Now who can say they saw this coming? Blizzard revealed to PAX East on Thursday not the highly-anticipated Titan MMO or something similar, but a new cross-platform free-to-play strategy card game for Windows, Mac and iPad. It's called Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and it's slated to enter beta mode "real soon".
"We've always loved collectible card games at Blizzard, so it's been exciting to bring everything we love about the genre to life in Hearthstone," said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We're putting a lot of focus into creating a fun new game that's easy to pick up and play, but also has a lot of depth. We can't wait to share it with everyone."
The game allows players to build card decks centered on one of nine Warcraft character classes. These decks are then used to battle other players for a chance to win new cards. Gamers can first build up their card playing skills playing in solo mode against the AI, and then take their newfound skills to Battle.net to fight others looking to take your cards.
According to Blizzard, the card game will feature two competitive game modes: "Play" and "The Forge". The former plays host to traditional head-to-head battles, with players facing off for a chance to increase their medal ranking and earn card packs along the way. "The Forge" is a completely different type of challenge.
"They start each match by building a deck from a new set of cards, and then use that deck to duel other Forge participants," Blizzard said. "Aside from winning new cards, players will be able to round out their collections by purchasing new card packs or disenchanting some of their existing cards to craft the ones they're missing."
Blizzard calls Hearthstone "deceptively simple in design" but "epically engaging", featuring hundreds of cards packed with a wide range of colorful spells, weapons and characters.
"Whether players prefer to wield magic or arms in battle, strike from the shadows or head on—or have never given any of that much thought—they'll be able to jump right in, create a deck, and get in on the card-slinging action," Blizzard added.
For more information about the studio's new trading card game, head here. Interested gamers can also sign up for the beta after creating or logging into their Battle.net account.