Hearthstone’s mobile migration is costing Blizzard money

Ben Parfitt
Hearthstone’s mobile migration is costing Blizzard money

The increasing number of players opting for the smartphone and tablet versions of Hearthstone is resulting in lost revenue for Blizzard.

It was revealed last month that the game's mobile revenues have spiked since the launch of the iPhone and Android earlier this year. However, as pointed out in a blog post on Gamasutra, both Apple and Google take a 30 per cent cut of all microtransactions made via their platforms.

Which would not be a problem if the smartphone and tablet versions were attracting a brand new playerbase. However, the data suggests that large numbers of PC users are switching platforms.

And that's the problem. On PC, Hearthstone's in-app purchases are provided by Battle.net, with all the money going directly to Blizzard. So any sale made on mobile INSTEAD of on PC as opposed to IN ADDITION to represents lost revenue.

The blog post goes on to state that this problem is fairly particular to Blizzard, as most other devs porting their games across to smartphones will already be accustomed to a 30 per cent fee cut from platforms such as Steam.

It also adds that Blizzard is likely knowingly taking this revenue gamble on the hope that the portable game will grow the playerbase enough to compensate for any decrease in revenue.

The mass migration of the majority of a core PC game's audience to mobile is practically unprecedented, much to the chagrin of Blizzard, who almost certainly didn't anticipate that it would be this bad,” it continues.

The millions of dollars in lost revenue may leave Blizzard wishing that they had deliberately removed key features from the mobile port, as Mojang famously did with Minecraft: Pocket Edition. While Hearthstone players seem to love the game's phone edition and are certainly glad that Blizzard didn't intentionally cripple it, Activision's shareholders may be scratching their heads on this one for a while.”

What the post doesn't mention, however, is that Blizzard has raised its IAP prices on iOS to try and recoup some of the lost revenue.

Here is the current pricing for card packs:

PC

  • 2 Packs – 1.99
  • 7 Packs – 6.99
  • 15 Packs – 13.99
  • 40 Packs – 34.99
  • 60 Packs – 47.99

iPad

  • 2 Packs – 2.29
  • 7 Packs – 7.99
  • 15 Packs – 14.99
  • 40 Packs – 39.99
  • 60 Packs – not available

This doesn't account for the 30 per cent discrepancy, but does represent some clawback. Here's the breakdown of how much extra each card packs costs on iOS compared to PC:

  • 2 Packs – 13%
  • 7 Packs – 12.5%
  • 15 Packs – 7%
  • 40 Packs – 12.5%

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