Why doesn't Hearthstone have a workshop?

Opinion

Every player that loves Hearthstone wants to see the game thrive. He wants to play the game a lot, now and in the future. For this Blizzard needs to make a lot of money in order to support both the current infrastructure and future development.

Many feel that the current system is unsustainable if Hearthstone wants to remain a game with mass attraction.

These are currently the main money makers for Hearthstone:

  • cards (bought via card packs or adventures)
  • arena entries
  • very limited cosmetic items (hero skins)

Apart from the cosmetic items I mentioned (which are extremely limited right now), everything else could be considered in the P2W (pay-to-win) category. This is not a major problem when the card collection is limited but can become one when the card collection becomes bigger and bigger.

As new expansions and adventures are added the cards needed to create the best deck come from more and more sources, thus requiring players to pour more and more cash into the game.

One could argue that players don’t need the most optimized decks to win or have fun. But over and over again we see that players don’t like to feel like second class citizens). And they also don’t like to invest huge amounts of money into the game, just to be on a level field with other players.

One of Blizzard’s competitors, Valve, has been trying to sidestep this whole problem with a different business model, based on cosmetic items.

^(Doesn’t she look dashing?) Lina Cosmetic Set

Two of Valve’s most important games, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, are free to play. Another one, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, is very cheap.

The way Valve is making money with all 3 games is through cosmetic items: things you can buy in-game that in general don’t influence gameplay and are just vanity purchases, you buy them to look cool.

Now, Blizzard has been making steps in this direction. A while ago it published a survey asking Hearthstone players if they’d be interested in buying cosmetic enhancements for Hearthstone (I’ll just call them cosmetic items from now on).

Blizzard survey

Since the survey it has also added the hero skins: Rexxar can become Alleria, Jaina can become Medivh, Garrosh can become Magni.

Warrior skins: Garrosh vs Magni

However, the real problem, as any Blizzard fan knows, is the glacial speed at which these changes are made. The only cosmetic items in the game are 3 hero skins, almost 2 years after the game launch.

I think that what Blizzard should do is take a book out of Valve’s page and create a workshop for Hearthstone (and other Blizzard titles, as a long term plan).

The Valve workshop is the place where community artists can create and publish cosmetic items they’ve created for Valve games. In Valve’s case they can actually publish cosmetic and non-cosmetic items for Steam games, but that’s another story.

Anyway, in Valve’s case, Valve does not create the majority of these items. The community creates them, according to Valve guidelines and if the items are good, after a review, they are included in the game. Once the items are in the game they are sold and Valve gets a cut.

The sytem is win-win-win :heavy_dollar_sign::heavy_dollar_sign::heavy_dollar_sign:. The players win because they have more high quality items to buy, the artists win because they get money from items they’ve created, Valve wins because it gets a fee for each sale.

I can only think of 2 possible drawbacks for players:

  • cosmetic items change the character so much that you can’t recognize the original: this can be prevented with quality guidelines for artists, like the one Valve has published
  • cosmetic items have to be included as files in the game itself, therefore making the installation bigger; this can be a big concern for mobile devices: I believe this is not a major problem for Hearthstone since most of the art assets that would be changed in Hearthstone are not that big

In case you think that Hearthstone does not have a lot of things that could fit this “cosmetic item” concept, I beg to differ. I’ve actually thought of something which, I think, would be popular (if Blizzard does not price it out of the ballpark, $10 or more…).

Sets of cosmetic skins for cards.

Most players like a class and play it primarily, as a result hero skins are a good idea.

Alternative, cosmetic boards could also be a good idea, but Blizzard has so far not gone this way.

Individual card skins would be, in my opinion, a bad idea. The main reason being that cards go in and out of fashion and many players would be afraid of buying a skin for a specific card fearing that it might not be a good investment.

That’s why I thought of card sets. Eaglehorn Bow, on its own, might be abandoned sometime in the future. But a set of cosmetic skins for Eaglehorn Bow, Unleash the Hounds, Explosive Trap, Freezing Trap and Mad Scientist would probably have a long shelf life.

Meet the Hunter

When used together, they could have a powerful thematic effect (maybe even some sort of interaction?). When one of the cards fall out of popularity, the rest are still relevant. Including strong neutral cards in the set would make sure that this relevance is as big as possible. Including class cards which fit different archetypes is also a good idea for ensuring a long shelf life.

Besides this “Meet the Hunter” set, here are 2 other examples I thought about:

“Everyone, get in here”: Grim Patron, Emperor Thaurissan, Acolyte of Pain, Shield Block, Death’s Bite.

“Life Tap”: Mal’ganis, Dr. Boom, Implosion, Knife Juggler, Mortal Coil.

Same concept: strong cards, preferably that fit multiple archetypes, and 1 neutral per set.

So my question would be:

Do you think that a Blizzard workshop would be a good idea? If not, why?

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