Please Don't Clone Hearthstone

By David Piner -
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I love the folks at Jagex and I love Runescape. I’m no Runescape hater, but the latest from Jagex that they’re making a Hearthstone clone scares me. This is a trend that DOES NOT need to happen. We don’t need more Hearthstones in existence, we need fewer, as in the one. We just need one Hearthstone, there is nothing to be gained by trying to emulate it.

Before you have too much of a knee jerk reaction, do note it’s happening inside of the game just like in FFXI with its card game (or any Final Fantasy with a card game inside of it). So it’s not a standalone Hearthstone clone, but that doesn’t mean those are coming!

I mean, we just really needed one WoW. Two major AAA shooter titles (BF and CoD) are too much, really, and it sucks because I wish you could play with both playerbases at the same time, instead of having this segregation and cutting the community in half for what is essentially the same game.

Whenever these copycats come out, it’s annoying to me, because it’s creating a trend. Just like the League copycats. When it comes to eSports, I only follow a select few games because I can NOT keep up with every single hero, every single ability, every single mechanic these games introduce. For me, it’s League and Smite, anything more and my head starts to melt. Well SC2, because I mean, I’ve played so much of it it’s hard to forget.

I don’t like it, I don’t like it at all, and I know you can’t tie yourself to a tree and stop it and there are no green eggs and ham. You can’t just say, well this is BS, let’s not clone a game that is perfect in of itself without at least looking at iterating on the formula.

Of course, at least, for now, we can relax in understanding this Hearthstone emulation is tied to Runescape, so you would have to login to Runescape and play it within the game ala FFXI. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other games out there emulating Hearthstone.

One of the problems with MMOs is that companies seem to sit around and say wow this game works, so let’s just copy the foundation, then add our own toppings to it. So if WoW is vanilla ice cream, then WoW clones are supposed to be the whipped cream and sprinkles. Except WoW is good by itself. It doesn’t need sprinkles and Blizzard even f’d up when they tried to change the formula for new coke, but had to go back to classic coke but it still doesn’t taste the same.

The point of the matter here is that I love Hearthstone for what it is, being Hearthstone. Blizzard has done a good enough job on the idea that we can say that’s Hearthstone, that’s the online casual free-to-play card battler with quick games and easy to understand rules.

If anything is going to emulate it, it should be a new game with the same core principles, not the same game with the same mechanics, except with some new design decisions and maybe some art.

Because the problem is that when you go in and try to emulate something, then add to it, you usually can’t capture the magic of the original because that magic doesn’t include these new ideas. There isn’t many instances of a emulation taking off. See all of the MMOs that were 100% direct WoW clones. Do we talk about any of them today?

No.

We don’t talk about them, because they weren’t interesting. They didn’t have the magic that original WoW had because they were either missing features the WoW community were so accustomed to that they couldn’t jump ship (dungeon finder for instance) or added in features that no one really liked or didn’t steep well together. It’s like taking vanilla pudding and adding in cherrys and lime and taking out the sugar.

Anyone who wants to copy the success of another game should take the "idea" and iterate on it and make something cool. Just like ArenaNet did with Guild Wars and GW2, GW2 is completely different, but it has the same idea, and that should be the model for any "sequel" to another developers game that a developer tries to produce IN MY OPINION.

That’s my rant for the day. Tomorrow I’m not sure what we’ll talk about, but it’ll be good.

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About The Author

David "Xerin" Piner
Get in the bush with Xerin every week for his column, Respawn, as he analyzes the hottest trends, buzz topics, and absurdities in MMO gaming. In addition to his ongoing war against early access titles.

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