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How healthy is the game right now?


#1

How do people feel about the game as a whole right now?

I’m having a hard time picking up clear signals about the health of Netrunner in general. I don’t have a local FLGS meta. Of the closest places that do, it sounds like there are some signs of life in one or two places and continued decline in another. I hear word of some new players coming into the game and small numbers of people coming back. Numbers at the store championships I have knowledge about were not tremendous. I don’t know what the anticipation is for Regionals season.

On Slack, several of the top-level players in America seem to be pretty down on the game. The UK players seem to be maintaining their usual cheerfulness, but I don’t know if this is British stiff-upper-lip stuff or true optimism and happiness about the game.

So, I’m curious what people think. Is the game in a good place? A better place? Is it on life support? Is it dead and just does not know it? What do you think?


#2

Howdy! Down here in Atlanta we’re doing pretty okay. Right now we’ve got a game shop (Win Condition Games, up in the Northern Part of Cobb County) that is doing a good job of “carrying the flag” of weekly meet-ups.

I used to be the “call person” who helped organize a weekly game night, however due to Family Life, I had to step back from IRL stuff. That said, I help act as the “commissioner” of the North Georgia Netrunner League Events (mostly played on Jnet, but we promote getting the game IRL too). We just wrapped up Spring League and had 20 players involved.

I think most of our SCs wavered between 12 and 18 players?

Folks are up on the game and we’ve got a handful of new players, but I’d like to think Netrunner has entered it’s “mature star” phase. Are we going to see 30 players at a Store Championship? Maybe? But most likely not.

That said, the players who are still playing are enjoying the game and that’s what matters most.


#3

Checking in from the DC/Baltimore area.

From the standpoint of player participation and growth–
The ANRPC Charity tournament organized by @CodeMarvelous and @Sanjay was a few weeks ago, and it got ~30 (?) people to drive into Philly on St. Patrick’s day, so that’s pretty good. My local meetup (Family Games Store at Historic Savage Mill (which would be a dope deck name)) has been picking up new players at a regular pace and is up to 10+ for normal weeknight meetups. Big thanks to @lukkychukky for his hard work in filing the gap in GNK’s with ebay purchases and being a tireless cheerleader for the game. It has been hard to find copies of the revised core, which I think is a positive sign for growth in the player base.

From the standpoint of the metagame–
I’m not playing super-competitively at the moment, but I think that the strongest runners at the moment are “good stuff” anarchs, and the popularity of glacier-like Jinteki amongst local players that I have a ton of respect for (shouts-out to @kevintame, @strube, @thebigunit3000 amongst others) feels like a good thing. Corps are putting agendas behind ICE, and runners are trying to break that ICE. “Gimmicky” stuff like Origami/Wu/Ekomind, Jinja AoT, etc, has not felt nearly as oppressive as stuff like IG Prison or DLR.

From the standpoint of the cardpool–
I’ve personally been having a tough time brewing decks that can perform OK, but I think that is more due to my current time commitment to the game and the fact that my normal opponents are really fucking good at this game than any deficiency in the cardpool. There’s a lot of stuff I’m excited to experiment with, and I’m hoping that Diversion of Funds brings Criminal back into a respectable spot by the end of this cycle.

So, YMMV, but I’m really happy with the game.


#4

SC numbers in Columbus, OH are also down by about 50% from last year…

I just wanted to contribute a data point because I’d also really like to know the answer to this question.


#5

Can’t speak much for numbers and the like, but in terms of playing the game, I think the meta is in an excellent place at the moment. Most games feel like games of netrunner rather than a roulette wheel, and I like that ice feels like a relevant part of the game. I’m not terribly keen on a few bits and pieces: Rumour Mill returning and the new expose based crim, but I don’t expect them to suddenly ruin the game.


#6

I think the game itself is in a great place, but global player numbers are definitely down. Unless we see a major marketing push from FFG, I don’t see this changing. Their Star Wars license just seems to be too lucrative.

Locally (Rochester, NY), we get around 8 people for our weekly meetups (last league had 11 people). SC attendance is pretty stable, with 12 this year and about that many last year. But that’s way down from the 32 for SC and 45 for regionals that we had back in 2015.


#7

Hey! I recognize that flower!–I think I’m still subscribed to the False City False Leads Youtube channel. :slight_smile:


#9

Except for Toronto, it appears to be dead in Southern Ontario. There are a few people here and there, but nowhere near where it used to be a year ago, let alone 2. Some jumped to Arkham, others Destiny. I know quite a few went back to Magic, either Commander or Pauper. Personally, I’ve gone back to miniature gaming, but I kept all my stuff in case it miraculously recovers.

The game itself seems okay, but without a scene it doesn’t really matter.


#10

From the NC RDU area:

We had a small influx of new and returning players in the last 6 months. Our GNKs now regularly get 6-8 (not great but previously it was hard to even just get 4 to fire it). SC’s had 12-15 with some support from further metas in Fayetteville and Charlotte.

Overall I think the increased interest is great, and the game is certainly in a place to support the kind of netrunner (put stuff in servers) that people seem to enjoy and attracts them to the game. It’s probably in one of the best spots for player interest that it’s been in the last 2 years.

That said, it’s still a huge game with a fairly tough to crack competitive scene, and a fairly steep learning curve. I fully expect the game to reach the next rotation, but I am expecting that this game slowly dies out just due to FFG pivoting to support newer product and ignoring Netrunner like we’ve come to expect. I think so long as that continues players will leave the game and it doesn’t have good ways to attract new players like magic does at the moment.

FFG needs a way to attract new players. I’m sure the number of players with 1x core set far outnumbers the number of competitive players, but they don’t always convert to competitive or regular meet up players. Also, there’s not a significant player base in most areas and part of what attracts people to a game is knowing there’s a good community. Without converting core set players to meet-up/GNK players the community will likely continue to decline.


#11

In the Bay Area, California the game is doing OK. We maybe rebounded a little bit from last year, when attendance dropped to its lowest, but not a whole lot. We’ve seen a few new players trickle in lately and we had a huge, successful set of store championships largely because we were super organized about reaching out to every game store in the region and ensuring the events happened. It’s still a bit sad because, at its peak, Netrunner was so popular in this area. We had a 50-person store championship two years ago; this year, I think we topped out at 19. While we’re seeing new players, no one who left the game has come back, even the ones who used to be very competitive and showed up to the majority of events. In terms of weekly meetups, those have fallen apart a bit at a few game stores but are running healthy at one in San Francisco.

I really like the meta game right now and have since the rotation plus banned/restricted list announcements. It’s not perfect (hint: it never will be) but it’s very good and the diversity in the Worlds top 16 and the diversity at our local SCs was encouraging.


#12

The problem with the premise here is that it conflates two measurements that aren’t causal and should be considered independently: health as “number of players appearing at public events” and health as “perceived balance, diversity, or absence of toxicity.”

I think it’s unfair to measure a game’s “health” based on statistical cross-sections taken of weekly meetups—which are so brutally hard to attend regularly for anyone over age 30—or to measure health using attendance at high-stakes daytime weekend events that occur only infrequently and suffer from the same problem of calendar collision (it’s my wife’s birthday, sorry Netrunner, you know I love you too).

It’s also unfair to say “lack of balance” is uniquely responsible for lack of numbers. There are plenty of dumb broken games that people like at least as much as Netrunner, for one thing. For another thing, I think as a community we’ve been living under some stale historiography: “Mumbad was bad, it killed the game and people stopped coming.” Why don’t we ever dig into this and challenge its validity?

The fact is, there are a hell of a lot of more people playing Netrunner and obsessing over it and finding ways to make it work than we think.

The private “friends meta” is the best option I’ve found. It may not happen every Monday night at the pub, but the people involved are highly engaged and attuned to the game. I would argue that Netrunner has a design problem in that it privileges some rhetorical individual’s hypothetical enjoyment of a certain playstyle over the total enjoyment felt by the community (a very American problem, I’ll note) and private metas mitigate this core design problem greatly.

The challenge, I think, is to find ways for players to “check in” by providing a data point that doesn’t require them to attend all the events or even have a favourable opinion of the current meta.

I also feel that game publishers need to prepare for a future where their games’ popularity is measured differently, specifically that organized play is 100% decoupled from the distribution model.


#13

I think that OP tied to product release can be a good thing. I didn’t attend the Terminal Directive event but it sounded like lots of fun (I had a friend that had already agreed to play the campaign with me and I wanted to discover it with him).

Now if you plan a release event, you have to be darn sure the product is ready and on time, so I will concede that point.


#14

Would overall retail sales be the best available data point to determine how healthy the game is then? I suppose that misses kitchen table metas that are still playing but have stopped buying releases.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think attendance at tournaments or weekly meetups solely determines the game’s health. But it’s not like it’s worth totally dismissing either and I don’t have access to other data.


#15

I’m sure we could get into lots of discussions about the best operational definition of “health of the game.”

For me, though, one of the key issues is whether the game has good entry points for new players – which tend to be regular game nights at FLGSs and regular tournaments.

I’m glad to hear some news of good things in some places.


#16

Well, since they stopped from TD to sell the game here, should you assume meta health is poisonous in my place ?

Overall retail sales means nothing when there is nothing to buy :expressionless:

Whatever anyway. So many games, so many games.


#17

I think the health of a game like this should absolutely be measured by community participation. Granted, this can’t simply be an attendance number from week to week, but community engagement is the measuring stick for a healthy game. The players who are engaged in a community are often the ones clamoring about how great the game is, and encouraging others to join.

As you pointed out a large portion of the visible and vocal community is the competitive one, and I think most people on this forum and slack would fall under that umbrella to some degree. These players have moved past playing Netrunner as a board game and engaged in the community. This is incredibly important for a game that sets itself up as a competitive game and has as many Organized Play events as FFG has for most of it’s games. FFG needs continue to push Organized Play because this encourages people to join into a community, which then gets visibility and reaches new players.


#18

For what it’s worth, I’ve spent the last 6-8 weeks starting up a brand new meta in my town (Taunton, Somerset in the UK). I approached local stores to find out if they stocked Netrunner (answer: very little at that point), whether people bought much of it (again, not much) and found a store which seemed open to the idea of running some “Learn to play” nights to try and encourage people into the game.

This has now developed into a weekly meetup where we get 4-6 players every week right now and we’ve got our first tournament scheduled in for May, by which time I hope the group will have continued to grow. We’ve had new people turning up most weeks who’ve never heard of the game before, but have had their interest peaked by posters/flyers I’ve been putting up, word of mouth, or online advertising efforts I’ve been messing around with.

So I think if we accept that one metric of how healthy the game is (and certainly not the only one) is how effective our efforts to bring new people into the game are, we can see some positivity there. Obviously maintaining numbers over time, keeping people in the game and such are further challenges which might require different tactics to overcome, but having started from nothing but some cardboard and a dream, I can say the game itself is fundamentally strong enough to attract new players (and keep them for a few weeks at least based on my experience so far - hopefully a lot longer!).

Having said this, I have travelled to a bunch of GNKs and SCs in the last few months and the stories I hear are sometimes about significantly reduced numbers from previous months and years, players moving on to other games or just stopping playing entirely. However, I’m also hearing stories of (and seeing first hand) new players coming along. New players have become regulars at a meetup I go to most weeks (about an hour from where I live) and some of them are looking to cross over into organised play more regularly. Other SCs I have attended have included first time SC players, which is also encouraging to me.

I think there is definitely the potential to grow the game back to (and in excess of) the levels of popularity, attendance and game enjoyment that have been seen previously, but it’s just going to take some effort from those of us who want to see it happen, as we’ve all seen that FFG often just can’t/won’t dedicate the necessary resources to marketing and promoting Netrunner that it needs to achieve this growth.

We have a great community of content creators, tournament organisers, alt-art creators and other dedicated Netrunner fans who do a lot to try and increase the “health” of the game in a variety of ways. I like to think I’m playing my own small part in that too and together we can show a lot of people how much fun this game can be and get them excited about it!


#19

From a gameplay quality perspective, the meta from November-February was my least favorite ever, but the last few packs have had a lot of fun, impactful cards which helped a lot. The fact that minifactions are now playable almost make up for the fact that traditional Criminal is not, and the new corp IDs like ASA and Azmari are a lot of fun.

From a meta perspective, LA is nearly dead for competitive events. We had multiple 4-5 person SCs and only one over 10 players. We’ve had a few new players come to casual meetups, but some of them joined too late to want to go to SCs.