Set in Hearthstone: US beta for Blizzard’s CCG due in less than a month

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

“We’re not days away from launching the beta,” says Hearthstone production director Jason Chayes, “but we’re not months away either.”

Weeks away, then.

Blizzard’s modest Hearthstone dev team last week finished implementing all the features they’d planned for the beta version of their CCG. Among the final strokes on its canvas were a new rewards system, quest tuning to accommodate new players (at this point, all of them), and UI updates in the name of clarity.

The coming weeks will be spent fixing bugs and reinforcing the game’s infrastructure so that it can support the weight of countless, bouncy beta players. Chayes reports the team are making “good progress”: 187 bugs were crushed and two boxes of donuts eaten last week alone.

“At the Hearthstone announcement we committed to going into beta testing before the summer was over, and the team has been pulling out all the stops to make that happen,” wrote Chayes on the Hearthstone blog. “Sometimes that has meant ditching meetings to fix a gnarly bug, and it’s often meant working long hours to get that additional layer of polish in. It’s a pretty intense time.

“We’re making good progress, and while we definitely won’t fix every bug before releasing the beta, we do think it’s important to address any issues that would pull focus away from the core game experience.”

It’s pretty evident where Chayes’ biggest worry lies: in Heathstone’s shop, where beta players will be able to spend real money on card packs and Arena entry. Like every other aspect of the game, the shop and its prices are subject to change – and Blizzard are expecting upsets.

“With that in mind,” says Chayes, “we previously noted that as a thank-you for helping us test the in-game store, we’d be offering a special token of appreciation to beta testers who make a real-money in-game purchase during the beta test.”

That token will be the golden Gelbin Mekkatorque – a unique card unavailable via crafting or booster packs.

The beta will introduce players to the game in frequent, small batches, and will begin in North America only – but Blizzard have “fully localised builds” planned for Europe, Korea and Taiwan in the near future. Do you think you’re likely to sign up here?

Thanks, Gamespot.