Ever since Blizzard Entertainment released their take on the next great thing in gaming, auto-chess, it's all the Hearthstone community is talking about. When Battlegrounds went live in the Hearthstone client back in the middle of November, a switch was flipped. Content creators, professional players, and viewers flocked to the game mode in droves. In the weeks since that remains true. At this point, one may have forgotten that Hearthstone is a digital card game opposed to an auto-chess giant.
One quick look at what Hearthstone streamers are playing on Twitch and it's almost exclusively Battlegrounds. But, with the final expansion of the Year of the Dragon, Descent of Dragons, launching on Tuesday, will players flock back to the card game to soak up the new content or stick to auto-chess?
Before it's assumed that content creators will only be playing Battlegrounds for the foreseeable future, there are a few factors to take into consideration that add context to where the game is now.
Prior to a Hearthstone expansion launching, historically, is when the game itself becomes the dullest. Players don't want to play an established meta over and over again, content creators can only grind ladder and Arena so much before they want to try something new, and viewership on Twitch reflects that. In comes Battlegrounds, a fresh take on a popular game variant that takes the Hearthstone CCG and flips it on its' head. For the first time in years, players were given more ways to play the game they love (something they've been requesting since shortly after the game launched back in 2014).
The game mode's debut also coincided with the end of the Hearthstone Grandmasters professional circuit for 2019. Pro players who played the card game for hours on end were able to dedicate that energy towards competing in something new but familiar. Two of which, Dima "RDU" Radu and Paul "Zalae" Nemeth, told Inven Global that Battlegrounds was a refreshing change of pace and "addicting." With the CCG in a state where they didn't have/want to play it, getting Legend wasn't even worth their time (or many others).
But tomorrow will come and Descent of Dragons will throw 135 untouched cards into the pool for players to begin trying out and creating memes with. Content creators will have a decision to make and so will viewers: Do we take a break from Battlegrounds and dedicate our time to the same-old CCG again? Was Battlegrounds just a diversion in-between expansions and Hearthstone will always be a card game first? Should we try balancing both?
Time will tell but what's being streamed tomorrow and a month from now will go a long way to revealing what the future of Hearthstone may be.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.