Still a niche market
Even though there are more typing games released and in development now than ever, it’s still a very small market. To give you an idea, at the time of writing, Epistory just passed 200,000 copies purchased on Steam since its early access release in 2015. If you include keys from other stores and the typing game bundle we did on Humble Bundle, you get a total of 460,000 players who own the game on Steam. And if you really like numbers, we’ve had 366,000 wishlist additions over its lifetime, of which 110,000 have been activated (players whishlisted then bought the game) and about the same amount have been deleted (players removed the game from their wishlist without buying it).
For Malte Hoffmann, you have to know that the genre even exists, and like it enough to make a typing game. “It can be expanded but right now it’s a niche market. […] Maybe there are just not a lot of people interested in making these games.” Diego Sacchetti wishes more developers and more players would approach typing games. At present, “they are framed as educational, they scare players, they scare devs. They need some more love from both parties.”
In addition to their bad reputation that makes them difficult to market, typing games are limited to a platform that supports a keyboard. In other words, in a market where a good share of indie game sales are done on consoles, you can’t easily port on consoles or mobile.
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This is fine as long as there are enough players to find and buy your game where it’s sold. But are there dedicated typing game fans? Who is our core audience and why are they playing typing games?
“There are some players who buy these games for the novelty aspect, to understand how it even plays,” understands Malte Hoffmann. “Some can be converted [from one typing game to another] but most will move on. And there’s a hardcore typing community which just like to type fast.” Overall, he expects “the enthusiasm to stay the same, maybe increase a bit from new players”.
Ettome also identifies an audience among people who like typing. For his playtests of Typing Hearts, he focused on players used to dating sims and those who like typing (because the game mixes both genres). Those are fans of “typing test” games like Typeracer who can type very fast but don’t really play video games. While they may form a core audience of, I believe, dedicated fans, we both think that it’s a really small niche.
It seems quite difficult to build a loyal player base around typing alone, in such a way that they would want to go from an adventure typing to a shoot them up typing to a dating sim typing. Typing is an original twist on an existing genre, so your community has to be made up of players who like both.
For Sophie Schiaratura, who handled community management and marketing for both Epistory and Nanotale, “typing games will remain a very small niche.” Epistory seems to have reached the maximum of its audience on Steam, and the other games target the same niche. Most of Nanotale buyers had purchased Epistory before, but we didn’t convert all of Epistory players into Nanotale players (also an adventure typing game with the same 3Cs). Maybe they’re not interested in another typing game, maybe they are not aware of it, maybe there are different factors. But according to Sophie, “It will always be harder to sell a typing game than another game.”
Typing games are a niche market.
The typing can make your game stand out from other indie games but it also makes it tough to market to a general audience. Some dedicated players will be attracted to the typing gameplay, but they make up a very small niche. Adjust your budget and scope to the size of the market.