Mojang’s card game Scrolls shuts down next week

scrolls

Scrolls, the battling card game from Minecraft studio Mojang, will finally shut down next week, on Tuesday the 13th of February. The official servers will shut down and the game become unplayable, though Mojang are hoping–not promising–that they will soon be able to release server software publicly so people can run their own. We’ve known for ages that Scrolls would shut down one day, since Mojang said in 2015 that they could only guarantee the servers would be up until July 2016. It’s gone a lot longer than that.

Mojang announced Scrolls back in 2011, then it hit open beta in 2013, and finally launched in December 2014. Only six months later, Mojang announced they would be putting Scrolls down because it had “reached a point where it can no longer sustain continuous development.”

In the middle of all that, the owners of The Elder Scrolls, ZeniMax, set their lawyers upon Mojang over the name ‘Scrolls’. It seemed daftly over-reaching, though ZeniMax did later announce their own Scrolls-y card game, The Elder Scrolls: Legends and trademark law is a known endless hellwar and I fear that even mentioning it means The Suits will have gumshoes tail me.

Anyway! What about the future of Scrolls? The game client will stop working when the servers shut down, but Mojang are hoping to give Scrolls some sort of life beyond that. As they said in this week’s blog post:

“We’ve made some progress towards being able to release the server software to the public, together with a slightly modified client that is able to connect to such servers. While we are still unable to guarantee this will happen or set a date, we have high hopes that we’ll be able to do this in the next few weeks or months. If and when this happens, the game client/server will not be open source. However, the game database will be fully editable by the community. This would allow for some degree of customization, including tweaking card stats, making new cards out of existing rules, changing various configurable settings (such as gold gain), and modifying the set list of trials.”

That’s still only a maybe, mind, a plan and not a promise.

If you’ve Scrolled, you might fancy joining one last tournament. Mojang point out that this community-organised tournament is on Sunday. A number of Mojangeers are planning to play on Friday too, if you want a chance to bump into them.

What’s Scrolls like anyway, gang? I’ve steered clear because I have am overly fond of card games and they do bad things to my life. I know Rich Stanton liked what he played.

36 Comments

  1. ChairmanYang says:

    Any company that shuts down servers for paid content, and doesn’t bother releasing software so players can run their own servers, is a company I become hesitant to support in the future. I don’t want to pay for game rentals.

    Any company that does make an effort to keep their servers going is going to be more likely to get my business. Ubisoft did this with World in Conflict; as a result, even though I have no interest in that particular game, I’m more inclined to buy stuff from them.

    • Neutrino says:

      I might still pirate their stuff. After if they steal from their customers I’m sure they won’t mind people stealing from them in return. You think?

      • oyog says:

        Stealing from their customers? How, in your mind, is creating and selling a game stealing?

        • SaintAn says:

          By taking away the game and the content they bought?

          • mlcarter815 says:

            It’s content that they bought access to. They didn’t buy the content.

          • theRealComptroller says:

            When you buy a game with an online component that requires hosted servers it’s unreasonable to think that they will be kept running forever. Especially when you aren’t paying a monthly fee. You should know that going in.

          • dontnormally says:

            > It’s content that they bought access to. They didn’t buy the content.

            That is precisely the mentality that some people strongly disagree with.

          • mlcarter815 says:

            >That is precisely the mentality that some people strongly disagree with.

            Those people shouldn’t pay money for online games, then.

          • RedMattis says:

            @mlcarter815 says:

            mlcarter815, they are asking a moral question, not a legal one. Legally the customer doesn’t deserve anything. Morally people may disagree with how the industry runs things and want to retaliate against practices they dislike.

  2. Captain Narol says:

    Wow, I wasn’t aware that Scrolls was still running, even if not for long !

    It was a pionner in the “Cards + Tactics” genre and I gave it a try some years ago, but to be honest I was quite disappointed.

    Game was too static, and the units were stuck on their lane which ruined the tactics aspect for me.

    This “Cards + Tactics” genre (that emerging genre really screams for a good name !) still wait for a real hit, despise that mix being very interesting and promising.

    Shardbound and Warbands Bushido are recent great games in the genre but struggle to find their audience, Pox Nora was an half-hit and an awesome game but is falling slowly into oblivion, Smite Tactics had a strong brand advantage and a strong launch but got ruined by being a totally unbalanced mess and bad design decisions during beta.

    Even worse, my favorite game in the genre, Conquest of Champions, had to close quite some time ago because of the financial difficulties of the small company which developped it…

    I’m starting to fear that the genre is already doomed.

    • Artist says:

      Scrolls was definatly not a “pioneer”! It just tried to get a piece of a possible growing cake. A rather lackluster attempt from the very beginning.

      • Captain Narol says:

        Scrolls was released in 2013, apart from Pox Nora and Etherlords what other games did you had then that mixed cards and tactical fight on a grid ?

        There was no cake yet in that specific genre, and the idea was still quite innovative at that time…

        In the end, I think it’s really a niche genre that will never gets big, attractive only for the few people like me who like both Magic-style card games and Tabletop-like turn-based combat !

        • gealach says:

          Coming from the RPG side, Card Hunter worked well for me and is still going (though the Flash platform is a problem).

          And seeing how well Gloomhaven is doing in retail, I have good hopes that someone will create a digital version of that.

          Niche, undoubtly, but I think it’s been growing lately… alongside MTG, D&D and many gamers reaching an age where cooperative, turnbased tactics become increasingly more appealing.

        • Frank says:

          Well, Bang Howdy came out in 2006. Great game.

          I hate card-heavy games like MTG, so I don’t know of others off the top of my head, but my guess is that the genre has existed for decades. It’s not like advanced graphics or creative design are needed for it.

          • Captain Narol says:

            I had never heard of Bang!Howdy so I had to look it up, but apparently its gameplay doesn’t include Cards and Deck Building alike Magic&Co so it seems unrelevant to this discussion.

            We’re discussing the sub-genre that specifically mix Cards and Turn-based fighting, quite a narrow niche.

            My point is that apart from a few precursors like Pox Nora and Scrolls, it’s mostly a recent niche that is still struggling to deliver a big hit and may never do, despise the charm (for me at least) of the formula.

            One game that I forgot to mention is Duelyst, that can be considered a cult hit in that precise genre but didn’t reach a huge audience either.

          • Frank says:

            It does have cards, but they are consumable, not for deck-building, you’re right.

    • Boronian says:

      Shardbound had to stop development because they need more funds.

      Duelyst is another option and doing well. Another expansion coming out next month.

      • Captain Narol says:

        The Devs of Shardbound has to stale its developpement because the deal they were about to sign with an editor went down, but they are trying to get another and I cross finger for them.

        Anyway, the game is already in a very good shape and utterly enjoyable, even if some unit looks are stuck in placeholder look due to the stalling, and it’s a pity it doesn’t have more players.

        You’re right to mention that I forgot Duelyst that is an excellent game and going nicely, but still I wouldn’t call that a big hit.

    • wxsampson says:

      Units were never stuck on their lane. You could always move them one hex in any direction per turn.

      Structures didn’t move of course.

      • Captain Narol says:

        Thanks for correcting me : ok that’s it, JUST ONE HEX BY TURN…

        No wonder the game felt so static and awfully slow in my memory !

        They should have called it “Snail Tactics”, that would have been an honest title…

  3. Kefren says:

    Why don’t the companies make sure there’s at least a minimal single-player versus AI mode, and then release that at a cheap price as a standalone game? They then get income from it in the future. It’s like Cardhunter – if it was a single player offline game I’d buy it. Instead it means I’ve played it for hours but the devs haven’t had a penny from me. They’re throwing away money, in some cases.

    • mlcarter815 says:

      It would just be another thing that would have to be supported. Every new product takes some percentage of time from the engineering team.

      • Kefren says:

        Lots of games on Steam get no support at all (as I’ve found out in the past!) If things are priced realistically then it is a pill many will accept.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Earl-Grey says:

    While I never played this and have absolutely no interest in ever doing so, I’ll always remember it fondly for keeping the name “Scrolls” and telling Zenimax to shove off.

  5. LTK says:

    There were many reasons for me to like Scrolls, such as the myriad of player-vs-AI challenges, ample pre-built decks in the shop, and the inventive crafting system that made duplicate cards much more valuable than the resources they gave you to scrap them.

    Unfortunately, I got discouraged by the matches I played against much stronger opponents, and my attempts at shoring up my starter decks didn’t seem to have much effect, so I guess I appreciated Scrolls far, far more than I liked it. In any case, I’m sad that it didn’t manage to find success.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Even if I never had any interest in this game, I’m still vaguely annoyed at Zenimax for being so crazy as to think they can press suit for someone using one word of their multi-word series title. It’d be like RPS suing rock music.

    • Xigageshi says:

      That whole thing wasn’t actually Zenimax’s fault. Mojang tried to file a trademark for the word “scrolls” for use in literally everything, including games, which would obviously pose a problem for Zenimax’s “The Elder Scrolls” Trademark so they challenged Mojang’s trademark filing. Which is precisely what any company that wishes to keep its trademark would have to do in that situation.

      That whole thing was squarely Mojang’s fault for letting some overzealous lawyer in their employ file a ridiculous trademark – on a single word.

      The game press did a really bad job of explaining that story back then, oddly I seem to recall RPS was one of the places that got it right back then, but now I’m not so sure.

      • Premium User Badge

        Drib says:

        Hm, you know, now that you mention that, I recall reading that somewhere too.

        Well, there’s plenty of other litigious nonsense to be mad at Zenimax about. But yeah, I think you’re right on this case.

  7. Strangeblades says:

    Hi Alice! Are you OK? You know, I come to read your articles for your blaking way of writing. And especially the alt-text on the photos. But there is no alt-text on these photos. I am sad. I still like your stuff tho. But, you know, there’s the sad bit I mentioned.

    Stay spicy!

  8. RuySan says:

    I played a bit of this during the open beta, and while i was excited at first the game just wasn’t very good. It was a war of attrition and games lasted to long. When Hearthstone came into open beta, i stopped caring about it. And now with Eternal, i don’t care about HS anymore.

    Duelyst and Faeria do the tactics+cards much better, but unfortunately for them i only have time for one card game in my life.

    • Captain Narol says:

      +1 about Eternal, IMHO it takes the best of Magic and HS and mix them in a format perfectly adapted for digital play.

      Thanks for mentionning Faeria, I had forgotten that game in my list as I never played it but I only heard good stuff about it and it’s an interesting twist on the sub-genre.

      Like Duelyst, I would consider Fearia a semi-hit from a commercial standpoint, but it’s still not the big flagship hit that the genre needs to explode.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    I still find the claim that Mojang ‘can’t afford’ to keep the servers running pretty disingenuous.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Agreed. I get the argument entirely from their perspective and how they are approaching it seems absolutely fine and sensible. But don’t they have all that Minecraft money?

      (Actually looking into it, Mojang were bought by Microsoft outright when they acquired Minecraft, so to all intents and purposes there is no “Mojang” now. And Microsoft are obviously well poor.)

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      Well, for corporations (read: Microsoft), “can’t afford” translates to “no longer find it profitable”.

      They’re not going to spend money that isn’t making them more money.

  10. wxsampson says:

    I used to be an avid player of this one back in its “heyday”, if you could say it ever had one. It’s was a shame to hear it stop development and I’ve long since moved over to Duelyst, which is pretty good.

    I loved the art for this and the smaller board is great. Got no doubt some very earnest, talented folks behind Scrolls.

    But damn if this game didn’t have persistent design problems that were just never resolved (loooooong games stemming from a deck-recycling mechanic, featuring beyond-annoying decks that just wear you down over the course of 40 minutes, a multi-resource system no one ever used except for one-trick combo plays, and even then not in tournaments, bad gold payout for most of its beta, etc.), coupled with terrible, terrible marketing, an up-front cost that didn’t align with the dominant CCG business model, bad on-ramping for new players, and countless, low-hanging quality of life improvements that just never happened.

  11. Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

    >they will soon be able to release server software publicly so people can run their own
    Good for them if they’re planning to do so. That should be a legal norm, so that the publishers will think twice before shutting down their online “services”