Six months ago the makers of World of Warcraft, Blizzard, released their first ever online digital card game called Hearthstone. Similar in appearance to the classic trading card game Magic the Gathering, but with a less convoluted set of rules, Hearthstone has quickly grown in popularity and now includes twenty million players.
Although Magic the Gathering is an old classic, it has recently enjoyed a revival thanks to fans inspired by the World of Warcraft gaming experience. And with World of Warcraft undergoing a sudden decline, Blizzard is eager to mimic and recreate a once popular trading game online to bolster its own relevance in the genre of massive multi-player online role-playing games (mercifully shortened to MMORPG). With characters clearly inspired by and taken straight from World of Warcraft, playing Hearthstone is akin to revisiting an old friend in a new environment.
Created in 2004, World of Warcraft is the most successful video game of all time. As of 2012, it has grossed over 10 billion dollars worldwide. With new expansion packs released approximately every two years and a subscription service of fifteen dollars a month, WoW has generated significant revenue for Blizzard. However, an inconsistent story line, lower-end graphics, and a pay-to-play business model have caused many fans to jump ship and move on to other games. Despite these setbacks, WoW’s current number of seven million subscribers still holds the Guinness World Record for being the most subscribed MMORPG.
If Blizzard can convince these twenty million Hearthstone players to return to World of Warcraft by offering Hearthstone cards as in-game loot in the MMORPG, then Blizzard has a real shot at reviving the WoW franchise.
When Hearthstone was first released, Blizzard offered an in-game mount, a creature you can fly or ride throughout the game’s environment, to World of Warcraft players if they completed the first quest. Additional cross gaming benefits have the potential to bring back players to WoW. Still, with nearly seven million players leveling-up on World of Warcraft, and twenty million players on HearthStone, Blizzard is in great shape to continue and expand on their success.