The Hearthstone player revolt hasn't lost any steam -- and it's gotten bad enough to sabotage some community events. We told you a couple of weeks ago that the uproar on Reddit was at a fever pitch following anger regarding the new progression system, and Blizzard's one apologetic reply since then hasn't served to placate anyone.
Last week, Blizzard hosted its first livestream, the Darkmoon Duel-Fest, since the launch of its latest expansion. The complete nine-hour VOD can be seen here, and if you flip to any point in the broadcast, you'll see viewers talking less about the competition and more about the progression system and Tavern Pass. A light-hearted AMA was pulled after an intense backlash, while concerted review-bombing has sunk the game's rating on the App Store to 3.5 and on the Google Play Store to 3.7. Bugs regarding daily and weekly quests haven't helped matters any, although players affected by those at least received some measure of compensation.
Through it all, we only have one official communication from Blizzard regarding the issue, noted above, and that's what's gotten players as riled up about the topic as anything. The problem is, there isn't much else Blizzard can do at this point.
It's clear that the progression system and Tavern Pass will be changed. Hearthstone devs are likely working on figuring out exactly what those changes will be. But even if had it all figured out right now, on paper, implementing them in the game client would take time. How much time? I'm not a programmer for the game, so I can't answer that, but it will likely take more than the two weeks it's been since everything went to hell.
So why not communicate more about its plans? If Blizzard does that and then decides it needs to change something later on, the re-uproar could be even greater than the original. Even if it's as small as "We originally thought this reward would be worth 50 gold but we made it 40 instead," that's going to lead to another whole round of "BLIZZARD LIED!" posts. Normally, I'm all for developers sharing their plans and keeping players as informed as possible, but this is a case where it's probably wiser not to do so until that plan has been solidified.
It's a tough situation to be in, but not one that necessarily deserves pity. Blizzard made this bed and now has to lie in it, and it's going to take lots of work to win back player trust and confidence. In the meantime, the marketing team will just need to weather the storm of negative responses to all its efforts.
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About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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