Do you think the current state of free to play gaming reflects the average gamers’ idea of what video games should be? Continually I find myself let down trying to find the right free to play game. These so called “video games” operate under the guise of a fulfilling game just one more micro-purchase away. Instead, they offer unbalanced game play structured so that those who pay more have a notable advantage. Does the market actually reflect the wants of gamers? Has the gaming community settled as a whole on mediocrity, and if so, what steps can we take to remedy this disheartening trend?
First, we the consumers have to put our money where our mouths are. Our greatest weapon is our wallets! We chose to either support a game or let it fail based on how we spend our money. The power is in our hands so let’s choose the game we want the market to model itself after.
One such game is Blizzard’s Hearthstone. This fully realized, free to play trading card game has already spawned a slew of knock off wanna-bees. Hearthstone’s attention to detail, complex strategies, and, most importantly, a free to play system that allows the balance of the game to remain intact are why Hearthstone is the preeminent free to play video game that sets the bar for free to play games.
Hearthstone maintains a balanced game system while not forcing players to pay to remain competitive. Players can pay for new character skins, packs, and single player missions, all which offer some potentially legendary loot. At first glance Hearthstone looks run of the mill. You can buy packs that give you better cards and single player missions that grant you legendary cards upon completion. However, this is not an issue for dedicated players, for every purchasable item, Blizzard has made it possible for players to earn the exact same thing by playing the game. Every legendary you win in purchased card packs has an equal chance to be won in an earned card pack, leveling the playing field for those who choose not to spend hundreds of dollars for new packs.
With legendary cards being so desirable, how long does it take to earn enough coin to unlock one? It won’t take more than 2 weeks to earn enough coin to play a single player mission for a legendary because Blizzard is constantly throwing extra coins the players way! Daily quests earn players forty to sixty extra coins, or even free card packs which may contain legendaries. Casual players can still unlock good cards. With a little patience, you can earn enough to purchase almost anything in game as Hearthstone makes free truly free again.
Not stopping at simply releasing a balanced and fun game, Blizzard refuses to settle for mediocrity. If a fully realized and playable free game was not enough, Blizzard continues to improve the game through free updates such as new single player missions and packs. Recently, they even released a new game mode that allows players to compete with new, wacky rules every week called Tavern Brawl, rewarding players with a free pack every week.
On the verge on a new, highly speculated, free expansion of Hearthstone, it seems that there is no competition in the way of Blizzard. Hearthstone contains a high level of detail that is an obvious testament to the passion and dedication of the developers at Blizzard; it is the standard that free to play games should be compared to. Likewise, as consumers, it is our duty to shape the gaming community to promote quality over a paycheck by supporting AAA developers like Blizzard Entertainment.