The move to roll out an auto battler mode for free-to-play card title Hearthstone was not done lightly by developer and publisher Blizzard.
Speaking to Gamasutra, designer Dean Ayala and producer Melissa Corning said that the new Battlegrounds mode came about from the popularity of the Dota Auto Chess project from Drodo Studios, with Blizzard deciding eventually to expand from a one-vs-one experience to one that could be enjoyed by eight. Now the title has been tuned so that it can be expanded to support a far larger number of users.
"We started this single-player version of it, and we knew for it to be fun we needed eight players," Corning explained.
"It was definitely a big decision to divert resources to support the eight-player tech."
She continued: "Develop for any type of future. We definitely learned that there were some places where previous engineers didn't plan for potentially supporting this type of technology.
"When we were adding it, we developed it with 'okay, this is eight, what if one day we want 12, or 14, or 20? Let's make sure this is future-proof.' That was the biggest takeaway we had. If you're going to put a lot of effort into something, make it future-proof and have it be able to support any variety of what you might need in the future, not just what the ask is right at that moment."
Earlier this year, we took a look at the rise of the new auto chess genre. Blizzard isn't the only big player to get into the space, following in the footsteps of League of Legends maker Riot Games as well as Valve.