Hearthstone, Blizzard’s entry into the CCG genre, isn’t dead. It still earns a fair amount of money, it’s still played by quite a few people, and it still has some presence on streaming and video platforms.
In the eyes of many who once loved the game, though, Hearthstone is effectively dead. What was once one of the world’s most popular games has been reduced to a relative shadow of itself? What happened? You can’t blame the game’s problem on
10. Mean Streets of Gadgetzan Expansion
Hearthstone‘s Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion introduced some of the most broken/annoying cards in the history of the game (Patches the Pirate and Jade Idol) and threw the balance between the game’s classes completely out of whack.
The bad decisions of this expansion combined with Blizzard’s slow responses to fix the problems (more on that later) are seen by some as the beginning of the game’s downturn.
9. Rise of Battle Royales/Auto-Battlers
Not all of Hearthstone‘s struggles can be blamed on the game.
The fact is that the rise of the battle royale an auto battler genres have cut into Hearthstone‘s exposure/potential player base. Of course, that might matter less if it wasn’t for Blizzard’s bad decisions.
8. Mass Streamer Exodus
The quality of Hearthstone is directly related to this, but the game has certainly suffered from a mass exodus of popular streaming personalities.
Many of the game’s biggest streamers from 2-3 years ago have publically vowed to not play Hearthstone again or at least play if far less often. This has directly impacted the games exposure and the feeling of being part of Hearthstone‘s “community.”
7. 2018’s Content
2018 will certainly go down as Hearthstone‘s worst year yet (maybe ever) for in-game content.
After 2017 introduced some of the more powerful (and interesting) cards in the game’s history, 2018 failed to introduce enough new cards that drastically changed the game. The result was that many players spent a couple of years playing roughly the same decks and cards.
6. Struggling Competitive Scene
This is certainly not the game’s biggest problem, but it deserves to be mentioned.
Hearthstone‘s competitive scene has been suffering in recent years due to a combination of bad/confusing rule changes and an inconsistent seasonal format. These problems have reduced the number of people who see Hearthstone as a viable competitive option.
5. Cancellation of Tournament Modes and Other Features
For quite some time, Blizzard revealed they were working on an in-game tournament mode that ranked among Hearthstone‘s most requested features. Not long after, they revealed they were no longer working on it.
That cancellation infuriated a legion of fans who felt betrayed by what seemed to be confirmation that Blizzard would never deliver that (and other long-awaited) features would never be added to the game.
4. The End of Adventures
There used to be two kinds of Hearthstone expansions: full expansions and adventures. Adventures were $20 releases that added single-player content, as well as about 40 new cards that anyone who played the adventures would eventually receive.
Starting in 2017, Blizzard phased adventures in favor of releasing three full expansions a year. This was a huge blow to budget players who relied on these adventures as a (relatively) cheap way to regularly get new cards. That brings us to our next couple of points…
3. The Real Cost of Expansions
In a perfect world, you’d pay about $60 for a new Hearthstone expansion and get every card. In a better world, you’d get every card from the $80 bundles Blizzard offers before the launch of new expansions.
In the real world, you’ve got to pay about $130-$150 an expansion in order to have a real chance to get every new Hearthstone card. That’s a price point that ensures only Hearthstone whales will be able to really explore the possibilities of each new expansion.
2. Terrible “Dust” Economy
In Hearthstone, you have the ability to turn cards into “dust.” Dust can then be used to craft new cards. It’s the broken backbone of Hearthstone’s economy.
In order to craft a Legendary Hearthstone card (the game’s highest rarity), you’d need to dust four other non-golden Legendary cards. Basically, dusting a card of a certain rarity allows you to craft one card from a lower rarity. This makes it incredibly difficult to craft decks and high-tier cards organically even if you’re willing to sacrifice your collection.
1. Slow Updates
Did you know that almost all of the above problems likely wouldn’t have led to Hearthstone being in the state that it is if it weren’t for the fact that the Hearthstone team have been notoriously slow when it comes to updating their game?
There was a time when you would have to wait months and months for clearly problematic Hearthstone cards to be altered. There was a time when players wouldn’t get any new content between the release of expansions. Blizzard has gotten a little better about this recently, but at a time of weekly updates, Hearhstone‘s sporadic content schedule can leave the game feeling broken (or worse) for weeks and months on end.