The free-to-play, deceptively simple, and ridiculously fun digital card game Hearthstone has been a massive hit since it was released back in 2014. However, if Twitch viewership numbers are anything to go by, Hearthstone’s popularity does seem to be waning.
The game hit close to 60K average viewers in March 2018, and things started to look a bit erratic from there. The numbers picked up again in November 2020 after a few months lull, this time reaching 39K average viewers. The game still has a healthy player base and tons of avid fans, so we’re not arguing that it’s dying.
Nevertheless, we think it’s essential for Blizzard to dedicate some attention to nurturing Hearthstone and pushing it forward. With that in mind, here are the ways we believe Blizzard can improve Hearthstone in 2021 to attract even more players and keep the regulars coming back.
Log in Rewards
Many games offer players rewards for simply logging in every day. These rewards are often simple and not too flashy, but they create an impact nonetheless. Blizzard could implement daily log-in rewards like a set amount of gold or Hearthstone dust.
Blizzard has been criticized for this in the past, but they have rectified the issue for many of their games. Players like to have a say in the development of the game or key issues surrounding game mechanics and rewards.
They also want to be able to have an open line of communication to ask questions. Many Hearthstone players feel that Blizzard has been too passive in this area and has mostly taken the back seat.
In 2021, we’d like to see more Q&A and discussions on Reddit and other social media platforms. When developers actively talk to the player base, they create better updates, and that’s better for everyone.
More Payment Options For Expansions
The major card set additions, called expansions in Hearthstone, introduce 130-145 new cards into the game. At present, players have to sink a significant amount of real-world money into the game to get these expansions.
While this is nothing new for the game, the cost of expansions can be prohibitive for new players. It would be great if Blizzard could allow players to buy expansions using gold or dust that they earn in the game.
Hearthstone has come under fire several times in the past for its “greedy” pricing strategies. One of the more recent events is when a new progression system went live on the Hearthstone servers.
According to developers, this update was supposed to bring the game more in line with other ‘live’ games like League of Legends or Call of Duty, where players spend considerable time grinding for achievements, cosmetics, and rewards.
Before the launch, players were worried they wouldn’t earn gold as quickly as with the old model. Well, that turned out to be the case for many players. Hearthstone streamer J Alexander publicly criticized the new system, estimating that he earned 5000 less gold over 120 days than in prior expansions. Reddit was also exploding with players complaining about the new system.
In December 2020, Blizzard took action concerning these complaints and rolled out a bunch of reforms to make it easier for players to earn XP and gold. While this certainly helped repair some of the damage and restore some fun to the game, these kinds of disasters need to be avoided in 2021.
Reduce Time Per Turn
Many players get frustrated with other players who take too long per turn or are always roping. Taking your time is understandable in more competitive games or in tournaments, but it’s generally considered bad etiquette to do this every game. Blizzard could introduce a system where players can see average turn-time or match-making systems based on time.
Put simply, Blizzard needs to stop rewarding people for AFKing. The XP per minute system seems to be frustrating a lot of players who want to play the game more quickly but still get rewarded for good gameplay.
Better Bot Banning
Bots exist in almost every game and are a constant struggle for anti-cheat developers. However, complaints of bots have been rising in recent months, much to the frustration of real players.
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