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The HotS experience (Blaugust Day 5)

So Pam wonders what people’s experience is of the F2P models of Blizzard’s games, the CCG Hearthstone and the MOBA Heroes of the Storm. Today I give my thoughts.

Let’s start with HotS. I gave League of Legends a try a couple of years ago, didn’t get into it, dipped back in a few times but gave up pretty quickly. Part of it was not really liking the last hit mechanic or the item system, part of it was the single, unchanging map, and part of it was the community behaviour. But by far the biggest barrier to me was the sheer number of heroes on offer. I realise that the more heroes there are, the more dynamic and deep the game becomes, and I appreciated that aspect of it. But it also put me off, as a beginning player, for three major reasons. 

  1. I wanted to become a decent player. But becoming a decent player means you have to have at least passing familiarity with the capabilities of your teammates and opposition. With over 100 heroes that I’d have to learn. it was a huge learning cliff.
  2. Where do I start? Is it really worth my while spending time with even half the heroes in order to figure out which ones I like enough to purchase? There is a free rotation, sure, but if you don’t like any of those, it can take a lot of very uninspiring games to sit through weeks of random choices, only to find you aren’t all that interested in the ones you’ve played.
  3. New heroes are added with (to a new player) dismaying frequency. This exacerbates the previous two problems as it feels like you are eternally trying to play catch-up.

 

So I was eager to get in at the ground level in HotS, with a very reasonable number of heroes to learn and choose from. I think Blizzard does a much better job at explaining what roles a hero is suited for than LoL, which makes it easier to cull your potential choices when deciding what to play and what to buy. As the comments in Pam’s post indicate, there will be a point when HotS has scores of heroes to choose from, so it will – eventually – suffer from the same barrier to new players that LoL has for me. But that is a long way off, since I don’t expect Blizzard to add more than one new hero per month.

So, with regards to the sheer numbers, HotS is in a good place for players new to the MOBA scene. It helps immensely that you are given a fairly substantial amount of gold in the beginning – from easily achievable player and hero leveling – with which to buy your first few heroes.

The main thing I would criticise Blizzard for is in striking the balance in prices between real money options and gold currency options. I don’t think they have done it very well at all at the moment. Every hero can be bought for gold. That is good, that is the minimum I would expect from a F2P MOBA. I think the RMT prices for the most expensive heroes is too high, I think they would do better to cap out at USD$10. I think it’s a bad idea to have so many skins and mounts locked behind RMT only (plus I think those prices are waaay too high). They should put a high gold price on those, say 20k, so that people have to spread their earnings between more options and thus have more of an incentive to impatiently slap down a credit card. As it is, people like me, who aren’t likely to pay RMT for skins or mounts anyway, are going to simply ignore those options and be slightly shirty at Blizz.

The F2P model for HotS is pretty good, imo, just not as good as that of LoL. It is more generous with the currency at the start, but I don’t think LoL gates any skins behind RMT-only, at least not permanently? I find it generous enough to not feel like I have to pay RMT, and although the coolest skins are RMT-only, which annoys me, I can enjoy the game well enough without them.

Blink-182 – All The Small Things

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