Making a card game can seem a lot simpler than producing a triple-A title like Call of Duty. After all, card games typically have two players and slower game speed.
The time investment made during the game’s development stages is incredible for card games, however, as the developer has to consider countless interactions while introducing a new card. And in the case of Hearthstone, which is widely available, it can be challenging to roll content out on multiple platforms.
Hearthstone was released in 2014 into a world where the casual gamer wasn’t as aware of card games as they are now. The only well-known name in the scene was Magic: The Gathering, a game with a steep learning curve and a rather large entry barrier.
When Hearthstone hit the market, even gamers that never touched a card game before seemed to try out Blizzard’s new creation. Though the Warcraft lore of the title was slightly responsible for that, Hearthstone’s relative simplicity for beginners helped draw in millions of users.
Thousands of players log in to Hearthstone each day to continue their climb on the ladder or squeeze in a last Arena run.
In November 2019, Blizzard released Battlegrounds, a new game mode to capitalize on the massive autobattler craze at the time. The mode turned out to be such a huge hit that it prompted a wholesale change in the direction of Hearthstone’s development, and it has in many ways surpassed the original card game modes in terms of player numbers and popularity.
In light of its incredible success, Team 5 shifted resources towards making Hearthstone a game hub of sorts, launching more and more fully-realized game modes inside the same client. Though neither Duels nor Mercenaries turned out to be the same sort of revolutionary success, they show that the developers are willing to devote significant resources to the growth of the game.
How many people are playing Hearthstone in 2022?
Blizzard doesn’t have a live player count to allow players to see how many users are playing Hearthstone at any given time, but other sources on the internet can help make healthy guesses.
Playercounter.com features a live online player count for Hearthstone, and the game averages 200,000 to 270,000 players around 6am CT in 2021. This website uses a unique algorithm called Gohost Network Protocol (GNP), and it tracks the network traffic of popular games. This number remains fairly similar to the current player count reported by the site, which generally hovers between 200,000 and 300,000.
Though we weren’t able to confirm Playercounter’s number for Hearthstone since Blizzard doesn’t release any information regarding its active players for its titles, the numbers held up for games that did. The numbers on Playercounter for games like Dota 2 and Brawlhalla, two titles with active user counters, were almost the same as the official sources.
The last detailed look at Hearthstone’s player base was a research conducted by Statista in 2018. The statistics website reported there were a total of 100 million Hearthstone players around the world. This number is 10-times higher than Hearthstone’s player base in 2014.
Upon a closer look at Statista’s research, it appears Hearthstone averages a 40 percent growth rate each year.
There’s an additional data point to consider: in April 2021, August Dean “Iksar” Ayala, then-lead designer and current game director, tweeted that Battlegrounds itself would be a regular top 10 game on Steam in terms of player count. Comparing this to today’s numbers, this would put the game mode’s concurrent player count somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000 on a regular basis, which is nothing to sneeze at.