So, many of you have been asking about how development on the Hearthstone beta has been coming along. Rightly so! We’ve had previews of new cards and features for a few months now, but haven’t talked a whole lot about how overall progress is going and, more importantly, how that lines up with getting the game into your hands.
To start with, we hit an important milestone last week when we finished implementation of all features planned for the release of the beta. A few of the things we just wrapped up include:
- A revamp of the Arena, including a new rewards system
- Lots of quest tuning, particularly for new players
- UI updates to make it clear what the next basic card you’re destined to unlock will be
While we’re psyched to have wrapped up feature development, it doesn’t mean we’re done quite yet. Our overall focus has shifted onto fixing bugs and improving our infrastructure so that it can support a larger number of players. We’re making good progress, and while we definitely won’t fix every bug before releasing the beta, we do think it’s important to address any issues that would pull focus away from the core game experience. What that means is that we’re not days away from launching the beta, but we’re not months away either. At the Hearthstone announcement we committed to going into beta testing before the summer was over, and the team has been pulling out all the stops to make that happen. Sometimes that has meant ditching meetings to fix a gnarly bug, and it’s often meant working long hours to get that additional layer of polish in. It’s a pretty intense time, and what keeps us going is that we’re just as excited as you guys about the release of the beta. Here’s a quick snapshot of some important scientifically derived metrics from the last week alone:
- Bugs marked “fixed”: 187
- Golden cards added to the build: 30
- Boxes of donuts eaten: 2
A lot of our discussion so far has been centered on the North American beta, so we just wanted to mention to players in Europe, Korea, and Taiwan: your feedback on the game is equally important to us! We are thus planning a dedicated beta in these regions with fully localized builds. These will follow the start of the North American beta test as closely as possible and we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
We’ve mentioned previously that you’ll be able to spend real money in the beta to purchase card packs and Arena entry. Now, it is a beta, so we don’t expect everything to be in tip-top shape quite yet. With that in mind, we previously noted that as a thank-you for helping us test the in-game store, we’d be offering a special token of appreciation to beta testers who make a real-money in-game purchase during the beta test. We’re pleased to reveal that that gift will be a golden version of Gelbin Mekkatorque, which will be available throughout the closed and open beta tests. When you purchase card packs or an Arena ticket in any phase of the beta test, you will be granted the golden Gelbin Mekkatorque; he won't be available through crafting or getting a lucky hit inside a card pack. Once the game has released, you can still craft a regular Mekkatorque if you save up enough arcane dust.
One last point on the beta test: while we’re going to kick it off with a relatively small number of invites, we’re going to gradually roll in more and more players over time. If you don’t get in initially, don’t worry too much, as new players will be brought in frequently. In fact, everyone who’s interested in playing Hearthstone during the beta period will be able to get in when we transition to an open beta test a bit later in the testing cycle. All you’ll need to do is create a Battle.net account if you don’t already have one, and download the client, and you’ll be set to go! No invitation necessary!
Although our top priority is getting the beta out for Windows and Mac, we haven’t taken our sights off the iPad. In fact, the team hit an awesome milestone with our iPad development not too long ago with our first end-to-end test of cross-platform play. One of our team members jumped into the Hearthstone App on his iPad, saw his Battle.net buddy who happened to be playing on the PC, chatted with him and then went head-to-head in a vicious cross-platform duel. For the record: iPad 1: PC 0.
As we’re getting closer to the beta launch, one thing we want to reiterate is that Hearthstone started out as an experiment for a different approach to game development at Blizzard. While the game has grown a lot since then, it’s important to us that we continue to test out new ideas as the game makes its way towards release. That means working with our community team to try a bunch of different approaches for blog posts, news updates, and content we’d like to share with you all. Some of these updates may provide just the information you wanted. If so, awesome . . . tell us about it. Others may not hit the mark or speak to what interests you most. Tell us about that too. You definitely have a part to play as we move into the final phases of Hearthstone development, and we're probably going to have some misses along the way, so share your thoughts and help us make Hearthstone awesome!