Can you tell us about how Mean Streets of Gadgetzan came to be?
We specifically chose Gadgetzan for the expansion. In World of Warcraft, you need to use a neutral trading outpost in Gadgetzan in order to make a trade with opponent factions. We thought it would be fun to bring a crime atmosphere to the Hearthstone world, and we wanted to show an urbanized Gadgetzan, not just a town in the middle in a desert surrounded by a wall.
Factions seem to be the core theme of the new expansion. What can you tell us about them?
Indeed, we imposed a new mechanism called “factions”. Each member of a particular faction can share specific cards and discover different class cards within the same faction. Faction Legendary cards are also very powerful. We actively applied Discover, a much-loved mechanic introduced in The League of Explorers.
Is there any reason behind faction design?
It's important to create Hearthstone in a way that favors each player’s style. Some players prefer aggressive styles, but for me, I'd rather use combo decks. We need to consider many different playstyles when developing a new expansion.
Any plans to add a new class?
We don't have a plan for a new class yet. It's good to have nine classes. It will get harder to maintain the appropriate balance. It's important that each class has its own style. In fact, it's getting harder to make them feel distinguishable from each other. It'd be more efficient to put effort into the next expansion or improving existing systems [than developing a new character].
Priest has been considered the worst class for a long time, and many players want Priest to get buffed in some way. What do you think about the current balance?
I'm well aware that Priest is having a very hard time in the current meta. After all, I'm a Priest player myself [laughs]. But I believe Priest players will once again enjoy the game when the newest expansion come out.
Hearthstone seems to lack compensation for heavy users.
Well, you're right on that, but it's difficult to handle because more users will feel deprivation. We're working on creating more of a sense of accomplishment for lower rank players, though.
Is there any specific direction for Heroic Brawl's development?
The best thing about Brawl is that we get to experiment with cool stuff. We've been testing some community demands and monitoring the reactions.
All players are different. I get Twitter messages whenever a new Brawl begins. Sometimes I get "This Brawl sucks", but after 30 minutes I get "This Brawl rocks". Since [the players] all have different preferences, we'll try to cycle Brawl modes in order to satisfy a variety of gamers. Heroic Brawl is an extension of such an attempt. Some players might think Heroic Brawl is too hard for them. So we'll just do it and see how it goes. We can make an adjustment after getting some feedback.
Will any Wild cards come back to Standard?
We have no intention of bringing Wild cards back to Standard. We're trying to provide a new experience for the most players, and it sounds about right to let those cards go to Wild.
There were some Original set cards that have been nerfed due to too much synergy like Blade Flurry and Warsong Commander. Will these cards be patched again in the future?
It's not impossible. We never say something is absolutely impossible on Team 5. There are many players who enjoy Hearthstone every day, but some players stop playing for a while and come back too. It's important to make a friendly environment for the returning players. That's the main purpose of the Original set. Returning players will have a very hard time adapting if everything has changed. We have to think about what’s appropriate.
Players can only craft expansion cards that have been moved to Wild. Will you consider bringing old expansion sets back to customers for purchase?
Both are on our minds.
There was some expectation of a dual race card in the new expansion. Do we get to see dual race cards in the future?
There are some designers that have a dual race concept in mind, but we're not ready to announce anything yet. It's challenging work, and needs to go through many discussions. I think it's a fun idea, though.
Hearthstone eSports has grown larger every year, but it lacks many eSports functions in terms of a spectating interface—replay mode, for example. Do you have any plans to work on eSports functions in Hearthstone?
I think replay mode is a very good feature to have. We're doing a lot of research into it. Replays are a little complex, but they’re a good thing. We've been discussing how to implement it into the game for a better spectating experience.