Hearthstone’s second battleground season begins next week with major monetization charges

    
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Fine.

Practice your fancy shuffle, my friends, for Hearthstone’s second battlegrounds season is set to start next week on August 30th. Yesterday, Blizzard announced what turns out to be a major rework of the game’s monetization system – and it’s not being welcomed by many players.

“Battlegrounds will now have its own progression track that grants Battlegrounds-specific rewards each season,” the studio says. “Like the current Hearthstone-wide Rewards Track, there will be both free and premium unlockable rewards along the Battlegrounds Track, and progress towards those rewards is earned by playing. Those Battlegrounds-specific rewards include new Battlegrounds Emotes, Hero Skins, Strikes, and more! By giving battlegrounds players their own rewards track, we can give them more rewards they care about, and we no longer need to try to mesh battlegrounds rewards with a gold and XP system that was designed to serve traditional Hearthstone.” Seasonal passes will be purchased with runestones, a new virtual currency that is not earnable in the game.

Blizzard said that it’s pumping up the free-to-play mode with improvements, such as an “all-new battlegrounds track, battlegrounds season pass, battlegrounds missions, battlegrounds XP, legendary cosmetics, hero and minion updates, and a gleaming new Magic of Azeroth cosmetic theme.” Limited-time battleground quests will challenge players to complete a task by their fourth turn to gain a special bonus for the rest of the match. There are free and premium goodies with the reward track, which will spit out emotes, skins, and strikes.

However, the Hearthstone subreddit is positively on fire over the planned changes, viewing the move as a net negative, as instead of buying packs with real money, players will be buying these premium currency packs in lopsided bundles – an unfortunate monetization trick used by many free-to-play games. Battlegrounds mode is also likely to be less accessible for free-to-play players thanks to a new RMT currency and inability to use regular Hearthstone currency on perks, leading players to lament that Hearthstone isn’t a F2P game anymore. And as MMO developer Scott Jennings notes, this is a pretty big change to make with only a week’s warning – which doesn’t portend well for whatever is going on behind the scenes at Blizzard right now.

Source: Hearthstone. Thanks Tom! This article has been amended since publication to correct an error about RMT in the title and emphasize why many players are unhappy with the changes, with thanks again to Tom and Lum.
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees unionize and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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