I am one of the many millions of people who play Hearthstone on a regular basis. I won't be reaching Legendary Rank anytime soon, but I usually clear out my daily quests so I can slowly build my collection of cards. Hearthstone is Blizzard's first foray into the Collectible Card Game genre, and they've done a hell of a job. Sure, the game has its fair share of problems (such as nowhere near enough deck slots), but it's a pretty solid entry in the digital CCG genre.
I'm still pretty new to TechRaptor, and so I've been socializing with the other writers. I was excited to have a fun casual match against TechRaptor's own Marc Henriksen, only to find that I couldn't. His account is in the Europe Region, and I'm in the Americas Region.
I'm a bit late to this whole "online socializing" thing. I didn't have a stable Internet connection in my home until I was 17, and in the twelve years since then I've had the fortune of meeting a wide variety of lovely people from all over the world. I have people I consider friends all over the world and I've never met them - and short of winning the lottery, I probably never will. But they're friends nonetheless, and online gaming has graced us with the opportunity to have fun together irrespective of the massive physical distance that exists between us in meatspace.
Blizzard has been separating their games by region for years. Most of Blizzard's games don't reach the deluge of choices such as World of Warcraft's dozens of different servers. Usually, you'll end up picking between a handful of regions for games like Diablo III or Starcraft II such as Americas, Europe, and Asia. Any progress you've made on your account in one region is nonexistant in the other regions. Blizzard's Support Article for Global Play outlines this fact with these disappointing bullet points:
I can very easily use my Battle.net Account to play Hearthstone, Starcraft II, or Diablo III in any of the world's regions. I just won't have any of the progress I've made on my home region which is the entire purpose of having an account.
- In-game property such as heroes, items, cards, and custom decks are not available across regions and cannot be moved from one region to another.
- Game progress, including ladder rankings, does not transfer across regions. Each region has its own independent ladder.
- Friend lists (including RealID) are not available across regions. You must add friends to each region’s friend list when you log in for the first time.
Don't get me wrong, I understand the division of regions for certain games. Starcraft II is a real-time strategy game and an E-Sport. Professional-grade players will make hundreds of actions a minute and this requires precise timing - that means pings must be low enough so that lag is not too much of a factor in gameplay. Diablo III is an Action RPG, and you have similar requirements for healthy interaction between server and client. You certainly wouldn't want to try to play Hardcore in Diablo III with a ping exceeding 200 - you'll be dead before you know it.
Hearthstone, however, is a turn-based card game. You are afforded a generous 90 seconds to complete your turn if you're playing against someone else. Short of trying to play against someone in the International Space Station, I cannot fathom not having enough time to play the cards you want to play within this time limit. Sure, you need some time to think, but I would rather have to hurry it up a little bit playing against someone halfway across the world than not have the option at all.
Hearthstone was recently released on Android tablets, and Blizzard has stated that the game will be coming to Android and iOS phones as well. If Blizzard gets the interface right it will probably be a wildly popular entry in the mobile gaming world. I just hope I'll be able to play it with most of friends. Please, Blizzard, do away with the nonsensical regions for Hearthstone and let us play with the whole world.
Do you feel Hearthstone should do away with the separate regions, or do you feel it's not that big of a deal? Let us know in the comments below!