Blizzard’s “Hearthstone” hit another milestone this week, just as fans from all around the world gathered with the company to celebrate the title at Blizzcon. The publisher announced this week that “Hearthstone” has hit the 100M player mark, a terrific accomplishment for the free to play card game.
“Reaching 100 million players is a huge milestone for Hearthstone, but what matters to us even more is the fact that so many people around the world have embraced the spirit of the game,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment. “Whether at events like BlizzCon® and Fireside Gatherings or just in tuning in to watch their favorite streamers, it’s been so inspiring to see millions of players and fans coming together, online and in real life, to participate in the Hearthstone community.”
Hearthstone features a simple format in which players build digital card decks and duel each other head-to-head or play through one of several different card-based Solo Adventures. As a card-based game, Hearthstone is unlike any of the other games regularly in the top ranks on YouTube or Twitch. In addition to its highly accessible card-vs.-card gameplay and the colorful personality that comes through its vibrant audio and visual elements, a major difference is that all player-to-player communication takes place through pre-generated voice lines tailored for each of the game’s playable heroes. The voice lines conveying warmth, positivity, and good-natured sportsmanship, something that is lacking in today’s games. This helps create a welcoming setting for all players, from beginners to seasoned veterans, and despite being a skill-based competitive experience, offers a change of pace from other competitive games.
In addition, Blizzard recently overhauled the “new-player experience” for the game, putting a bigger buffer between beginners and veterans—making it even easier for anyone to jump in and play. One of the company’s core design principles has been, “Easy to learn, hard to master,” and Hearthstone is a shining example, with an introductory competitive experience that eases players into the fundamentals of the game and amply rewards them along the way.
To accentuate Hearthstone’s tavern vibe and encourage players to take the fun of the game out into the real world, Blizzard developed the global “Fireside Gathering” program, which enables “Innkeepers” to coordinate gaming get-togethers at their local restaurants, student centers, hobby shops, and actual taverns and pubs. Each month, an average of 2,655 Hearthstone Fireside Gatherings take place in cities around the world. At these events, players hang out, enjoy the atmosphere and establishment, and battle each other on their mobile devices in a casual competition. Another highlight is that Fireside Gatherings often feature pre-release parties for upcoming Hearthstone content expansions, giving attendees a first crack at playing the newest cards being added to the game. This year alone, more than 23,000 Fireside Gatherings have taken place according to the publisher, with many more scheduled in cities everywhere.
As a way of commemorating Hearthstone’s 100-million-player milestone and thanking players everywhere for bringing the game to life, Blizzard is holding a special in-game event from November 7 through 11. During the 100 Million Players Celebration event, players who log in to the game will receive a one-time reward of six free packs from the most recent expansion set, The Boomsday Project. In addition, players will be able to complete a series of “Celebrate the Players” event quests to earn up to 500 gold—which can be used to acquire card packs from any set in the game and participate in the Arena mode, a fun alternative form of competition in Hearthstone.