Disney finally springs the mousetrap on Pixelborn, an impressive, fanmade, and unfortunately doomed digital client for TCG Lorcana

Mickey Mouse in full mage gear.
(Image credit: Ravensburger / Disney)

Disney's own-brand trading card game Lorcana has proved pretty popular among card enthusiasts—aside from being just a decent game, it also has that miraculous Disney brand recognition going for it, which makes those unexpected meta picks all the more hilarious when they wind up being someone like my guy Hiram Flaversham.

You also can't play it online—at least not officially. Disney hasn't come out with an official digital version of Lorcana yet, so anyone who wants to take the TCG for a whirl has to buy physical card packs. Enter Pixelborn, a free, fan-made digital edition of the game that debuted on the information highway last year.

Created by Pavel Kolev, the client is genuinely very impressive—it has a ranked ladder, matchmaking, and fully-animated battles. It also won't be available for much longer, because Disney—entirely predictably—has asked Kolev to stop. Support for Pixelborn will end sometime prior to June 16.

"Earlier this month, Disney representatives contacted me," Kolev announces in the client's official Discord server (thanks, Wargamer) as he lays out the terms by which Disney leveraged its legal heft. "I've always stated I would respect such a request, and I plan to keep my word and will not grasp at technicalities … The Pixelborn Discord server will remain a safe and welcoming place to discuss everything Lorcana."

Nonetheless, Kolev adds that his "heart is shattered to pieces. I've put everything in this project for the past year and a half. Every night, weekend, and holiday. I know it meant a lot for many people as the only way to experience the game we all love."

(Image credit: The Pixelborn Discord.)

It should be noted that the Pixelborn Discord server has occasionally shared information on tournaments with paid prize pools hosted by the Lorcana Play Network (which sometimes use Pixelborn as a format), which absolutely could have contributed to the stepping-in from the big mouse. 

On the other hand, Kolev claims on his Patreon that any money donated in excess of what he needed to maintain the server would go to charity and was, to his credit, pretty transparent about such costs—posting readily-available breakdowns. The page itself also shows donations in the thousands to charities like Make-A-Wish, Save the Children, and Doctors Without Borders.

I'm of a mixed mind, myself—Kolev clearly has a deep love of the game, and the very nature of TCGs ensure that Lorcana is always going to be of limited accessibility to some people, locked behind both financial cost and physical availability of stock. Especially given that the TCG had some major issues getting cards into hands upon its release.

On the other hand, this is Disney—a litigious mega-corporation with an infamous deathgrip on its intellectual properties. The quality of Kolev's work is to be admired, don't get me wrong, but you've gotta know you're playing with fire by pouring your heart into what is, essentially, a doomed project. While companies will sometimes play ball with fan projects ala City of Heroes, that's typically with things that are defunct anyway. Sometimes a good thing just can't last for crummy, but expected, reasons.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.