I have been on Out of Cards since it's creation, migrated from Hearthpwn after that whole fiasco. i admit i have never been an active member of this community with little posts and interaction. But i have come daily or weekly for some years now and.... well no kind way to put this. Site feels dead. Whole of it, Out of Games, not just the card part. Vast majority of news articles have 0 comments or 2 or 3 at most. Forums are inactive with the Recent Posts window showing threads that have last replies from 2 days ago to 2 weeks ago.
So, if it's not too bold or rude of me to ask, i want to know how things look from the dev side of things. What the site staff thinks and feels about the current status. I hope it's just me and things are actually going good, i like this place a lot.
I'll boop you
Seconded. At this point, even if the major overhaul that I suspect is going on behind the scenes were to happen tomorrow, it would need to be flanked by massive PR stunts because it feels like there's hardly a handful of people left who comes here regularly.
I notice I am confused. Something I believe isn't true. How do I know what I think I know?Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres, hpmor.com
The site has definitely hit a rough patch and it definitely feels like it's been that way for a while. As to why we're stuck in this hole can be attributed to several interlocking problems. We were definitely affected by HearthPwn. The original plan was that HearthPwn was going to be closed and then Out of Cards would effectively replace it as the de facto main Hearthstone fan site. Sounds like a solid plan, but of course, when the keys were handed over to other people and the site would stay around, you can see exactly how that would put a huge roadblock on the road of progress for Out of Cards. Even if hasn't seemed like it, our growth has always been slowed down by HearthPwn, ever since the very beginning. Brand recognition is a bitch of a thing to deal with.
One other big obstacle for the site was that card games are just simply a very niche market that ebbs and flows. Hearthstone's popularity in general has gone up and down considerably as time has went on and that naturally will have drastic effects on our overall activity. When you're trying to support card games on a news website, you also need people who are familiar with the game and play on a regular basis, which is also why news for games like Legends of Runeterra and MTG Arena have also faded out. Can't really write news about the game when you don't have the people who are familiar enough with it. SNAP is decently popular and guides about the game still get views and the game still has active players, but people aren't able to sink time into every game to play.
Now in theory, branching out to just general gaming coverage could counteract this somewhat, but it again runs into the problem of brand recognition. Let's face it. Out of Cards/Games has never been that popular compared to its competing websites and trying to climb that peak is a steep and difficult climb to make regardless of how hard you try. We're very grateful for the community we have, and we thank you wholeheartedly for sticking with us for as long as you have. Trying to expand that community though, is a process that even if you know what to do, is a pain that can take forever to get through.
What's the new way? :) and please don't say podcasts. Can't understand why people like to hear someone babble about whatever subject when you can read something more comprehensive and actually keep something in your brain.
No idea where to drop this so feel free to forward it to Flux or move it to another place or delete it altogether.With all due respect, I'm not a big fan of the change from out of cards to out of games and I wonder if it wouldn't be better to revert that transition. I obviously miss tons of info about stuff like- actual visitor stats- add revenue stats- plans for the site, especially regarding ways to increase its reach
What I do note though is that the front page articles for stuff that isn't about card games has no comments while Hearthstone articles usually spark a little discussion. That makes me think these people are still OOG's main customers and their feed is currently clogged with stuff that doesn't seem to interest them very much (judging by the numbers of comments alone). As far as I know there's a lot going on behind the scenes but we can't really see that. What we do see though is that those behind the scenes efforts take away resources from Hearthstone stuff (see bug reports / feature requests forum and discord channel).
From a strictly logical standpoint I do get the concept of "digital card games have a very narrow target audience, let's better spread out" but it doesn't look like it works out so far.
So what I propose is to go back to the roots and primarily focus on beating hearthpwn as the go to HS page with all you have. As a secondary goal it made a lot of sense to open up to other card games with staff members that feel up to the task imo.
Please read this as constructive criticism from a day 1 user that has grown very fond of the site and its community. I am aware that all my reasoning is based on incomplete info and I have nothing but respect for the continued effort of Flux and all the staff. Thank you for providing this space for us.
Tl;dr: OOC revival when?
Realistically, we can't be a Hearthstone-only site. Even look at the biggest Hearthstone sites online, they aren't getting the traffic they once did and by extension they are not doing great. Larger companies are keeping them around because it's worth having the property in your portfolio, and not because it's necessarily very profitable. Look at our old home - I'm not saying we've done a super good job recently, but they've been quite a bit late to some reveals, they also can go many days at a time without posting anything particularly interesting. They don't have anyone properly paying attention to that site.
Yes, our primary folks visiting and interacting are still Hearthstone, but we are seeing more traction as time goes on and as we try new things for the "games" side of the site. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is Out of Games. The end vision is to continue supporting Hearthstone for many years to come and to have more than that too.
One of the most difficult things to do is to get people to sign up for your website. "Why do I need another account". This problem ultimately needs to be solved and we need to find good reasons for people to join our community and good places to promote the fact they can sign up - a lot of sites these days seem to not have registration systems and instead exist just to farm pageviews with crappy seo content - fun! Leveraging our community-focused side of the site to bring more people in is going to be a big thing going forward.
> but it doesn't look like it works out so far
I don't disagree with you. I'm not particularly happy about it and it can certainly be a demotivator at times, but on the flip side it increases the drive to try new stuff. We're trying to push more content through social media, and new ways to engage with people, which has been working more this month and I've been happy to see some of that result in more site traffic.
Written media is on a decline, and it really pisses me off. It's difficult to hold people's attention because it isn't a 15 second TikTok clip with robovoice. Video is currently the king of content online and through those platforms, so not your own platform, you can build an audience. But, does that translate well to your own site? Not really.
On the social media side, man. There's your video social (YouTube, TikTok, Facebook/Instagram Reels) and your traditional link social (Twitter, Facebook) and Twitter is feeling like it is less and less worth it with them changing their algorithm to make discovery harder. Facebook, if you aren't paying them money, they aren't sending you viewers anymore. Then the video stuff, if you focus on video, now we're no longer focusing on our written side of the site.
Where else can you promote your website? Reddit... and Discords. Sharing your content on Discord servers though is varied and may not be allowed in a lot of places. Reddit is similar with every subreddit having a different rule set. Promoting your own content outside of organic google traffic is just harder than it once was. We also have a team that doesn't like promoting their own great content on sites like reddit, which you kinda need everyone to promote their own content instead of one person promoting all the content, just due to the way those places work, which could be some nice additional traffic.
> actual visitor stats
I don't think we've ever really showcased our traffic stats? We've done a few infographics at the end of the year to showcase the community, but other than that, traffic stats haven't been public - though please do correct me if I'm wrong. Sites generally don't make that information available to the public as competition can more easily see what works and let's them copycat more easily.
We showcase view metrics on user-created content because people like to see how well their content is doing compared to everyone else, and it serves as a good metric, outside of votes, for people to sort content by to find good stuff.
> add revenue stats
Similarly to traffic stats, this is private information. The vast majority of our site staff don't have access to this information and instead, they get to see a more general view of our ups and downs in traffic. One could certainly put some pieces together to figure out a rough guess of what the site makes, and maybe someone on staff has but hasn't said anything about it, but yeah, that's something we're likely to keep private.
What I will say, is the site is a money hole and I haven't been full time on it for a couple of years because I've been working full-time. I wish it wasn't the case because it has clearly had a large impact on the site, but running the site without ads for a good portion of the early days pulled us into a bad position for sustainability and we've been playing catch-up since. I haven't said anything about it in public because the last thing I wanted to do was cause alarm bells to ring and people leave the site because it didn't look like I was a big part of it anymore. Nope, I still am, just not the 10-12 hours a day I used to be. I could have also made some smarter decisions with our infrastructure costs, which are now greatly reduced vs our early days. Covid also fucked us pretty hard for a variety of reasons and I lost a ton of money from that. Oh joy!
Discord, honestly, has never been a big priority for me. Discord is chaos, and if anything, takes away from the site itself. Insightful conversations on Discord are lost immediately because people won't be able to reliably find them in the future. I'm quite against Discord for that reason, so much good information is being locked behind joining Discord servers.
> staff members
It's difficult to find quality additions for our team. I want people that will treat it seriously and have the time to help us push great content every single day and have multiple hours they can dedicated to the cause. I love our folks that don't have that kind of time anymore too because we get some genuinely good stuff from it and without a healthy mix of the two, I don't think you end up with as good of a product. The biggest issue though is people want to get paid and if your traffic isn't great, there's not a huge sell to working on the site when everything is revenue sharing based.
We don't have an unlimited budget because we're independant. I've had several offers throughout the years to buy the site which could have injected large amounts of capital into it, but then I lose control of it and I don't know how new ownership would feel in a year from then or even a month. Out of Games will always be independant, it just means the growth is slower.
> plans for the site
Earlier in the year I talked about us being close to shipping a site update. We were! We were quite close to pushing it but changes kept creeping in and deadlines were missed and then heavy news cycles took away attention (and irl responsibilities too) and so that update never got pushed. Since then, a lot has changed with our big site update and I've got a few bits that still need to be styled before we can push it out.
I'll talk a little bit about expectations.
The forums as they are currently known are getting destroyed - however I use that word incorrectly because all the content is being preserved. I love the forums, I love forums in general; I love being able to chronologically look at the way people are having a conversation. Forums don't work for our site anymore. Every game will, going forward, have it's own "forum" and each of those "forums" will have the ability to tag topics so that they can be filtered. You want to look at Card Discussion? Click on the topic tag for it!
One big problem our forums have always had is having all the content spaced out into so many different sections. There may have been conversations happening in half a dozen different forums this hour, but going to each of those forums, they effectively look dead. People don't want to be a part of a discussion place that looks dead.
Portals. I mean, Realms. Games exist as a Realm on the site. Much like how today you can go to our Hearthstone Portal, there will instead be a Hearthstone Realm which will put our curated content at the forefront and the community's content alongside it.
Maybe we don't need to cover a thing about Hearthstone Esports because someone has made a really good thread for it and people are already talking about it there. Why split the discussion if we don't need to?
We're also going to start diving more into tools. Things like our Hearthstone Deckbuilder can give us opportunities to be more than a site that is focused purely on content. Tools help create content, yet, but tools let everyone share their favourite things or let us give people ways to calculate important information in games they love. Tools should be the biggest part of our pie, it leads community, which is in front of good curated content.
In addition to tools, activities like our word searches are going to be right up there too. Giving folks more fun stuff to do outside of the games they play in quick bursts can be a great way to encourage signups. Nothing concrete to announce right now, but we should be seeing our prototype of our next Hearthstone tool very, very soon. One of our new staff members is quite passionate about it and I've built a tool to make the experience even better. Stay tuned!
I also want to make it easy for people to ignore the content they don't want to see. Having a personalized feed - even if that means it's only for Hearthstone stuff, is important and is something the site update delivers on. The homepage itself doesn't change, but everyone will have access to a new page on the site that will showcase filtered information that would otherwise be on the homepage. I'd eventually like to add more customization to it, such as being able to embed our Hearthstone deck widget onto it, but that will have to be down the line and be a greater discussion with the community of what they'd like to see pluggable there when the time comes.
So, no, Out of Cards is not coming back and being 100% in on Hearthstone will never happen. We will have people that dedicate themselves to Hearthstone, and if you want to subscribe to an Out of Cards experience, you would be able to subscribe to the card games you like to see that personalized feed for them, but we are very much going in the overall direction of supporting games as a whole.
And with that, supporting games as a whole with a consistent approach to community. I cannot stand how insane reddit's moderators are. They rule with an iron fist on the stupidest of topics and most importantly, every single damn subreddit has different rules which can make it difficult to be a part of.
One set of rules, site-wide. No NSFW content, no spamming, no hateful people, just quality discussion.
I miss Out of Cards too and it was a brand that I was fully in love with. I wanted Out of Games and Out of Cards to live side-by-side but our reality was that the niche site just doesn't work as well because of the limitations. It also split our staff with some folks only on Out of Games which meant there were even less eyes on Out of Cards. Had Out of Cards been a larger site, I think we could have pulled it off better. One big, happy community is better for all of us though, so let's focus on making that happen.
Founder, Out of Games
Follow me on Twitch and Twitter.If you are planning on playing WoW on US realms, consider using my recruit link =)
Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and plans in so much detail! There’s certainly a lot to look forward to.
One thing I’d like to note is that I never meant to ask you to share site visitor or add revenue stats. I only mentioned those bulletpoints to make it clear that I’m aware of the fact that there’s a ton of stuff to take into consideration and the general public doesn’t know anything about it.
Again: Thank you very much to sticking to the quality over quantity approach and building this awesome community. I can’t wait to see what’s next
One thing I’d like to note is that I never meant to ask you to share site visitor or add revenue stats.
Now that you say that, I can definitely read it the way you intended.
You'd be surprised at how many people want to know the nitty gritty, and I get it, no one really shares that information and we're all curious beings.
I took look forward to the future and bringing back our holiday site event.
Quote From FluxflashorI too look forward to the future and bringing back our holiday site event.
I too look forward to the future and bringing back our holiday site event.
Yay! This is definitely the best news of today. I cannot wait for the next OoC holiday event to start once more ❄️☃️🥶
The intention was to bring Oozefest back this year but when the time was open to do so, there was only about a week left of October and I felt it wasn't enough time to do anything (site events should be at least 2 weeks long).
I know how much people enjoyed our site events (I do too!) so I'm glad to hear that love is still there. ❄️
Quote From NebuchadnezzarHSQuote From FluxflashorI too look forward to the future and bringing back our holiday site event.Yay! This is definitely the best news of today. I cannot wait for the next OoC holiday event to start once more ❄️☃️🥶
Someone's gonna get it! ❄️^^
Struggle with Heroic Galakrond's Awakening? I got your back :
Quote From HorusQuote From NebuchadnezzarHSQuote From FluxflashorI too look forward to the future and bringing back our holiday site event.Yay! This is definitely the best news of today. I cannot wait for the next OoC holiday event to start once more ❄️☃️🥶Someone's gonna get it! ❄️^^
I am… READY!
I will be blunt, and probably the devs will not like what I have to say.
I used to prefer OOC when it first came out. I liked the quality of articles, dedication of Flux and everything done better compared to Hearthpwn. So initially I mained OOC with daily checking up on the interesting lore articles, reveals, and other unique stuff, on modern-looking forums.
The first red flag I got was when I spent a lot of time creating a very in depth article about a reno mage deck I did really well with at some point. I put a lot of effort into it, still not as much effort as you guys put into your articles. And it got almost no views or reactions, despite reaching the front page. That's when I realised the site is not really doing well in terms of views or interactions.
The first thing that pushed me away was when I started seeing articles from other games, including very obscure titles that I had no idea why they were getting so many articles weaved in between hearthstone ones. It put me off badly. Since then, I started maining the old site again. I think this is a huge misconception you guys have, is that you have to do "more than just hearthstone" to gain more visitors. You don't have to. The phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" applies perfectly here. When I want my car fixed, I go to the mechanic. When I want groceries, I go to the grocery store. If there was a store that did it all, I would be concerned about the quality of their work. Specialised is always better. You add a lot more work to yourselves too, and might scare off people that have their own niche game.
A traffic problem is also the extension. Yes, everything that is not ".com" is not worth much. You can check this when you try to buy a domain, everything not ".com" is worth pennies. Sure, you can make a cute or funny name out of other extensions, but people don't really like clicking a site aimed at an interational playerbase, if it does not end with dot com, it just doesn't inspire much trust.
All in all, a discussion can be made if it is worth keeping it up. I know for Fluxflashor it is a passion project, not a profit driven investment, and that shows. And the fact that you guys openly discuss it with visitors is great transparency and humility. And I hope you keep it up and find your way in the end.
But for me, I cannot see myself returning here often because:
- I only want to get hearthstone news and I know what site offers that exclusively
- I want discussion and interaction with other players, and I know this is not the place to get it (tried, got burned, gave up)
- I want to easily catch up with card reveals
Deckbuilding has been solved by hsreplay, so there is not much creativity to be had. For instructions on how to play a deck, streams are available, youtube videos, and a lively discord community. So guides are a bit outdated.
I hope you don't take it hard and understand that I value your work. But the above reasons are why I am not checking OOC on a daily basis anymore.
If you, like me, are mainly interested in Hearthstone and not the many other games available from the homepage, just use
as your spot. Bookmark it, leave the tab open, whatever.
As to the video-vs-text split, I'm firmly on the side of text. I read fast, and I like my life quiet.
This is one of the least toxic gaming communities on the Interwebz, and I absolutely appreciate how much effort that takes to maintain.
Best of luck to the future of Out of Games. I'll be here, with whatever frequency and budget that life allows.
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