We are consumers, all of us, and we love to consume things. Great devouring monsters of information, culture, and goods. We focus our entire lives on the pursuit of money, in order to consume. It's a cold hard fact, and to that extent, we're lazy consumers. We don't specifically enjoy exerting too much effort in the consumption process. We do all of that at our work, we want to consume effortlessly.
This is why Hearthstone, a project started by some random dudes at Blizzard, has turned into an Internet sensation. What are you doing? Playing Hearthstone. That's what you probably hear from your friends, who are spending their entire day dueling away at an online card game.
It's easy to get into.
Delving a little bit deeper into the issue - we often like our entertainment to come to us. We want it to be effortless, painless, and easy. Hearthstone effectively caters to the lowest common denominator of effort involved to play an online game. You open a rather light client, choose play game, and are instantly put in front of a virtual table with a very easy to understand card game - almost easier than Go Fish.
Our own Messiah compared and contrasted Hearthstone against the behemoth in the CCG world, Magic the Gathering, and found a lot of similarities. If you're like to read his opinion, it's right here, but I also have an opinion of my own and that's the biggest difference is the nuance gameplay mechanics.
Magic has a lot of depth and so does Hearthstone, but Hearthstone's depth is masqueraded by easy to understand card wording, utilizing already existing game mechanics, and an interface where you could play the entire game by randomly clicking your mouse everywhere and you might just win.
Magic on the other hand requires an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the rules, the different cards, and the different mechanics. To be truly good you need to study all of the tournament legal cards (which change yearly) and focus on making a strategy to win before the other person does.
I'm pretty sure, honestly, if I had a 5 year old he could play Hearthstone and do good. As a matter of a fact, I'm sure there are a ton of 5 year olds who play Hearthstone. They might not make pro league, but that's the beauty of it right, the extremely low entry point allows anyone to join the fun without needing to learn complicated game rules.
Of course, those who learn those things become better and move up in the rankings. Those who don't stay at a comfortable spot. Every ratings based matchmaking should have you win and lose half the games, but nothing is perfect. With Hearthstone though I've yet to reach a point where I fight nothing but allstars.
Oh and the price of entry, let's not forget that. That's a huge reason Hearthstone is so popular now. It's a free-to-play game that has a little pay-to-win to it, but not enough to unbalance the game or make it unfair. You don't have to spend money to win and people who spend money are doing so to win until their matched against other similarly skilled people.
Much like the value Hearthstone has, let me add a quick value-add to this article with the top 10 reasons Hearthstone is popular.
- It's easy to get into.
- It's free-to-play and the only thing to buy is card packs, which you can earn in-game currency for.
- Games are fast and easy to hop in and play for short bite sized chunks.
- You don't have to use WSAD to move your character around or learn how to jump strife no-scope headshot.
- Small download.
- You can chat with your WoW friends while owning scrubs in a card game (or lying and saying you are).
- Who doesn't want to open a pack of cards.
- You do not have to go and play the card game in real life, on a broken table, in a strip mall inside of a game store that has dust on everything and people fighting over the one good table to play their board game on, with the store owner trying to handle four disputes at once, while someone's crying child is whining incredibly loud 4 feet away from you, but the punchline is they're just walking through the store because they're visiting your town and they're just looking at all the "cool" stuff around the wall, while the dude you're playing against has a deck you can't win against because he's got a part time job that he uses his entire income to fuel his game deck which is a perfect cookie cutter build he got off of a wiki online that will be banned next season, all the while you try desperately to protect your things from accidentally being whisked away in the confusion as everyone has similar looking deck holders since you have to bring your entire card collection with you and there is this one dude who keeps using an over 9000 joke and screaming to the top of his lungs as you slowly realize the baby crying is drowning him out and you're not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing while you contemplate why you attend these games when all you ever do is lose because you're always matched up against the good players and like once every three months you get that new guy who half the time wins with beginners luck, only to never be seen again with no chance of ever having a rematch.
- Hearthstone's graphics are really awesome.
- It's available on the iPad so you can play in bed, how awesome is that?
Thanks for reading! Let me know your theories on why Hearthstone is popular in the comments section below.