Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft was initially scoffed at by many when it was revealed back at PAX East… I was not one of those doing the scoffing. I thought the game looked brilliant, flashy, simple and fun. Fast forward a few months and open up the beta, and lo and behold: I’m not playing the CCG (collectible card game). However, it appears many thousands of online gamers are and loving every second. It’s one of Twitch’s most popular games, it’s constantly talked about across my social media, and even our own Garrett Fuller and Mike Bitton can’t put the thing down. So why is it I can’t seem to get into the latest gaming craze to hit my circle of influence?
My initial thought is that, because I’ve never really been into card games, Hearthstone just isn’t meant for me. But then, I realize this is Blizzard. They make games that are intentionally targeted at widening the player base of a genre. They took the RTS and made it for everyone. They did the same thing with the MMO, and they’re trying to do the same thing with the CCG.
And I can appreciate Blizzard’s work on Hearthstone. It’s a gorgeously rendered game that manages to make the act of placing cards on a table both look and sound superb. It’s got the pop and pizazz that makes a videogame stick with you in the right ways. Like all Blizzard games, you’re rewarded well for just playing, and there’s a certain sense of satisfaction you get from just placing a card on the virtual table. Again, I ask you, why can’t I get into this game?
This chicken looks how I feel.
Here are my thoughts, and I want to stress that it has nothing to do with Hearthstone itself. This is more of a commentary/editorial/exercise on why some games can be the darlings of the internet, but there are still folks just don’t get the same joy from the new hotness. I’m reminded of Guild Wars 2, honestly. So many, myself included, fell for ArenaNet’s latest right out of the box. But plenty of others didn’t, and never will. Not every game is for everyone, and I get that. But haven’t you ever wanted to like something but found yourself incapable? Like olives; I want to enjoy these green little pills of vomit, but my mouth won’t ever let me because well... they taste terrible.
We cannot force ourselves to like everything, no matter how much it might seem we’re missing out on the fun. Welcome to the plight of entitled Western Human Existence, right?
But usually, for gamers who don’t like a title, they have valid reasons. I can’t think of any reasons I shouldn’t like Hearthstone. If I were reviewing the game, it would get good scores despite my own personal bias, because anyone can see the skill behind Blizzard’s craft. So lay it on me people. How do you play Blizzard’s card game, and why do you like it so much? Personally, I think something as simple as having the iPad version might do the trick. The interactivity of a touch interface and the portability of the tablet might just get me invested.
What are your thoughts? What makes Hearthstone tick, and why is so enticing to gamers of all types lately? Is it just the IP of Warcraft, or is there something more to the rise of Blizzard’s card game?
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He loves the idea of Hearthstone, but can't make it stick. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter@thebillmurphy.