Blizzard needs more time to finish up Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. The developer announced today that they've delayed the start of the open beta until next year.

"We believe the right thing to do for the game is to not rush it out into open beta, but to instead hold onto it a little longer to make sure it’s ready for wider testing," said production director Jason Chayes on Hearthstone's website. "At BlizzCon, we mentioned that we hoped to get the game into a state where it’s ready for open beta this month, but we’re just not quite there yet. The development team has been working hard to get this out before the end of the year, but our highest priority is that Hearthstone has an awesome launch when all gates are lifted and everyone can download it and play at the same time."

Hearthstone's closed beta launched back in August. Blizzard has been steadily inviting more and more players since then. Chayes says that they've now sent beta keys to anyone who opted into the Hearthstone test through their account by December 16th. If you opted in before that and still haven't received an invite, you should check your spam folder. Also, double-check which email addresses you signed up for the beta with.

"If you still can’t find your Hearthstone beta invite, don’t worry!" Chayes said. "We’re putting together a list of all accounts that opted in to the Hearthstone beta test and did not claim their beta key. These accounts will be flagged for beta access within the first few weeks of January."

Players will no longer be able to opt into the beta after January 7th. Everyone who signs up before that date will be invited to the closed beta before the open test launches. Chayes didn't mention an exact date for the open beta's start.

Hearthstone is a free-to-play multiplayer game in which players amass decks of powerful cards. These cards allow them to summon minions, cast spells, or wield weapons. The objective is to take out the enemy's hero character before he or she can do the same to you. Through victories and completed quests, players earn gold to buy new booster packs. They can also spend real-world money to get more packs or enter special Arena matches. The cash option does lead to some imbalance in the game but I'm still having fun.

If you've been invited into the closed beta, there's not much point to waiting until the open test or the final launch to jump in. Blizzard is still tweaking the game but doesn't plan to do any more progress wipes. You'll keep all of the cards that you earn now.

Earlier this week, Blizzard released a new patch for Hearthstone to nerf mages and fix the arena.

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