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These three new card games aim to copy Hearthstone's success

November 30,-0001 00:00

It's been over two years since Hearthstone was officially released, and a year since research group SuperData Research released a report saying that it makes Blizzard over $20 million every month, leaving plenty of time for other game developers to ...and more »

It’s been over two years since Hearthstone was officially released, and a year since research group SuperData Research released a report saying that it makes Blizzard over $20 million every month, leaving plenty of time for other game developers to start perfecting their copy-cats! The video game industry is notorious for its reliance on trends. Remember Playstation Move and Xbox Kinect in the wake of the Wii’s success? Or the acrobatic traversal mechanics in every first-person shooter since Titanfall? Or the vast number of “hero shooter” platforms in development? Or *shudder* the mass grave of failed MMOs after World of Warcraft hit its stride? This will continue to happen ‘til the end of time, and there’s nothing we can do about it.There’s a ton of digital card games—some which date back long before Hearthstone—but with the global market revenue at over $1 billion according to SuperData, now there are three new products backed with some serious cash that are angling for the big leagues. Nobody knew you could sucker millions of people into buying digital booster packs, but then again, nobody knew you could build a multimedia empire with Minecraft. I have no idea if these games will unseat the king, but it’ll certainly be interesting to watch them try.Gwent Gwent was first introduced as an in-universe card game in The Witcher III. People love Gwent. I know some souls that more or less turned this beautiful, cosmopolitan, open-world RPG into a static, single player card game. And to be fair, I get it! Gwent is beautifully designed, and crafted with the exact same care you get from its mother product. So I guess maybe it’s only inevitable that developer CD Projekt RED would spin that momentum into its own home.That’s right! Gwent is getting its own standalone free-to-play product, and it’ll be debuting later this year. Can it contend with something like Hearthstone? I’m not sure, but when you consider that The Witcher started as a super indie computer RPG and is now one of the most popular franchises in gaming, I’m not going to count it out.Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes How the hell does Plants vs. Zombies keep working its way into things? Once upon a time it was just some cutesy tower defense game for browsers, but since then we’ve seen one of the silliest franchises ever take over the world. Who would’ve thought that in 2016, something like Killzone would be dead, while Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 cruised along nicely.Naturally, this year EA has come up with a brand new incarnation for their odd, uber-successful brand. Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes transfers the blood feud over to a very casual mobile collectible card game. From what I’ve seen the gameplay is pretty simplified (as expected), but seems to carry the same fundamental pleasures of good trades and crucial top decks. Maybe this is something to look for? Who knows. I do feel like fans of Plants vs. Zombies will follow that brand wherever it goes, which means a card game is just the tipping point. I, for one, can’t wait to play the Plants.vs. Zombies dating sim.Elder Scrolls: Legends I don’t know what the deal is with Bethesda. In some ways they’re one of the most inventive game developers in the industry, and free, open-world design philosophy behind games like Skyrim or Fallout 3 is truly one-of-a-kind. However, when they get outside of that territory, things tend to fall apart quickly. Elder Scrolls: Legends is one of the most transparent piggybackings ever. There is absolutely no way this game started development before Hearthstone conquered everyone’s wallet. From what I’ve read, the game has a couple of unique wrinkles (you deploy cards in certain “lanes,” which offer strategic benefits), but I don’t know man, even some of the animations and mechanics are eerily similar.You know when Taco Bell introduces a new item? Like the Quesalupa or something? It’s like, cool, you guys combined a quesadilla and a chalupa, but you know deep down that the word “Quesalupa” existed in a marketing meeting before it was ever dreamed up in real life. It wasn’t a happy accident. It wasn’t an organic idea from some ingenious Taco Bell chef looking to make the world a better place. It’s a product that was mandated to exist.That’s kinda how I feel about Elder Scrolls: Legends. A giant corporation realized they could maybe make a lot of money by building a card game, and so… now they’ve made a card game. When you hear about Hearthstone’s origin story, and how it was a pet project for a couple people within Blizzard that blew up into a humongous success, it puts stuff like this into perspective. Elder Scrolls: Legends is the Heroes of the Storm of digital card games. It’ll probably be good! But, it’s a little desperate.

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