How Hearthstone Faded From the Spotlight

Hearthstone feels like it has been around forever, and despite its waning influence and popularity, it has played a massive part in the development of Esports. While games like MtG, Yugioh, and the Pokemon TCG dominated the physical competitive TCG space, players were left clamoring for a true online, digital option. 


Each of these mainstream brands offered online alternatives, but none of them ever did anything with them, leaving the market wide open for Blizzard to swoop in with Hearthstone. 


Hearthstone was the first major online competitive card game, (notice how there is no trading in there), and helped in garnering the genre some serious attention, both from the mainstream masses, and the collectives of competitors already buzzing about the Esports scene. 


However, when the honeymoon phase was over and people began to look at Hearthstone with a critical eye, the cracks in the formula began to become apparent, and over time more and more players left the scene looking for newer, and greener, pastures. 


There were a few main criticisms leveled at Hearthstone, with the two big ones being the price of cards and the RNG element of high-tier competitive play. Diehard fans of the game try to brush these off by comparing them to IRL examples of card games, with the whole MtG can cost thousands, and all card games have luck, but there are big differences. 


Firstly, when you drop big bucks on magic, you are investing. Cards are a currency in and of themselves, and if needs be, you can always sell a card you buy on to get back some of the hard-earned dollars you spent on it. You don’t have that luxury with Hearthstone. 


Secondly, and more importantly, you can buy singles of physical cards. You can go online, type in a card name, and buy it. With Hearthstone, you have to drop what could end up being hundreds of dollars to pull a card you’re looking for, or trade-up four cards of equal value just to get one back, all of which you can’t liquidate. 


Then when it comes to RNG, you need to understand the Meta in which Hearthstone resides compared to other card games. Pokemon, Yugioh, and MtG have all been around for far longer than Hearthstone, and have all had the opportunity to develop the game to the point that each one needs to be at. The biggest development, being the focus on draw engines. 


Card games are all about resource management, and, simply put, the more resources you have, the more likely you are to win. Old school card game developers understand this, and each of the three games I mentioned above focuses heavily on it. 


In Pokemon, you can draw upwards of half your deck in a few turns if you build it right. In Yugioh, being up a card is so powerful that the plus one pot of greed card has been banned for years, and with MtG, there are a million and one ways to draw. 


Point being, that Hearthstone doesn’t have this same focus on draw engines, which is what ultimately led to the belief that it was a luck-based game, and saw the exodus of players that it had.