Odinn

Hearthstone - Should Arena Cost/Rewards Be Changed?

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11372-hearthstone-should-arena-costrewar

 

At BlizzCon 2014, I confirmed with Ben Brode after the Hearthstone Fireside Chat on November 7 that the reward for completing an Arena run would convert from classic card packs to Goblins vs. Gnomes card packs. Is it time to re-evaluate that decision?

 

 

An ongoing topic of conversation since the announcement of GvG, the issue has recently resurfaced over on the Hearthstone subreddit and elsewhere. A lot of people are calling for an option to select their reward - whether using the default shop selection, or a separate selection within the Arena interface - and there is certainly an argument to be made for that.

 

Having said that, simplicity of interface/setup is very core to the Hearthstone experience. Adding more options or complicating the UI is the opposite of what the Hearthstone team wants - more so now, as they work through the UI development of the internal alpha for a smartphone interface. It's unlikely that more complex options like this would ever emerge.

 

What are the options? Effectively, there are three choices:

 

1. Continue to reward the most recent expansion's card packs as the primary Arena reward;

2. Provide some kind of mechanism for Arena pack reward selection; OR

3. Remove packs as an Arena reward, and adjust the cost/other rewards to match.

 

arena_reward_confusion.png

An example of the reward screen from an Arena run, pre-GvG.

 

I'm going to speak briefly to the third option, because I think it's the one that bears out the best in the long run.

 

Hearthstone may have been highly experimental in terms of a game and genre, by Blizzard's standards, but almost all creative mediums share a common thematic problem - they aren't necessarily designed for a long-term audience or additional content down the road (expansions, DLC, sequels, etc.). When Hearthstone was released, there were obviously discussions already brewing about content additions, but wholesale design decisions - like how Arena works, or what its rewards are - were long since made, and likely haven't been revisited in a really fundamental way since.

 

As much as having a card pack waiting at the end of an Arena seems like a great idea, and certainly made it more attractive in the earliest stages of Hearthstone's life cycle, card packs have lost their luster for many players. For those who still need cards, needing different things from the various card sets and expansions can make the reward structure frustrating (and, while it's not hugely exacerbated with only two, what happens when there are three card sets? Four? Ten?).

 

One solution, simply put, would be to lower the cost of an Arena run to 50 gold and remove the guaranteed card pack as a reward. This does a few things:

 

- It's a long-term solution. You don't have to worry about the reward structure changing every time an expansion is released.

 

- It makes Arena slightly more accessible to players. On a strict technicality, the barrier to entry is actually the same, since the 'cost' of an Arena run is 50 gold as-is; it's merely the removal of the included 100g cost for a card pack that would change.

 

- The incentive to play doesn't actually change. Card pack cost is still the same, and the risk:reward ratio for succeeding in Arena enough to go net gold positive is unchanged. Arena remains the best way to generate gold, play with cards not in your collection, and learn many of the game's fundamentals.

 

hearthstonearena-r471x.jpg

Ah, but one problem - the real money cost.

 

So what would the microtransaction solution look like? This is the one place where the current structure favours Blizzard, as getting people to purchase Arena runs to develop their card collection is better than not. Eliminating the microtransaction for Arena outright would work, but it's doubtful that Blizzard would want that.

 

One possibility would be that the $1.99 charge would cover multiple (2-3) Arena entrances. Alternately, Blizzard could implement the ability for players to simply purchase in-game gold at a similar rate ($1.99 = 150g), which would allow players to use it for Arena runs, or to top up their gold to purchase other content (card packs, Adventure mode wings, etc.).

 

What are your thoughts? Would you like to see Blizzard retrofit the cost and rewards of the Hearthstone Arena mode to reflect the way the game is growing? Would you do something like the above, or something totally different? Let us know what you think.

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Wow, i really like this idea. I've always thought that if i make 50 money or more (Whats the currency called again?) then I've made profit on that arena run. I also think 50 money will make it a lot more accessible to newer players. If they added in a super complex gui it wouldn't be hearthstone, but this would be a good long term solution.

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Odinn, I agree completely that the current arena model is flawed and that giving the latest packs is not optimal for many players. However I wish you would have explored option 2 in a bit more detail. The option 3 that you mention, has a few serious drawbacks. 

 

First off, while the overall cost to reward ratio remains the same this idea is far more punishing to weaker/less experienced players. The truth is, a large % of players never go positive in arenas and about half of all arenas end with 3 wins or less (which usually rewards less than the cost of admission). For a newer player doing arenas, he spends 150 gold, wins a game or 2, and gets a pack + 30 odd gold. Sure he "lost" 20 gold, but in the process he's added cards, and as a ratio he lost about 13% of the original 150 gold value. 

 

Under your proposed system, said player pays 50 gold and gets a return of 30 gold. Again, he's "lost" 20 gold, yet he gained no packs. Instead of losing 13% of his original gold, he's lost 40%. A player doing multiple runs could wind up with less gold than he started with, and no cards to show for his trouble. 

 

By the same token, this rewards stronger players exponentially more too. If I get a reward of a pack + 200 gold, i've effectively doubled my 150 gold entrance fee. On your proposed system, if I get a 200 gold i've actually increased my entrance fee by 4x. 

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I think that Menlyn hit on most of the points I was going to make; your proposal, while interesting, has some significant disadvantages, particularly when you are just getting started in the game  I'd add that removing the guaranteed card pack (even while lowering the cost of the arena correspondingly) would also seem to make the Arena much less appealing to those players who just want to build up their card collection and have little interest in simply playing Arena.  The assurance of getting a card pack for their endeavor can entice people who otherwise never set foot in the Arena to give it a go.

 

Personally, I think that the best way to fix this issue would be via a method of card selection, aka method 2 of the three you mentioned.  Providing a 'Pack Token' or something similar that could be traded in at the store for a pack of the player's choosing seems like a pretty workable solution.  It allows player more control over their rewards while effectively leaving the cost and underlying reward structure of the Arena untouched.  That said, it does mean adding another 'currency' to the game, which could complicate the UI (not that I think it would be terribly complex, but still) and might be troublesome to program into the game.

 

If that doesn't do the job, there's at least one other method which you don't seem to touch on that could be used to handle these issues: Keep a guaranteed pack of cards each run, but randomize the type of pack*.   The complaints aren't so much that Arena costs too much or shouldn't be giving out a pack of cards with each game, it's that Arena is *only* giving out GvG packs, with only GvG cards.  If that weren't the case, I think there'd be a lot less complaining about the Arena reward system.  (There'd still be some, I'm sure, but that should handle many of the issues.)

 

*Or randomize the cards contained within the pack; getting a special 'Arena Pack' with random cards from the Classic and GvG sets (and any future sets) would be pretty neat.   To make sure it's not a complete waste to those who have all the cards in the existing sets, here could be a guarantee that each pack will have at least one (or maybe two) card(s) from the latest set, along with the current 'at least one Rare or above' promise, but otherwise, just a random assortment of cards from all available sets.  But that's just my thought.

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I don't agree with Menlyn about the drawbacks he mentioned. Using his same example, a newer player doing arenas now spends 150 gold, let's say he wins a game or 2, and in the end gets a pack + 30 odd gold: summing up, he spent 120 gold and got a pack.

Under the system proposed by Odinn, said player can pay 100 gold in the shop to get a card pack, and pay 50 gold for an Arena run, from which he gets the said 30 gold: summing up, he spent 120 gold and got a pack, which is exactly the same as in the previous case. Moreover, in this situation the said player could also have played an Arena run if he had less than 150 gold, and was also free to choose from which expansion the pack would be!

Maybe I can agree with Menlyn if we are speaking about the "feelings" some new players may have about it, but if we are talking about what is rationally better for newer and older players, the new option is better for both: gold is counted in numbers, percentages can be misleading..

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Having Arena be a standalone game component where you could learn strategy and card mechanics, while simultaneously still having the ability to go 'gold positive' by winning, changes nothing about the Arena ecosystem. Removing the card pack reward and the cost thereof from the Arena would change nothing about how or why Arena is played.

 

In reality, having the ability to choose a card pack reward would probably be the optimal solution, but I put this concept forward as an alternative because, as mentioned, I don't foresee a way in which Blizzard could add a simple, intuitive way to make that selection to the existing interface. In many of the other Blizzard games - WoW or StarCraft, for sake of argument - complex UI modification (for playing, spectating, or otherwise) isn't uncommon, and there are tons of non-obvious elements that make up the game's interface functionality. Hearthstone, particularly to retain its draw as a mobile game, has different challenges in that regard.

 

(There's also a whole separate conversation to be had about whether it matters if, for example, Blizzard eventually retires the original Expert cards into the base 'free' core cards that you get when you first start playing, obviating the concern about breadth of card pack options altogether.)

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I love the idea of making Arena entries more affordable at 50 gold. i'm at a point right now as a player where i've kind of hit my ceiling on Ranked play (10ish) and need more dust to craft more epic & legendary cards, which is best attained through Arena runs. Plus, the versatility of Arena, the surprises & the ability to tinker and play with cards that a player doesn't have make it a lot more fun for me than Constructed Play. I honestly think that the rewarded card pack should just give players a combination of GvG and Classic cards! A lot of newer players to Hearthstone don't have a continuous flow of classic cards (some of which are really useful) unless they spend the dust to craft them or buy classic packs (which isn't a great idea in the current meta). I think that would solve a lot of the potential UI issues as well!

This is kind of unrelated but i also think you should be able to pick which chapter of an expansion you want to buy. You shouldn't be forced to buy all the chapters just to get to the ones that give you the rewards that you really want! Obviously, it's not possible before all of the chapter have been released, but i think a few month after the complete expansion is out you should be able to pick and chose which chapters you want! I had this issue with Naxx, because I really wanted to get undertaker and Kelthuzad but had to play through the entire expansion just to get to them!

Edited by KevinGarnett

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Hello people,

I think that the simplest way to permit to choose which card pack award by ending an arena session, without the need to modifiy the GUI in any way, would be simply to make add combo box in options. In "miscellaneous" or "preferences" sections, an option named "preferred card packs" or "arena desired reward", would do the job.

 

simple, fast, and no GUI modify needed.

 

bye.

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