Free-to-Play Will Be Important and Hearthstone Helps Blizzard Understand It, Dev Says

The online card game will allow the studio to experiment with free-to-play

Blizzard's Chief Creative Officer, Rob Pardo, has talked about free-to-play and how the recently confirmed Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, will help the studio under the phenomenon before it implements it in any big projects.

Blizzard fans were pretty surprised on Friday when the studio revealed at PAX East a brand new game in the form of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, a free-to-play online collectible card experience that allows players to build their decks and go head to head against others.

While the core concept isn't something new, this will be Blizzard's first free-to-play experience and Rob Pardo acknowledged the importance of this new aspect in gaming.

"Clearly, free-to-play is becoming an important kind of business model and a way that people play games around the world. I can't imagine that we would do Hearthstone and never do another free-to-play game. It's going to become a really common business model," he told GamesIndustry.

Pardo went on to say that, while it's unlikely that all of Blizzard's upcoming project will be free to play, the phenomenon will become very popular and the studio wants to capitalize on it.

"With digital distribution - things like Steam and Origin - you really start to question where is the industry going. Free-to-play might become a very dominant way for people to distribute and play games. We need to start learning what makes sense for that and what's the right way to utilize that business model," he said.

"I don't think it would ever be a situation where the only thing Blizzard will do is free-to-play, just like I don't think that PC or consoles will be the only thing. We like to make games that are for a really big market. Ultimately, we make a game that we want to play and we think would be really successful, and then we figure out what platform it should be on and figure out what the right business model is."

What's more, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, besides allowing Blizzard to explore the free-to-play market, also represents a chance to make collectible card games a bit more accessible to regular gamers.

"We wanted to do something around free-to-play. We really felt like there was opportunity with these collectible card games that haven't really been realized in the digital online space. We felt like there was an opportunity to do what Blizzard does really well: which is, take a genre that's generally viewed as pretty hardcore and make it much more broadly accessible," he concluded.

HearthStone: Heroes of Warcraft will be released later this year for PC and Mac and then on the iPad.

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