MetaZoo – Why I’m Skeptical

Don’t buy into the hype without reading this first.

I wasn’t quite sure what to title this article. I’m still not sure even as I write it. In any case, the general purpose of this article is mostly to warn anyone who, like myself, has found themselves curious about buying into MetaZoo.

So for starters, let’s quickly define what MetaZoo is. This is a bit difficult, because MetaZoo wants to be a lot of things, but its core is a TCG (Trading Card Game), named, unsurprisingly, Metazoo. It’s this TCG and the elements around it that currently make me nervous about wanting to get involved or buy anything MetaZoo related.

If nothing else, there’s a single massive factor that has turned me off of MetaZoo so far: the several times I’ve actually sat down and tried to play the game, I didn’t actually have very much fun. And I consider that a really bad sign, because I really like card games and trading card games. I’ve played a ridiculous amount of Magic, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh, both in paper and in those games’ digital equivalents. And even when I’ve gotten stomped, even when things have gone wrong, I’ve still had fun. MetaZoo hasn’t been fun.

(A brief aside: MetaZoo, generally speaking, plays like a combo of Pokémon and Magic, using parts of Pokémon’s attack based combat, and Magic’s resource system and life points.)

This is the root of my skepticism of the game. From there, my skepticism grows when I start to look at everything else around the game’s ecosystem. Right now MetaZoo feels like it cares more about making as much money as feasibly possible than trying to grow and become a fun game.

There are a lot of examples of this, and so I’m just going to go through them in no particular order.

The MetaZoo NFT

There’s an official MetaZoo NFT. Because of course there is. Here’s the link to the OpenSea page. And here’s the link to the page the token was sold on. The long and short of it seems to be, “There’s a plan in the future to use these to give exclusive access to discounts and presales on future products!” For reference, each of these tokens cost a minimum of 0.3 ETH to mint, and CoinBase has Eth listed at about $4,500 for the date this was going on. But if you bought during the presale, “During the minting process, certain errors occurred! These error tokens include a damaged Jersey Devil Purple token, a double stamped Mothman Gold token, and other eccentricities that are significantly rarer than their properly minted counterparts. These error tokens will only be circulated during the presale event.” So, lets be clear: A MINIMUM of $1500 for the potential future ability to… purchase a blind box T-Shirt at presale. And maybe other undetermined benefits!

What incredible fucking value. They sold 2300-ish of these things.

Blind Box… Everything

You know those blind box T-shirts that the token above got you presale access to? Yeah, so, those are $50 a box. Each box contains… 1 T-shirt and a Promo card. I could almost understand getting a specific T-shirt and random Promo, but why would I buy a random T-shirt I don’t even want? And a single promo card? They also had blind box pins and promo cards available at one point. Oh, and “1 out of every 40 boxes contains a Super Rare T-shirt and promo card featuring the Nightcrawler and all 6 iconic MetaZoo characters!” You may be starting to see a pattern here: limited exclusivity everything, with lots of hidden and random promos, at ridiculous prices… but if you don’t buy now, they might sell out!

Playing Card Kickstarter

So, with the world in the absolute shitter, and supply lines being what they are, if you actually want to play MetaZoo, it’s a bit difficult. The first MetaZoo Kickstarter raised about $18,000 to do the print run of the cards. So the MetaZoo team recently ran a second fundraising campaign to… print playing cards.

It has raised, at time of writing… $1,520,596. Let’s be clear: this isn’t for copies of the actual TCG cards, it’s for decks of normal playing cards with art from the MetaZoo game/franchise on them. Of course, these decks also come with special blind box boosters, and if you pledge at the $1150 tier, you’ll get a special promo, one of only 250!

You can’t though, because all those slots are already taken.

Other Concerns

Rapid fire mode:

Ebay partnership promos for buying certified cards through eBay. Channel Fireball unique promos. Convention promos for exclusive convention plushies. A twitter account that seems to mostly retweet box breaks, giveaways, pulls and stats about card grading.

The point I’m trying to make here is that this company and community currently seems more interested in capitalizing on fear of missing out, impulsive collectors, and maintaining hype in the secondary market than their actual card game.

The Actual Game

Okay, so that’s enough about MetaZoo for now. Let’s talk about Magic: The Gathering for a moment, and some of the worst designed Magic cards ever printed. Specifically, the set of cards known as the Power Nine. These 9 cards are banned in virtually every format, and the only format that they can be played in, Vintage, only allows you to use a single copy of ONE of them in your deck. They are obscenely powerful with no downside, and have massive format warping potential. It’s actively admitted that it was a “Mistake” to print cards at this power level by the game’s designers.

Because of this, these cards have never been reprinted, exist in fairly small amounts, and are also some of the most expensive magic cards ever. For reference, at time of writing, the “Cheapest” Black Lotus on eBay is about $15,000. (Interestingly, a brief look at some older price guides show how much the cost has gone up. One price guide from 2002 has it at $300 at the time.)

In short, the Power Nine are incredibly valuable, while being toxic to the game of Magic if ever used in play. They are the poster child of “Cards you do not print” while designing a Magic-like card game. Of those 9 cards, 6 are mana rocks. These are the Moxes, and Black Lotus.

So why am I harping on about poorly designed early Magic cards in a article about MetaZoo?

This is why.

I mentioned up above that MetaZoo in many ways plays like a combination of Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering. And one of the things it takes from Magic is Magic’s resource system. You can play one “Aura” card per turn, you “fatigue” it to generate resources, and you “unfatigue” it at the start of your turn, just like Magic’s lands.

MetaZoo has a cycle of zero-cost cards for each element that look like this.

There’s one of these for each “Color” that can be played in MetaZoo, but they all function the same. A zero cost card that taps for 2 Aura.

Now, if you’re looking at this, and going “Wait a minute, that’s more or less just a cycle of strictly better Moxes,” then you’re thinking the same thing that I was when I when first saw them.

And this is another major reason I’m skeptical of the intentions of the MetaZoo team. Magic is close to 30 years old, and in those 30 years, the Power Nine have not been reprinted. While you could argue this is because of collectors, or fears of sullying the market, I’d argue that the core reason is different: the Power Nine ruin the game.

So if you’re making a brand new card game, why would you create more powerful versions of some of the worst designed TCG cards ever made? I can think of two reasons. Reason one is because you’ve never played another collectible card game before.

Reason two is because as you release your brand new card game, you want to immediately invoke FOMO by referencing the most infamous and expensive cards from the world’s most popular TCG.

From what I’ve written in the rest of the article, you can likely see which one I think is more likely. (Although neither are confidence inspiring)

This the vibe that seems to permeate MetaZoo for me. Underneath the wonderful artwork and 90’s video game box art vibe there’s a persistent drumbeat of “Fear of Missing Out,” “It only goes up,” and “Buy now! Limited edition!” This doesn’t feel the work of a team trying to create the most fun game that they can. It feels like someone trying to create a new version of the Beanie Baby craze, or Pokemon that they can cash in on.

And it’s why I’m currently very hesitant of engaging any further with the game or brand. If you’re looking at MetaZoo and going “Huh, that seems neat, I wonder if I can get some boosters,” I urge you to reconsider.