The Value in Hearthstone: Four microtransactions Blizzard should consider
If you haven't been let in on the news yet, last week Blizzard released some new content for its popular online, free-to-play (F2P) card game, Hearthstone. That's great, right? I mean, without new content, a game can get stale; but when that content is nothing more than portraits and verbal emotes, you're not adding much value to the game.
That's great, right? I mean, without new content, a game can get stale; but when that content is nothing more than portraits and verbal emotes, you're not adding much value to the game.
Sure, it's cute and people will use them, but they change the game none. Which is why it was shocking to hear that each individual portrait, with emotes included, would cost $10. Not in-game gold. Real money; the kind you have to work 40 hours a week for.
For that amount of cash, you can get 7 packs of cards to actually aid your progress in-game. Sure, F2P titles release ridiculous microtransactions all the time, including limited time hunting licenses in The Hunter, but these are aesthetics. It did make me realize that Blizzard is genius, because it knows these portraits will sell. If simple character art can sell, what else could Blizzard cash in on?
So to help Hearthstone's microtransaction brain trust, I came up with some other things they could sell in the near future to bank a quick buck.
Anybody that has played Hearthstone for an extended period of time can probably orchestrate the entire score in their head. It's one song, about twenty minutes long, set on loop. Regardless of whether you're in the main menu, building a deck, or in the middle of battle, the same plucky song plays over and over, and it can grow quite maddening. So, here's the next money-making opportunity - downloadable tracks.
The sounds of Hearthstone are so repetitive, I would put money that many gamers either play it with their own soundtrack going or on mute. I know I always have something else running, like the Metal Gear Solid OST. Chances are devout Hearthstone players will gobble up new musical track. Even thinking down the road, a complete official soundtrack could even be retailed.
One of my favorite things about Hearthstone,, that has nothing to do with the actual cards, are the interactive boards. The clickable doodads bring back memories of poking characters in WarCraft II to see what they would say next. The boards in Hearthstone are limited, and though we've received new backdrops with the new campaigns that released, I think giving players something new to play on every so often would be nice. Not for free, of course.
No, like the portraits, we're willing to pay for these quirky additions. They may add absolutely no value to the game, but short attention spans make them fun to click on while our opponents take their time to make their next infuriating move.
Sure, there would be initial protesting, but guaranteed each time a new board releases, it would sell.
Don't like a card in your hand? With the "card swap" transaction you can pay a fee and swap it out for something else in your deck. There may be cards with this attribute attached to them, but in true F2P fashion, there should be a "Pay to Win" option. I mean, isn't that what the essence of F2P gaming is all about - "Free to Play, Pay to Win?"
There can even be two levels of swaps to up the ante - a lower level purchase which swaps a card out at random or a costlier option that let's the player choose from their deck. To diminish the risk of spamming, either increase the amount with each swap per game or allow only a certain amount of purchases to be made in one game. This will give gamer's willing to pay an advantage while still keeping random draws a big portion of Hearthstone's formula.
As gamers, we love to have somebody in our corner rooting for us. I actually need to thank PlayStation All Stars for this idea, as I remember how warm I felt when my little chibi-Sully clapped for me at the end of each fight.
Imagine, everytime you make a stellar move, a miniature Illidan Stormrage or Grom Hellscream cheers you on in that bit of empty space in your corner. Your opponents can see your little avatar pulling for you, too, allowing you to get into their heads without having to lift a finger.
It sounds silly at first, but once your little WarCraft hero praises you, you'll be hooked on the idea.
As a brief disclaimer, I take no responsibility should any of these make it into Hearthstone. What do you expect to see next in Hearthstone's microtransaction list? Do you think these ideas are feasible?
[images courtesy of SCE Santa Monica Studios and IAmTheGamersGhost YouTube Channel]