Hearthstone has been running for almost 10 years now with relatively minimal changes to its monetization strategies. That’s changing soon, with a big update that will introduce a real-money currency and even a change to its popular Battlegrounds mode that fans are calling pay-to-win.
Starting with the 24.2 update, all real-money transactions will be bought with a new premium currency called Runestones. That change is coming alongside some big changes for Battlegrounds Season 2, like the addition of a Battlegrounds-specific season pass and some changes to the paid perks.
Fans on the Hearthstone subreddit have been criticizing the announcement, and those criticisms really come down to two main complaints.
The first is general unhappiness that Hearthstone is adopting a paid currency system, which is a common tactic in free-to-play games that is often criticized as predatory, since it obscures the amount of money you’re spending. Some fans have said they understand that this is just standard operating procedure for mobile games at this point, while others lament that Hearthstone is adopting the scheme after so many years avoiding it.
Currently, players can buy cosmetics, packs, and other items with in-game gold, or as real-money transactions represented as actual currency values in your region. Select cosmetics are exclusively available as real-money transactions.
The more severe charge is that Blizzard’s proposed changes to its auto-battler Battlegrounds mode will make the game “pay-to-win,” giving players who buy into the new Battlegrounds season pass a distinct advantage over those who don’t. With the new Battlegrounds season pass, those who pay for the premium tier will be able to select from four heroes at the start of a match, while those without will only be able to select from two. Some players have also complained that th is is removing a feature currently available with in-game gold and making it paid-only.
The popular mode is heavily dependent on selecting a hero and effectively using their unique hero power to get the most out of minions and their tribal synergies. Fans fear that having double the selection will provide a distinct strategic advantage to those who pay.
For its part, Blizzard says this won’t be the case. In a FAQ released alongside the announcement, the company says it is making this move for the long-term health of Battlegrounds, and it will make sure that free players aren’t at a tactical disadvantage.
“We want Battlegrounds to be played and loved for years to come,” Blizzard stated in the Hearthstone blog. “This change will allow us to continue to support and make content for the growing Battlegrounds community. Though the ability to choose from among four heroes at the beginning of a match is changing to a paid-only feature, all players can still play Battlegrounds for free. We’re committed to maintaining hero and gameplay balance so that the choice from four heroes is more about optionality than power.”
But that answer hasn’t satisfied fans, who worry that this opens the door to more pay-to-win schemes, worry that this may have shifted resources away from single-player adventures, and just generally see Blizzard losing its way in a game that eschewed mobile monetization tropes.
Web Source: GameSpot – Game News