Mobile gaming is slowly but surely affecting the business models of a lot of video game developers. In fact, the phenomenon is so prevalent that Hajime Tabata, the co-director of Square Enix‘s upcoming Final Fantasy XV, is surmising that the trend is forcing the Japanese gaming market so much so that eventually handheld and smartphone gaming could lead to the end of console gaming in Japan. While many current generation gamers will lament such a sharp shift in focus, game developers like Blizzard are hedging their bets with lucrative free-to-play titles like Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
With over 30 million registered accounts, it’s obvious that Blizzard’s Warcraft-based online collectible card game has pleased a lot of people the world over, so it comes as no surprise that Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a recipient of numerous gaming awards. Now, Blizzard intends on not only retaining its fan base, but also giving fair-weather gamers a new way to enjoy the title with a new gameplay mode being released in mid-June called Tavern Brawl.
The inclusion of Tavern Brawl is meant to give players a challenge, as Hearthstone fans will need a level 20 Hero at their disposal in order for the mode to be unlocked. Once accessible, a different, uniquely ordained Tavern Brawl will be available each week to pit gamers against opponents in skirmishes that may feature preset decks, while another battle might require one to follow specific guidelines in order to craft a brand new deck, or perhaps a match-up will be centered around specific minion types. If that isn’t enough of an incentive to join in on the fun, Blizzard is offering free admission for Tavern Brawls, and players who win their first game of the week in the first several brawls will earn themselves a free card pack.
While Hearthstone remains an immensely sought-after title, there are definitely drawbacks for fans opting to continue enjoying it as the free-to-play game as it’s so cleverly advertised. Gamers will certainly feel tempted to pickup don’t new heroes like Magni Bronzebeard — who has a $10 price tag — although the newcomer is more of a skin than a brand new card battler. Plus, those of us who lack a certain amount of willpower could eventually fall prey to the concept of paying to win, and end up spending too much money on pricey content like one user did after he shelled out around $3,400 for Hearthstone cards.
At any rate, Hearthstone remains a tremendously popular and pleasurable title, as our review indicates. However, with free-to-play mobile games becoming more widespread with each passing day, it’s definitely wise for gaming fans to do some research before playing, or at the very least, they should watch South Park’s “Freemium Isn’t Free” episode that covers the issue more incisively than anyone else ever could.
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is out now for PCs and mobile devices supporting Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS.