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Blizzard Survey Asks: "Would You Continue Playing Hearthstone if There Were No Tournaments"

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Many players - initially from Korea, but then from all regions - have received a survey about Hearthstone and the latest expansions. One of the questions of the survey asks players how likely they would be to to play the card game within the next 30 days, if there were no Blizzard sponsored tournaments.

The question has made a lot of people nervous, given that Heroes of the Storm esports were recently axed and the game will go in maintenance mode in the near future. The climate is already heavy with the latest WoW expansion not being received that greatly and all the rumours about Activision meddling into Blizzard. The recent news about two Activision Blizzards CFOs leaving the company and Bungie (the developer of Destiny 2) jumping ship from Activision only managed to spark the rumours that things aren't going that well for Blizzard. Hearthstone also saw its game director and public face, Ben Brode, leave this year - along with other notable Hearthstone devs.

Significant changed to the structure of the Hearthstone Championship Tour were announced less than two months ago, so Hearthstone esports have a future for 2019 at least. Of course, the conspiracy lovers immediately pointed out that HotS devs promised that HGC would continue in 2019, only to announce its cancellation less than a month afterwards.

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The full survey was shared on Reddit by u/HelixFossil89.

It is important to put this matter into perspective without panicking. First of all, this was a single question in a 35-question survey about the game in general and Rastakhan's Rumble in particular. The conductors of the survey obviously want to get the general opinion of their playerbase on major issues. Just because they asked this particular question, it doesn't necessarily mean they are considering axing Hearthstone esports.

Second, there is no indication that Hearthstone isn't doing well. Sure, it may have lost some players but it probably still is Blizzard's second best earner. Its competition has definitely not managed to thwart it and the latest balance changes - while they weren't exactly successful in creating a healthy meta - were received with excitement and positivity by most of the community.

On the other hand, Blizzard has spent quite a lot of money on the Hearthstone professional scene and perhaps there is a limit of how much they can keep throwing at it. There is also the matter that even though Hearthstone has been successful as an esport, it has managed that without being taken totally seriously - even by its own players. The 2019 plans also seem a bit vague-ish, although it should be noted that the January qualifiers are well underway.

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1 hour ago, Ylothrian said:

Say yes so that the funds are moved to WoW 😄

Jokes on you - WoW has no funds what so ever and wont get any more. All of these funds will be plowed into the only remaining powerhouse game Activision cares for Blizzard to keep alive; Overwatch.

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Honestly? I haven't watched a single tournament, streamer, or taken part in any tournament in several years yet play Hearthstone several times a week.

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I received an email to participate in that survey. Upon clicking the link, I was redirected to a page saying "thank you for participating in this survey", and that was it. I did not get to answer any question. If I click the link again, it says I have already taken part in the survey and I can't do it again.

That's pretty poor from Blizzard, and not how they are actually going to get proper feedback from their players.

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16 minutes ago, Lithari said:

I find the game rubbish, so i don't play the damn thing, but each to their own.

Very constructive comment , seeing as the link says "would you CONTINUE" 

I would however keep playing HS , i dont play more or less just cuz i watch tournaments and streamers.

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Call me a curmudgeon - maybe I am! - but I long for the days when "esports" were barely a thing outside of QuakeCon, when no one cared about streaming, when developers didn't seek ways to endlessly monetize their products. But we're never going back, and to me it sucks - I'm just here to play the damn games.

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16 hours ago, Rexx said:

Jokes on you - WoW has no funds what so ever and wont get any more. All of these funds will be plowed into the only remaining powerhouse game Activision cares for Blizzard to keep alive; Overwatch.

Even Overwatch doesn't get much of new content, so likely more will be invested into new titles.

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15 hours ago, tkioz said:

Honestly? I haven't watched a single tournament, streamer, or taken part in any tournament in several years yet play Hearthstone several times a week.

I barely played any HS, but I do play HOTS quite often and I do think that people REALLY overstimate the role of professional e-sports. I mean, HOTS doesn't have it anymore and probably things won't change that much. For instance, Icy Veins gave HGC almost no coverage, but people don't remember it now, do they? 😛

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2 hours ago, VegaPl said:

I barely played any HS, but I do play HOTS quite often and I do think that people REALLY overstimate the role of professional e-sports. I mean, HOTS doesn't have it anymore and probably things won't change that much. For instance, Icy Veins gave HGC almost no coverage, but people don't remember it now, do they? 😛

I think it varies. Culturally, I think card games tend to be more top-down -- even though Hearthstone is very accessible by design and has a huge "casual" base, so much of the game and culture around it is informed by the top-level players and tournaments. Especially since players can break into the competitive scene just by playing at a high level and pushing into Legend ranks every season, getting Hearthstone Masters points. It's hard to imagine a card game remaining as successful and relevant as Hearthstone is without the top players streaming and making content, but it's possible.

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Hearthstone is too expensive to make sense. Same with Magic, but at least those could be resold.

Here's another question. Do funded E-Sports raise the price of games?

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11 hours ago, darkinchworm said:

Call me a curmudgeon - maybe I am! - but I long for the days when "esports" were barely a thing outside of QuakeCon, when no one cared about streaming, when developers didn't seek ways to endlessly monetize their products. But we're never going back, and to me it sucks - I'm just here to play the damn games.

I remember the days when it took days to level in Diablo 2.  I don't miss the days when Blizzard released a new update to their titles hardly ever, compared to nowdays. More money = more content; I like nowadays. 

10 hours ago, VegaPl said:

I barely played any HS, but I do play HOTS quite often and I do think that people REALLY overstimate the role of professional e-sports. I mean, HOTS doesn't have it anymore and probably things won't change that much. For instance, Icy Veins gave HGC almost no coverage, but people don't remember it now, do they? 😛

how do you go from that premise to that other one? Believe what you want to think. 

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30 minutes ago, greatCraft said:

I remember the days when it took days to level in Diablo 2.  I don't miss the days when Blizzard released a new update to their titles hardly ever, compared to nowdays. More money = more content; I like nowadays.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy "more money = more content." The free content updates these days are cooler than getting extra throwaway (to me) multiplayer maps for Starcraft or War3. But Blizzard was, and I'd say still is, more consistent about supporting games with updates than most developers. I don't think "hardly ever" accurately reflects the updates of the time.

Also, leveling in D2 wasn't hard at all until they completely fucked leveling past 70 with - what else? - an update.

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On 1/10/2019 at 7:33 PM, Zadina said:

this was a single question in a 35-question survey about the game in general 

Have you never seen Mad Men? This is exactly what they do when want information on an issue without making it too obvious that that's what they're asking for. They create a survey with a bunch of irrelevant questions, and throw that one question that actually means something in there somewhere. HS e-sports is on the chopping block. Nobody cares about it. Their entire Twitch audience watches an arena player. Ranked is an afterthought.

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15 hours ago, t3ramos said:

they should have asked this the heroes of the storm players.. fucking activision.. 

Again, how actively did you watch HGC?

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23 minutes ago, Rooach said:

Funds in OW and WoW. Best laugh of 2019 so far. Funds are going to mobile

This is probably true, they already announced it for all the brands they own.

Truth be told, I am actually counting on WoW to finally fall, at least to a point where a new expansion might not be as profitable as they were. This is the only chance I see for Warcraft IV (RTS I mean) to see light ever again.

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22 hours ago, VegaPl said:

Again, how actively did you watch HGC?

i did actively watched it by the way.. not just for the loot twitch provided. it was the first esport i regulary watched cause it was fun to see some tactics and some insane pro plays.. 😞 now im following kaldor and a few other hots casters on switch and intend to see every match they cast on their stream. 

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I don't care much about watching regular streamers but I think the tournaments are actually pretty important for a card game like this to be taken seriously by the community. Look at Magic: the Gathering. I don't think it would have stayed around this long if they didn't have such a huge tournament atmosphere around their game. Granted, the digital nature of HS means it will remain accessible to all players. However, the top players are likely to become much less interested and there WILL be a trickle down effect.

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On 1/14/2019 at 7:22 PM, Regdorito said:

However, the top players are likely to become much less interested

That's indeed quite possible.

Quote

and there WILL be a trickle down effect. 

That, on the other hand, isn't so obvious (which must be why Blizzard asked the question in a poll). Care to explain how you think casual players care about top players and tournaments? They have collections I'll never be able to afford, therefore playing decks I will never own and never play. They certainly have skills way beyond mine as well, playing the game 8h/day all year long. This makes it almost a different game altogether. I have never watched any tournament and do not plan to.

To make a parallel between online game tournaments and sports on TV, you don't have to play a given sport by yourself to enjoy watching professionals. On the other hand, you may also play a sport and not watch it on TV. Doing it and watching others do it are quite different things. In the end, What really matters on TV (and for online tournaments) is how entertaining it is to watch. Is there variety, suspense, emotion, turnarounds?

The only difference I see between online game tournaments and sports on TV is that many sports don't need any prior knowledge to be interesting to watch. I believe you can enjoy watching a basketball game or soccer game on TV without knowing much of the rules beyond where the ball must go to score. That doesn't hold for Hearthstone for example, for which it seems clear that the tournament audience must be a subset of the player base. If you don't know the game rules and mechanics, you won't understand what you're watching. That, however, doesn't imply that the player base would shrink if there was no tournaments. People have been playing video games long before professional gaming became a thing.

I believe the actual way to make players stay is by keeping the game itself interesting to play by the intended audience. That means keeping all the balances right (cards balance, classes balance, ladder mechanism, arena matching mechanism) and the contents interesting (solo adventures existence and balance, tavern brawl diversity, quests, events). The rewards are also key in keeping players motivated. These are areas on which Blizzard has been working a lot already, with many changes over the years, but I dare say there is still room for improvement.

For example, I believe that tavern brawls are under-exploited, because of how they are rewarded. Most players are trying it only until they win it once, to get the reward, and then no more until the following week. They could build a lot on top of the tavern brawl concept to make it more interesting and/or more rewarding, like mini-tournaments, or a temporary one-week-ladder ranking system, or rewards for winning streaks. But I guess I'm getting off-topic now 😉

Edited by Smorod
Initial post was by accident, sorry

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7 hours ago, Smorod said:

For example, I believe that tavern brawls are under-exploited, because of how they are rewarded. Most players are trying it only until they win it once, to get the reward, and then no more until the following week. 

This is pretty much the same people do in HOTS. They would mostly play only to get the loot chest and rarely any more. I myself enjoy one lane brawls so I would play them very often when they come, but other brawls usually work for me the same - get chest, donlt play anymore.

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