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Watch_Decks: Hearthstone’s getting a spectator mode - but not until “shortly” after launch

Hearthstone will exit beta sometime before the end of 2014.

Blizzard’s mighty CCG is out now; read our Hearthstone review to see what we thought of it.

As the first and probably last card game to break Twitch, Hearthstone’s hardly short of spectators. Why? Its colliding concept art makes for surprisingly good viewing, for one thing. And watching is the best way to learn: freed from the stress of a perpetually fizzing timer, viewers are able to educate themselves in the optimal mix of minions. That’s what our Nick did during Hearthstone’s early beta, becoming a near-instant expert while me and Tim foolishly attempted to play the thing.

For the time being, spectating options are limited to whoever happens to be livestreaming on a given evening. But sometime soon after launch, we’ll be able to watch whoever we fancy willy nilly from within the Hearthstone client.

Blizzard senior eSports manager Kim Phan told ESL TV that a spectator mode is a priority for the Hearthstone dev team – who, since the surprise Twitch takeover, have had eSports dollar signs in their eyes (like this: € €).

“We have a full list of features that we would love to see from an eSports point of view,” said Phan. “Really we are trying to figure out what people want the most, and what is really high on the list right now is spectator mode.”

Phan said that an official spectator mode was “pretty important” – and looking askance at StarCraft and Dota, you can begin to see where he’s coming from. In-client viewing has become a key expectation of Serious eSports, which is what Hearthstone seems set to become.

Phan said players shouldn’t necessarily expect a fully-functioning spectator mode by the time Hearthstone leaves beta this year – but repeated again that it was “very high on [the] list.”

“That is a feature that you will see very shortly after the game has launched,” he added, unambiguously.

Is this something you’ll make good use of, do you reckon? I haven’t been back to Hearthstone since the latest progress wipe, and reckon peering over somebody else’s shoulder would be the perfect way to tentatively return.

Cheers, Hearthstone-Live.