Hearthstone – A very different type of esport
You look at the world of Esports and you will see a scene dominated by MOBA, Strategy and FPS Games, but then in the corner there is this thing called Hearthstone. A CCG game that accomplished everything that no other game in its genre even came close to doing.
It had a lot of rivals and even more doubters from the get go, most people thought that the best it could ever get is on par with Magic: The Gathering. However the guys over at Blizzard had different plans and even at beta it gathered millions of players, by 2015 the new kid in CCG already had 30 million registered accounts, a stupendous amount for a game that is so different from the norm. The game was moulded for the internet and it excelled at that one area over all others, it didn’t require a beefy PC nor did it require good ping to be played at ultimate efficiency, anyone could join in and start competing and that was the most rewarding part of Hearthstone.
Barely more than 2 years old Hearthstone has left every other game in its genre in the dust, while building a very loyal and unique audience around them, the slower actions filled with strategic approaches really appealed to the chess audience as well as the strategy game fans.
It became that one game that could be viable for a casual fan while still rewarding the pros who had superior knowledge and understanding of the mechanics. Also the constant involvement of developers like Ben Brode allows the ideas from the community to be heard a lot more and due to the minimalistic nature of the game changes are fairly efficient.
However it’s not all goody good with Hearthstone, its RNG factor has been heavily criticized ever since the start of the game’s beta, but a lot of people seem to forget that it is also the element that produces the so called ‘HYPE’ moments. Blizzard’s Chayes has stated that he never gave much ear to the negativity about randomness, because that was the whole point, to get different reactions out of people using a mechanic no one has control over. The developers intend to make Hearthstone a game that has an acceptable balance of Knowledge, Skill and RNG, a digital and probably superior version to Poker if you will.
Another thing that has kept the Hearthstone scene so lively are the many expansion updates that add a lot of elements to game every now and then, also they vary greatly in nature where one expansion can turn the entire game on its head while the other can cater to the existing Meta, simply improving on it. Either way it gives the players, both competitive and casual something new to work with, keeping the game fresh and unique in this aspect. However the negative side of this is the fact that it requires a lot more money for up and coming competitive players to keep up, because naturally with so many new cards coming up you will need to acquire them in order to compete at the highest level. Oh Well at least this allows Blizzard to earn more than enough for Hearthstone to fund their ever growing competitive side.
Fortunately Blizzard is not doing what Valve does with CS Go and is actively improving the competitive experience for the players with directly getting involved with tournaments in much superior manner and helping the organizers both financially and internally to keep the production quality at a high level.
Their showings at both Blizzcon has shown signs of true passion and dedication towards the game, almost as if they have a mini SC2 phenomenon going on with this little CCG game.
After all what other game can make someone open a pack and stare at the screen with glowing eyes full of expectations only to then rage with a standard pack without any legendary cards? Yeah Hearthstone is truly unique in Esports and it made it to the top competing against the Titans of other genres. Hopefully they can tone down the cancer decks a bit, and we can all be a little happier that way!