"It's not a zero-sum situation": Dire Wolf Digital pits Eternal against CCG esports giants

The Eternal World Championship tournament boasts a prize pool of $100,000.

Dire Wolf Digital has announced the Eternal World Championship tournament, a season of play for the digital card game that will culminate in a tournament with a $100,000 prize pool.

“Organized competitive play has been part of our vision for Eternal from the very beginning,” Scott Martins, president of Dire Wolf Digital, told GameDaily. “Our hope for the next few months leading up to the first Eternal World Championship is that we can create an opportunity for existing players to show off their skill in ways that inspire new players to dip their toes in the water.”

According to the announcement, The season will begin on October 1st and run through spring of 2019. The entire season will be broadcast on Twitch, and will include a number of qualifier events, a Masters Challenge, and a tournament Dire Wolf Digital is dubbing “The Showdown.”

Dire Wolf Digital has several fingers in the digital card game pot. Previously, it helped Bethesda develop The Elder Scrolls: Legends, but that torch has since been passed to Sparkypants Studios. It also did a lot of work on the online version of the Pokemon Trading Card Game. The team even has a couple tabletop games to its name as well, such as the deckbuilder Clank! and the tile-laying Lanterns.

“The core team here at Dire Wolf has specialized in digital card games for over a decade,” Martins said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to work on a number of major IPs over the years. Eternal is the product of decades of experience.”

Eternal is Dire Wolf’s first original digital card game, and it finds itself amongst heavy competition from the likes of Legends, Gwent, the upcoming Artifact, and the ever-popular Hearthstone. The latter can be seen at the top of Twitch’s most-watched channels almost daily, and boasts an average viewership of over 30,000 a week, compared to Eternal’s 300. If Dire Wolf Digital wants to make an impact on the digital card game esports scene, it will have to pull out all the stops.

Martins is confident in the team’s ability to set itself apart from the current card game scene. “This is a great time for card games. Hearthstone did wonders to open up the market and introduce millions of new players to the genre,” he said. “[But] It's not a zero-sum situation where there's only room for one game.”  

Without the budget and marketing clout of the likes of Blizzard and Valve, Dire Wolf has an uphill battle. For Martins, that just means Dire Wolf needs to explore other avenues of exposure. “As an independent studio, we're far more interested in the experience our players have. For us, that means new digital twists on card design, open-ended storytelling, and continuing to build and explore a sweet "six-guns & sorcery" world of dragons, gunslingers and intrigue.”

As the Eternal World Championship approaches, Martins says preparations for the team’s first major esports event are running smoothly, with a few more major milestones on the road ahead. “We've been doing internal testing and practice broadcasts to prepare for our first official run at an esports event, but we’re fortunate in that there are quite a few folks at Dire Wolf who have a lot of experience in the broadcast booth. “We're actually planning a small test tournament in-client next weekend, starting on September 28th.  We expect there will still be some kinks to iron out along the way, but we're starting in a pretty good place and looking to scale from there.”

It’s hard not to be impressed by Martins’ confidence. The digital card game scene may be dominated by Hearthstone, but there’s a sense of pride to be had in rooting for the underdog, the independent studio with high hopes. “We're fortunate to have a passionately engaged group of players at the heart of Eternal,” Martins said. “We believe that if we can tap into and magnify their enthusiasm, a lot more players will get to discover what a special game Eternal is. Buzz is definitely building in the community, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Sam has been freelancing since 2016, and has bylines at IGN, PCGamesN, PCGamer, and Unwinnable. When not writing about games, he is most likely taking care of his two dogs or pretending to know a lot about artisan coffee. Get in touch with Sam by emailing him at sdesatoff@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter.