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The Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft development team answered many questions from fans on Friday. During the Twitch conversation, they discussed their post-launch plans for the multiplayer card game.
Blizzard revealed that the iPad version of Hearthstone is close to completion. They estimate that it will launch in a matter of weeks. That seems plausible, considering the flood of screenshots and gameplay footage released by Blizzard earlier in the week.
The other mobile editions of Hearthstone are further off. The Android release window hasn't been nailed down yet. The iPhone version is still in its early stages and won't be out until the second half of 2014.
"We want to make sure that every time we come to a new platform, whether it's to an iPad or tablets or phones, that the experience holds up just as well as it does on the PC," said production director Jason Chayes. "I know that [lead designer Eric Dodds] and his team are figuring out what the best design is that brings the controls of Hearthstone to feel as good on a phone with a much smaller screen size and still make it feel like as good of an experience as we can make it."
Blizzard's making it very easy for players to adopt the iPad version of Hearthstone. Your card collections and Battle.net friends from the PC and Mac version can be accessed on your tablet. Cross-platform matchmaking is also supported. You can even start an Arena mode run on one device and then continue it on another. Presumably the other mobile versions will have these cross-platform features as well.
The development team is also focused on expanding the game's content. Spectator Mode is an important goal for the team and should be implemented soon. Other eSports features could be added in the near future as well, though Blizzard's still in early discussions on that subject.
"I don't think it will be too long before we start talking about tournament structure and how you can become the best Hearthstone player in the future but we don't have all the details worked out yet," Dodds said.
In the meantime, competitive players will still get rewards for skilled play. The launch day patch for the PC and Mac version of Hearthstone introduced alternate card backs. These backs can be earned through ranked play starting with Season 1. Players can unlock a different back each season simply by getting from rank 25 to rank 20 - a fairly easy task considering you can't lose rank through losses at that level. The reward for hitting rank 20 in Season 1 is the red and gold Pandaren-style back revealed in February. Players can also earn a different card back by attaining Legendary rank in a given season.
Blizzard's future plans also include Adventure Mode. In this mode, players will fight boss enemies controlled by A.I.. By beating them, players will earn new cards for their collection. The exact details are still being discussed by Blizzard, though.
The developers will also release expansion packs that add new cards to the game. Chayes says that the first details on the expansions will be shared in the coming months. However, he was willing to admit that these expansions will be limited to Warcraft characters and abilities. Fans have been speculating that StarCraft and Diablo cards will be introduced eventually but Blizzard has no plans for that yet.
"We feel like there's so much great lore and so much great material to draw from within the Warcraft universe. Even going outside the World of Warcraft timeframe and into previous Warcraft games and stuff like that, we feel like that can keep Hearthstone going for a long time yet. There's a huge wealth there that we can keep building on for the future."