Maybe not so niche?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 June 2013, 3:56 am
I love Card Hunter, currently in closed beta. So much that I gave them more money than I considered necessary to play comfortably, just because I wanted to vote with my wallet for the game. You see, I'm a bit worried about the financial success of a game like Card Hunter: While the art style reminiscent of old school D&D looks great to me, and a combination of trading card mechanics with turn-based tactical combat is pretty close to my dream game, I am very well aware that these aren't mass market trends. Card Hunter is a game which is difficult because it forces you to think, and most people don't like having to think while playing games, and would rather mash buttons.

But maybe I underestimated the size of the market for a game like Card Hunter. A recent discussion on the beta forums (they are public) about the number of people trying to get a beta key had a developer reveal that they are already sending out 1,000 beta keys PER DAY, and in spite of that the waiting list was getting longer, because more people than that were signing up every day for the beta.

One factor here is certainly demographics. The people who played D&D in the 80's and/or Magic the Gathering in the 90's are now adults, having maybe less time to get a pen & paper game going, but more disposable income. In a way they are a far more attractive target audience for a Free2Play game than kids and teenagers are. For $50 you can buy pretty much everything you need in Card Hunter for months, including a 3-month subscription to get more loot and access to all the extra adventures; for anybody who used to spend money on Magic the Gathering cards that would seem dirt cheap today.

The other factor is probably positive word of mouth. There is no other game comparable to Card Hunter, and the closed beta already has rather impressive polish and amount of content. Anybody interested enough in that type of game to sign up for the beta is probably going to enjoy it. No NDA means that nothing stops Card Hunter from "going viral", with everybody getting in recommending the game to his friends.

On the cost side, I am not an expert, but presumably it is cheaper to program and run an online turn-based "board" game without character animations than a MMORPG. This isn't a game where you'd be worried about how many milliseconds your ping is, in fact there was a recent discussion from the developers talking about a 2-minute time limit per turn in multiplayer. I don't think there is a huge amount of data being exchanged between server and client.

So if the cost per player is low, and the average revenue per user is high, Card Hunter could in fact be quite profitable, even if it doesn't attract millions of players. Here's hoping, because I'd love this game to stick around and be developed further.
Tobold's Blog

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