Interested in how to create your own trading card game online like Pokémon?
While still considered a niche market, Pokémon GO has an impressive 27 million users in the U.S. alone. Its card game trading network is also huge.
The market for online card games is growing rapidly. The market for these existing games has reached an impressive value of $3.4 billion.
If you want to cash in by creating your own trading card game online then you have come to the right place.
What are online trading card games?
Before we start on how to create your own card game, let’s briefly cover online trading games. These are games played on computers, tablets, and smartphones. These games are quite similar to physical trading card games. Players either play against other players or against a computer.
Many online trading card games are simply digital versions of physical trading card games. However, there are numerous original digital games too.
Top online trading card games like Pokémon
Let‘s review a few popular online trading card games to give you a better idea of what is working:
Pokémon trading card game online
“Pokémon Trading Card Game” (Pokémon TCG) online is a highly popular game. It‘s the digital version of the Pokémon trading card game. It‘s just as interesting and as popular as the card game. Players of this game can play it on Windows, OSX, iPad, and Android.
Originally launched in 2011, the game continues to appeal to its players. There are various modes of gameplay that suit everyone from new players to experts. Players can win prizes like tradable packs of digital cards.
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Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
A highly popular online trading card game, “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft” has millions of players. It is another interesting game, moreover, there is a range of cards, games, characters, etc. There are frequent expansions in the range of cards, something which keeps players hooked. It‘s available on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
GWENT uses complex game mechanisms that clearly work well for its players. The aim of the game is equally interesting as its card play. There are loads of different types of new cards to play with. There are tournaments and live events where players can participate.
HEX: Shards of Fate
“HEX: Shard of Fate” digital trading card game is quite different from the others in its category. Players can customize quite a few aspects. They can customize classes, moreover, they have a variety of race and class combinations to choose from.
It has a great design, including its app user interface. There are various events, and players can use its handy calendar to make sure they never miss any. The minimum order of $2 per booster pack is far cheaper than most of its rivals.
There are lots of other games, however, these are a few examples of the best ones.
Features of online trading card games
To compete with the existing games, a new online trading card game should offer the following features:
- A wide range of characters, cards, game scenarios, and settings;
- Backdrop options that attract and retain players‘ attention;
- Live events, tournaments, and event calendars;
- Streaming capabilities;
- Easy-to-use player onboarding;
- Interesting prize options in tournaments;
- A captivating overall presentation including high-quality graphics;
- Availability on multiple platforms, e.g., Windows, macOS, Android, iOS;
- A regular pipeline of new characters, cards, games, and tournaments, keep players interested.
How to create your own trading card game online?
I will now explain the steps to create a trading card game online for trading digital cards. Creating your own game will take considerable planning, time, effort, and skills.
Note, I will not cover using an online card maker to create your own trading cards via card templates, etc. Using a card maker almost guarantees you will only get average results that will look like any other game trading cards. Your own card game needs to stand out and be built to high quality standards if it is to succeed.
The following steps will ensure you end up with the best trading card game as well as only the best custom TCG cards (you will need a great designer if you plan to create your own cards):
Step #1: Plan the project to create the best trading card game online
A project to create a game online should be Agile based for the following reasons:
- Such a game is a ’System of Engagement‘ (SoE), which is different from ’Systems of Record‘ (SoRs) like enterprise accounting or CRM systems.
- Iterative development is the appropriate approach for SoEs, and Agile software development supports iterative development. Read more about Waterfall vs Agile: which methodology is right for your project?
Use a robust project management tool. JIRA is a good choice, however, you can find more examples of the 10 best Agile project management tools in our article here.
Step #2: Build a team to create a game online
You will require the following roles in your project team:
- Business analysts (BAs);
- Game designers/developers;
- iOS developers;
- Android developers;
- Web developers;
- A project manager (PM).
I am using the role descriptor ’Game designer/developer’ in a rather high-level way. To clarify, the role may include several different skills.
For e.g., game developers may need proficiency in graphics programming, ’Artificial Intelligence’ (AI), game-play programming, etc. The role will also include people with graphics skills like 3D character design, animation skills, etc.
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Step #3: Get a ’Platform as a Service‘ (PaaS) provision for the web version of the game
The high quality online trading card game that you are developing will likely be used by a variety of players. Some will play it on their smartphones while others will play using their desktop computers. The desktop players will need to seamlessly interact with smart device users and vice versa.
You have noticed that I have not budgeted for backend developers or infrastructure architects. The reason for this is that I recommend you use a ’Platform as a Service’ (PaaS) provider. PaaS providers address the following, leaving you to concentrate on your app development:
- Cloud infrastructure;
- Operating system (OS);
- Runtime environments;
- The database, and other 3rd party API integration;
- Scaling and monitoring services.
Step #4: Get a ’Mobile Backend as a Service‘ (MBaaS) provision for the mobile version
I recommend you use a ’Mobile Backend as a Service‘ (MBaaS) provider for the mobile backend. This is why I have not included any mobile backend developer or infrastructure architect in the project team.
MBaaS providers handle the following, enabling you to expedite the development:
- Cloud infrastructure, including server and networking;
- Persistent storage;
- User management;
- Integration with 3rd party APIs;
- Push notifications;
- Scaling your app.
You can use Google Firebase, however, you can check out more examples of how to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) here.
Step #5: Use effective tools for designing your game
I have recommended you induct game designers and developers into your team, however, using market-leading tools will really help streamline development.
Let‘s review a few options:
Option #1: Unity CCG kit
- You can build a digital trading card game with this intuitive tool.
- The game can be used for multiple platforms like Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
- There are also courses available to help you learn how to build your own card game with it. For example., check out Develop trading card game battle system with Unity 3D: part I (getting started & preparations).
Option #2: Dulst platform
With Dulst, you can create an online trading card game. Check out their advantages, which are as follows:
- The tool enables designers and developers to create game cards easily.
- There are features that support multiplayer games.
- You can also use the built-in features to build a fan community and retain them.
- The company has a flexible pricing plan.
- There is a comprehensive set of documents and learning resources, which you can access here. The documentation covers game customization, developing a game, managing card art, creating the game board, building basic effects, etc.
Option #3: Flowfab Game Creator
With “Flowfab Game Creator”, you can create a game using your web browser. They offer the following advantages:
- You can create apps for Windows, iOS, and Android.
- Flowfab runs in the browser, there, you don’t need to download any tool.
- There is a flow-based visual logic builder.
Option #4: GameMaker from YoYo Games
“GameMaker from YoYo Games” is another option with which you can build your online trading card game. The following are its‘ features:
- It‘s an easy tool to use since there is a drag-and-drop development environment.
- You can use the same game on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. Other platforms like fireTV, Android TV, etc. are also supported.
- There are editors for objects and scripts.
- You have access to an extensive library of events and actions.
- The tool also lets you control how objects are ordered, use inheritance, etc.
The “GameMaker Language” (GML) they use in the background is modeled on C.
Option #5: Stencyl
Stencyl offers easy-to-use tools to create online games. You have the following advantages with Stencyl:
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- You can create games for iPhone, iPad, and Android, macOS, Windows, etc.
- It‘s an intuitive set of tools, therefore, it‘s easy to learn.
- Their ’drag-and-drop‘ interface lets you develop games without coding.
- There are extensive learning resources, e.g., courses, guides, video tutorials, books, sample games, and a developer center.
Check out their pricing plans here.
Step #6: Use the right programming language and tools for the web app
By now, your game designers/developers have created online trading card game assets. For players using a desktop, you now need to build a web app. I recommend the following:
- Develop a web app using Java. With sufficient Java developers around, maintenance and enhancement will be easier. Creating and deploying Java applications on AWS Elastic Beanstalk allows you to develop using Java on AWS Elastic Beanstalk PaaS.
- You will need to use a database. Adding a database to your Elastic Beanstalk environment allows you to add a database instance to your web app on AWS Elastic Beanstalk.
- For testing, build management, and deployment, you need to use DevOps tools. Learn how to do that here using DevOps and AWS.
Step #7: Use the appropriate programming language and tools for the mobile app
You should create both an iOS and Android app, therefore, you will need a variety of languages and app development software. I recommend the following:
- For Android, use the modern programming language Kotlin along with the ’Integrated Development Environment‘ (IDE) “Android Studio”. Android Studio will make coding and testing easier for your team. Get started with Kotlin on Android will give you all the instructions you need.
- For iOS, you can use the modern programming language Swift, with Xcode, i.e. the preferred IDE for iOS development. This will make development and debugging easy. You can get some tips on how to migrate your Objective-C project to Swift here.
Step #8: Use the right guidelines for publishing a mobile app
After you develop and test your mobile apps, you will need to publish them in the various app stores used by the leading operating systems. Check the following guidelines:
- For publishing an Android app on “Google Play Store”, read “Publish your app”.
- Check out “App store review guidelines” for publishing the iOS app on the “Apple App Store”.
Step #9: Manage your project using the “Scrum technique”
Use the “Scrum” technique to manage this Agile software development project. This involves the following:
- You build a cross-functional “Scrum team” where designers, developers, and testers work together, with your PM as the “Scrum master”.
- “Product owners” provide the requirements as features in a “Product Backlog”.
- The team estimates the features and plans them in “Sprints”, i.e., iterations, based on their priority.
- The project team conducts a “Daily stand-up meeting” to discuss the project status during a sprint.
- Project stakeholders approve a sprint in a “Sprint review meeting”, after a thorough demonstration of where all features are working as desired.
- There is a “Sprint retrospective” meeting after the sprint, to learn the lessons from the just-concluded sprint.
Read more on how to build a Scrum development team.
Planning the next killer online trading card game?
Are you hoping of taking the online trading card game market by storm?
While it is important to dream big, don’t forget that it will be a large, complex project. Designing attractive digital game assets, developing them for multiple platforms, and the end-to-end project management required to manage the large teams will likely make it a very time-consuming and expensive project.
Consider engaging a professional software development company if you don’t have the required in-house skills to do it right. Check out how to find the best software development company before you start your search for such a development partner.
If you are still in search of experienced software developers to create your own trading card game online successfully, send us your project specifications via this form. Our field-expert software developers community at DevTeam.Space is on hand to help you to develop a high quality, market-competitive software application. Submit the form and one of our account managers will be in touch to answer any questions you might have.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do the following to create an online Pokémon Trading Card:
Identify features to offer and plan your project.
Choose a cloud platform, game development engine, and technology stack.
Form a development team, and use the “Scrum” technique to manage the project.
Design the UI and code the app.
Test and deploy your online game app.
There are several popular tools like gaming engines to create gaming apps. An online card maker can expedite gaming app development. You need experienced online card maker developers with considerable technical skills to develop gaming apps that make a mark in the market.
The following are examples of popular gaming engines:
GameMaker Studio 2;
Yu Gi Oh.