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Tracking the Popularity of Hearthstone's Classes via Google Trends
03/6/2016 em 10:23
What is the most popular class in Hearthstone? Mage? Or Paladin? Maybe Priest? Alright, you don't need to laugh at that last one. You really shouldn't though, because surprisingly "Hearthstone Priest" is usually among the most frequently searched Hearthstone related terms on Google.
For those who don't know what Google Trends is, it's a way for you to check the the latest statistics through data and visualizations from Google. You can modify your search with different terms, time frames, locations, etc. Here for example, is the trend graph for the term "Hearthstone" with August 2015 being the defining point where the game was the most relevant.
Trends sets the top value (100) according to what the highest point is. So a 100 for "Hearthstone' isn't necessarily the same as 100 for "Warcraft." In the following image, that tiny little climax on the blue line is that 100 you just saw above, but it's been scaled relatively to Warcraft since it has the highest peak.
So let's take a look at our graph which compares the popularity of each class through terms such as "Hearthstone Mage" and "Hearthstone Priest." You can find the full list of entries on the right and their corresponding line color. Popularity (as defined by the highest spikes of Mage and Priest) is on the Y-axis, and time is on the X-axis. We've added significant events throughout Hearthstone's timeline to give added meaning to the data.
Click on the image to open a larger version of it.
As you can see, Hearthstone's rise to prominence happened relatively quickly. Following the initial announcement, you can see spikes as it entered closed and then open beta when the gaming community was clamoring to get their hands on the game. Relatively speaking, things died down a bit before the game went into open beta, but quickly bounced back. During what was essentially a nice plateau, Hunter suffered a significant blow after the nerf. Nonetheless, everything seemed great leading up to the Curse of Naxxramas announcement at PAX East 2014.
Despite this, Hearthstone proceeded to fall into what remains the biggest lull in Google popularity to date. The nerf wave that included and only seemed to make things worse as most classes spiked downwards yet again.
Fortunately, Goblins vs. Gnomes marked a triumphant return for Blizzard, giving them a much needed spike in interest. Though there's no indication of causation, shortly after the change, we once again witnessed declining numbers. That is, until the launch of Blackrock Mountain which generated roughly 1.5 times the number of search inquiries as GvG did, surprisingly. Looking at the graph, it makes sense that the developer proceeded to release the first wave of alternate heroes while Hearthstone was at its highest point since open beta.
As is always the case, there was a slight decline in searches until the launch of The Grand Tournament when Blizzard was surely hoping to skyrocket their relevancy. Here, at the highest point of a content release ever, they failed to do so. TGT was but a very short blip on the radar and Hearthstone continued to trend downwards. League of Explorers was perhaps the smallest ever window between releases as the team surely looked to try to right the ship before they lost too much ground, but it too essentially failed.
It's still too early to tell where Whispers of the Old Gods leaves us, after all we're just a data point or two after the initial spike, waiting to see where each class ends up. But there's no denying that at least according to Google, there's been less and less interest in searching specific classes since Blackrock Mountain.
This of course could be due to a variety of factors: people being more familiar with the game, already knowing what major websites to go to, etc. And this isn't meant to prove anything it at all, if you just look at the most popular expansion phrases you'll actually see that each one has been steadily growing! We just thought it would be cool to give everyone a look at how searches have changed over time!
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