I was addicted to Hearthstone. The strategies and progression consumed me. I played it in all my spare moments and pondered strategy in between. I played it once in the shower, and am ashamed to admit I tried to get in a round while driving in the city.
It was a fast love affair that burned hot and then I was done. Partially because I simply don’t like being addicted to anything, and also because the constant introduction of sets demanded payment to remain competitive.
I’m sure most gamers start Hearthstone or other f2p titles with the best intentions of not spending a single dollar. Enjoying what they can and laughing at those who drop hundreds. But competition is a fantastic motivator to pry money from a digital wallet. Hearthstone is fine-tuned to keep you playing against opponents of your skill level but keep you chasing an always-manageable goal. The next progression checkpoint is always within sight, keeping you in for just a few games more, which of course becomes hours.
Losing to opponents that have better cards is obviously frustrating. Surely if you had the same equipment, the battlefield would be even and your superior skill would tilt it in your favor. Buying just the essentials will be enough. But the beauty of Hearthstone is in the endless tweaking in pursuit of the perfect deck. Better options become clear after wins and losses, prompting the purchase of more cards and more packs.
And just when you’ve got it all figured out, a new expansion drops. Several of your favorite cards that cost you real money are now rotated out of Standard play while shiny new additions take their place.
The problem is when the shiny new cards are a no-brainer upgrade. Newer cards may cost the same Mana to cast, but now have an extra stat point or a nifty ability that makes them a must-pick.
It’s a problem that a must-pick costs money in a f2p competitive game.
Chess wouldn’t be fun if your opponent’s Pawns could move an extra space or their Bishop gained an extra attack for every Castle still in play. Competition should be about the battle of human will. Strength, skill, intellect, or sheer will should be the deciding factor. Not a micro-transaction.
I’ll always remember my lustful summer with Hearthstone. The walks we took and the glories we shared. But everytime I see a new Expansion released, I remember why we’re not together anymore. Have a good life Hearth.