Less than a month after the final Hearthstone expansion of the year, Madness at the Darkmoon Faire, went live the game's passionate, dedicated, and vocal community is up in arms. No, there isn't a specific card or class dominating the meta that has the official Hearthstone subreddit busting at the seams with anger (though some would argue Demon Hunter is a little too strong at the moment). Rather, it's those at the tippy top of the game's food chain, Activision Blizzard, drawing ire from every which angle.
After reworking the way players earned in-game content and cosmetics a month ago via a revamped progression system, members of the community calculated that players actually needed to play the game more to earn similar or fewer rewards than in previous patches. That didn't sit well with the vocal minority of the game's playerbase. Overnight, they took to Reddit and social media to make their frustration known, demand change, and vent with others.
The game's creators notified the playerbase in a statement less than a week after the expansion went live that they were working to make some changes to reward players who dedicated their time to the game they love in an attempt to douse the growing flame. It appears they used gasoline to put out the fire.
In the two weeks since the original statement, the game's community hasn't stopped bombarding content creators, developers, online forums, and Blizzard themselves with messages expressing their frustration. No stranger to controversy, the company has remained quiet since, letting their public-facing employees field the dozens of hateful messages they receive daily for something they had no part in. Despite working behind the scenes to create a balanced game and come up with new content, developers receiving the brunt of the vitriol have nothing to do with how the game is monetized.
Even an attempt at a light-hearted Ask Me Anything was announced last week but quickly canceled after the event was flooded with hate messages.
As the vitriol shows no end in sight and Activision Blizzard hasn't made a follow-up statement suggesting that their previous attempts at damage mitigation fell short, one question remains: what's their next move?
Do they hope Father Time is their ally as the playerbase tires themselves out screaming into a void? Will a complete overhaul of the overhauled progression system even suffice at this point? Would crediting players gold/in-game content help reduce the swelling of the bulging red vein on the forehead of the vocal minority? Or are those on social media and posting on forums just that: the vocal minority that Blizzard knows is such a minute portion of their playerbase that they know they can't please no matter what they do?
An answer to the questions above will likely come within the next couple of weeks before members of the company leave for a holiday break, leaving a lump of coal or a shiny present under the player base's burning tree.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.