Posted by MikeT23 on 10/16/2012 9:13:00 PM (view original):
The difference between HBD and World of Warcraft is akin to the difference between Monopoly and beer pong.
I know a fair bit about all 4 of these games, least about beer pong. Lots of WoW in my house, although I don't play it.
This analogy only captures half the difference between WoW and HBD, but it captures it perfectly. My kids say that the strategic elements of WoW are easy to master and that after you've played for a while, success is basically related to hand-eye skill. In HBD the hand-eye is easy to master (although the number of CS calls about accidentally releasing players suggests that some owners may not have mastered it) but the strategy is complex and detailed; one mostly plays HBD for the strategic challenge.
But there's another, even larger difference between WoW and HBD; role play. My kids play WoW because they like role-playing heroes and villains in a real-time second life. Role-playing Billy Beane (or worse, Dan Duquette) is not an attraction of HBD, and nobody really thinks of any individual world as a second life, I don't think. And tons of young WoW players are attracted predominantly by this element.
So, while there are programming similarities, it's a very different breed of cat that plays WoW from the one that plays HBD, and I don't think WoW's player base size is in any meaningful way indicative of what HBD's player base size could be.
Finally, diah's comment about OCD is spot on. To be fully competitive at HBD you more or less have to check in every day, most days a year-- very few other games don't let you put them down for a 2-week vacation without consequences (can anybody even think of another such game?). So once you establish the base of people that like to play, you have to take the subset that will play at least a little almost every day, and that's a pretty small subset.
I repeat: HBD is a niche market.