By now I have played a lot of Pokemon online, and Magic online, and recently I have been playing Hearthstone. Here is what I have:
1. Pokemon, then Hearthstone, then Magic are in a complexity scale from simplest to most complex. After you have played a lot of Magic online, Pokemon and Hearthstone are good to pass the time, but to play super hard core type of games there is only Magic. For example, in Hearthstone there are only so many cards (seven or so) you can have on the board. In Magic, of course, you can have dozens, especially if you are playing a tokens deck.
2. The software is quite another story. From worst to best, Magic online beta, then Pokemon, then Hearthstone. Hearthstone out of the gate is far better programmed than Magic.....I mean, it just isn't a fair comparison. True, the game rules implemented in Magic are at least an order of magnitude more complex than Hearthstone's, but we all know what a bug-ridden mess the MTGO beta is. If I was to give them a number from 1 to 10, being the best, Hearthstone is a high 9 (it does crap out once in a while), Pokemon is now also a high 9, and MTGO is somewhere between a 5 and a 7. This number is based on the fact that even after all of the problems with MTGO beta, you can still play the games.
3. If I go a level deeper in a software grade from 1 to 10 and establish as a rule that all of what the software is supposed to do works, then Hearthstone and Pokemon keep their numbers and poor MTGO beta goes down to between 2 and 4. Fix deckbuilding now, please!!!
I do, however, agree that 2014 is not going to be a good year to be on the MTGO payroll.....after a pile of garbage code gets into a production environment, its a lot easier to throw the whole thing out than to spend 20 years looking for the bug that causes the deck builder to tell me time and again that Naturalize or Duress are not in my collection even though I own a dozen of each!
A quick note about number of players:
1. If there are 1,000,000 Hearthstone keys, that number can be compared only to the total number of people who have access to MTGO, and I am guessing that number to be in the neighbohood of 1,000,000?
2. We know the number of simultaneous users (people logged in at the same time) from Wizards to be in the neighborhood of 3,000 players, but we do not know that number from Hearthstone. I am betting that the Blizzard crew has their own players on shift to guarantee that the people they handed beta keys to get someone to play with. It is quite possible that the simultaneous number of real players is something like 3,000 players, perhaps even less.
I think separating these numbers is important because otherwise someone could think that Wizards MTGO is played by a small number of players and Hearthstone is played by legions of players, when in reality MTGO is likely pulling the big numbers and Hearthstone is doing well because of the novelty factor, but not continuously hitting those big loyal numbers we all know MTGO pulls even with silly bugs.