Let’s Talk About The Real Cost Of Hearthstone

Here are our assumptions:

  • You want to have access to all the content

  • You can only get packs through money

  • Packs cost $1 each

In order to unlock all the cards from an expansion, you'll need about 260 packs on average, or $260 if you use US pricing. You will spend that money three times a year, which totals $780 for all the yearly content.

That's the real price of Hearthstone.

Or at least it was. It's not clear how much mini-sets add to the mix, but the last estimate I saw said about 40 more packs (+$40) should be able to get that content provided you already own all the rest of the set. This brings our new total to $900 a year for all the content.

Except we forgot about the Classic set. Oops.

While I won't bother adding the Classic set into our calculations, since it's an upfront purchase of a few hundred more dollars, you get the idea. This is what Hearthstone actually costs.

Now I hear some voices saying words we all wish they wouldn't have to say like, "But…" and, "Well actually…" and "What if…" We don't want people to say these things because we shouldn't need to have to say those things. The economy of the game – it's real cost – should be far more reasonable than it is. Having to tack on additions like, "Well if you only play one class…" or "If you don't want all the content…" to try and get that number down is silly. Players tend to only play one class or fail to explore much of the content because they can't afford to do so. It's not how they want to play. Don't we want people playing Hearthstone how they want to play it?

That's one of the worst features of the game: the mini-game people play within Hearthstone called, "Can I afford to craft this?" We shouldn't have players asking how much their collection they need to destroy for one deck, or how much they risk by making the "wrong" craft or exploring the "wrong" idea because the game really costs about $900 a year. Also nerfs mess with that, either because your choice of deck got nerfed directly or the meta shifted after a nerf and your deck suffers because of it. If you could explore other options, this is less of an issue. If you can't? That's an exit point.

If that feature could be removed, if the paywall came down, there would be very little reason to touch other CCGs compared to Hearthstone. The most common selling point for them is "they're much cheaper than Hearthstone" and if that got taken away? Who knows how much more successful Hearthstone could be.

So what does Hearthstone do about this outrageous cost? It pays you to play. Under the new reward track, if you complete all your daily and weekly quests, the price of the game should drop by about $60 an expansion. But remember, you are working for that price reduction (dailies and weeklies take more time and effort to complete than the old dailies did, but reward about as much in terms of gold). So, if you do all your dailies and weeklies, now the new expansion might only cost about $240 for the rest of the content.

What about XP from playing the game? Well, if you do all your dailies and weeklies, you should be above level 50, at which point XP returns 150 gold per 4500 XP. Last I tracked how much XP I make per in-client game hour (including queuing for games), I ended up at about 300 XP/HR. That would require 14.5 hours of play per 150 gold, or about 10.3 gold/hr in game. So I should expect to play the game about 10 hours per pack or, in terms of the math above, 10 hours per $1.

That is how stingy the system is. And frankly it's always been pretty stingy about things. The new system just brought the shitty cost and economy into focus.

Again, you could try to quibble with my estimate. Maybe there's a math error somewhere. You can make a big deal about a few extra pennies each hour. But we shouldn't have to. The system should just be clearly good, and it isn't. It shouldn't be a case where someone says, "Aha! If we change your estimate slightly than the game only costs $700 a year so there!"

My fear is that Blizzard may eventually provide players with enough of those extra pennies to quiet the complaints down enough to the point that the game is basically as radically expensive as it was before, but people just aren't complaining as vocally. Rather than having a great game that attracts players and dominates the market, we'll have a game that's still prohibitively expensive for almost everyone. A game that we don't recommend to friends. A game that you cannot stop playing for a short while without falling too far behind in cards that getting back in becomes a huge hurdle.

I don't want people running on a treadmill just to keep falling behind. I want progress.

Source: reddit.com

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