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Mojang: Freemium a possibility for Scrolls if players don't show

Minecraft dev "happy" with current players, but sales have stalled at 110,000 units

Mojang will resist the general trend towards free-to-play for its collectible card game Scrolls, but that could change if it struggles to attract players.

Speaking to the it24.se's Thomas Arnroth, Mojang co-founder Jakob Porser, who was also lead designer on Scrolls, reiterated his desire to avoid the use of micro-transactions as the game's primary revenue stream.

"We never want to make a game that sells lot of expensive things just because there are people who are willing to buy them," Porser said. "I do not judge developers making such games, but that's not where we will be going."

"We do not close the door for making Scrolls a free game in the future if that's what is needed to attract more players"

Jakob Porser, Mojang

However, Porser did allow that free-to-play could "definitely happen" if attracting more players becomes difficult.

"We do not close [the door] for making Scrolls a free game in the future if that's what is needed to attract more players, he added. "That is how most other collectible card games work today, it may have already become such a standard that it's hard for us to break."

Scrolls has been in paid beta since June. As a small, independent project, the game's break-even point was around 40,000 units, which it reached in under a week. Within a month it had sold 100,000, but that momentum soon disappeared.

According to Porser, Scrolls has sold around 110,000 copies - just 10,000 units since July - at €15 each, with a further 10 per cent of revenue coming from micro-transactions. It attracts between three and four thousand players every day.

"That Scrolls would sell a lot less than Minecraft has always been obvious," Porser said. "You can't ever compare them. I am happy with the amount of gamers we have right now."

A potential problem for Scrolls is the imminent arrival of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, a collectible card game based on Blizzard's hugely popular WoW IP. Hearthstone will be free-to-play, a huge draw for fans of a relatively niche genre and a daunting competitor for Mojang. However, Porser believes that there is enough interest to sustain both games.

Mojang is currently working on strengthening Scrolls' single-player mode and a version for mobile devices, though Porser would not be drawn on which is taking higher priority. The revenue from Minecraft, he said, has given Mojang the luxury of time.

"It can take three months, it could take twelve. Since we have the income from Minecraft, we don't need to set any deadlines. We'll just get at it and we'll be ready when we are ready."

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Latest comments (11)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
Ahem.
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its a card collectible game, what other model works?
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
I agree. The "ahem" represents where the real challenge will be coming from. :)

http://www.rubicondev.com/blog/yes-exactly-that-video/
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Show all comments (11)
@Paul Really looking forward to CM, love all your stuff :D
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
Good to hear, you'll have me blushing in a minute... :)
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Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer 3 years ago
its a card collectible game, what other model works?
Developers will innovate, it's just a matter of time.

Their game is basically a free-to-play model already, just behind a moderate pay-gate.

I've played it, and like other digital CTGs attempting to progress without paying gets pretty stale, pretty fast. There is no sustained meta-game strategy/choices beyond "grind games for more money". Certainly room for improvement. It will be interesting to see how Hearthstone tackles it given a very similar set of features, their Daily Quest system is a step in the right direction.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tyler Moore on 21st October 2013 5:55pm

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Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek3 years ago
Its interesting to see where Mojang go, its fairly clear Minecraft was a run away success. Markus then invested a massive amount of his own money starting his studio. He now has people and bills to pay. I wouldn't say Scrolls is a flop by a long shot, the development team was probably fairly small, its probably already broken even. But I wonder what his attitude is to the studio, is it one of following passions or does profitability begin to creep in? It must be a weird position to be in.
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Jean-Marc Wellers Assistant Online Services, Ubisoft3 years ago
It's not because you have millions of dollars, that you do not need to set deadlines though.
I'm pretty sure that players who have bought the beta are eager to see some change and new stuff...

Not respecting this, players will not be retained... =.=
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Jean-Marc Wellers Assistant Online Services, Ubisoft3 years ago
The breakeven point was 40,000 units. They have done 110,000.
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I suspect card trading games in its infinite variations have reached its apex point, onwards to esports and other biz models
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Saehoon Lee Founder & CEO, Pixellore3 years ago
I am sure there are more than enough companies who would be very happy with that figure
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