At Gamescom 2023 we saved something very special for last - our final exclusive Gamescom interview with the chief development officer at Second Dinner, Ben Brode.
Our chat started a little late because we joined Brode in the middle of a game of Marvel Snap with a fan. And if you’re wondering, Brode won, proving you should probably not challenge somone at their own game… But more than just being a welcome sight of player outreach, the encounter shows how Brode has been elevated to the “face” of Marvel Snap in the minds of many players.
His previous work on card games such as Hearthstone gave Snap an air of legitimacy even before its release, and while the incredible work that Second Dinner have done speaks for itself, Brode can definitely lay claim to attracting former Hearthstone addicts with his appearances in adverts and promotions for the title. It's clear that Snap’s pedigree has played a huge part in its success.
Second Dinner themselves can meanwhile comfortably claim to have helped catapult Nuverse, the Bytedance subsidiary that published their game, to a whole new level.
As far as flagship titles, Marvel Snap has it all; a storied development team, a fantastic franchise IP to work with, and a great game that players love.
PocketGamer.biz: You started your work with games like Hearthstone, and it’s arguably the game that you’re most well-known for amongst aficionados. Did your work on that title translate to Marvel Snap?
Ben Brode: Well, you’re designing fun cards either way, right? That’s part of the thing. I came from playing physical trading and getting to make a stamp on the card game industry through my work on the Hearthstone team, and then really trying to make my stamp on what I thought would be a great mobile card game - and it was. We won your Mobile Game of the Year and a bunch of other awards.
Now we just launched on PC, and it is so much fun. In some ways, it feels like it always belonged there. And now I made this kind of circuitous route through mobile collectible card games back to PC games.
So which is the best version? The PC or mobile?
Look, I’m a huge mobile fan, obviously. But it’s fun to do both.
Any way people want to play Marvel Snap, we’re excited to meet them there.Ben Brode
Are you hoping that your audience will play both? ‘I’m playing Marvel Snap on the train home, and then I’m going to hop onto my PC and play it there too’?
Any way people want to play Marvel Snap, we’re excited to meet them there. Whether you’re on the train or on the toilet, it’s so fast you can get in and out quickly! But if you’re working from home, and you’ve got a second monitor, and you want to play a little Marvel Snap on there, it’s great either way.
Speaking of the quick-paced three minute rounds, how did that come about?
So, I was fielding the designer to get a collectible card game experience super-fast. When I was working on Hearthstone, on average games were about seven minutes long. But they could go on really long. A buddy of mine was working at a video game company, and he was playing on the toilet, and he queued up Control Warrior into Control Warrior, and it was like a forty-minute match. And he stood up after using the restroom and his legs had fallen asleep, and he collapsed onto the ground, and broke his leg, in the toilet, at work!
And then he blamed me for it! And I don’t blame him, you know? It’s like, that’s one of the things that Hearthstone did, right? So I was always jealous of Clash Royale. They had four-and-a-half minute games, and if you know you can get a game done in that time, you can play more often. Like, ‘I’ve got five minutes, I can definitely finish a game of Marvel Snap.’
So that driving goal was something I had in my mind. Can we make a card game that has a limit on how long it could be, and you know you can play it when you have a little bit of time?
Working with Marvel, with the popularity of both the comics, movies and even games, how has that worked out for you?
Marvel is the greatest creative collaboration of all time. So many people have put their stamp on the Marvel Universe; the comic books, movies, and TV shows all have incredibly rich histories behind them. So getting to make a game in that universe and add our own take on it, adding some cool new variants and highlighting characters that maybe not everybody knows about, it’s really satisfying.
So, where is Marvel Snap going from here?
Well, hopefully, just up, man! We just launched on PC, and we’re inviting all these new players to join us in our journey. We’ve been adding a ton of new features with Conquest Mode and Spotlight Caches, and we’ve been adding a ton of exciting new cards that are really fun! We’ve got a lot more of all that stuff.
We launched our roadmap online so players could look at it, see what’s coming, and give us feedback on what they may want to see. And we’ve just been knocking things off that list since launch, so you’ll see a lot more features, competitive additions, new game modes, new cards, and all kinds of stuff.
It’s really an incredible team, and we just love making Marvel Snap bigger and better.Ben Brode
Are you hoping to see a Marvel Snap eSports league at some point?
I mean, that would be rad. I think that would be super fun! We’ve already seen a bunch of tournaments grow out of the community, and we’re excited to keep adding features to support that kind of stuff. And then, who knows? Maybe we’ll see even more beyond that.
Finally, what has Marvel Snap’s success done for Second Dinner?
I mean, it’s been really rewarding. I’ve got to say, the studio’s eighty people now, and that’s a big responsibility as a person who’s partially responsible for running the studio. It’s wild to be a part of a thing that can support that many people's livelihoods. You know, a bunch of people now rely on Marvel Snap to feed their families and stuff. That’s pretty mind blowing for me and very humbling. It’s really an incredible team, and we just love making Marvel Snap bigger and better.