A major change to card pack pricing has many Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft players calling foul on Blizzard Entertainment. After the developer announced that it would hike up the cost of cards in many African, European and Middle Eastern countries, fans worldwide fired back to voice their disappointment and concern with where the game’s going.
A Blizzard community manager announced the price changes on the Hearthstone Battle.net forum.
“We regularly look at our pricing around the world, and from time to time we make changes such as these to align with local and regional market conditions,” the post reads as an explanation.
These prices will go into effect starting March 22. For some regions, the new cost reflects an up to 30 percent increase across Android, Mac and Windows PC. There are breakdowns on Reddit that reveal just how much big of a change these costs are — and how they compare to American card prices.
In the U.S., two packs containing a total of 10 cards cost $2.99. Under the new pricing, players in places like the U.K. will be paying more than 50 cents more for the same amount of cards. Doing the conversion hammers in just why players are upset with the news, as do the countless forum threads flooding the Hearthstone subreddit’s front page.
“I'm absolutely baffled that they think this is a good move,” wrote Reddit user Catch_2 in a post that echoes many of the fanbase’s complaints. “In a game which the cost of entry is super high for new players, they also decide to piss off their core fanbase. It's like 101 of how to sink your game, odd coming from a seasoned company like Blizzard.”
Increasing the cost of cards stings even more because of another controversial move Blizzard made: removing adventures, one of Hearthstone’s annual card-bearing events. For a set price, players could purchase a campaign that guaranteed upward of 45 new cards. That’s different than the now tri-annual expansions, which include more than 100 new cards for purchase, but no promise that players will be able to collect them all.
“The removal of adventures smacked of greed due to the obvious financial benefits of releasing a card xpac over a one time purchase, now on top of this they raise the price of cards,” another player wrote on Reddit.
With three expansions coming this year instead of the typical expansion-adventure-expansion cadence, Hearthstone players already had to prep to shell out more bucks for all of the new cards. Now, those across the world will have to account for the price increase, too. The game is still playable without spending a dime by earning enough in-game gold to purchase the cards that way, but for those not willing to wait, this is an unpopular change.
It’s important to note, as one Redditor did, that Hearthstone cards started out costing less outside the U.S., due to changes in exchange rates. It’s possible that the price hike is to account for the change in value of foreign currency against the American dollar, but we’ve reached out to Blizzard to further clarify the announcement.
With these changes — and the lack thereof to the metagame, which some have found to be stale in recent months during the lead-up to Hearthstone’s newest expansion — some players are encouraging others to find a new game to play.
“There are many card games now and most are free to play,” wrote user AbrielNei in a top-voted list of competitor games. That list includes Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, Duelyst, the upcoming Gwent and Magic The Gathering.
2017’s first Hearthstone expansion, Journey to Un’Goro, will launch in April. The game remains massively successful for Blizzard, but time will tell if the price increase and other changes will have serious ramifications for the Warcraft-themed digital card game.
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