Hearthstone avoided paying 'lip service' to F2P, says Blizzard

Hearthstone production director Jason Chayes says the studio worked hard to make sure Hearthstone was genuinely free-to-play, with voluntary purchases instead of a monetization gate.

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Hearthstone has been a hit on PC and more recently on iPad. The free-to-play model often leaves a bad taste in players' mouths, but production director Jason Chayes says the studio worked hard to make sure real-money purchases were voluntary, not inevitable.

"We really wanted to make sure that it wasn't just lip service to say it's free-to-play and then hit some kind of monetization gate where you had to buy things," Chayes told Eurogamer. "So for us making sure you could actually earn all the things you needed to be competitive was something we put a lot of time into."

He said that seeing people construct powerful decks for free during the beta period let them know they were on the right track. "So overall we felt very good about how that evolved and how in some ways helped validate our approach, and we feel pretty good about the direction that's been heading," he said.

Chayes also pointed out that the guiding principle is creating a game that they would like to take home and play themselves. "And because of this there's a lot of internal discussion about things like pricing and how to we make sure there's good value for when I do choose to buy something, or that I can actually progress as a free-to-play player. All of these are things we have a lot of debate internally about and I feel like it's this crucible where we're trying to understand what's the best implementation we can have, and burn away some of the impurities there to get to a point where we're really happy about it."

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  • reply
    April 29, 2014 9:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Hearthstone avoided paying 'lip service' to F2P, says Blizzard.

    Hearthstone production director Jason Chayes says the studio worked hard to make sure Hearthstone was genuinely free-to-play, with voluntary purchases instead of a monetization gate.

    • reply
      April 29, 2014 9:58 AM

      I'm sure there will be other cosmetic things to buy very soon. New tables come to mind. I don't think they've ever said if both players are actually on the same displayed table. It shouldn't matter, especially since there's no chat. So, buying more tables would be purely cosmetic to one side.

      And, you know, hats.

      • reply
        April 29, 2014 10:54 AM

        I want the other player to see all of the clicking I am doing when his turn goes. I want to fling boulders at them and ring the gong 1000 times so they screw up and I win.

      • reply
        April 29, 2014 10:59 AM

        yep, "play mats", card backs, sound effects, etc

    • Zek legacy 10 years
      reply
      April 29, 2014 10:10 AM

      CCGs were pay-2-win before it was cool. Considering that I think Hearthstone does a good job of making it feel tasteful.

    • reply
      April 29, 2014 10:11 AM

      I'd say this is pretty close to how people imagine a free-to-play game.
      1. I'm not time or life gated. I can play it for as long as I want.
      2. I can earn rewards at a reasonable pace.
      3. The game is fun to play.

      • reply
        April 29, 2014 10:12 AM

        I forgot an obvious one
        4. No ads ;p

      • reply
        April 29, 2014 10:16 AM

        Yes, the monetization model for hearthstone is perfect.

        OTHER DEVS TAKE FUCKING NOTE

        • reply
          April 29, 2014 11:00 AM

          The development of Hearthstone though is the exception. It was basically fully funded from WoW revenue and only had a small team the entire time. But, the key was that it started as an experiment so didn't have the pressure to make money immediately or everyone would lose their job (right away at least).

          • reply
            April 29, 2014 11:01 AM

            That always seems to be how the best things in life are made.

    • reply
      April 29, 2014 10:58 AM

      there is a shacker's wife that would disagree.

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