Blizzard’s original passion project, Hearthstone, has defied the odds. Released globally on March 11, 2014, it’s since become one of the most popular games out there with 100 million players.
Hearthstone is a free-to-play card game which draws influence from older card games such as Magic: The Gathering. The turn-based game features two players with a deck of 30 cards. Players choose between different classes, each with different powers and cards. The cards are a mix of monsters and spells, with both players trying to deplete the other’s 30 hit points. Unlike Magic, mana crystals are used instead of specific cards. Hearthstone has been described as ‘streamlined Magic‘ and received positive reviews upon release.
There are several key reasons for its popularity. Here’s why it’s such a hit.
While initially released just for PC and Mac, Hearthstone is now fully cross-platform. Gamers can play on virtually any device against any other player currently in-game. Being able to play against other fans on mobile gives the game a lot of versatility, a proven key factor in online gaming.
Hearthstone is also free-to-play, allowing players to try it out immediately without a paywall. The game monetizes itself through microtransactions, which are all but the new standard among online gaming. It’s hardly pay-to-win – a revenue system in which players must spend money in order to stay competitive – though. While Hearthstone does offer cards in addition to cosmetics in its cash shop, players can accumulate cards both through daily quests and earning gold. At its highest competitive level, spending money in Hearthstone doesn’t really matter.
Another factor in its massive appeal is a vibrant community. Blizzard offers a real-world program called Fireside Gatherings. These get-togethers allow coordinators (aptly named Innkeepers) to host Hearthstone events. Blizzard encourages Innkeepers to utilize restaurants, pubs, and social centers to bring players together. In addition to a competitive and fun night out, Fireside Gatherings also offer a great way to meet like-minded gamers. The program has proven so successful that an average of over 2,600 gatherings are hosted every month across the world.
Players can come to socialize, talk shop, and casually compete against one another. Hearthstone‘s availability on mobile platforms means that fans only need their phone to partake in the action. Gatherings also offer prizes in addition to pre-release parties. These parties offer upcoming content expansion cards, giving patrons access to the newest upcoming cards for the game.
As a thank-you to players for their support, Blizzard is hosting a one-time event on November 7. Called the 100 Million Players Celebration, players who log into the game will receive six free packs of cards from The Boomsday Event, Hearthstone‘s latest expansion. There’s also a “Celebrate the Players” event, where players can complete quests to earn up to 500 gold.
The 100 Million Players Celebration event runs until November 11, giving existing players four days to log in and cash in on the free cards. This event also poses a great opportunity for new players to sign up and have a headstart on getting into the game.
What are your thoughts on Hearthstone‘s success? Kindly let us know!
Programmer. Writer. Digital media specialist. Competitive gamer in the sense that I’m competing with the constant urge to throw the controller across the room.