I was going to write a post about priesting and proving grounds and whatnot, but then I got a beta key to Hearthstone (on the first day, too! – I’m pretty sure someone must’ve pressed a wrong key somewhere) and since I’ve been playing obsessively, and can’t seem to stop thinking about it, I figured I’d write a post about it.
Firstly, I have to say the game is awesome. I mean, I killed someone off with a sheep! How brilliant is that? But, in true me fashion, I’m going to go and whine about things. (Let’s face it, even the title of this blog is complaining.) And my complaint of the day relates to money.
First off, I know that Hearthstone is a free to play game, and that Blizzard owes me nothing. I’m not averse to the idea of paying some money every once in a while and will probably do so sooner than later (although my cheap self secretly hopes to be able to avoid it). That being said, F2P games do rely on people not feeling like they can’t do anything fun if they don’t pay and, personally, I’m kind of disappointed with how the entry to the Arena and how you earn gold work currently.
The Arena was, hands down, the feature I was the most excited about. I’ve been playing Hearthstone for two days and I’ve only gotten to play it once. If I hadn’t bought two packs (which I did because I was silly and didn’t really think about it) I would’ve been able to play maybe twice (three times if I’d gotten super lucky). The one time I played, it was free and, since I’d never done it, and I’m a relative newcomer to the world of card games (though I enjoy them a lot) I lost quickly and horribly. I got five gold, fifteen arcane dust and a pack for my troubles. (I also got my ego stomped on, but I don’t think that counts as a reward).
Here’s the thing, once you’re done spending your initial bit of gold, you can only do arena about once every four days (dailies give you 40 gold, while winning a match gives you just one sad piece of gold). Beyond those, it will take you about fifty hours of grinding to get enough gold to get into the arena (assuming 50% win rate and a ten minute match time – it’s significantly longer for me because I enjoy playing control-ish decks). If you’re good at arena, you’d be able to get in indefinitely -obviously- but the only way to get good at it is practising (well, and reading about cards and theorycrafting and whatnot – but I still think that knowing the bases and being able to apply them are two very different things), and you can’t really practise without playing, and you see what I’m getting to.
I realise that the Arena has to have a cost in order to have rewards. The part that irks me is that a large part of your rewards come in the shape of packs, which are sort of pointless if what you’re interested in is the Arena since you can’t convert them to gold. And, in theory, your winrate should remain about equal regardless of the power of your deck, so getting packs doesn’t help accelerate the winrate of gold in any way.
I think that the easiest fix is to increase the amount of gold you get per win. Even at five gold per win, you’d still have to play for about ten hours to get in, which is a LOT of time. They could also lower the amount it costs in RL money. Currently, trying to play a fresh arena daily comes out at around twice what I pay for my WoW sub (supposing you spend all your gold on getting into Arena, as well), which is a lot considering how much WoW costs to make and maintain and how much I can play (hint: all the time I want).
I suspect the biggest reason Blizz might not want to do either of those things is that it throws off the rate at which you can accumulate packs. This is easily fixable by converting the packs you get from playing Arena into gold and then adjusting accordingly.