We’re Metagether, a marketing and bizdev team working for indie game developers.
This study is written by Ben Dimanche, Jade Balarni, Alyssa Delord and myself Tavrox. This article presents my point of view, after having released Neurodeck on Steam and Switch.
Nameless XIII is paying this study. They’re making Lovecrafting, an upcoming deckbuilding game. Thank you to Hervé Bonin, who agreed to sharing this study with the public.
What is the deckbuilding market?
Deckbuilders are roguelite games where you fight monsters with cards. You create your deck during events, fights and finish your run against a big boss. He’s often so strong that you really need to get your deckbuilding part right.
It’s a sub-genre of card games with big references like Hearthstone and Magic The Gathering. The best deckbuilding games are Slay The Spire and Monster Train. Play them if you want to discover deckbuilding games.
What are the documents we produced?
A marketing strategy applicable to Lovecrafting: https://docs.google.com/presentation/u/1/d/1SSAf3tjeofaAMa2v5-4-s1NDEPPxZP0COjFOq32FjtQ/edit#slide=id.g1108eb017e1_0_42
What are the main statements about this market?
It is quite profitable. With a median revenue of 160k€, we think it is one of the safe markets for indie game developers nowadays. There’s not too many games while having a niche eagerly waiting for new.
The average revenue of 2,8 million makes it an excellent choice for III teams that want to do a profitable game with their production capacity.
That said, the need for highly replayable and quality games is a big burden: your game needs to be rock solid, or you’ll get wrecked by reviews. I’ve suffered from this and games like Deepest Chambers (ThoseAwesomeGuys) as well.
What is the audience of deckbuilders?
We find two identifiable sub-audiences who like this kind of game.
First is Turn-Based lovers. They like to take their time to play, make pauses, and short game sessions (30 minutes to 1 hour). Those players want a game that respect their time, a high replayability and a good amount of content. These players are ready to pay 15–20 bucks if they feel they will spend several good evenings on the game.
Second is Competitive Card Gamers. These people played Magic, Hearthstone, Gwent and want big challenges in indie games. They are looking for features like Ascension modes, difficulty options and cheesy, wacky cards. Those players are happy when the game is hard and provide challenge.
What are the main roadblocks when entering this market?
- Deep but Accessible: your game requires a deep gameplay, while having a high accessibility. Card games have a lot of rules that can be overwhelming for casual and midcore players. Games required a very good tutorial that bring the game
- Originality Risk: The best games of the market are praised, and players expect that much quality, but also an original take on the genre. Indie devs often go for original features, but sometimes that’s a big risk. Players are mainly looking for a good experience over an original game.
- Balancing and game design: This is a genre that requires a lot of iteration on game design. Game feel is also very long
- Card Engine & Localization : Cards can be hard to make. They require a lot of game design
Platforms : a great opportunity.
Deckbuilders work very well on mobile and Switch. They are good for these platforms because of one main factor. The turn based component makes for simpler optimization and games tend to be easy to port.
That said, deckbuilding games typically UI heavy, and some things like cards visibility or text readability are hard to do well. Make the UI with different platforms in mind! It improves the time needed for Mobile & Switch ports.
Evolutions: What are the main trends in deckbuilders?
We see 3 main trends for deckbuilders.
First is Narrative. Those games have a lot of dialogs, story events and a bigger blot. The gameplay mechanics of deckbuilding are more of a gameplay support to carry the narrative components. Inscryption recently proved this trend.
Second is Crafting. Crafting games are still very strong market wise. There is a market for a cross-section of people who love to craft things, and cards being “crafted items”. I think we’ll see a big game in the Card/Crafting within the next 5 years.
Third is Procedural. Procedural in card games is still a very light component. It’s only used to create a procedural path of events, but not much more. My opinion is that we’ll have a game that revolutionize procedural gameplay in card games. Something that would expand a lot on level design and card design in this market. Lovecrafting, the game that triggered this study, has a good potential in this domain.
Thank you for reading!
There is so much more to say about this genre, but we felt this is the best way to summarize the potential of Deckbuilders. Visit our website https://metagether.com/ if you want to know more about us!