Today I want to give my opinion on why Duelyst will always stay a niche game.
Of course this catchy title have to be nuanced, maybe CP consider his player base to be big enough for them. Keep also in mind that a game doesn’t necessarily have to be huge to be successful, even tho it’s less true in the F2P industry. (otherwise I would have called this post: “why Duelyst will never be successful”)
[skip this part if you don’t care about my life]
First of I want to say that I am a long time TCG players, played many TCGs IRL and online (playing Magic since Onslaught) and I am overall a competitive player. I also design board games as a hobby since more than 10 years.
I play Duelyst since the open beta (was playing when we drew 2 cards per turn), since then I reached S-rank every month and played sometimes in tournaments (even manage to be top 7 most earned WC points in October XD). I have a Youtube channel for Duelyst in French and I am very active on the forum.
Outside of that I wrote a 120 pages thesis on the Free to Play model for my study. Now I work as full time community manager for a company that makes massively multiplayer online games (I won’t quote the name since I wan’t to protect my privacy).
[ok I am done]
Of course there is a lot of external reasons why Duelyst might never be a big game. The market is very competitive with big games like HS and many others . The nature of the game itself which is a lot harder to master than a regular TCG. But even with all those factors Duelyst remains a very accessible game and has the potential to have way more players.
To have a big player base you need to appeal to casual players. No matter the nature of your game, casual player will always represent between 70 and 99% of your player base. It is not surprising, most players play games to have fun and relax rather than be competitive and become the best.
Duelyst unfortunately, does nearly NOTHING to appeal to casual players: no casual mode, no campaign , no fun mode… Outside of playing with friends everything that you do on Duelyst has something on the stack whether it is ranking or rewards. This level of stress cannot be handled by most players or at least not for a long time. But guess what? The new reward system is forcing players to play even more ! So not only you are forced to play in those stressful situations but you also have to play a looonnng time to grind the quest and even force you to play factions you are not familiar with. This extended questing time would have been completely all right if only we had a casual mode.
The only excuse I can find for no casual mode is the fact that there is maybe not enough player to have reasonable queuing time. But let’s take the problem from the other side shall we? Maybe the reason why there is so few players is because there is no casual mode? And maybe if players had the possibility to play without stress they would play twice more? I also ear a lot of people saying: “they tried but it was broken balabla” .Well that is bullshit, EVERY TCG has a casual matchmaking. There no excuse why CP would not set up just a regular hidden MMR system like everyone else does. What worries me the most about that is that casual mode IS NOT EVEN ON THE ROADMAP!
I am focusing so much on casual matchmaking because it is very easy to set up, unlike a campaign or a fun mode.
A second problem that the game is facing and I think limits a lot its expansion, is its rather controversial aesthetic. Yeah some people love it, some other hate it and at least it feels unique. But I can’t stop dream about how much more successful the game would be if it had regular graphics. I truly believe it is possible to enhance the aesthetic of the game while keeping the 8bit art style. For example, the only thing you see on a given unit is its sprite, which is not enough to give you an accurate representation of the unit , let me give you an example:
This is the sprite of Rae:
It is little, has no details and look like a fucking worm.
Now this is what Rae actually looks like:
Cool … bad ass robot serpent.
Why do you spend so much money drawing awesome 2D artwork that you actually NEVER see in game?
It is an horrible waste of money and talent. Why not replacing those ugly looking cards by actual cards with beautiful 2D art (yes because the cards background also look ugly ). If the only thing you see about a card is its 2D artwork, suddenly you are going to be curious to see how its sprite looks like.
It would be a very effective way to enhance the look of the game especially towards player who dislike the 8 bit style of the game. Of course drawing an artwork for every card won’t be free, but believe me it is worth it.
This post can make me sound like a basic rant but the reason why I am taking the time to write such a post is because I believe that Duelyst is the best TCG around.
This post is not a wish list from a fan. I already play the game and I am a competitive player. It is a business recommendation from a professional.