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PC Gaming Weekly: Hearthstone’s mobile client is holding back the PC experience

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As the innkeeper says, “Busy night … but there’s always room for another.” In this case, that busy night could mean tens of millions of players.

Blizzard Entertainment has been welcoming a lot of new gamers in recent years — yet nothing has brought in as many players as Hearthstone, the studio’s digital card game. Last week, Blizzard said that more than 70 million people have registered for its free-to-play phenomenon, and while mobile has certainly contributed to that meteoric rise, many of the card slinger’s most passionate players, esports pros, and Twitch, YouTube, and podcast stars spend most of their time with the PC client.

And this passion has made it the king of the card-game category, which Superdata expects to be a $1.4 billion market … and estimated Blizzard’s Hearthstone take to be nearly $400 million last year.

Hearthstone may be riding a wave of success right now. Players, pros, and critics have all credited the recent Journey to Un’Goro expansion for revitalizing what had been a stale competitive scene. Blizzard has also worked to tweak tournament — and increase prize purses — to draw in more players, but it still has key problems.

Critics note that by removing the guaranteed cards from Adventures (along with that fun single-player content), it’s made it more expensive for the casual player to stand a chance in the competitive mode (aka the ladder). The ladder experience is arduous as well, taking an unrealistic commitment of time to climb from rank to rank (even with the recent additions of ranked floors to help you from backpedaling too far). And it still lacks a proper tournament mode, something other Blizzard PC games have.

So I recommend a bold move, one that the hosts of The Angry Chicken fan podcast (the best gaming podcast out there, in my opinion) recommend: add the tournament mode to the PC client. Blizzard wants parity between the mobile and PC crowds, but it’s holding the game back. Besides, as someone who plays Hearthstone on my phone nearly every day, I wouldn’t even expect a tournament client there — give me more ways to play casually on the phone. But Hearthstone would likely see even more play — and more players buying packs — if it implemented a tournament mode on the PC side.

The PC enables the widest range of gaming experiences out there. Don’t hamstring it just for mobile parity.

For PC gaming coverage, send news tips to Jeff Grubb and guest post submissions to Rowan Kaiser. Please be sure to visit our PC Gaming Channel.

–Jason Wilson, GamesBeat managing editor

P.S. Chris Roberts has some big ideas about how ultra-powerful PCs can build even bigger game universes than we’re seeing now.

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