Why We Should Be Looking at Cards Against Humanity


Back in December of 2010 Richard wrote a blog about an alternative way of funding a toy/game project and of course he was talking about Kickstarter.  (Read it: “Need to find investment money? Try "Kickstarter") In the article he mentioned a little game called Cards Against Humanity.  It got funded via Kickstarter in early 2011 and since then has been a sort of viral hit. 

Cards Against Humanity is vile, offensive, disgusting and really, REALLY funny.  In the past few years it’s probably the only game I‘ve gotten asked about regularly and since I write a game blog, I do get asked about games pretty often.  Since the only place to purchase the game is Amazon, people aren’t seeing it in stores and buying it because it looks fun, no it’s solely word-of-mouth.  In fact, it’s in a black box with white writing so there are no cool graphics to entice potential customers who do not know much about the product.  This item does a great job of proving that word-of-mouth is a very strong marketing tool in the game industry.

The other thing that makes this game worthy of an article is that it’s beyond offensive.  It absolutely lives up to its name – but it’s really popular.  So why is this a big deal?  Social games we play now might be PG-13 at worst, but this is beyond an R or M rating.  Yet it’s been out for a while and is still gaining traction.  Now I don’t think that Cards Against Humanity fit into the family-friendly image that many of the big box stores or major manufacturers are going for so we’ll probably never see a “Dirty and Offensive Apples to Apples” go up against it, but does it’s popularity signal that the current game industry is too PG?  Why did so many people buy this hard to get, no-frills, dirty and offensive game?  Are they also buying the latest electronic wonder from Hasbro or Mattel?  Or has it captured a new segment of the market?  Either way, it’s hard not to take notice of a game that breaks so many unwritten rules within the industry and sells so many copies.  In fact, it’s already on it’s third expansion plus they did a special 2012 holiday pack that sold over 85,000 sets. 

For a game that started on Kickstarter, allows you to download the original game for free as a PDF to print on your own, is rude and offensive, is sold only from one venue and doesn't have colorful and fun graphics it's VERY impressive — but is it a fluke or a sign of what's to come?

If you want to know more about Cards Against Humanity including how to play, you can read the review of it here: http://www.thegameaisle.com/cardsagainsthumanity/

5 thoughts

  1. Yes, retailers get asked for CAH and wind up buying it, from Amazon, in order to satisfy their own customer demand. If you aren’t able to provide what your customers are looking for, they then turn to other channels and might cost you more than just the one sale. Retailers aren’t happy about the current situation, but powerless to change it unless CAH makes allowances for them.
    In terms of the industry being “too PG”, many vulgar games have been out for a while and the majority of them aren’t wildly successful for a reason. Its really hard to do vulgarity well. I know of some people that remove specific cards from CAH in order to avoid topics they consider humorless.
    A lot of the value in any party game is what the players themselves bring to the table. I’ve enjoyed Apples to Apples in some crowds, and had really miserable rounds of it in others. Its essentially the PG precursor to CAH. And I’m sure you can have really unfunny games of CAH too, when the group isn’t right for it (even if they all like vulgar jokes).
    So congrats to CAH on a successful game… but I don’t think it signals a shift in the tastes of consumers.

  2. You’re right Rosemary, they are available elsewhere but the price is higher. As the Cards from Humanity website says, “Sometimes resellers buy copies from us and jack up the price. It sucks, but there’s nothing we can do to stop them. We hope you don’t buy Cards Against Humanity from a shady reseller – it only helps them buy more of our games and raise the price further.” They also state that they “don’t offer wholesale pricing for Cards Against Humanity” and their “business strategy is to sell the game directly to consumers.”
    I talked to a guy on twitter today who uses the $25 Amazon price as the “wholesale price” and he sells them too — but my point was more that the manufacturer of the cards chose to sell them through Amazon and not to look to other channels for distribution. I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear.

  3. Cards Against Humanity *are* available from other stores than Amazon. Our locally owned, independent Comic Book/Gaming store is carrying the deck. And selling ’em like wild-fire.

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