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MWOK had all the right elements for a successful social networking game. It had great art, polished animations, good response time, balanced and simple gameplay and great branding, but it still died. Why? Let's crack its carcass and find out, for science!

Luis Blondet, Blogger

June 29, 2012

4 Min Read

This is an excerpt from my blog about the death of a beloved game that was far from perfect, but it nevertheless earned my respect and admiration. I only posted an excerpt because the actual blog is too huge for Gamasutra, sorry. I posted all of the details I have found in order to investigate the end it met. -Luis Raul Blondet


Mystic Warlords of Ka'a (or MWOK) is a online collector card game on Facebook and it will die a few hours from now, at 11:00 PST. Why? That is the question its thousands of players, myself included, are asking. The developers of the game, Dire Wolf Digital, have been communicating with the player base until they posted the following message on June 18th:

THE BIG BANG THEORY – FAN PAGE CLOSURE MESSAGE We hope you have enjoyed playing The Big Bang Theory: Mystic Warlords of Ka’a! We regret to inform you that The Big Bang Theory: Mystic Warlords of Ka’a will be coming to a close on Friday, June 29 at 11am PST. On this date, both the application and game page will be removed from Facebook. Please be aware that if you have any remaining Newtons or Coins to make sure and use them up before the game goes offline on Friday June 29 at 11am PST. We thank you for your loyalty and support of the game! We hope you continue watching The Big Bang Theory and following the show’s updates on Facebook. Thank you, The Game Team ----------------------------------------- What does this mean to you? This means that as of Friday, June 29 at 11am PST, we will be closing The Big Bang Theory: Mystic Warlords of Ka’a Game and Fan Page, and that it will no longer be available. What will happen to any of the Newtons or Coins that have been purchased? Newtons and Coins can only be used in the game until Friday, June 29. Unused Newtons or Coins after Friday, June 29, will become null and void. If you purchased Newtons or Coins on or after June 10 and have not spent them in the game you can request a refund for 30 days after closing through the “Report/Contact this App” link at the bottom of the page. We will begin processing requests for refunds on Friday, June 29. All refunds will be made to the Facebook Account used for the original purchase. We will be discounting a lot of the items in the store before the game goes offline. -----------------------------------------

  I e-mailed them today and this was their reply:

Hello, Apologies for the automated response, I am no longer with Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment. If you have any questions, please refer them to Zach Pond ([email protected]). He will be able to assist you or direct you to the person necessary in order to resolve your questions. Cheers and have a great day, Joe Selinske

  Certainly there are others that can respond and answer us, but even their own website seems to be abandoned, so now we can only guess. MWOK seemed to have all the right elements for a successful social networking game. It had great art, polished animations, good response time, balanced and simple play mechanics and great branding thanks to the deal they struck with Warner Bros. to tie in the game with The Big Bang Theory sitcom. In fact, they posted promotions often at the BBT Facebook page which has 22 million Likes, yet MWOK peaked only at 33,000. Why? Maybe it was the difficulty of the game or the instructions? Here are the instructions new players would see:

mwokinstructions

mwokinstructions2

mwokinstructions3

mwokhelp

In the last panel, you can see Sheldon giving help tips while the game goes on live, this could be turned off by unchecking Show Hints. Now, I know everyone can be a general after a war, but I think that the help bubble could've simply been summarized to say "Cards that are played in a Duel that have a a Rank equal or lower this number will appear in the Battle field. This number goes up by 1 every turn." Also, you couldn't find the instructions again because they activated with the Book icon on the upper right and the game made no effort in telling people it was there, but other than those two things it seems to be a pretty easy game to learn. Could those two simple faults of communication be responsible for the game's lack of popularity? Maybe it was the mechanics, maybe potential players didn't like the gameplay or the design. I personally liked many of the things Dire Wolf Digital did with the game in terms of rules and balance, but i'm not so sure if the majority of potential players felt otherwise.

(...continues here with 75% more analysis and clickable pictures. Enjoy.

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