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Hearthstone’s popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Publisher Bethesda Softworks announced today that its digital card game The Elder Scrolls: Legends has entered its closed beta test. The PC, free-to-play game is based on the popular role-playing series that includes huge hits like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Bethesda and developer Dire Wolf Digital are also working on an iPad version. The digital card game market is worth $1.2 billion a year. Blizzard’s Hearthstone currently leads the field, making $20 million a month.

It’s hard not to see similarities between The Elder Scrolls: Legends and Hearthstone. Both are free-to-play digital card games based on a popular fantasy series. Looking at the new trailer (below), the similarities become more striking. The objective is to use spells and minions to deplete the opposing hero’s health (which is also set at 30, just like in Hearthstone), and each turn you gain one mana … er, magicka … which also serves as your resource pool for playing cards. However, Legends does differentiate itself by having you split minions across two different lanes. You also automatically draw cards when your health hits certain lows.

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These days, betas have often become glorified demos. However, competitive games like Legends stand to gain a lot from extensive testing. Mass play can expose broken cards or strategies and help the developer create a more balanced game.

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