So recently, there has been a debate topic abuzz in the Blizzard community, and it’s about free content. For the holidays, all players in Blizzard’s popular class-based FPS game, Overwatch, received 5 free loot boxes just for opening the game. People who play Hearthstone have begun to wonder – why did they get free stuff and we didn’t get anything?
For starters, it’s not the Hearthstone’s dev team is any worse, or loves us any less. Quite the contrary – Blizzard’s Hearthstone development team consists of some of the most fun-loving, dedicated people I’ve seen yet, especially now that the man Ben Brode is head honcho. A lot of it has to do with Hearthstone being a Free to Play game, meaning that it costs absolutely nothing, zip, to start and play the game, potentially forever if you have the patience. The company behind said games, however, still makes plenty of money off of it, in the form of smaller investments into in-game items or currency, so packs in Hearthstone. The motivation to keep players coming back comes in the form of smaller gifts, that one might have to work a bit for, but are usually well worth the effort. When the Mean Streets of Gadgetzan expansion dropped, for example, a simple ‘win 3 games with class X, Y, or Z’ earned players 2 packs a piece, and the quest returned a total of 3 times for all of the classes. These, along with adventures and other expansions, are what keep players interested in a dynamically changing game.
Let’s switch gears – Overwatch. A buy price of $40, or $60 for the Origins edition (although it’s on sale for $40 for the holidays). No DLC released to ever cost money, but hey look, Loot Boxes can still be bought with real-life currency, making them just as worthwhile as Hearthstone packs. However, the company doesn’t see it that way. The buy price of the game is the kicker – each and every person who plays the game, so long as they attained their copy legally, paid that entry fee. Blizzard can afford to drop plenty of free stuff for them, because in the long run, they’re still making money off if it. Now, free Hearthstone packs isn’t a matter of Blizzard affording it or not, because trust me, they can. However, free stuff is very important to the growth and development of Free to Play games’ respective communities, and Blizzard has certainly not been stingy about giving us free stuff. In fact, as of the Old Gods release, Blizzard has given each player over 50 free packs since the release of the game, at the time, a little under 2 years ago. So, before you go complaining about no free stuff on Christmas, learn to give a little, and enjoy a great community for what it is.