Hearthstone will be releasing three large expansions this year, each of which ushering 130+ new cards. This means more new cards than any previous year, but it also means it will cost players hundreds of dollars to get all the new cards. Last year, if you were to only use real money, it would cost over $400 to get ninety percent of the content. This year, the total is expected to be over $600. $670, to be exact. That’s for most of the content, not all of it. To be fair, you can also use in-game currency to buy content, but that doesn’t do much to chip away at such a ridiculous number.
Casual players should have to worry about this, being able to get by on average cards, and buying the occasional pack with in-game currency. But this game is played competitively worldwide. Anyone who aspires to be a contender in competitive Hearthstone will practically be forced to fork out the big bucks to gain access to the latest cards, in order to build high-performance decks.
And the total cost is variable. Packs come with a random assortment of cards. You may get really lucky and get most of the cards right away, or you may get crap. Over and over again. It’s basically gambling, but with diminishing returns. Keep in mind that this high price isn’t due to a higher price per card, but due to the sheer number of new cards being added in 2017. So it’s not all that bad of a move by Blizzard, but still a significant number to consider.
Being free-to-play, the game relies on people spending real money. But $600 for a single expansion’s worth of content is kind of bonkers. If the game wasn’t free to play, it would likely cost somewhere around $15 a month, which is average for online gaming subscriptions. That would mean that the price of this upcoming expansion is worth nearly two years of playtime. Again, you aren’t forced to spend money on the game at all. You can get everything for free, using in-game currency… eventually. But there are bound to be whales who feel the need to have every card right out of the gate, and they will pay this ridiculous price, somewhat willingly.
When compared to real card games such as Magic the Gathering (which is also available online), $600 for a set of the newest cards is still ridiculous, however slightly less so. Anyone with a trading card game addiction knows it’s an expensive addiction. But I think I’ve spent $600 total on Magic cards in my entire time playing, not on a single set of new, virtual cards. It’s worth noting that other content is free forever, such as adventures, daily single player missions, and daily bonuses and challenges. At its core, the game is still free to play.
On top of the price of acquiring most of the new set of cards, their value grows when considering that any cards from 2015 and earlier will be rotated out of Standard format, reducing the pool of legal cards in Standard. Even some cards from the classic set will be phased out. While Blizzard is doing all of this in an attempt to keep the game fresh (even for end-game, competitive players), players everywhere will be affected by the price.