Hearthstone beta "validated" free-to-play for Blizzard | PCGamesN

Hearthstone beta "validated" free-to-play for Blizzard

The flow of cards to free players does slow after level 10 - but Hearthstone is proudly free to play till the highest levels.

When Blizzard launched their Hearthstone beta, they said it was free to play - and they meant it. But they weren’t prepared to see Twitch fill up with streamers who hadn’t bought a single pack, playing Hearthstone at the highest levels.

It was “unexpected but also very reassuring,” said production director Jason Chayes. “We really wanted to make sure that it wasn't just lip service.”

Well it's certainly not "lip service" according to our Hearthstone review.

Chayes told Eurogamer that Blizzard needed to ensure players didn’t hit a “monetisation gate” as they levelled up.

“Making sure you could actually earn all the things you needed to be competitive was something we put a lot of time into,” he said.

“Seeing people construct the decks they need to play at the very top levels of play was awesome. So overall we felt very good about how that evolved and how in some ways helped validate our approach, and we feel pretty good about the direction that's been heading.”

Chayes said Blizzard’s culture of debate helped when it came to managing pricing - an issue the developers have rarely had to tackle in their history of boxed games.

“There’s a lot of internal discussion about things like pricing and how to we make sure there’s good value for when I do choose to buy something, or that I can actually progress as a free-to-play player,” he explained.

“I feel like it’s this crucible where we're trying to understand what's the best implementation we can have, and burn away some of the impurities there to get to a point where we’re really happy about it.”

Do you feel Blizzard have burned away all of Hearthstone’s impurities? Or have you encountered a layer of molten slag at the bottom of its blast furnace? Ah, chemistry.

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Acid Hoover avatar
Acid Hoover Avatar
3 Years ago

I spent £1.49 during the beta, but that's all.

All my gold comes from doing the quests, which I generally find to be fun. And they often make you think about interesting decks, allowing you to discover interesting combo's. I like to see how far I can push the quests like 'Play 40 spells' and I'll create specific decks just for that quest.

It is undoubtedly free to play though.

I've played hours and hours for my £1.49.

With the maturation of the F2P model, as with PlanetSide 2, it's Pay For Convenience more than anything else.

Want to blow £100 on buying hundreds of cards, in the pursuit of building an amazing deck in one day? Go ahead.

Want to spend nothing, and spend months slowly building it up instead? Then that's a valid choice too.

Personally, I don't have loads of cash, or loads of time, so I'm almost grinding out the cards. (Quests for gold. Arena for decks, cards, dust and gold.)

But I'm having a lot of fun doing it.

I think the problem Hearthstone has is that the random factor of the game itself can often feel like Pay 2 Win. But its not the model that's at fault, it's just the nature of the thing.