When I was a boy, Collectible Card Games came from humble origins. While I remember trading Pokémon cards on the playground, it never seemed to exceed the popularity of the game; I didn’t know anyone who played Magic: The Gathering, and even Yu-Gi-Oh was played at limited capacities.
However, in this new digital era, and with the popularity of Hearthstone pushing CCG’s into the mainstream gaming market, the industry is set to explode and it could mean big business.
According to SuperData Research, the digital collectible card games market will generate $1.4 billion in revenue worldwide in 2017. While physical CCG’s still dominate the market, research suggests digital players now account for 61 per cent of the CCG audience thanks to digital CCGs’ greater accessibility than their physical card counterparts.
This is due largely thanks to Blizzard’s Hearthstone, whose popularity really cannot be overstated. In 2016, Hearthstone dominated the digital CCG market, earning $395 million worldwide, with Blizzard launching a new major content pack roughly every four months, allowing dedicated players to prepare to spend on new cards. According to the report, among U.S players, 7.6 per cent of players spend on in-game content.
Following behind Hearthstone was Shadowverse, the mobile follow-up to the 2012 digital CCG Rage of Bahamut; which earned $100 million worldwide despite launching halfway into the year. Personally, I had no idea either of these games existed, or were so popular until time of writing, so it just goes to show how malleable the market is.
The report also suggests that 86% of digital CCG players worldwide watch videos about CCGs, with 59 per cent tuning in to learn new strategies; the largest market for digital CCGs is Asia with a reported 11.6 million players, while North America has the largest physical player base with a reported 9.1 million.
The success of Hearthstone is so great that seemingly everyone is trying to get on the digital CCG bandwagon with Activision’s Skylanders Battlecast, Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls: Legends, and even overwhelming popular demand for CD Projekt Red to create a full game for Gwent (a side-game in The Witcher 3).