So, you want to play some good ol’ Hearthstone on your Chromebook.
In this quick tutorial, I’ll go over two methods to install and play Hearthstone on Chrome OS.
One is slightly more difficult than the other one, but it depends on what kind of Chromebook you have.
By “kind,” I mean how old your Chromebook is.
Why does this matter? Well, let’s find out.
Ready to get started? Let’s rock.
Last updated: 11/28/17.
Hearthstone is an awesome game
I’ll tell you right now that it’s pretty easy to do. So no worries there.
Hearthstone is one of the best and most popular free-to-play online collectible card games on the planet.
Published by Blizzard and utilizing Warcraft lore, it’s become a popular eSport competitive game with cash prizes and tournaments.
If you want to play this game on your Chromebook, it makes sense. You can sharpen your skills anywhere you want since your device is pretty much portable.
Hearthstone also doesn’t require a demanding GPU, CPU, nor RAM since it’s relatively a low resource-demanding game and well-optimized. So it’s pretty much ready for Chrome OS.
Let’s go over how to actually download and install the game. But first, here’s a pretty interesting video you can check out if you’re not that familiar with the game?
Finding out if your Chromebook can run Hearthstone right off the bat
We’ll cover this technique first because it makes the most sense.
If you have a newer Chromebook, chances are that you’ll be able to play Hearthstone without needing to “hack” it. In fact, if your device was made in 2017, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be able to run the game.
Why is this?
It’s because you can simply install Hearthstone as an Android app from the Google Play Store, and play it that way.
And why does your Chromebook’s age matter?
It’s because newer models tend to have the Play Store update built-in already.
If your laptop was made in 2017, it’s already able to download and run Android apps right out-of-the-box.
So from this information, we can conclude three things:
- You can play Hearthstone easily on your Chromebook by running it as an Android app.
- Your device needs to have the Play Store update in order to be able to run Android apps.
- Newer Chromebooks already have the update built-in and the ability to run Android apps and therefore are capable of playing Hearthstone.
If you have the Play Store, you can play Hearthstone easily
So, how do you check if you have the Play Store update?
If you’re totally new to Chromebooks, it’s very easy to check if you have it or not.
Here’s how to check:
Step 1: Launch the Launcher
Click on the Launcher icon in the bottom-right (or press the Launcher key on your keyboard- it’s the magnifying glass icon)
Step 2: Look for the Play Store app
You’ll see the Launcher pop up. Look for “Play Store” on the list.
You may have to expand your list of apps if you’ve already downloaded a ton. You can also use the search box to find it. And you can also search with your voice. Is that enough options yet?
That’s it. If you have the Google Play Store update already installed, you should be able to find it instantly.
If not, then keep reading. I have an alternative solution for that case.
Do you have the Android update?
Okay, so now that you know whether or not you have the ability to run Android apps, let’s actually go ahead and install Hearthstone.
As you probably guessed, there are two different techniques to install the game depending on whether or not you have the update.
If you don’t have the update yet, you may or may not be getting it in the near future. It really depends on your Chromebook’s age and hardware. Not all models will be receiving the update, so you may want to check up on yours and verify that you’ll be receiving it.
You can check if and when your device will be getting the update by checking out this list.
This is where the article branches. Go to the section appropriate for your specific situation. I’ve separated it into steps for people have access to Android apps and steps for those who don’t (like me).
Installing Hearthstone as an Android app
If you have the update, you’ll be playing the game within the next five minutes. Congrats.
Here’s how to install Hearthstone on your Chromebook via the Google Play Store:
Step 1: Launch the Google Play Store
Press the Launcher key (magnifying glass on your keyboard) or click on the Launcher icon in the bottom-left of your screen.
Then click on the “Play Store” app. It’ll launch.
Step 2: Search for the game
After the Play Store pops up, go ahead and search for “hearthstone” in the search box.
You should find it as the first result pretty easily. It has over 1.3 million ratings as of this writing, so it’s easy to spot.
Step 3: Install Hearthstone
Click on the result and you’ll see a bunch of information about it.
You can read the game’s description, check out some reviews, see the game’s technical information, or even see the update log. If you’re new to Android or Chrome OS, this information is pretty awesome. It gives you a real good look at the game.
Anyway, go ahead and click on the big green “Instal” button. Hearthstone will now download and install itself on your Chromebook.
Step 4: Launch and Play Hearthstone
It’ll take a few seconds for the game to install (or longer if you’re on a slow connection).
When it’s done, you’ll see a notification pop up on your Chromebook.
You can now launch the game from the Launcher, or just launch it from the Play Store. The game will boot up and you’ll be greeted with the familiar title screen and that epic music. Log in to your Blizzard account and start dealing out some cards. You’re now playing Hearthstone. On a Chromebook. How does that feel?
If you can’t get it working, just leave a comment. Or leave one if this guide has helped you out =].
Installing Hearthstone by forcing the Play Store Update
This technique is for those who don’t have access to the Play Store yet and therefore can’t run Android apps.
If you’ve checked the list and your Chromebook is scheduled for the update, this method will likely work for you. Your device should be on the list for this to work. If not, you can still try, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get the update working.
What we’ll be doing is essentially force the update onto the Chromebook. We’ll be fetching the Android update from the Chrome repository and forcing it to update it.
If this sounds scary, don’t worry. Chrome OS is very hardy and even if you break it, you’ll be able to easily restore it back to factory settings by doing a Powerwash.
All your data will be wiped
The only problem with this technique is that it’ll delete your locally saved data in the process. This means all of the following items will be wiped from your Chromebook:
- Saved files
- Any installed apps (if you don’t have Google Sync enabled)
- Chromebook settings
- Everything in your “Downloads” folder
- All other custom folders and directories you’ve created
Sure, it’s annoying. And you’re probably considering if it’s worth doing this just to play Hearthstone.
That choice is up to you. It depends on a hardcore fan you are (or not).
Back up your stuff
Regardless, it’s easy to back up the majority of this data. All you need is some kind of external storage, whether it be a flash drive, SD card, or just a plain old external hard drive. Just connect it to your Chromebook and export all your stuff to it.
Another option is to use cloud storage, such as Google Drive. It’s free and you can use it to back up all your important stuff. This way you don’t have to mess around with external storage (or if you don’t have any).
Note that not everything can be backed up. Your Chromebook settings will be wiped by doing this and can’t be recovered.
Another thing worth mentioning is the installed apps on your device.
If you’ve installed a bunch of apps from the Chrome Web Store, they’ll be deleted unless you have Google Sync turned on. Apps and extensions are saved to your Google Account.
So if you have an account that you use on another device running Chrome, such as a Windows computer, and it has apps or extensions tied to it, you can easily recover these apps on your Chromebook by syncing your Google Account across all your devices.
This way, you don’t have to download all your apps and extensions again. But if you prefer to use the same Google Account on multiple devices and want your apps and extensions separate per each device, then you can leave it off.
Turning on Google Sync is easy and will save you tons of time. I mean, who wants to download all their apps again?
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can focus on the actual process.
Play it as an Android app
Here’s how to force the Play Store update on your Chromebook:
Step 1: Enable Developer Mode
This is the first step of any hacking journey on Chrome OS.
Enabling Dev Mode lets you mess around and do superhuman things like installing Linux and changing development channels, which is exactly what we need to do.
To enable it, just press “ESC + Refresh + Power” and hold it. Your Chromebook will go blank and then reboot with a warning prompt. Read the scary text and then press “CTRL + D” to enter Dev Mode.
This will take anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Sit back and relax. Look up some Aggro deck strategies.
Your Chromebook will not reboot and the next time it starts up, you’ll be booted into Dev Mode and greeted with another promote. Press “CTRL + D” again to leave OS Verification off. You don’t want to turn it on or else you’ll have to start over.
If you get stuck, you can check out this complete tutorial on enabling Dev Mode.
After you get past the warning, you’ll be able to log into your device.
Step 2: Get to the Chrome Settings page
Click on your account picture in the bottom-right corner of your screen.
Then click on the Settings icon (it’s the gear icon) to launch the Settings page.
Step 3: Find your current channel information
When the Settings page launches, click on “About Chrome OS” which is found near the top of the page.
Note: A recent update may have moved it to the left-hand menu at the very bottom. It’ll read “About Chrome.” Click on this instead.
You’ll get another small dialog box appear. It’ll tell you information about your version of Chrome OS, such as your version number and current channel.
We want to switch to the Beta Channel from the Stable Channel.
Step 4: Switch to the Beta Channel
Click on “More info…” and then look for “Change Channel…” and click it.
You’ll then see another dialog box where you have the freedom to choose either the Beta and Developer Channel.
Go ahead and select the Beta Channel and then click on “Change Channel.”
Step 5: Wait
Your Chromebook will then switch your device from the Stable to the Beta Channel. This takes some time so sit tight.
After Chrome OS is done making the switch, click on the “Restart” button and your Chromebook will reboot.
When it’s done, you’ll be in the Beta Channel.
Step 6: Log in to your Google Account
When you’re greeted with the login page, go ahead and type in your credentials.
After you log in, you’ll see a nice little app icon for the Play Store in your Launcher.
Step 7: Find and install Hearthstone
Launch the Play Store and then do a search for the game. After you find it, go ahead and click the big green “Install” button.
The game will install and it’ll take a few seconds depending on your connection speed.
Step 8: Play Hearthstone
After it’s done installing, you can launch the game either by clicking on the icon in the Launcher or by just launching it in the Play Store.
Log in to your Blizzard account and start dealing some cards. You’re in. Congrats.
Improving Hearthstone’s performance on your Chromebook
Hearthstone is a well-optimized game and also isn’t resource hungry. So that’s good.
Even on my tiny Acer CB3-131 (2GB RAM with Intel Celeron CPU), it ran fine with minimal lag. I was getting just about 20-30 FPS on average.
If you’re getting pretty bad lag, you can try the following to boost performance while playing Hearthstone:
- Close all other apps and Chrome tabs while playing the game
- Free up space by deleting unnecessary apps and files
- Use a tab suspender for Chrome if you need to have your tabs up
Turn down the graphics settings
If you’re technical enough, you can navigate to the game’s folder and look for a file called “options.txt.”
Open it up and look for a line of code that looks like this:
You can then change the graphics settings of Hearthstone just from this line of code. You can use 0, 1, or 2 in place of “x” to change it.
- 0 = low quality
- 1 = medium quality
- 2 = best quality
Disable sound and music
Another thing is to disable sounds. Disable music and sound effects generally improve the performance of games.
Look for the following lines in order to turn off sounds:
Just change “True” to “False” to turn off sounds.
This may improve your FPS. Turning your speakers and volume down isn’t the same thing because the sounds still need to get processed even if you can’t hear them. You need to turn them off from the actual source.
Buy a newer Chromebook
You may want to invest in a newer Chromebook that’s guaranteed to run Android apps (assuming you really, really want to play Hearthstone on it).
Remember, all Chromebooks made in 2017 are guaranteed to run Android apps. Google said so.
Since they’re pretty affordable and if you’re reading this, you like have an older one. It may be worth considering an upgrade to a newer, faster, and more capable laptop.
Expect game crashing, freezing, and lag
There’s not much to it.
The game runs fine and should work pretty well for the majority of Chromebooks.
But you should expect it to crash and freeze once in a while. Or just fail to launch.
Note that if your Chromebook isn’t on that list of supported devices, you may have trouble getting the game to run smoothly- or at all.
You may experience lag, stutters, framerate drops, and even crashes or freezes intermittently. This isn’t due to the game, but rather because of the whole Android apps on a Chromebook thing.
Google Play on Chrome OS is still in beta and is still under development. It’s not perfect yet and not all of the kinks have been worked, so there’s still some turbulence present.
These apps were built for another OS, and once you port them over to one that’s not fully integrated, you get issues.
Even the most powerful Chromebooks such as the Samsung Plus had issues running Android apps, so it’s not likely due to your Chromebook but rather the software compatibility.
Either way, Google will continue to develop and work on it. It should smooth out and improve over time.
Reverting back to the Stable Channel (how to get your Chromebook back to normal)
If you’re done playing, you can keep your laptop in the Beta Channel and it should be just fine.
But if for some reason you want to revert back to Stable, it’s easy. Just do the same steps as previously mentioned but choose “Stable” instead of “Beta” and your Chromebook will revert.
Another option is to simply do a Powerwash and everything will be wiped. You’ll be put back into the Stable Channel automatically.
Did you get Hearthstone on your Chromebook?
Well, that’s about it.
Hearthstone is an awesome game and taking it with you on a Chromebook makes sense.
You can bring it with you to school, work, the mall, or even the toilet to train up, work on a new deck, or try out a new strategy. Getting the game running on a laptop is a lot better than a phone. The extra screen space is worth it.
If you have any questions, just leave a comment and I’ll try to help you out. Or if this tutorial has helped, you let me know as well =].
And consider telling a friend. Then you can battle it out anytime- anywhere.
Thanks for reading.