Perhaps it’s not quite right to characterise Hearthstone as the little card game that could. With the spectacular machinery of Blizzard behind it, an armpit-fart simulator could become one of the most popular games in the world.
But the handful of Blizzard staffers I’ve spoken to this year have all expressed surprise at how large a part of their lives the CCG has become. Last night, CEO Mike Morhaime told investors that Hearthstone had dramatically outstripped its creators hopes for it.
Activision CFO Dennis Durkin said that Hearthstone’s “strong engagement and monetization” had made it a “commercial hit”.
The past three months have been good for Blizzard, thanks in part to the success of Hearthstone’s first single player release, Curse of Naxxramas.
Blizzard boss Morhaime said that the community had responded with “great enthusiasm” to the new cards and encounters in July. In fact, Curse of Naxxramas brought Hearthstone its strongest week ever.
The game’s already-busy pub is now occupied by more than 20 million Hearthstone players, and eSports tournaments around the game are “growing more popular than ever”. Streams of recent competitions have pulled in 150,000 concurrent viewers.
“Similar to our other franchises, the key to ongoing engagement in Hearthstone is new content,” said Morhaime, “and our developers are already working on a full expansion that will include over 100 new cards.
“It's an exciting time to be a Blizzard gamer, and we look forward to celebrating with our players this Friday at BlizzCon.”
I got to see some of the buzz around Blizzard’s card game first-hand during the Hearthstone European Finals at DreamHack Stockholm. What began as a bold experiment has become another pillar the company can rely on as WoW subscriptions sink to pre-Lich King levels.
Will you still be tweaking decks as the Winter months draw on?