Blizzard’s shop now features Battlegrounds cosmetics. Themed hero and bartender skins, the new form of monetizing their popular auto-battler game mode.
Hearthstone launched Battlegrounds in November 2019 when auto battles started trending. From the very beginning, Battlegrounds saw a meteoric rise. Since then, Battlegrounds monetization methods used to make a profit have changed a lot.
New Battlegrounds Cosmetics
As of July players can purchase cosmetics for the first time. Blizzard put on the shop three different limited-time offers:
- $19.99 Battlegrounds Bundle - Beach Party: Features 7 alternative Hero Skins, plus Ragnaros Tikilord alternate Bartender
- $14.99 Battlegrounds Heroes - Shadowlands: Includes 8 brand new Shadowlands-themed Hero Skins
- $9.99 Battlegrounds Bartender Ve’nari: A different bartender skin also included in the United in Stormwind Mega-Bundle
How did Blizzard manage Battlegrounds' Monetization before?
The game was promised to be free for everyone with a Hearthstone account, but as always - there's a catch. So how did the game mode make money before the new Battlegrounds Cosmetics? At first, the only monetization in Battlegrounds was related to the Standard game mode. To unlock stats, the possibility of choosing among more Heroes, or getting emotes, you had to buy Hearthstone packs.
In March 2020, Blizzard changed Battlegrounds’ monetization. Players needed to pay $19.99 (or 2500 gold) to get access to the full experience. However, it is not necessary to buy the bundle to enjoy the game.
What is the current state of Battlegrounds?
The low barrier of entry, combined with the great exposure from top streamers was the initial recipe for success. The game mode's popularity grew to the point that some even would say it surpassed the original game. However, many wonder how long this summer would last under Battlegrounds current monetization system.
Most influential Hearthstone streamers have switched long ago to Battlegrounds. The five most viewed streamers fully, or at least partially, focus their content on BGs. Among them, Grand Master Radu “Rdu” Dima, practices constructed off-stream and dedicates his broadcast to the auto-battler.
Similarly, former GMs Vladislav “Silvername” Sinotov and “Tyler” Hoang Nguyen gave little practice time to the prime Hearthstone competition in favor of their BG content, which ended up with them being relegated.
Besides its incredible popularity among the player base and twitch users, Blizzard has not yet announced their intentions to create a competitive system yet. Every invitational event had great success.
Last Boars Champion Slysssa claimed for further development of the scene:
“There are so many prominent streamers they could do something with, but there are also so many smaller streamers or players who are high on the ladder who just need some exposure and make it big”
What’s Next for Battlegrounds?
On top of Battlegrounds’ monetization change, Blizzard announced a major update in a future patch. The new content includes a major rework of all minion Types. In Blizzard’s words, it will be “specifically designed to play off the core fantasy of that Type and re-emphasize how the Types play, giving the entire mode a massive refresh”.
Many content creators and leader board players call for a competitive system. During BlizzConline, the community had expectations of an announcement on the matter, but there was no news. In the meantime, some organizations and streamers have run their own tournaments with great success.
Battlegrounds is still in beta and many think that the game won’t be fully released until a proper monetization system is found. Battlegrounds cosmetics are probably one of many steps. It is likely that the game won't turn into an esport before that.