Blizzard’s Monetization of its F2P Games


If there was any doubt in the F2P model the success of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has made it perfectly clear that it’s not a niche and isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It’s here to stay, simple as that. While World of Warcraft likely won’t ever be making a full transition it’s quite clear that Blizzard Entertainment is at least analyzing the model for its future titles, constructing Heroes of the Storm in this realm. Recently, Blizzard has touted some new content, even features for its two F2P universes.

The ~$10 price point for the hero portraits in Hearthstone, and skins and heroes in Heroes of the Storm come off as high. Begging the question is Blizzard over pricing these items, is Blizzard producing more “up market” items or, like Nintendo, does Blizzard believe the price points of many F2P shops are simply too low to be sustainable long term?

Clearly the idea of Blizzard overcharging is the typical cynicism of gamers. Corporate greed and all that. This is certainly a possibility. The other points are a bit more muddied together. Blizzard has a long standing tradition of moving into niche markets with an incredibly polished product that takes over the genre. Coming into the MOBA market quite late it can’t replicate that maneuver as easily. Thus differentiating HotS with highly unique cosmetic items could be an angle. It’s clearly what the heroes portrait are in Hearthstone. Naturally, going that route requires more development resources making the few dollars market common in the genre too depressed.

What is it then? Is Blizzard being greedy or making a stance in the genre? Personally, I’d wager it’s a combination of latter two. Blizzard is making a more polished cosmetic offering, but is also attempting to move the F2P market up.

And again, let’s not forget that all of these purchases are completely optional. If only it was easier to gift to friends.

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