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The numbers behind the rise of collectible card games

September 9, 2015 by Lori Smith

Our friends at muti labs unveiled their epic card battler Days of Discord this week, and it seemed like a good time to lay down some of the latest numbers charting the huge rise of digital collectible card games (CCG).

It’s only been 18 months since Hearthstone debuted, but what an 18 months. Blizzard’s revolutionary digital CCG now takes in $20 million a month and is the indisputable leader of the pack. Physical CCGs still dominate their online cousins in terms of revenue, but digital players now outnumber the physical audience. Wizards of the Coast released Magic Duels: Origins this summer and many other studios are eyeing what muti labs’ Graham Hopper called the “tremendous opportunity” in this genre.

Two recent research reports, from analysts SuperData Research and from survey company Rapid Polls, make it clear that digital collectible card games won’t be shuffling (last pun, I swear) along anytime soon. Here are some of the highlights:

37 million … The number of people playing digital collectible card games worldwide. (SuperData)

$551 million … Estimated digital CCG revenue for 2015 in Asia, the region with the highest number of digital CCG players (10.9 million, or about 2.5x the number of physical players.) That’s still only 56% of the total revenue from physical CCGs, however. (SuperData)

$1.3 billion … Total estimated digital CCG revenue in 2015. (SuperData)

$90 … Average annual amount spent by players who purchase booster packs and other CCG in-app purchases. (If you include those who spend nothing, it drops down to an average of $38.53 across all players.) (Rapid Polls)

46% … The amount of CCG players who use multiple platforms to play their games. (SuperData)

5% … The portion of all players who spend $250 or more a year, making them the “whales” of the digital CCG world. (Rapid Polls)

We’re seeing the popularity of digital CCGs here at PlayFab as well. In addition to Days of Discord, other collectible card games using the PlayFab platform are Nova Blitz, from Dragon Foundry; BlazBlue: Battle Cards, from Alliance Game Studios; and Card Lords, from Running Pillow.

Using a cross-platform solution like PlayFab’s means developers can focus on their unique design and game play while letting us handle backend features such as leaderboards or trading. We’re always adding new features as well, and in fact it was a discussion with the team from Dragon Foundry that led us to develop our stackable inventory system.

We look forward to seeing what other cool new games in the digital CCG genre will bring in the next 18 months!