How to Fix the Hearthstone Price Problem
Give players more reasons to pay
The Journey to Un’Goro expansion has been available for a week and the reception has been mixed. New cards and Standard rotation has produced a refreshing experience for Hearthstone veterans. The rain of Pirate Warrior and Aggro Shaman has subsided (for now). Players are actively experimenting with the new quest cards and diverse mid-range decks are playable again.
Not everything is Waygates and Jungle Giants
I recently wrote an article questioning if Hearthstone has become too expensive. On launch day, my prediction that players would be disappointed with the $49.99 USD Un’Goro bundle was echoed through the Hearthstone subreddit community. Many who were expecting to try out the new deck-defining quest decks met a harsh reality. 50 packs will only land you about 3/23 possible legendary cards. This and let’s not forget the 54 epic cards. To be fair, all of these cards are not the strongest in the game (I’m looking at you Lakkari Sacrifice), but that’s not the point. Players feel they aren’t able to experience a satisfying amount of the content in proportion to how much they spent.
Give players more ways to pay
I’m not an expert in game design, but it’s obvious that players are frustrated with the current in-game economy. So, here are some of my solutions to offer more value to players.
These are definitely not perfect (especially without knowledge of Blizzard’s financials), but it beats crying “not worth”.
1. Bundle Dust with Pack Purchases
Hearthstone’s is in the business of selling random cards. Plus, these cards are digital. You can’t go to an auction house or browse eBay to purchase that one card you need to complete a deck.
Including at least enough dust to craft a legendary of choice (1600) with the $49.99 USD card bundles would give players more value and flexibility with their purchase.
2. Sell Pre-made Decks
Each class in Hearthstone comes with three deck templates that highlight new cards and diverse archetypes. These decks are rarely top-tier, but they contain key cards that are often expensive to craft (think Dinomancy Hunter).
Altering the pre-made decks to fit a $19.99 price point would still let Blizzard to control the market, while also enabling niche cards to be purchasable. This solution would appeal to players like myself, who were content to buy Adventures to obtain guaranteed cards.
3. Let Players Earn Cards Through Expansion-Themed Events
Remember when you received quests from the three crime families of Mean Streets of Gadgetzan? In Un’Goro, players received free packs and a golden Volcanosaur just for signing in to the game. I’m all for free content, but there is a missed opportunity here.
Imagine a storyline similar to previous Hearthstone Adventures that gave players a legendary quest card of your choosing upon completion? The storyline could be time-gated, spanning the course of 1–2 weeks to fully complete.
The players who buy hundreds of packs on launch (also known as whales) are not going to change their purchasing habits waiting on one legendary card. This solution is aimed to keep more casual players interested in the expansion and reward their time spent in the game. More time in game generally leads to purchases in the future.
Less reasons to stay
There are more ways Blizzard could change its pricing model to respond to the frustration of fans. They could change dust costs, or increase daily quest gold. There are many options left unexplored.
But, while writing an article is a fun exercise, the best way to show Blizzard your dissatisfaction is by refusing to spend money on Hearthstone. Better yet, stop playing and talking about Hearthstone altogether.
We as gamers need to be careful not to journey into a sunk cost fallacy. Hesitant to leave a game we’ve spent years playing.
I hope things change. Hearthstone is still fun, but there are other fun games worth playing. There are other developers that value your money and your time more.
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