One of the biggest frustrations with Blizzard for the past 20+ years is that they do things on there own schedule, and it’s rarely a schedule we like. Although frustrating most of the time, few can argue against the opinion that most of what they put out is pretty darned good right out of the gate. It’s been their method, and we begrudgingly accept it as part of the process. It builds hype, which we feverishly buy into, and we are usually pleased with the result. Once an IP finally comes out, so does our crazy, and it’s usually unwarranted. When improvements are needed wanted, or new content is teased for the games we love, Blizzard takes the same slow and methodical approach to making changes/adding content, and it drives us crazy. We lose our everloving minds over it. Just like we always do.
Yet, each time something new comes out, it is usually stable (in comparison to the support patches/content implementations from other companies in the industry), has well designed content, and is well supported. Just like it always is.
Take a moment to read that last statement again, as I want you to take a minute and think about what implementation from other companies typically looks like. To put it bluntly, we are spoiled. We take it all Blizzard normally gives us for granted because Blizzard has delivered on content and features time and again. I know I do. I have liked 90% of what Blizzard has done with all of their IP’s. I honestly can’t say that about ANY other company. It is why I am, admittedly, a Blizzard fanboy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset when things don’t go the way I want them too (because I know exactly what will save the game and rake in a bunch of cash, just like you do),but that doesn’t mean that I don’t do my best to evaluate what they do objectively (it’s my job as a reported of all things Hearthstone). For instance, I really don’t like the new expansion. I don’t like the new mechanics, I don’t like the flavor, and I don’t think the meta it created is fun at all. I know, unpopular statement and all, but still my opinion. With all that being said, I still have an overall positive opinion of Hearthstone and I have confidence that the design team will still do right by the community, if we don’t lynch them first.
If you haven’t heard by now, they have shelved the In-Game Tournament Mode for the foreseeable future. That has a lot of people upset. You can read the announcement here (https://news.blizzard.com/en-us/hearthstone/22483774/hearthstone-in-the-works-september-18) if you haven’t already seen it. Here I go with an unpopular opinion again.
I think we should be happy for this, not angry.
Now, if you know me, then you know that I am not a fan of this feature being implemented. I have said so many times on the show. The biggest reason that I am not a fan is the difficulty in implementing and managing this feature properly so that EVERYONE can enjoy a new and fun mode that furthers the enjoyment of the Hearthstone community across the board. My fear has always been sloppy implementation due to rising pressure from the community and a tournament circuit that seems continuously plagued by one technological issue after another. Whether that is true as far as the numbers go or not I couldn’t say, but it seems that way, and that perception could be dangerous for the overall reputation of the game. If Tournament Mode is implemented improperly, then it could create more headaches that it is worth, for us and for Blizzard. I could go on and on about the dangers and community pitfalls, but no one really wants to hear about that, they just want to know why I think it is good they have shelved it now. Okay, I’ll try and keep it short as this piece is already longer that I expected.
In a nutshell, with a large portion of Hearthstone falling into the casual realm, the reality is that Blizzard needs this to be relevant to the majority of Hearthstone players. They need it to feel rewarding, instructive in the sense of players learning and progressing, and they need it to generate income. I know that no one wants to talk about that last bit, but it’s the truth. If they are going to support it, it needs to support them. There has to be some kind of in-game or real life fee attached, or it won’t get the support they need to give it. That means that people need to be willing to grind for it or pay for it. If you are asking the casual player to choose between tournament mode or buying packs with their in-game, then the reward system needs to be good and the match making needs to be on point or they are going to pick packs over the mode every time. Then it will just turn into a place were elitist play and complain about changes needed in the overall game so that they can be more productive in Tournament Mode, and they will complain loudly. At that point, Tournament Mode won’t give Blizzard anything more than a consistent and persistent community relations nightmare.
In the article, Blizzard states that “Tournaments can serve many different audiences, but the implementation we’d arrived at catered to a very specific audience of players”. They also state “We no longer felt that the end result would deliver on everyone’s expectations of the high standards we have for Hearthstone.” These statements should make everyone very happy, but the reality is that Blizzard has spoiled us, so to social media we go to level our typical barrage of insults and blistering posts. Thankfully though, Blizzard will be Blizzard and do their level best to soothe our tantrums and weather the storm, just like they always do.
I personally feel like Tournament Mode could do as much harm as good to Hearthstone, and the fact that Blizzard is once again taking their time to do it right is somewhat comforting to me. Poor implementation, or features that do not contribute to the overall player experience, can really set a game apart in a bad way these days. With new and ever improving competition in the online CCG market, a miscalculation could give ground that would be hard to gain back. The part that gives me hope, which may turn into excitement, about Tournament Mode is that it appears Blizzard realizes how important it is to get it as right as possible out of the gate. This shouldn’t surprise us, it’s Blizzard, and by this point we know they will take their time until they are happy with it and we will be thankful they did, just like they always do.