An alleged information leak from an Activision Blizzard employee hints that the next expansion for the popular online card game Hearthstone will be coming out sooner than we think.
Speaking with the unnamed employee, a Yahoo Finance Contributer reported that the expansion will be released sometime around April, and will be much more PvE-focused, in a similar style to Curse of Naxxramas back on July 22nd of last year. The company is also reportedly looking at a 2 vs. 2 playmode, which will see players go head to head in a doubles format.
Hearthstone has also apparently reached more than 75 million players worldwide, thanks to release of the game on iOS last April and more recently, the release on Android devices in December. This number is only set to increase, as Blizzard continues work on Android and iOS versions for phones, as well as tablets.
The insider also discussed Overwatch and the business model that the company are proposing for the upcoming multiplayer FPS game. Although the game will initially be free-to-play, Blizzard are currently deciding as to whether heroes will be available for free, whether they will be unlocked in a Hearthstone style format, or whether plays will have to pay money in order to gain more characters.
The development team is also apparently looking at when exactly Overwatch will be scheduled for release. Although a release later this year is possible, senior executives are skeptical that it will be finished. It’s more likely that the game will be released next year with a very small chance for release in December.
Other key details were also apparently discussed, including the company’s low expectations of Heroes of the Storm (surprising, given how popular the beta already is), and the fact that the next StarCraft 2 expansion – Legacy of the Void – is ready for release, but an exact date is still not decided upon.
Of particular interest is the claim that the World of Warcraft team has expanded its art outsourcing, and the next expansion is almost “feature complete”. If that’s true, that’s remarkably fast work – the last expansion, Warlords of Draenor, only launched last November, and typically Blizzard has waited two years before releasing another. Could the MMO giant be increasing the rate at which it expands the world of Azeroth?
Lastly, the source says that the Diablo 3 team has moved onto a new project set within the StarCraft universe. The game itself will be similar in format to Warframe and will contain gameplay aspects from Left4Dead, DayZ, Smite and other MOBAs, although the game itself is extremely early in its production cycle. This however has been dismissed by Blizzard, who stated that focus of the Diablo 3 team “is on continuing to support the game with patch content. We generally don’t comment on rumors or speculation, but I do want to make sure it’s clear that they’re not working on a secret project in the StarCraft universe.”
Of course, it needs to be stated that all of this is entirely rumors and speculation. It’s difficult to comment on the authenticity of these rumors, but with the overwhelming success of Hearthstone, it wouldn’t surprise me if a new expansion was to come sooner rather than later. With the most recent expansion Goblins vs. Gnomes helping reshape the game, offering new concepts, ideas and rejuvenating the game as we know it, new expansions – especially ones adding features players are pining for – can only help to increase the popularity and following that Hearthstone has already found itself. You never know – we might finally see the overdue addition of Death Knight and Monk hero classes added to the game.