Meet Hearthstone’s New $10 Portrait

If you enjoy Hearthstone [official site] and, like me, spend your lofty unemployed weekdays buying ludicrously priced tat online like some sort of teen heiress moron: Congratulations! You are very possibly Blizzard’s target market for the latest addition to its in-game store.

Blizzard have released the first of an apparent series of animated Hero portraits. At a $10 price point, players of the digital card game can switch out the current warrior portrait (which is of Garrosh Hellscream) with an animated portrait of Ironforge king Magni Bronzebeard. As described in an official post, the New Heroes will feature individualised emotes and voices, as well as a unique card design.

And that’s about that. From the mouths of Blizzard: “New Heroes do not add new cards to your collection or change the classes’ activated Hero Power and are not considered new classes.”

Needless to say, the price tag is baffling in that case. Ten human dollars is leaning toward the extreme end of what most gamers would consider paying for a single cosmetic item – Although not quite as highly priced as World of Warcraft’s $25 flying cat. Still, I find it endlessly fascinating to watch how far Blizz and others are willing to push the pricing standards of in-game retail.

A $10 animated portrait! – Is that excessive or a new status quo? What kind of gamer demographic do you imagine Blizzard are actually trying to target here? And did you know for a mere $8 I’d draw you a picture of a gnome to look at while you play games?

You can have a look at the Bronzebeard portrait release trailer below.

66 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Thulsa Hex says:

    It’s $10 for what amounts to a big badge that proudly identifies you as a chump. Basically.

    • Max Planck says:

      So it’s a cheaper version of those baseball caps with the big metal badge-thing on the front?

    • Hunchback says:

      I am glad people would pay 10$ so i could continue playing this completely free. Vain people deserve to pay for their vanity, and the F2P model is the best thing to happen to us lately, when applied properly.

      Please make more payed portraits and emotes and cosmetic stuff!

      • Beanbee says:

        F2V? Free to Vain?

      • SaintAn says:

        It’s sad that you don’t realize that F2P games are scams meant to charge you way more than what the game would cost if they launched it like a real game. It would be $30-$40 if launched as a real game, but instead the people that want to play it have to spend way more than that, and the people that want to win have to pay hundreds more. Quit defending abusive business scams that are disrespectful to the morons that give these companies money. Sure they are weak minded genetic garbage that should be sterilized or enslaved, but it’s still horrible how Blizzard treats them for spending so much cash on their game. Also, don’t you realize if people just roll over like you this will only get worse? So you buying this effects all of us because they will just keep adding more overpriced garbage like this.

        • Tacroy says:

          Have you actually played Hearthstone or is that your knee jerking around?

          The basic set of common cards everyone gets for free are the backbone of many effective decks, and if you play the game you’re going to accrue enough in-game currency to buy booster packs for free.

          Hearthstone is one of the few games that really manages to nail microtransactions. If you just like playing the game, you can do so very effectively without ever spending a cent; your decks will be workmanlike since you won’t have flashy cards, but they’ll still win.

          • Raiyne says:

            I’d say the feasibility of winning with a basic deck is more indicative of the shallowness of the game’s system, rather than a success of its monetisation. Indeed, it is possible to climb the ranks with a basic deck, but it requires good decision making (which isn’t hard in itself) and a large number of games played, as basic decks will most certainly have lower win rates than those with better cards.

            Also, the unlocking of more content (cards) is completely random, and the return on investment for the time you put in is quite pathetic, with the number of cards you need to liquify to craft a single specific card you want. Without a substantial amount of money invested, you’re left with grinding quests over a slow burn of a few months where you’re never really playing the ‘full game’. I wouldn’t say that Blizzard nailed it, I’m certainly not satisfied with it. I’ve gladly spent money on DOTA 2 and CS:GO, because I feel valued as a customer. In contrast, I refuse to spend any on Hearthstone because it seems to me like such a complete ripoff, and it’s really not that rewarding at the end of the day. Sure, you can rebutt with subjectivity, and I’m all for different strokes, but even still, it’s easy to see at a glance, the ratio of content versus time and money to be invested, is starkly different from Valve’s F2P model to Blizzard’s.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Yeah.. no, not really. Is it possible? Yes, of course it is. But for every game you win, you’ll probably lose quite a few more. Much, much more than that if you happen to play just after a ladder reset which happens once in a while.

            And then consider how little gold you actually get from winning a match and how many random decks you’ll need to truly make a decent deck.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Ack.. that last sentence was all wrong. I meant to say, it takes a lot of matches to get enough gold to get packs which give you random cards and therefore make it take even longer to make a decent deck. Disenchanting cards helps a bit, but is still very expensive in terms of the gold/card ratio. And given the game’s bad time/gold earned ratio (unless you play Arena which, you guessed it, costs money or gold) that’s not really fun.

            Face it, the game’s designed to drive people towards making people buy (the rather expensively priced) card packs.

        • Hunchback says:

          @SaintAn : Dude, you sound a bit like an old person talking about something they THINK they know, but they actually only know what they’ve seen on TV – you are only half-right.

          F2P truly means people make more money by selling mini-transaction things, but it REALLY depends on WHAT they are selling. There are horrible games that are basically a scam, that give actual advantages to the people who dump hundreds of moneyz in their games by giving boosts, premium vehicles, premium whatever, things that change the game mechanics or parts of the game that are locked away from everyone else. These companies are abusive like hell, but to me it’s a bit like drug dealers – if there’s people dumb enough to pay for their goods, it’s their fucking problem, let them burn.

          However, there are decent companies who do make a ton of cash, Valve and Riot being the major ones i suppose, that really only sell vanity items that do not influence the actual game in any way. (Ok, there’s boosters and hero unlocks with Riot but that’s all stuff you can unlock by playing for reasonable amounts of time, not year-long grinds).
          Blizzard stand somewhere in the middle right now, since basically their whole game is accessible through ingame currency, however the 700 gold price per dungeon wing is kinda forcing my hand. But then again, the dungeons are insanely expensive in real cash, so i guess it’s normal.

          Anyways, i’ve played countless hours of DOTA, Path of Exile, quite a bit of Heartstone, and i never really felt compelled to spend any real money on it. And i never did. I actually MADE money out of DOTA2, selling items i got for free, and i’ve bought other games with that money…

          TLDR: F2P can be done right and everyone’s happy. Or it can be a pile of shit, but that case usually fails miserably nowadays since players recognize it very fast and reviews destroy the games that are too abusive.

    • Bull0 says:

      Well not really since the characters are also voiced, and they’ve generally got a nice bit of personality to the taunts and emotes.

      • Bull0 says:

        Plus, you know, the game itself is free.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          What you can pay for is generally pretty expensive. Total Biscuit mentioned he purchased all heroes in Heroes of the Storm earlier using as many bundles and such to save money, but he still spent about $190. And there’s not that many of them. Although I don’t know if that includes mounts and skins, but still, that’s very expensive for a decent but not great moba-light.

  2. Philomelle says:

    While I see how the price on this one is really overkill, I don’t understand why you’d complain about it not providing any changes to the gameplay. Wouldn’t restricting potentially meta-changing pieces of gameplay to paying customers only be a really terrible thing for a competitive game?

    • that_guy_strife says:

      mmm … no ?

      why would it ?

      • Philomelle says:

        Because once a large number of the game’s players no longer have access content that influences its strategies, the game’s meta lopsides and its competitive value fall out the window.

        It would be like saying that your goalkeeper in football is forbidden from employing certain moves unless they pay a fee to the central organization first.

        • that_guy_strife says:

          Philomelle: How does an animated portrait influence strategy ?

          It’s not like saying you couldn’t use a certain move until you pay up, it’s more like if you don’t want to wear the basic shirt and shorts they provide, you have to pay a fee for the privilege of wearing your own.

          Even better, you could compare with poker. Someone who pays for looks, that tells you things about them.

      • Hunchback says:

        OFC it would. Go check World of Tanks or any other similar “f2p” piece of shit software where money rules.

        Some people just don’t get how the F2P model works. They must burn.

        Blizzard, however, are smarter than this and don’t go full retard with premium bullshit. Hail Blizzard, Valve and Riot, i guess. And ArenaNet, GW2 has a very decent business model that mixes payed and free content and still avoids locking and OP stuff and all.

  3. Callorian says:

    I’m not sure I see this as any different than a skin in League of Legends or any of the cosmetics from DOTA2. Something to get to show your appreciation and/or because you think it looks cool. I know some players also buy these to show their preferred heroes/champs in those games.

    Maybe people who really focus on warrior decks will do something similar?

  4. Ethaor says:

    Why shouldn’t they charge $10 for a portrait? If there’s people buying. Why new”AAA” games shouldn’t be sold (even rented considering Steam is service) for 120 euros (base game + season passes) if there’s people buying it at these prices?

    The company whose sole purpose is to make money shouldn’t be to blame, players that blindly buy anything at any price is the source of the problem.

    • Tatourmi says:

      That logic only goes so far in the real world. Why shouldn’t all companies that make food boost their prices? People will still buy. Why shouldn’t every single first necessity product be sold at a higher premium really? If companies agree on a reasonably but artificially high price it will still sell and it is a way to maximize profits. Actually they do: The health and the law industry in the U.S are a prime example. Who cares if the lower class gets fucked? Chumps are willing to pay higher than they ever would for a treatment/representation! And if companies are only responsible for making money then why should they care about pollution? Treating their employees well? The fucking law?

      Companies are sometimes to blame alongside with the buyer of their products, who sometimes, just sometimes, doesn’t have any choice. And the funniest thing about the whole affair? Companies don’t have much choice either if they are publicly owned, which most companies are. They are required by the law to maximize profits. But should it be that way? I don’t think so.

      • OmNomNom says:

        It goes pretty far in the real world. People are stupid.

        Feel free to buy some art for £10k IRL

  5. Bluestormzion says:

    I said it when Blizzard introduced 15 dollar pets and 25 dollar mounts in World of Warcraft. I said it when Blizzard added 10 dollar skin variants in Heroes of the Storm. And I will say it now, in honor of 10 dollar portraits in a CARD GAME:

    Blizzard can go fuck themselves. These prices are twice as high as I believe are tolerable. I would buy 15 pets or hero skins if they were a dollar apiece. I would buy 5 pets or hero skins at $2.50 apiece. I would buy two pets or hero skins at $5.00 apiece. I will buy ZERO pets or hero skins at 10 dollars each. There is a diminishing return principle here. And we are well beyond the point where it is worth my money. Many others feel the same way.

    • Shadow says:

      I agree, of course. Such a high price for something so trivial.

      But there’s probably just as many, or at least enough people feeling differently. If there’s enough people who’ll buy this kind of thing to justify the cost of making it, then it’s a profitable venture. I’m sure they’ve done all sorts of market studies on the subject.

      There’s always plenty of people throwing away money for pointless internet swag. Look at all those people on Steam with very high account levels, product of burning cash on untold amounts of trading cards. All to get a bunch of inconsequential icons on their profile, and a higher number.

      Enough people will buy anything if you’re smart enough to convince them they need it for any reason.

      • ninnyjams says:

        I like buying cosmetic stuff to support games I got for free. Where does that put me?

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          That depends: I did that with league of Legends; I liked the game enough that I spent about 50 euros on Riot’s currency so I could support them, and get skins for my champions. I also believe they’re more fairly priced overall than Blizzard’s microtransactions.

          If you play Hearthstone and appreciate the game enought that it’s worth it to you, well, it’s your choice. Just be aware that you’re also encouraging more and more developers to do the same type of annoying monetisation. Blizzard has inserted these in every recent game of theirs and it’s getting worse.

          Personally, I dislike the direction Blizzard’s going in and I won’t encourage them so I have decided not to fund them anymore (if I can help it. Sometimes I can’t help myself).

    • SirBryghtside says:

      Yeah, this is pretty much what I think about it – Blizzard have clearly done the financial analysis that shows them that $10 is an ‘optimal’ price point for this product, so while it kinda sucks that some people who might buy this at, say, $5 won’t be able to justify it, it’s just sensible business. Given that it doesn’t affect gameplay at all, I really don’t see a problem.

    • Jigoku says:

      I heartfully agree.

      I know this won’t change, but still…
      I’m pretty sure they’d make much more money if they targeted people that just don’t like to feel scammed by a company whose games they value when they pay for something ingame.

      10$ for that kind of stuff is outrageous. 5$ would be… barely ok.
      2,5$, and I don’t see any dedicated warrior not buying it just for the sake of it.
      Well, I’m not one of them though so I could be mistaken.

      If we do the math, it feels like there’s something wrong.
      Here’s really hoping they’ll adjust with time.
      F2P is “new” to them, & once they’ll gather more data, maybe they’ll come to their senses… (I wouldn’t hold my breath up for this one though). Greedy suits on top of developpers’ decisions will not facilitate that kind of transition.

      • vlonk says:

        The impulse to buy cosmetics dimnishes with consecutive purchases. The “perceived value” of cosmetics increases with rarity, exclusivity, etc. Often higher price points turn a bigger profit because of social behaviour in the playerbase. To make money with vanity is a science. Of course that science to find optimal price points flies in the face of loyal costumers because it must create pressure to buy nice stuff, it builds on the unhappiness and unfullfilled desires of costumers and it divides the playerbase. The company presents a beautiful thing and then it builds on our desire to “own” it to turn a profit. This is the sad tale of our times.

        The baseball cap is something you can use to represent your affection and loyalty to a band/sportsteam/etc. A cosmetic item will most likely not be able to allow you that.

        To be competitive in Hearthstone requires a SUBSTANTIAL financial investment. Look at the 24/7 streamers like Kripparian and you will see how long it takes to stock up a free account. I really enjoy the tournament streams. I quit playing a long time ago. That 1 HP win from Reynard on the ESL last weekend was SICK. Go watch that and save the money for the immersion breaking “hammer wielding but fiery war axe-swinging” king of the dwarfs.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Honestly, I think they have done their research and it’s told them that this is the optimal price-point to give them the most profit, so I don’t think they would make more money selling this cheaper. That’s just the way it is, these sorts of companies work on extensive business projections, not just intentionally overpricing things as some people seem to believe.

    • OmNomNom says:

      If it was for a game changing (read: advantage or P2W) then I would completely agree. But then it is just some lame art.
      If people want to waste $10 then let them.

  6. liquidsoap89 says:

    So by animated, they mean some fancy particles float around a stationary image?

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah, I was expecting character animations too.

      Also what kind of sick fuck would pay to have more of that absolutely godawful, unplaceable accent in hearthstone? Perhaps it’s being marketed towards griefers…

  7. aliksy says:

    Either people are bad with their money, and we should feel bad for them, or they have too much money.

    I know relative privation is a fallacy, but for fuck’s sake if you’re thinking of blowing $10 on a useless animation maybe consider some charities or something instead. Or at least buy something from Humble, which donates some small portion.

    • Likethiss says:

      It is 10$… People are buying 2000$ ships in Star Citizen. And if you play a lot of Hearthstone, why couldnt you just spend some money on it every now and then? That has been my reasoning in purchasing some HotS and Dota 2 skins atleast.

      If i get 500+ hours out of a f2p title i will gladly support the developers by buying some overpriced cosmetic stuff or boosters. Most Steam sale buys cost about that much and i havent even started most of them yet, so i see these skins and whatnots as money better spent :)

      • aliksy says:

        I’m pretty sure $10 would feed a poor person for a week. If you want to show support for blizzard (and their solid gold mansions I assume they have), then I guess that makes sense.

        And paying $2000 for video game stuff sounds completely nuts to me. They’re either bad with their money, or they have too much of it.

        • ninnyjams says:

          Right so next time you go and buy anything for personal enjoyment, stop and donate it to charity instead. Such a stupid argument.

    • GuybrushThreepwood says:

      It’s no more daft than someone dropping £40 to see Man U at Old Trafford. And there are a LOT of people who do that.

  8. Bobsy says:

    $10 is a bit steep, yes, but the thing itself is definitely desirable. Garrosh is a particularly irritating character to play, so its good to be able to vary it up a little. And besides, it’s pretty rare that I ever put down any money to Hearthstone, and it’s probably the game I sink more hours into than anything else.

    • Bobsy says:

      Also, awful as that accent is, it’s still worlds better than that of the innkeeper l

  9. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Scientology.

  10. CaptainHairy says:

    Yeah, people are losing it over this, but there’s plenty of games with more expensive cosmetics in them. In Path of Exile (a game I have poured 2000+ hours into -_-) you can pay $110 for a scorpion pet. A set of totally cosmetic armour skins will set you back about $40.

  11. KDR_11k says:

    Huh, this guy doesn’t even match the existing warrior color (red). And with the hammers he looks more like a paladin at first glance.

    Maybe he’s useful for confusing people…

  12. Hunchback says:

    “And did you know for a mere $8 I’d draw you a picture of a gnome to look at while you play games?”

    That’s where you miss the point. F2P cosmetic items are not for YOU to look at, that’s never been a thing. Skin replacements that YOU can look at have been available for years, for FREE, for League Of Legends and World of Tanks and all other major online games forever, but no one cares. What people want is for OTHERS to see their fancy skins, spells, card backs, emotes, hats, youname it.

    And that’s why it works.

    • madAzrael says:

      Hmm. I buy League of Legends Skins to look at them. Sure, it’s cool to show off a bit. For example if my (premade) team agrees to use only pool party-skins, but no. I really buy stuff for myself to look at. Maybe I’m different?

      So… Emily, this picture of a gnome…. $8 you say? If the gnome is recognizable (no, the word “gnome” with an arrow pointing at a stickfigur doesnt count!) and you sign it, it’s a deal! :D

    • AngoraFish says:

      I couldn’t care less what I look like to other players. I’m fully aware that most opponents are just going to think that I’m a tosser for buying cosmetic items at all.

      I buy skins because I have to look at these models for hours upon hours at a time, and I may as well be watching something I like the look of.

      This is kind of the same reason for why I always play female characters – if I’m going to look at someone’s arse for hours at a time it may as well be one I personally find attractive.

    • Hunchback says:

      So why don’t you guys just use the free skin replacements you can find online, then? O.o
      It works like mods for any offline game…

  13. Wulfram says:

    I hate playing Garrosh because all his emotes are so jerkish, so I can see the temptation.

  14. The Master Chief from Halo says:

    Not that it’s either-or, but I’d rather cosmetic items than ones that affect the game. I love card games but won’t play Hearthstone because the game’s content (cards) is either tragically expensive or a miserable grind.

    You have to spend something like thousands of dollars or hours to get a real deck, and once you have it you may not even like it, and can’t sell it.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Well, you can get cards for free easily. There’s a possible daily quest that gives you a free pack for spectating a friend. The arena is available for 125 gold and is some of the most fun in the game. Getting 125 gold is pretty easy, and you always win a pack, even if you go 0 wins, (gvg pack atm). Additional wins grant you cards as reward and if you manage to go 4-6 wins you get 50-100% of the gold you spent to enter back.
      On top, you get to play with all the cards in the game potentially, without owning them. Sure, not in the best of decks, but neither does any of your opponents have that.

      Making a good deck is easily possible, and there are multiple legend-capable decks that do not require any super rare or legendary cards to achieve that status.

      Not that I’m a very active or especially skilled player, just saying that it’s possible just fine to go a long way without spending anything. Though I did spend some while playing more actively.

  15. Xzi says:

    I mean, a lot of people play this on their phones now. So, if I’m Blizzard, I’m thinking, “time to switch to F2P mobile game pricing and milk all the schmucks on brand new iPhones who have more money than sense!”

  16. GuybrushThreepwood says:

    Incomplete reporting chaps.
    The 10 American gets a player the hero portrait, new animations for the hero power, new emotes, and two items that are just as cool as the portrait itself – a new animated play area and a unique card back. As DLC packages go, that’s not bad. Besides, the game itself if F2P, and this is a purely cosmetic item for an insignificant amount of money.

    Source: link to us.battle.net

  17. SaintAn says:

    Looks like they are using my hustle from when I was in middle school. I used to sell printed out DBZ and Pokemon art to stupid kids for money. Now they’re doing the same thing, but to stupid adults and their spoiled trash kids. I guess Blizz needs weed money too.

    • that_guy_strife says:

      I like you.

    • Plum says:

      Gotta respect a man who refuses to surround himself with false gods and graven images! Living in a plain white walled home with no decorations, adornments or artwork would get pretty dull for most people but you seem to have risen to the challenge and even turned a profit from those pathetic fools who like to look at things they like.

  18. PoulWrist says:

    While the price might seem overkill, I dunno, if I played it a lot I would be the type to buy such. I guess being danish gives you a different relationship to money. 10$ isn’t much. Sure, I could buy 20 games during steam summersale or whatever for that amount, but in context to something else, then 10$ buys me one pint of beer at the pub. Also consider that I’m not in a highly paid job.

    Not that I’m defending it or anything, just giving an opinion from someone who thinks that 10$ isn’t a lot of money to spend on something that might be your hobby.

  19. gbrading says:

    Overpriced, certainly, but as there is zero gameplay implication, I can’t get worked up about it. I just hope no one buys this and shows Blizzard they’re idiots for charging so much for so little.

    I’m just glad that so far there has always been a gold alternative to earn all the cards.

    • Choca says:

      Pretty much agree with you there, purely cosmetical DLC or microtransactions are fine with me but you have to admit that 10 bucks for an animated GIF is pretty ridiculous.

  20. dontnormally says:

    Why the fuck can’t these be bought with gold?

  21. Mitch.sp says:

    If someone wants to play a much deeper F2P cardgame alternative to HeartStone, I can fervorous suggest Might and Magic Duel of Champions.

    With more that 2 years of life, great art, 2 Base Set, several expansions, Standard and Legacy game modes, every card in the game available to free players and with an economic model really generous for new players, and inminent draft mode ala HeartStone Arena.

    Is based in the lore of Might and Magic saga, and gameplay is really interesting, with 6 distinctive factions, and actually with 10 heroes for each faction, offering lots of options for gameplay and deckbuilding.

    Using a referal link for other player give new accounts 6 starter decks, one for each faction, plus another free one.
    link to signup.duelofchampions.com

  22. EhexT says:

    It’s Blizzard their prices have always been crazy and ever since they discovered you could charge people for stuff in games they’ve already got their prices have been going positively batshit crazy. But it’s Blizzard so they get a free pass, because Blizzard can do no wrong.