From: Brussels, Belgium
Not only with digital games either. The study was a PhD thesis on gaming as a whole, including video, boardgames and RPG’s (and not in the rocket sense). Or a draft, rather (I was proofreading it for a friend). Globally, he found the « population » of gamers was expanding, and diversifying, and that both the budget devoted to buying games was increasing (on a per capita basis) and the time spent playing (for adults) too, but also that the life expectancy of each game individually was drastically decreasing. Regarding boardgames for example, the thematics were greatly diversifying, with more games being published every year than the previous year, but developers were keeping the rules sufficiently similar, to allow players to essentially plug & play with only a couple minutes devoted to reading the rules. There are exceptions, but game designers often are cautious with the « big games » (hence the development of kickstarter campaigns, for example, therefore limiting the risks).
Which is exactly what Cohen_slith pointed in regards to WitE : any wargamer will quickly grasp the basics about the units. So, there is a market indeed, but rather small compared to the market for freemium mobile games or for FPS, where most of the money goes, and competition will keep fierce. The Paradox games are probably as complex as 90% for the strategy game players are ready to go, but they’re also way easier to understand, and simplify aspects most players would not consider fun.
As you say, we belong to a rather small subset of an already minority subset of players. For a game company to develop a WitP2, with the level of details we’d expect, they probably would have to sell individual copies starting at 200€/$... but then, I suspect a lot of prospective players wouldn’t buy the game (or would keep playing AE), which would keep pushing the price up.
Many years ago (before 2014), a newbie came to the forum complaining that AE lacked this and that. During that discussion, this individual stated that he would be willing to fund a mod/scenario to meet his expectations.
Well that was far too good a prospect of matching reality with dreaming for JWE/Symon, so he offered to produce the bespoke mod/scenario. All that was required to start the work was for an initial sum of $USD 30k to be transferred to his account. Needless to say the newbie thought that quantum was outrageous, and after JWE/Symon pointed out the market rates for computer professionals and the manhours involved in producing the bespoke mod/scenario, the newbie disqppeared, never to be seen again on the forum.
Now expand that single mod/scenario to a complete game. Remember that JWE/Symon's quote was at special mates rates, IOW well under real world market rates.
I did not know that anecdote. People have no sense of scale, past what they can experience first hand, 30k would not be much indeed, even for a single mod.