Those who follow competitive card games have probably at least heard of Faeria, if not seen some footage of play. It’s an early access card/living board game currently on Steam that has already garnered the attention of some established Hearthstone pros such as Octavian “Kripparrian” Morosan and Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy. While the game has only been in early access for about six months, it already has monthly $3,000 cup involving a mix of fan-favorite, top-ranked, and invited players, as well as a weekly tournament for in-game rewards. Faeria has the potential to burst onto the eSports scene with a fury, but only time will tell if it has the characteristics it needs to go the distance and really pick up a competitive following.
Established Pros’ Interest
For such a new game, being able to pull attention from already established professional players will go a long way to getting the name out there, and letting players see what Faeria is all about. Probably one of the biggest moves that Abrakam Entertainment (the Belgium-based game company), has made to boost its popularity has been to sponsor TSM Kripparrian’s YouTube channel that has over 800,000 subscribers to make a few videos outlining the basic concepts of the game, as well as streaming several hours of him practicing for a tournament.
Another Hearthstone pro, Lifecoach has also gotten into playing Faeria. Known colloquially by fans as “Ropecoach” for his tendency playing Hearthstone to think out every possible play, running down his turn timer and “roping,” or ending his turn with only a moment to spare. Faeria is similar to Hearthstone in a few ways, but provides through its mechanics a greater strategic depth for him to sink his teeth into.
If Abrakam can continue to update and balance Faeria in such a way as to pull more attention from recognized players and organizations, there is a significant chance that Faeria can launch into a viable and popular eSport.
The Faeria Monthly Cup
In a promising effort by Abrakam; Faeria is already running a monthly tournament with a prize pool of $3,000. Participants are chosen in a variety of ways, to vary the player pool and increase the diversity and accessibility of the tournament to the every-day player. Half of the thirty-two players will be accepted through open qualifiers available to any player who registers, while the remaining half will be a mix of a few invited players (mostly prominent streamers or pros), community favorites chosen by vote, and of course the top ladder players at the time.
Additionally, GosuGamers is sponsoring a weekly tournament with in-game rewards. Every Sunday, players can compete in a single-elimination tournament for up to 2,500 gold as well as Pandora Coins, which allow players to compete in the game’s drafting competitive mode. With open registration and in-game rewards, the tournament seems to be geared towards giving the average player a taste of what life in competitive gaming is like. It is likely that high-profile players looking to make a living in Faeria will not participate in a tournament like this, because those players will probably have already purchased the entire card collection, and will not need the in-game rewards offered.
With a significant tournament already popular within the existing Faeria community, it is likely that newcomers over the next several months as the game goes free to play, and then in the later part of this year and next year releases for tablets and mobile devices, will be interested in the competitive scene, as well as raising the chances for third-party eSports organizations like the Electronic Sports League (ESL) or Intel’s Extreme Masters’ tournament.
Going Free to Play
The final key to the future success of Faeria as an eSport lies in Abrakam’s decision to make the game free. With the traditional micro-transactions that free-to-play games need to survive, Faeria allows players to purchase nearly any commodity in the game with in-game currency if they prefer not to spend money on the game.
Going free-to-play means that a significant portion of the gaming community which may not have otherwise been interested in Faeria to at the very minimum have a chance to play it, and get acquainted with its basics and mechanics. Many players who would not be interested in Faeria with an initial investment will certainly be persuaded to give it a shot for free. Many players who get involved in free-to-play games in this way end up spending at least a small amount of money on them, which for many players cements their interest in the game and invests (mentally and financially) them in the game. This influx of casual players can lead to a broadened community, and greater interest in tournament play, which in turn leads to more tournaments and more competitive play.
While Faeria still has a long way to go in terms of legitimizing itself as an eSport, Abrakam Entertainment has already made huge strides and great decisions in their pursuit of that goal. If they continue to make the right decisions, it can be expected that the player base of Faeria will grow, and that even more established players and eSports organizations will flock to the game, realizing its depth and potential for exciting competitive play as well as depth of strategy within the game, and boosting it into the respectable spectator sport it has all the potential to be. Only time will tell.