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Still collecting Gold: Hearthstone at three shows no signs of slowing down

Still collecting Gold: Hearthstone at three shows no signs of slowing down

After celebrating the three-year anniversary of its iOS launch in April, Hearthstone recently surpassed 70 million players.

Blizzard's collectible card game launched first on PC, before arriving on mobile platforms in a somewhat fragmented fashion. 

Indeed, it came to iPad on April 16th 2014, then to Android tablets on December 15th 2014, before finally being made available on iPhone and Android smartphones on April 14th 2015.

SuperData estimates that Hearthstone made $395 million in 2016 alone, making its revenues roughly four times bigger than those of its nearest CCG competition that year.

Given the fact that as of 2015 its mobile audience already outnumbered those playing on PC, it's safe to assume that a good chunk of this revenue came from mobile platforms.

But as it enters its third year, is Hearthstone still holding its own in the US iPad top grossing chart?

Data from App Annie

Apart from the occasional drop, Hearthstone featured within the top 50 until 2016. Then well into its second year on the platform, its position in the US iPad top grossing chart became less consistent

At its worst, in 2016 it sank to the 150-200th range. But even then it continued to peak well within the top 50, sometimes even the top 20.

This has largely continued in 2017 so far, and although the troughs are getting lower - 322nd, on February 18th, was Hearthstone's lowest rank on the US iPad grossing charts since its launch - its performance remains remarkable given its age.

Updates provide a boost

The potential among its community to propel the game up the grossing charts is still very much alive too, as it hit 12th in the US iPad top grossing chart for the first time since August 2016 on April 6th 2017 - the same date as the Journey to Un'Goro was released.

Blizzard's decision to launch Hearthstone on iPad and Android tablets before phones makes sense. It's a game that benefits from bigger screens and longer sessions, demanding more from the player than a cursory glance.

But it would have been leaving money on the table by not launching on smartphones eventually, allowing existing fans to play on-the-go more easily and opening it up to a massive new audience.

And while Hearthstone's consistency in the US iPad top grossing chart is impressive, its performance on iPhone has been even better.

Data from App Annie

Launching on the platform in April 2015, Hearthstone didn't leave the top 100 in the US iPhone top grossing chart until July 24th 2016 - and was back in the top 10 by mid-August.

In 2017 the iPhone version has largely maintained its place in the top 100, albeit now averaging 50-100th rather than a consistent top-50 presence.

However, Journey to Un'Goro took Hearthstone one step further on iPhone than on iPad, pushing it inside the top 10 grossing for the first time since December 2016.

CCG remains a big genre on mobile, and one that SuperData believes will generate $1.4 billion in 2017. But it's safe to say that a game like Hearthstone, performing at such a high level for so long, is a rarity indeed.

For now, as it has been ever since it launched, it remains the benchmark against which all other mobile CCGs will inevitably be judged.

Features Editor

Matt is really bad at playing games, but hopefully a little better at writing about them. He's Features Editor for PocketGamer.biz, and has also written for lesser publications such as IGN, VICE, and Paste Magazine.

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