One of the biggest challengers yet to Hearthstone’s throne is now available to everyone.
Gwent: The Witcher Card game has entered its public beta test for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Now everyone who wants to try the free-to-play digital card game can download it on those platforms. A public beta for a game like this is basically a launch. You’re playing the full game, but with the understanding that the designers are still tweaking things and could reset your progress. This open beta could also help generate hype for Gwent as it hopes to take a chunk of a digital card game market that market research firm SuperData expects to be worth $1.4 billion in 2017.
Right now, Hearthstone dominates this market. Blizzard’s Warcraft-themed card game earned $394.6 million in revenue in 2016, according to SuperData’s tracking. But Gwent is attracting some Hearthstone players already. Some fans of Blizzard’s game have become frustrated with its large number of random effects, with many believing that randomness is diluting the experience for competitive players. Popular pro player Adrian “Lifecoach” Koy has already left Hearthstone for Gwent because of this.
Gwent has another advantage over Hearthstone in that its available on consoles. You can only play Hearthstone on PC and mobile, so Gwent could tap into an audience of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners. However, it does not have a mobile version.
Although some players see that as a positive. Blizzard wants complete parity between the PC and mobile versions of Hearthstone, which some feel holds the PC version back. Many fans have complained that Hearthstone doesn’t have the features it needs, like a built-in tournament mode. Others are complaining that the card game has gotten too expensive, with players needs to spend hundreds of dollars on cards if they want to build the best decks.
Not all of Hearthstone’s players are down on the card game. Many have praised its latest expansion, Journey to Un’Goro, as being one its bests, making it possible for multiple classes and decks to succeed in competitive play. But some are still kvetching: last week, popular Hearthstone streamer Kripparian released a video called “The Big Problems in Hearthstone” that has over 300,000 views.
So Gwent’s public beta is coming at an opportune time. It could take advantage of the growing discontent in Hearthstone’s community to build its own player base.
“Public Beta is an important step towards Gwent’s final release,” said Marcin Iwiński, cofounder of CD Projekt Red. “We’re opening the gates to everyone who wanted to play, but didn’t make it into the closed beta, and — at the same time — we’re introducing some pretty significant content and gameplay changes like adding animated versions of cards for every card in the game, new starter decks, or how weather cards work.”