A few years ago I sat down and worked out how much I'd spent on Hearthstone. I wish I could say I was shocked, but I've been playing since beta and have always known the game was expensive to keep up with. But when the number came out around $2,500, what I actually felt was a kind of grim resignation. Anyway, I stopped counting and kept playing, so shame on me I guess. I mention this as a preamble because this week Blizzard has been sending around a survey asking Hearthstone players, amongst other things, whether they would be willing to pay a monthly fee to access various subsets of the game's card collection.
These are the offers floated as options in the survey:
- Monthly subscription (all Standard cards for 1 class): one monthly price of $10 to access all Standard cards in 1 class of your choice
- Monthly subscription (all Standard cards): one monthly price of $20 to access all Standard cards including the current expansion
- Monthly subscription (all Standard cards): one monthly price of $10 to access all Standard cards except the current expansion
- Monthly subscription (top deck for 3 classes): one monthly price of $10 to access the current top performing deck for 3 classes of your choice
The survey notes that the cards in all these subscriptions would be 'uncraftable', which I think means you wouldn't be able to disenchant them for crafting dust (for very obvious reasons). I'm not going to comment on my perceived value of any of those options, as I'm clearly a hopeless whale who doesn't understand the correct cost of things.
That said, it does strike me that, 1), it's a good idea for Blizzard to be considering new ways to make it easier for players who don't own a voluminous collection to get back into the game. The company has been more bold about trying to entice players to return recently, even going so far as to offer up to 150 free card packs just to log back in. And 2), a fee of $10 or $20 is still going to feel like a lot in a world where we're already being tapped by multiple monthly gaming and streaming services, so I'm pretty skeptical about the likely uptake.
The survey also contains a bunch of other intriguing options. Console and Steam Deck versions of the game are mooted, as is an independent app for Battlegrounds, a tournament mode (lol), in-game live events, and all sorts of cosmetics. Very much par for the course from a Hearthstone survey. But there's also some more outlandish stuff, like fully-realized 3D gameplay (which feels unlikely given the rough reception that the 3D Arthas portrait got), a player-to-player card marketplace (no one mention Artifact!), and even bi-weekly balance patches.
I would expect most to none of these ideas to ever see the light of the day, and the usual caveats apply about companies doing marketing surveys like this all the time. Still, it's an interesting insight into the kind of things Team 5 is thinking about. The Standard format of the game does feel like it's continuing to struggle these days, so maybe it is time for more radical changes. At least we know we're getting patch notes tomorrow, with Blizzard teasing 18 buffs and seven nerfs. Rest in pieces Demon Hunter quest, you will not be missed.