe dating back hundreds of years, it wasn't until the early 1990s that collectible card games took off in popularity. This was thanks to the release of Magic: The Gathering, which quickly became one of the most popular card games in the world. Gathering would inspire a wide variety of other digital collectible card games, including the Pokémon Trading Card Game and Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game!

Over the past few decades, all types of card games have undergone another significant evolution, and CCGs are no exception. We have seen these games go from almost exclusively in-person to online. This shift has been driven by advances in technology, which have made it possible for people to play together even when they are not in the same room. Over the past decade, DCCGs have been released on consoles, PCs, and websites. Recently, they have gained popularity on mobile devices, pushing them even further into the mainstream. The rise of online gaming has also meant that new collectible card games are being created all the time, giving players even more choice when it comes to finding a game that suits their interests.

Popular digital collectible card games

Although there are dozens of popular DCCGs, some are played more than others. Some of these, in no particular order, include:

  1. Hearthstone 
  2. Shadow Era 
  3. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game 
  4. Legends of Runeterra 
  5. Plants vs. Zombies Heroes 
  6. Magic: The Gathering Arena 
  7. Faeria 
  8. The Elder Scrolls: Legends 
  9. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links

DCCGs impact on the gaming community and esports

While DCCGs aren’t as popular as some other genres, there are still numerous tournaments held around the world. Players that participate in these tournaments have often trained for thousands of hours to visualize every possible move. To be successful in a DCCG tournament, players need to have not only excellent gameplay, but their decision-making must be a few steps ahead of their opponents. These tournaments offer large prize pools to attract top athletes. To support these tournaments and parties, there are sponsorship deals from large esports organizations and computer hardware giants companies such as ACER.

Some of these games make it easy to learn the basics but also provide a deep level of strategy, which is perfect for the esports community. DCCGs offer the perfect platform for commentators to build suspense during gameplay and the opportunity to analyze every move. Moreover, many people from the gaming community are already familiar with CCGs and DCCGs, which gives esports a built-in audience. With a large and growing player base, DCCGs are poised to increase in popularity within the world of esports and, like other genres of gaming, rise with the tide.

Popular DCCG tournaments

The popularity of DCCGs in esports is evident in the success of tournaments such as:

  • Hearthstone World Championship 
  • Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour 
  • Gwent Masters Esports Series 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS Remote Duel Invitational 
  • Legends of Runeterra World Championship

Common terms and play styles in DCCGs

Understanding common terms and play styles will help you understand discussions surrounding DCCGs and help you build your strategy. Although some basic terms are present in most DCCGs, others are unique to a particular game. This sometimes creates a learning curve when picking up a new game, so here are some of the most commonly used terms in DCCGs: 


  • Booster pack: A set of cards that can be purchased or traded, typically containing a random assortment of cards. 
  • Card: Each card has its unique effect and can be used to help the player win the game. 
  • Card pool: The complete set of cards available to a player. 
  • Creature: Cards that can be used to attack and defend. They usually have high attack and health values, making them tough to take down. 
  • Deck: The collection of cards that a player uses in gameplay. 
  • Mana: A magical energy that is used to cast spells in some DCCGs. Each card has a mana cost, and players must have enough mana to pay this cost in order to play the card. 
  • Milling: This is a strategy where players try to force their opponents to discard cards from their deck. This can be done by playing cards that have milling effects, or by attacking them with creatures that have the ability to mill. 
  • Meta: This refers to the most popular or successful decks and strategies in a DCCG. The meta can change over time as new cards are released, and new strategies are developed. 
  • Ramp: A strategy that involves playing cards that increase the amount of mana available, in order to play bigger and better cards. 
  • Spell: These are cards that have an immediate effect when played. They can be used to damage opponents, heal players, or disrupt their plans in other ways. 
  • Sacrificing: Some cards require players to sacrifice other cards in order to play them. This means permanently removing a card from the game. 

Play styles 

  • Aggro: A style that focuses on quickly dealing damage to the opponent. 
  • Control: A focus on controlling the board and preventing the opponent from doing anything. 
  • Combo: While using this style of play, you rely on a combination of cards to achieve a specific goal. 
  • Midrange: This style lies somewhere between aggro and control, focusing on neither too much damage nor too much control. 

Specific hardware that improves the DCCG experience

  • A monitor with a high refresh rate and response time. The Predator X34 has a curved display to wrap you up in the action. With crystal liquid technology, up to 180Hz refresh, and up to 0.5ms response time, you will be completely immersed in the action.  
  • A laptop with a powerful core and a touch display. The Predator Triton 900 is a 17.3-inch gaming laptop with 4K IPS touch display that is perfect for DCCGs. With a six-core 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-8750H Processor and a GeForce RTX™ 2080 graphics card, you can maximize performance and experience these games in the most realistic way. 
  • A durable tablet for when you’re on the move. Take your game anywhere with the ENDURO T3. This military grade tablet has up to 8 hours of battery life and is fully prepared for travelling, the outdoors, or the office. The Antimicrobial Corning® Gorilla® Glass keeps your device safe, while the 10-inch 1920 x 1200 resolution 10-point touch screen features 600 nits of brightness keeps your game looking great.  

What’s next for DCCGs?

While it's impossible to predict the future, there are some clues as to what digital collectible card games might look like in the future. For one thing, they are likely to become more sophisticated and realistic, thanks to advances in graphics and animation technology. In addition, they are likely to become more social, with features that allow players to interact with each other in real time.

As a result, the future of DCCGs looks bright. Thanks to the continued popularity of traditional card games, the rise of esports, as well as the ever-increasing capabilities of technology, digital collectible card games are sure to entertain and engage players for years to come.

Patrick Yu is a Senior Project Manager at Level Interactive and has 8 years of experience writing business, legal, lifestyle, gaming, and technology articles. He is a significant contributor to Acer Corner and is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan.



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