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Meet a Hearthstone whale, sorry, superfan.

By on February 21, 2017
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This is a fascinating interview from PCGamer with a Hearthstone superfan called Nick who spent $3,400 on Hearthstone cards in a single evening.


It’s an enlightening canter through the motivations and mindset of someone who classifies themselves as a really big fan. The full post is worth reading. Here is a flavour:

Would you recommend doing this to others who have the means to do so? Was it worth it?

Life is short. If you have the disposable income, I would highly suggest at least spending $500 to have the majority of competitive cards. Like I said earlier, the game becomes so much more fun when you are able to play any deck. Now going for all golds is purely cosmetic, but I just love those graphics.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve:
  • There is a meaningful difference. I just particularly dislike the term “whale”.
    My definition is a bit different to yours. Superfans are time, and can be money. A whale has to be money.

    I think your distinction is interesting (Someone who loves “everything by Nimblebit” versus “someone who loves Tiny Tower to the exclusion of all other games), but it’s not how I see it. However, I do agree that the behaviour you describe (of playing until you’ve had enough, then leaving never to return) is more whale than superfan.

    Overall, though, I think that if you want to build a community, if you want to gain respect and trust with your players and if you want to be in it for the long time, you need to nurture superfans, not hunt whales.

  • Mark Barney

    I notice that you use the terms “superfan” and “whale” fairly interchangeably. Do you think there is a meaningful difference between the two?

    I think of a “superfan” as someone who is generally fond of a particular studio/franchise/artist/series and will likely spend some amount of money on anything released. I tend to think of a “whale” as someone who is drawn to a particular project and spends freely on it. (They may or may not have any interest in any other projects by the same creator.)

    Once the whale leaves, he may never return. The superfan will come back periodically to see what’s new and most likely spend some amount of money.

    A superfan can be a whale, but a whale is not necessarily a superfan.

    I might be way off on this, so I’d love to hear your thoughts! Keep up the great posts!