The Resurgence of Card Battlers

2017 looks to be the year of the Card Battler. Since January of 2016, we’ve seen share of revenue for the Card Battler category grow from 1% share among Top Grossing Games in the US to almost 16% share a year later. Tweet: Is 2017 the year of the Card Battler?

After early success, the genre had been in steady decline. First generation card battlers Rage of Bahamut, Marvel: War of Heroes, and Blood Brothers were among the first mobile gaming mega-hits, but were eclipsed as base-building titles like Clash of Clans and Game of War captured a more mainstream audience.

Card Battler US iPhone Revenue Share of US iPhone Top Grossing Revenue Share of US iPhone Mobile Game Installs
January 2013 $9.4MM 4.6% 2.4%
January 2014 $7.7MM 3.9% 1.7%
January 2015 $7.7MM 2.2% 1.3%
January 2016 $3.1MM 1.0% 1.4%
January 2017 $61.8MM 15.8% 3.6%

Source: Think Gaming

Supercell’s launch of Clash Royale in March 2016 created the first mega-hit for the category in years. Hearthstone laid the foundation, bringing a simplified style to broaden the appeal to a wider audience. Clash Royale combined a casual, frenetic match style with a huge audience of paying users from Clash of Clans to create a rocket ship.

Even excluding Clash Royale, category revenue has increased by 80% since since last January. Think Gaming’s player lifetime value (LTV) estimates have increased across the category.   

And the trend continues. Last weeks’s hottest new top grossing games were card battlers: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links and Star Wars: Force Arena. Both are seeing strong early results.  

Stay tuned – in our next blog post we’ll explore how the new generation of Card Battlers combines the best parts of the original hits with best practices discovered in the interim. 

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