My favourite take on monster chess and free-to-play collectible card game Duelyst [official site] is “partnering” with publisher Bandai Namco, say developers Counterplay Games. The deal won’t change the design team, say Counterplay, they’re still in charge of inventing horrible beasts and animating them with neato pixel art, but the publisher will now be in charge of managing the servers, advertising and customer service. This could be a good sign, or it could be a bad sign, or it could be a sign that reads: “I am not particularly significant”.
The upside for the creators, they say, is that it “frees up the Counterplay team to focus solely on development” while more ads mean they'll be “able to introduce more and more people to the game we all love”. That latter point – bringing more players – is a significant goal when you examine the steady decline in player numbers, according to SteamCharts.com (a site that pulls hourly player numbers from Steam’s own data).
There won’t be any change on the creative side, but players will be expected to merge their Duelyst account with a BNEA account to allow Bambi Nandos to “start managing the Duelyst servers” and as a means of giving tech support. That’s a mild annoyance but it’s better than having some SUIT with ideas marching into the office and telling them to introduce a PACMAN as a character.
For any wayward fans, a big expansion is also due out next week. Unearthed Prophecy is going to add 94 new cards and introduce new tile effects for factions that don’t normally use that type of power. For example, the ability to turn a tile into a source of healing, or a place where creatures will spawn. Counterplay have a more detailed preview of the expansion but to summarise: some of these cards are nasty, nasty, nasty. That expansion is coming on July 11.
As far as declining player numbers go, it would be a shame if love for the game petered out. It remains the best free-to-play CCG in my book. I’ve played Hearthstone, Faeria, Gwent and am currently dipping my toes into Elder Scrolls Legends for a review and while all those have their strengths I don’t feel any had the tactical cleverness or ludicrous possibilities of Duelyst, a game which resulted in the dumbest multiplayer fight I've ever had. Here's hoping Branflakes Nambro plaster enough bright lights to bring in some fresh meat.