Months before the Boy Crazy! trading card game that showcases 363 boys hit retail on Valentine’s Day, the intended tween and teen girl audience had discovered the boys on-line. Cindy Thornburg, president of the Virginia-based gaming company Decipher, says: ‘Originally we thought the website would be support for the cards until we realized it’s a whole community for the girls beyond the product.’
Last December, Decipher did a soft launch of www.boycrazy.com to see what worked and what didn’t. Within the first 24 hours, Thornburg says girls crashed the site, and by the fifth day, it was getting in excess of 350,000 hits a day. The site was moved to more robust servers that could support the larger-than-anticipated volume, and January 15, Decipher held an official launch at the Mall of America with six of the card-boys and 3,000 cheerleaders in attendance.
The site now receives a million hits a day during the week, and up to 1.6 million hits on weekends. While there, girls can become registered users (140,000 did), gaining access to vote for the ‘boy of the week,’ read the boys bio pages, and write poetry. While the cards (which can be bought on-line) appeal to the 10 to 14 demo, the site skews slightly older; 60% of the traffic is 13- to 15-year-olds, with the other 40% skewing both younger and older.
‘Right now, we’re in the process of redesigning and expanding the site,’ Thornburg says. One component being added will be ‘moderated fan mail,’ meaning girls can mail the boys letters, which are forwarded and posted if deemed appropriate.
Decipher, better known for its male-targeted Star Trek and Star Wars collectible card games, has apparently struck the right chord in its attempts to reach girls. In divining what girls would buy into, Thornburg looked at many existing popular licenses for that demo, but says none offered the rich content needed for collectible cards. Eventually, she considered celebrity boys, but realized using
non-celebrities would eliminate the need for licensing deals and approvals. ‘We can travel around the country and find real boys that are as cute as the celebrities,’ Thornburg says. Since February, Decipher has sold about 10 million Boy Crazy! packs at US$3 each.
The next product branching out from Boy Crazy! is a CD-ROM by Activision, available in Q4. Thornburg says the gameco saw
boycrazy.com before the cards were out, and approached Decipher at Toy Fair. The CD-ROM will have a multi-user instant-messaging component that allows girls to game while talking to each other. Thornburg describes it as ‘a virtual dating game,’ where the girl gets to pick a boy and encounter the challenges of a real relationship.