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Hearthstone makes $20m a month - SuperData

Blizzard title easily leading the digital card game market, which SuperData forecasts will hit $1.3 billion this year

According to a new report from SuperData, the worldwide market for digital collectible card games (CCGs), led by Blizzard's Hearthstone, should hit an all-time high of $1.3 billion this year. The research firm noted that Hearthstone "transformed the landscape after earning more last year than its three closest competitors combined."

Mobile has had a sizable impact on the digital CCG market and on Hearthstone. After Blizzard launched the game on smartphones this April, the game's revenue and player base jumped up significantly. SuperData said that Hearthstone is now generating $20 million every month, with more players on mobile than PC (9 million vs. 8 million).

"In the same way that World of Warcraft became the dominant MMO when it was launched, Hearthstone is now the digital card game to beat. Blizzard made a game that is more accessible than long-running CCGs like Magic: The Gathering without sacrificing deep and engaging game play for hardcore fans," SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen said. "Publishers like EA and Bethesda are developing new CCGs as a direct result of Hearthstone's success, and Wizards of the Coast revamped its Magic video game series as well."

SuperData estimates that smartphones will continue to lead the digital CCG market with roughly $532 million generated next year; while smartphone players tend to spend less than PC or tablet users, SuperData notes that smartphones remain the fastest growing audience for digital CCGs. It's not necessarily an either/or scenario, though, as almost half of digital card gamers play on more than one major platform. Typically, multi-platform CCG players will play on either a PC or tablet at home and then use a smartphone while on the go. It's also worth noting that the digital CCG genre is one of the most male-dominated genres, as the adult audience is 80 percent male with an average player age of 31.

"Previously, smartphones were the realm of relatively simple card games like Rage of Bahamut and Marvel: War of Heroes. Highly-complex digital CCGs modeled after tabletop games tended to exclusively target PC and tablet players," van Dreunen added. "The success of Hearthstone on smartphones shows that the most dedicated CCG players want to play their games on the go too. As digital card gamers grow to expect seamless play across devices, publishers will need to rethink their game designs to account for players' diverse tastes and different play habits across PCs, smartphones and tablets."

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Latest comments (21)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
And I thought it was Combat Monsters that was proving you can get a deep, large, and hardcore CCG on mobile... Which also had seamless play across all devices for getting on three years now.. *sigh* Go Blizzard!
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Looks interesting how Blizzard is been positioning in the market with a game that it is outside their three main franchises. This talks good about how games can be successful even while been an spin-off of other IPs.
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Paul, press has limited bandwidth to notice things, it's always the giants and those who shout the loudest. Sadly.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
I used to believe that because it was a convenient thing to reach for. Since then I've realised that it's not the bigger games that get the bigger press, it's the bigger games companies.

Combat Monsters has a higher player review rating than both Hearthstone and Solforge, yet gets no coverage at all from anybody. Our last expansion that came with a big PR "push" had 1,200 extra cards in it. Hearthstone released a patch at a similar time with 132. Which got the goodies?

Because talking about the games people prefer is not as important as talking about games that get the most ad clicks. Which means for me that games industry journalism is dead in the water.

*Deleted even-more-contentious content, life too short error*

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 13th August 2015 8:05am

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 2 years ago
It should not come as a surprise, we are talking Blizzard here, they spend more on one advertisement campaign than most others have for a ten year budget. Plus they get to use one of the most known brands to push their card game into the market. If Paul could slap the WoW brand onto Combat Monsters and everybody with a BattleNet client could see it exists next time they launch their client, the results would not surprise anyone.

As for the gaming press as a mechanism to steer consumer attention to more worthwhile games.... ....wait, 2015 you say, ahhh forget it. just give me something people will click on because PR has already seeded interest and we sure as hell gonna ride that coat-tail all the way to rapture and beyond.
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 2 years ago
Because talking about the games people prefer is not as important as talking about games that get the most ad clicks.
"Prefer" is a bit of a stretch in this context isn't it? Sure, user reviews may be higher, but you can't argue with 20m players.
Which means for me that games industry journalism is dead in the water.
Media across all subjects spend 90% of their time writing about the things that they think people will most want to read about, and have for hundreds of years.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
>> "Prefer" is a bit of a stretch in this context isn't it?

No, not really, an average rating is an average rating. How do you think more players equates to a better overall appreciation of the game? I can't think of even a tiny correlation tbh. but I'm all ears...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 13th August 2015 10:52am

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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 2 years ago
I prefer The Guardian, but The Sun sells 10 times the copies every single day... So I'd say that "people" prefer The Sun.
I think most would agree that it's a sad fact, but to say that games journalism is dead in the water because they keep writing about what is popular is wide of the mark IMO.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
Indeed, but I said that for ME the industry is dead. Both as a means to get publicity for my own work as a professional, and as a way to find new and exciting games to play as a punter.

If all the games media is about is making another admob friendly piece about crossy road or minecraft then indeed what's the point of it. In the news press there is the Guardian alongside the Sun. Where's our Guardian?
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 2 years ago
But both Crossy Road AND Minecraft were first written about when they were basically nothing. That's precisely why they became popular: they got a groundswell of good press from a little bit of good press and snowballed. Initially they were both word-of-mouth, organic discovery with no real user-acquisition. Because they were both astonishingly good, and people found them.
The point of writing about them now is to maintain an audience, whilst other articles and mentions push other, smaller, as yet undiscovered stuff.

I agree that it's very hard to get people to take notice, but I don't think it's any worse now than it has ever been, or any other industry.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
That's where I beg to differ. I used to be able to punch a little above my weight in terms of getting people to read my press releases. We have after all got a decent track record in our chosen field. Nowadays though I can state categorically that I've not had a single journo acknowledge a single contact attempt for at least the last couple of years, and I hear similar murmurings from the peer groups I'm in.

Some sites I could point at but won't have at least been honest about the switch to shilling as a means to prosper.
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Jamie Firth Video Games Production 2 years ago
Some sites I could point at but won't have at least been honest about the switch to shilling as a means to prosper.
"Shilling" is a totally different thing - Are we still talking about them just writing about what their readers will want to read? Or actual commercial deal-striking?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jamie Firth on 13th August 2015 1:21pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 2 years ago
I want to point out that the guardian does not write articles to help products sell better. Even if the tech and fashion segment could lend themselves to blatant forms of product placements, but usually do not. Even though the guardian leans to the left, i would not describe it as a paper selling people on labor politics, in the same way a fake Youtuber would sell a game with the help of a fake Let's Play. So even if there was a guardian of video gaming magazines, it would not affect sales.

The more concerning issue about people consuming video games media is their attitude. In my experience people do not want to be told what to like, they want to be reaffirmed that what they like really is as good as they made themselves believe. And if you believe all videogames suck, then there is even a few people to reaffirm that believe as well. Which is a natural thing, when many games are free to play, or are on the same level as buying a pack of cigarettes or case of beer.

Top Gear is the prime example of a show that was tongue in cheek consumer advocating for a segment of the market where advocating consumers had become pointless.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
Sorry guys, I think I'm just too jaded. Check this recent review out (yes we got one):
http://tradingcardgames.com/review/combat-monsters/

The take home for me is this quote: "For a game to be this fun, yet relatively unheard of is a rare thing"

And you know what? It's just not a rare thing at all. We manage it every time we write a friggin game and it's just getting old now. Really, really old.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic keyboard basher, Avasopht Ltd2 years ago
I prefer The Guardian, but The Sun sells 10 times the copies every single day... So I'd say that "people" prefer The Sun.
That doesn't mean they would prefer X game over Y. To truly test that requires exposing the population to both to compare responses. That being said, average reviews does tell you what people who played it thought of it.

I mean, imagine 500 million 1/5 reviews! By the logic of just looking at the largest numbers, you'd be saying that that poorly rated game is liked more. Think about it.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 2 years ago
@Paul - Do you have someone doing your marketing? I've recently had the chance to watch a few good marketeers in action and they can really be worth it if you can afford the initial budget. Reviews and press coverage seem to be step 1 in new player acquisition, and an old hand might already have good working relationships with a lot of press outlets.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany2 years ago
Even the best game goes down without publicity and a marketing campaign. "The Secret World", for example, would have a ton more players if it would have enjoyed a bit more publicity.
If you are not backed by a big company is very hard to get noticed. I don't think that beautiful game that is "Unravel" (for example) would have been know to most of us if CoolWood Interactive didn't have EA Game's support.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
@Bonnie, yes we've tried it all. Combat Monsters was universally rejected by just about everybody that we seemed to be able to reach in the past, and the same thing happened with a couple of smaller releases since then. There has definitely been a change in focus out there. That or we've been black-balled by some secret rolled-up-trouser-leg illuminati.

This is our third year now for Monsters and it doesn't even qualify for a metacritic score.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 14th August 2015 8:45am

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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany2 years ago
@Paul
With my best intentions and with my humble experience in EA Game Evaluations department: I think that maybe you should redo the trailer for the game again in higher quality. I feel that you loose a chunk of the potential players there since a video in that low quality makes the game look cheap when this is absolutely not the case at all (all those positive reviews in Steam pretty much proves this). I would keep that "Saturday morning cartoon vibe" (to call it somehow) that I think fits the game quite ok. But I would definitely redo that trailer.

I'll play a bit more when I have a chance. I know I tried Combat Monsters before, but it was some time ago and barely remember.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 14th August 2015 9:10am

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development2 years ago
Thanks Alfonso, any crits etc you want to make please mail them to me - paul@rubicondev.com
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Michael Vandendriessche Studying Computer Science, K.U. Leuven2 years ago
When I saw the title, I was just thinking: Why are so many of the most popular games not as good as many others in their genre?
(Sure that might be subjective but there are many other more obvious cases of this)

I've recently been hooked to Infinity Wars, another free to play card game. I like how you get a lot of strategic options from the start! I tried Hearthstone but it felt kinda bland in the gameplay department. Top notch production values but that's all for me.

Paul, I'm downloading Combat Monsters as we speak! :) I'm liking the grid. Not just the cards but also the positioning matter, really cool.
Stay positive! I'm sure if you've got a great game you can go out there and snatch those players!
And hopefully get enough money to expand your game or develop the next one.

(On a side note: Platinum Games will make money someday right?...Right?!)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Michael Vandendriessche on 19th August 2015 9:33pm

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