Blizzard has revealed developing an iPad version of collectible card battler Hearthstone was a no-brainer, because Apple's iPad allows games to reach a wider array of consumers than other platforms.
Spealing to PocketGamer.biz as part of an in depth feature looking at the making of the game, lead designer Eric Dodds said Blizzard wanted to tap up gamers who hadn't consider a card game before.
"Our goal was really the same as the PC version of the game, which was to make a fun game that anyone could enjoy, including people who don’t normally play collectible card games," reasoned lead designer Eric Dodds.
An easy decision it may have been, but development was anything but. In fact, Dodds described it as a “significant undertaking” that required “several engineers from the Battle.net team embed with the development team in order to focus exclusively on bringing over the authentification flow and social features like the friends list.”
From the get-go Blizzard fully intended for the hit title to be cross-platform, but porting the Battle.net interface onto the iPad proved problematic and pretty much required a whole redesign.
“On the PC we have the Battle.net app that handles things like storing your login credentials, letting you know if there are any important server updates to communicate, and choosing which language you want for Hearthstone.
“Since there is currently not a Battle.net app for iOS, we had to find ways to integrate that same information and those same settings into the iPad UI without adding too much clutter.”
A neccesary evil, then, to ensure the iPad version was every bit the whole Hearthstone experience.
“Both versions let you play the same card collection against the same player pool, and the UI is very similar on both platforms, so a player coming to the iPad from the PC should instantly know how to play.”
Eye on iOS
That doesn’t mean that they are the same experience, though. In fact, there are inherent advantages to playing Hearthstone on your iPad.
I often play it while watching TV or while sitting in bed.Eric Dodds
“On the iPad you get the tactile experience of touching the cards and dragging them around the gameboard. Opening card packs is also pretty cool.
“The other advantage to playing on the iPad is that you can play it pretty much anywhere. I often play it while watching TV or while sitting in bed and I love the ability to play the game wherever it is that I’m hanging out in the house.”
Playing everywhere - that’s a key component that led to the eventual development of Fireside Gatherings, which allow you to compete against other players in person.
“The idea for Fireside Gatherings came later in development, and it sprang out of the idea that you could play the game most anywhere on an iPad. We really like the idea of the game being a social experience.
“Normally something like this would require that people drag their computers to the location, but with a tablet, it’s really easy to take your device with you and play with other people.”