In a move that opens up Power Up to even more new players, PokerStars have released Power Up for their tablet client.
This is great news for Power Up. Tablet users are much more likely to be in the target demographics for the game. Hearthstone has a massive tablet/phone userbase, and anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of hearthstone players use the mobile or tablet client as their main or only access to the game.
My older tablet couldn’t play Power Up, which may be an issue moving forward. A lot people aren’t able to keep upgrading their technology year on year, and having an option to reduce the requirements may be a good option to add to the tablet client. Removing technology barriers to playing the game can only help.
With Hearthstone being the clear leader in the $1.4 Billion Collectable Card Game market, looking at it’s userbase as a model for marketing Power Up is a smart idea. However, Hearthstone isn’t a flawless game. It is very heavy on randomness, with a big part of the fun of the game coming from the random elements caused by playing certain cards. This makes the game very difficult to balance, something that it’s developer counters by constantly releasing new content and updates to the game.
Power Up’s tablet release helps to open up a larger casual market, and I consider it to be less random than the current CCG market leader. Over the past few years, I’ve spoken to several high-level Hearthstone players about the game achieving a breakthrough as an esport. To a person (including a former world champion), they have all commented that they are amazed that Hearthstone has developed the esports scene it has. It flies in the face of the usual requirement of skill being the overwhelming deciding factor. They attribute this to the amazing success of the game in the casual market, and viewers wanting to watch high level players competing in the game they love.
This is where Power Up has an advantage. As I’m discovering while I’m learning the deeper parts of the game, skill is a major part of the game. Compared to Hearthstone, Power Up conforms closer to the standard esports game model. Combining that with this release on tablet seems to offer a real opportunity for the game to grow into an esport.