Update, October 26: Blizzard have made an official statement to say they’re taking action against fake Hearthstone events.
Blizzard’s attempt to drive interest in Hearthstone’s Fireside Gatherings has gone pretty poorly so far, and tying the new hero Nemsy Necrofizzle to participation in a live a event proved so unpopular that people were willing to spoof locations in order to claim the prize – with the falsified gatherings still appearing on the locator as both an irritation and a potential danger for those actually looking to attend an event.
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Now Blizzard have officially addressed those attempts to circumvent the system, and they’ve made it clear they’re taking action. In a post to the Battle.net forums, they say they’ll “be dedicating additional resources towards vetting and reviewing Fireside Gatherings and Taverns,” and will be encouraging players to report suspicious events.
“We want Fireside Gatherings to be a place where the Hearthstone community can come together in a warm and welcoming environment,” say Blizzard. “Players who abuse the Fireside Gathering system may face account penalties, ranging from the suspension of their ability to create, participate in, or gain rewards from Fireside Gatherings, to action against their Hearthstone game account.”
Yet it doesn’t seem Blizzard have much interest in making their new hero a more widely-available freebie, and though they’re taking action against those false gatherings it’ll be tough to stop them without addressing the actual cause.
Original Story, October 18:To get the newest Hearthstone hero, a Gnome warlock called Nemsy Necrofizzle (of course), you need to go to Fireside Gathering events – hosted in real-life pubs or at gaming stores, or wherever a few folks with phones and tablets can gather. The idea is to foster casual tournaments that encourage the spirit of Hearthstone away from the hardcore competitive edge-chasing of esports and ladder climbing. So, obviously, the community has immediately found the quickest and easiest way to get Necrofizzle is to fake an event.
It’s further complicated by the system that is currently in place. To get the hero you must attend an event at an established tavern. Doing this involves that tavern having run at least one event in the past – these events are the ones being created in droves to be fakes, as detailed in this thread. At the time of writing the actual Fireside Gathering site is giving a 400 error when accessed, so you’ll just have to go off the screenshots.
The issue arose after all of these events were being advertised as legitimate via the official site. There is no plan to actually have an event at whatever bar or location is advertised, and only through GPS spoofing will it take place at all, or with one person sporting multiple devices. People are doing this because they want the skin and are more willing to jump through some hoops to get it than they are to travel to an event – either because going outside is naturally horrifying, particularly in 2017, or because there isn’t one locally.
Those attempting to run legitimate events in the manner the promotion was hoping for are also running into problems. In the run up to Necrofizzle becoming available yesterday plenty of events had issues passing the automatic checks. One particularly irate Redditor claims their event was cancelled the day it was supposed to happen, putting a couple of dozen people out. This was after having issues getting the event running in the first place.
It’s an awkward situation – getting more interest in the growth of social events for Hearthstone is going to be vital to the game in the long term. The idea itself is solid, and while there are people angry about not being able to get the hero through normal play, it’s not like it actually affects the game. However, it was fairly predictable that this sort of surge in interest was going to happen, and a lack of communication, one of Hearthstone’s long-term problems, is amplifying it.