Blizzard Launches Heroes of Warcraft, Its New Freemium Digital Card Game

At PAX East today, Blizzard debuted its next Warcraft title -- a freemium digital collectible card game dubbed HearthStone: Heroes of Warcraft. A 15-man team at Blizzard is responsible for developing the game, which marks Blizzard's first entry into the freemium market. The game, according to Blizzard's Chief Creative Officer Rob Pardo, is "something we've wanted to experiment with for a while... A lot of people at Blizzard have played CCGs for a really long time."

Blizzard plans to have 300 cards available at launch with five cards per pack. Packs will cost $1 and can be earned/unlocked through playing the game. Cards are divided into categories of common, rare, epic, and legendary; there's no word yet on whether or not free players will have access to every tier of cards. Cards can also be disenchanted for "Arcane Dust", which is then used to create new custom cards of the player's choosing.

Ars Technica reports that some cards will have multiple abilities and that unique Hero cards will also exist. Interestingly, the game is also coming to at least some mobile devices; beta testing on the Mac, PC, and iPad is scheduled to begin later this year. Hopefully we'll also see a mobile version for smartphone owners who wouldn't mind testing the game out but don't have tablets.

Whether this makes much of a splash is another question. Blizzard, after all, already has a trading card game. It's not clear why the company has developed a second distinct product in conjunction with the first. Still, if the company does things right, this could be an easy way to launch a mobile Warcraft tie-in with friendly low-end specs that run on a variety of devices.