For years, Blizzard has utilized surveys as a way to communicate with players and gauge feedback. If you’ve been playing Blizzard’s flagship World of Warcraft for over a few years, odds are you’ve received at least a half a dozen of these.
The surveys must be doing something, because Blizzard decided to move this method over to Hearthstone. Since the beginning of the month, random Hearthstone players have been receiving surveys that ask a variety of questions about their feelings toward different aspects of the game. The screengrabs provided below show a pre-filled questionnaire, so they don’t reflect our opinion.
Some of these questions lend themselves to speculation about what direction Blizzard might be taking Hearthstone and the community around it. One such question asked players about their willingness to play Hearthstone if there were no Blizzard-sponsored Hearthstone tournaments. Options to answer range from very unlikely to very likely.
While it’s impossible to know the real reason Blizzard decided to ask this question, it’s not outlandish to speculate that the company might be considering cutting back on sponsored tournaments. But, at the same time, the opposite could also be true. Blizzard could just as likely be considering increasing the amount of sponsored tournaments if it believes this could create more player engagement.
Some of the survey shifts focus to the value of card packs. A variety of questions ask players to agree or disagree with a statement concerning packs. Answers range from strongly disagree to strongly agree and there’s also a neutral option. One statement says it is necessary for players to spend money in order to stay competitive in Hearthstone. Another says “I get good entertainment value for the money I spend playing Hearthstone.” These two statements are accompanied by another claiming card packs are fairly priced.
This could mean Blizzard is evaluating different pricing options for packs, but it could also mean that the company is considering more free ways to earn packs. With any trading card game, players can expect to spend money if they want to be competitive. Hearthstone gives you the ability to craft cards and sack cards for currency to do so. This is a huge edge that Hearthstone has over its physical competition, like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh!
While Hearthstone may already generate good value for the customer in terms of money spent, Blizzard could also consider implementing more ways to get packs for free. In recent patches, we’ve seen quests that offer as many as five packs for completing a single task. These quests are usually few and far between, most of which are tied up in a special promotion, but this is still Blizzard giving more packs away for free.
Giving players more free packs may actually generate more pack buys. For example, if a player gets a card that they need for a deck, but they still need a few more for that deck, they’ll consider buying some packs. Although we can’t truly know Blizzard’s motivation behind each statement or question, maybe we’ll get lucky and start seeing more free packs.
The surveys also asked players how they feel about the pricing of the Witchwood pre-purchase promotion. This promotion gave players the option to pre-purchase 70 Witchwood packs for the price of 50. This meant players could spend $50 on packs before the expansion released, and get 20 extra packs compared to if they would have made the purchase post-expansion.
Blizzard may be trying to gauge interest on how players feel about pre-purchase bundles because we’ll have a series of expansions releasing this year. The newest should come in April, so it’ll be interesting to see if a pre-purchase bundle like the ones offered for Witchwood and Rastakhan’s Rumble is presented.
The last section of the survey asked players to rate how important a series of Hearthstone features is to them. Answers provided can range from not at all important to extremely important. There’s also a moderately-important neutral option. Players were asked about the importance of the Hearthstone community, ranked mode, esports tournaments, Overkill mechanic, casual play, ranked mode rewards, tavern brawl, and the new solo adventure, Rumble Run.
This looks like Blizzard is just trying to gather some quick opinions about a wide variety of things that it didn’t feel the need to be more specific about in the survey. It would be pessimistic to assume the mentioning of esports and the Hearthstone community could spell disaster in the form of reduced funding toward building either of these aspects of the game.
It would also be naive to assume that Blizzard isn’t potentially cutting cost toward Hearthstone esports considering how much it’s focused on throughout the survey. Blizzard announced in December that Heroes of the Storm esports plans were essentially terminated. This could play into the paranoia some players may feel about Blizzard’s questioning of Hearthstone esports.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that Hearthstone is one of the most streamed games on Twitch. Many of the streams that generate the most views for the game come from Blizzard-sponsored tournaments or players who compete in those tournaments and stream independently. Blizzard probably doesn’t want to lose the footing it holds in the Twitch scene thanks to Hearthstone, so we probably won’t be seeing it get the Heroes treatment anytime soon.