Don't Look Now, But Dice Masters is a Top Selling Game
For those familiar with the ‘big three’ collectible games such as Magic: The Gathering (Wizards of the Coast), Pokemon (Pokemon USA), and Yu-Gi-Oh! (Konami Digital Entertainment), it's no surprise that their popularity has continued to thrive over the course of the last 20+ years. Collectible games draw popularity from a concept that started with Baseball cards: the ability to trade with others to complete your set. Packs of randomly inserted cards tease us with the hope that we’ll find the one that we’re looking for with the next purchase. Levels of rarity increase the difficulty and encourage the desire to trade.
In today's world, with online retailers providing collectors with the ability to sell their extra copies, the secondary market has become a business within itself.
In May of 2014, WizKids, through the genius of game creators Mike Elliot and Eric M. Lang, launched a collectible card game that combined the strategies of Magic: The Gathering with the dice building mechanics of Quarriors. They called it:
Not long ago, ICv2 posted the top 10 selling collectible games as reported by sales figures for Spring of 2015. They interviewed retailers, distributors and manufacturers for their data. Dice Masters, after only a year of existence and a multitude of past supply issues, finished in the top 5. This puts them right on the heels of the 'big three' in the collectible game market. For a game that sells it’s booster packs for $0.99, this is a success that can’t be overlooked.
So how did a game, that just celebrated it’s one year anniversary a few months ago, become so popular in such a short time?
Having been announced nearly a year prior to release and given a positive review by popular gamer/reviewer Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower, buzz for the game grew quickly. In addition to that, many Dice Masters players received their introduction to the game via Rodney Smith’s Watch it Played channel on YouTube. All the right marketing was in place. The first set was focused on the Marvel Comics licensed: Avengers vs. X-Men. Unfortunately, WizKids was faced with supply challenges at launch. Many game shops reported that they received less product than was initially ordered.
The demand for the game far exceeded the supply and product sold out quickly, leaving many hopeful gamers empty-handed.
The problem was one of contention, forcing WizKids to release a statement regarding the low supply of Dice Masters product. This was a theme that would continue for the next six months as an unfortunate dock strike occurred, restricting the delivery of additional sets to America. Many people bailed on the game, thinking it would die off as quickly as it hit the scene. Not having faith that WizKids could correct the problem, they began selling off entire sets of cards and dice to recoup the money they spent. However, because of very reason those people were leaving the game, there were eager gamers looking to buy up any available product so they could start playing.
Supply problems make it difficult for a game to gain popularity. Especially for a game that relies so heavily on people playing the game, in front of other gamers, to advertise that it even exists. In such a competitive market where Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon have dominated for so long, Dice Masters seemed doomed to fall by the wayside. Another collectible upstart, Cardfight! Vanguard (Bushiroad) was beginning sinking it's teeth in the competitive marketplace with tournaments springing up all over. And with Vanguard being accompanied by a cartoon as a way of marketing the game, it was clear that Dice Masters would be fighting an uphill battle for consumer attention and buyer loyalty.
Nearly 6 months after the Avengers vs X-Men set was released, WizKids released their second set: Uncanny X-Men. Again, they were faced with supply challenges, however this time not nearly as bad as with the previous set. WizKids realized that an increase in volume was necessary. And despite the pending dock strike that delayed its arrival, the game took on new life as more people were able to get product and experience the game for the first time. Meanwhile, AvX was still being produced in limited quantities. This allowed the secondary market to explode as gamers tried to assemble complete sets of cards and dice for both AvX and UXM.
Now, with 6 sets released and 3 more already announced (War of Light, T.M.N.T. and Amazing Spider-Man), the game is at an all-time high.
Tournaments are happening in local game shops and ‘open plays’ are being scheduled. More and more gamers are being introduced to the game and there is an abundance of product on the shelves. Dice Masters has become its own gaming ‘community’ with a strong following of fans, collectors and players.
Most recently, Diamond Distributors released their lists of top selling products for July. Dice Masters products claimed 3 of the top ten spots, including the #1 selling ‘Age of Ultron’ booster packs. This will no doubt be a trend as each new set is released, causing retailers who haven’t bought in yet to open their eyes to a tremendously successful game.
A game that is in its sophomore year of distribution is taking table-tops by storm.
The Dice Masters community has gained a reputation of being fair, sportsmanlike and generally a good-hearted group of gamers. Through the guidance of websites like The Reserve Pool, the community has a place where gamers can go to seek help without being judged or ridiculed; a problem that has grown with the more mainstream and hyper-competitive gaming crowd. Many new Dice Masters players are Magic: The Gathering converts, seeking a better game environment. The Reserve Pool has established a website where players can seek rule clarifications, offer assistance with strategies, as well as interact on community forums. They also offer several podcasts for players to listen to for discussions on strategies and news, such as the self-titled ‘The Reserve Pool’ and ‘The Attack Zone’. They even have an interactive map that helps registered players locate other players in their area.
When asked about what makes the community so unique from other games, Dave (TRP founder) had this to say: "I would say that the community offers the friendliest competition that I've ever seen between players. Things like splitting prizes up among multiple players simply doesn't happen with any sort of frequency in other games at this level, but it's commonplace here. I think that it's because the players who have had their hands in the early successes of this game know what kind of community they want. It shows."
Dice Masters has even provided an avenue for a secondary market of products to exist. Custom made, themed dice bags have been springing up all over etsy shops, as players look for a better alternative to the tyvek bags that come with the starter sets. Craft stores are sure to take notice the stream of tabletop gamers strolling through their aisles looking for storage bins to hold all the colorful and collectible dice that make the game so appealing. There are custom storage solutions springing up on Kickstarter, such as the stackable Zen Bins. Even customizable mousepads are being converted into playmats with hand selected graphics to enhance the player experience.
Having a collectible card game that includes dice building mechanics similar to Quarriors has given Dice Masters a ‘best of both worlds’ feel to it. With popular intellectual properties, such as comic book characters and a clear foundation to draw in other IP’s down the line, for now the future looks very promising for expansion sets. Combine both of those attributes with a community that embraces the learning curve of newcomers, it’s no wonder Dice Masters has been propelled to great heights in a little over a year’s time; in spite of its early supply issues.
If you haven’t bought into the game yet, isn't it time you rolled the dice?
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