Mojang to close down Scrolls server July 2016

It has only been half a year since Minecraft creators Mojang unleashed its second big game to the public, and now it is announcing that it will no longer be actively developing the collectible card battle game Scrolls. To some extent, it isn't that surprising given how Scrolls paled in comparison to Mojang's real cash cow, Minecraft. But the announcement does call into question the profitability of such card games in general and perhaps even sparks some speculation regarding Mojang's future direction inside its new Microsoft mothership.

It was more than 3 years ago when Mojang revealed it was working on a new game. More than the game itself, the gaming world was more interested in how the small startup would be able to live up to the high standards that was set by its own Minecraft success. It immediately faced a legal hurdle over the rights to the name "Scrolls", which Elder Scrolls owner Bethesda contested. It seems almost tragic that after overcoming that obstacle, Mojang would eventually discard the name anyway.

Collectible card games are nothing new. In the real, physical world, they present a steady but no longer booming cash flow with the likes of Magic the Gathering or the half dozen CCG titles sprouting up here and there in the East. That success, however, doesn't exactly translate well to digital, where the ability to create hundreds of cards costs almost nothing other than paying for quality artwork, where the number of such games can multiply by the dozens in just a week. It's a tough battle, undoubtedly.

So it isn't exactly surprising that, despite having thousands of players, Mojang considers continued development of the game no longer sustainable. Which also translates to not being profitable. It does make one wonder about the fate of other such games that have even bigger companies behind them. Magic, for one, uses a less lucrative free to play with IAP system. Blizzard has only recently launched Hearthstone to smartphones. And both EA and Bethesda have revealed CCGs based on the Star Wars and Elder Scrolls franchises, respectively. No data on these games, at least the existing ones, have been released but it's hard to imagine them being anything but a trickle in these big companies' coffers.

Scrolls isn't immediately closing though. Mojang will continue its operations for a year, shutting down servers on July 1, 2016. That said, development will cease and developers will only be focusing on keeping the game balanced until that fateful day. Mojang, however, will also still continue selling Scrolls, with all proceeds going towards maintenance costs. With Mojang's only other major game (they have a 3rd one named Cobalt) now practically kaput, the developer has also practically been transformed into a one trick pony under Microsoft's control.

SOURCE: Mojang