Hearthstone is still the king of digital CCGs, but it also appears to be kind of stuck: Monthly active users have been on the decline for awhile, and Activision Blizzard COO Coddy Johnson said during the company's most recent earnings call (the one where the company announced record revenues and laid off 800 people at the same time) that it "experienced sequential declines in net bookings from players making in-game purchases." Wondering why? Lead balance designer August Dean Ayala wants to know, too. So a couple of days ago he asked:
If Hearthstone used to be your main game but isn't anymore, what would get you back? pic.twitter.com/kP46dj3hHgFebruary 18, 2019
Ayala's request for input has generated more than 2000 responses so far, some of them actually helpful. This one, from Hearthstone pro David "Dog" Caero, is particularly thoughtful, touching on topics ranging from matchup polarization and a lack of game modes to complaints about specific cards. The biggest issue, he said, is simply that new content is consumed too quickly, so everything settles into a too-familiar meta.
"I think Hearthstone needs more game modes and more ways to play your cards," he wrote. "The reason wild doesn’t see play is because they don’t have a rotating set so everything feels the repetitive—same old busted combos every single game."
Opinions are plentiful, as you can see in the flood of replies Ayala is now sorting through, but stagnation does seem to be a very valid complaint. Blizzard had high hopes that the Rastakhan's Rumble expansion would "shake up the meta," but meanwhile there's still no replay option or in-game stat tracking, and the long-awaited tournament support is MIA and sounds like it will be for the indefinite future.
The good news for players is that Blizzard seems serious about turning things around. Activision Blizzard said it was going to increase the number of developers working on Hearthstone over the coming year, which "will help to release content that is both broader and deeper, and to optimize the game to deliver an even better mobile experience for its global audience."
We've reached out to Ayala to see how it's going—that's an awful lot of tweets to swim through—and will update if we receive a reply.