Blizzard loses money every time a PC-based Hearthstone player switches to playing on mobile, according to a closer look at a report from SuperData.
The research firm’s latest Digital Card Games report sparked headlines that Hearthstone is pulling in over $20 million a month in revenue, with mobile revenue eclipsing its PC partner.
Flipping the side
However, Lunarch Studios' Elyot Grant, writing on Gamasutra, has pointed out that the total digital revenue by title graph conceals the fact that “Hearthstone’s phone release is losing Blizzard millions of dollars.”
The graph shows the exodus of players from PC to mobile by demonstrating that PC revenue is down while mobile revenue is up. However, Grant has pointed out that Blizzard sells Hearthstone on PC through its privately-owned Battle.net platform.
Unlike on the mobile app stores that take a 30 percent cut of all IAPs, selling through Battle.net means Blizzard avoids extra fees and keeps the full net revenue.
It’s an observation that Grant believes makes the decline of Blizzard’s PC revenue troubling, as around half of Hearthstone’s PC players have switched to mobile.
“If 7 or 8 million dollars of Hearthstone's monthly revenue has been diverted to the mobile pipeline, then the Hearthstone phone release is costing Blizzard over two million dollars a month in app store fees skimmed off the top.”
Still, a proportion of this is speculation since we do not yet have the figures on install and growth of Hearthstone PC players versus mobile, or the differences in DAU and ARPU.
Blizzard could be nursing a long term strategy centred around Hearthstone on mobile, similar to the successes seen in Minecraft: Pocket Edition.
Either way, the next few months will shine some valuable light on PC performance versus mobile, and the business plans that form around it.