Still Not Seeing the Big Deal With $10 Skins in Hearthstone

Hearthstone has some new stuff coming out in the form of new heroes, the first of which is the former lord of Ironforge himself, Magni Bronzebeard:

magni_HSskin

Magni is a cosmetic change and will replace Garrosh as the Warrior hero. Blizzard assures that there are future heroes in the works and will be released periodically as with most of its content. It also affirms that switching Magni in lieu of Garrosh will have no affect on the deck, the cards, nor will it add any.

Cool…so what’s the big hubub in the community?

Price point. You see, the cosmetic change will cost $10 a pop. This alone has the community and even some gaming publications up in arms about the pricing. Let me break this down:

A hero skin, for sale, changing the look of a currently available hero in which if I choose NOT to purchase said skin will have no affect on my ability to enjoy the game.

batman_chinrub_where?

My friends, let me introduce you to a game I’ve fondly enjoyed for the last near year or so…Mr. Heroes of the Storm.

Stormpunk Kael'thas skin sells for $9.99 at regular price
Stormpunk Kael’thas skin sells for $9.99 at regular price

You see, Heroes of the Storm, like any other MOBA, sells skins (and heroes — but heroes you can earn with gold as an alternative). Skins that change the aesthetic of the heroes to which they are applied, some having a more drastic affect than others. And wouldn’t you know it…the premium ones are on sale for….oh ho! $10. Skins that with the exception of the hard earned master skin unlocked through a LOT of gameplay on a singular hero, can only be purchased with money.

Needless to say I’ve purchased some skins…but normally when they were on sale or in a bundle at a discounted price. Because, $10 says to me if I want it “right now” I’ll pay that…but if I can be patient, it’ll go on sale to 50% off at some point and I’ll buy it then. The last skin I purchased was just that…ETC’s pure country skin (one of my favorite in the game) and waited until it was on the weekly sale and got it.

People who have been following my blog know that while I certainly have a stock of Blizzard Kool-aid in the fridge, I don’t always agree with the company in creative decisions, the flying-no flying debate notwithstanding. But right now, there’s NOTHING to indicate the same process won’t happen with Hearthstone’s heroes. They’ll likely start a rotation of sales when there’s more of them available. In the meantime, you can still enjoy the SAME game while still staring at Garrosh’s ugly mug until Magni is on sale for half off (which you know it will inevitably be).

Point is, both Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, are both titles in which players must be proficient in not just ONE deck/hero but several, and Heroes of the Storm SELLS heroes AND skins, where Hearthstone just sells cards (and the adventure packs to go with those cards). Selling aesthetic changes is part of digital gaming entertainment, especially competitive titles within the MOBA and CCG realm. BUT, there’s nothing that says you have to buy into any of it in order to enjoy the game.

A warrior deck is still a warrior deck whether it’s Magni’ face people are looking at or Garrosh’s. 

Like any other price point for such cosmetic features, $10 is standard (in fact, it’s pretty cheap if you consider Riot Games’ cost for premium skins and compared it to how much the purchase units cost in real world dollars, but what’s also assured is the availability of sales. Otherwise, you’re just going to have to pay up to use Magni just as I would have to if I want to rock the Nexus with Pajamathur.

Free to Play games, in order to stay free, have to have online storefronts that offer APPEALING products to get people to buy things they otherwise do not need in order to play the game. I commend those who have designed Hearthstone’s market and pricing structures because I’ve always felt that I could play the game WITHOUT buying decks (and yes, I fully acknowledge this is a debatable sentiment to Hearthstone players). I still end up buying them though because, well, I enjoy opening the packs and seeing what cards I get (but that’s my choice).

There’s no conspiracy here. It’s not some big mystery or surprise that a video game company wants to make a little money off a game that is at the core free to play for anyone with the ability to do so. Because let’s face it, there are FAR WORSE CRIMES of publishers that gate content behind purchases to which Blizzard does not partake…or do I need to introduce you to the house at the end of the street brought to you by the letters D, L and C? Blizzard is not out to squeeze you for every nickel and dime. Really. Money does have to be made in order to pay the people to continue making the games we enjoy — or did you think they were satisfied being paid in Chuck E. Cheese prize tickets?

So please, calm down. And play the game.

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