The 5 Extra Coins in Hearthstone

Hearthstone is probably my second most-played game ever, the first one being Evil Islands which I was playing for about 8 years straight, so it’s hard to beat that, but Hearthstone – I did some calculations, and I probably have spent somewhere 600-700 hours in it so far during the past two years. At the least. So, naturally, I would like to talk about it.

The 5 Extra Coins in Hearthstone

The topic, though, is something you usually don’t hear when Hearthstone is discussed. Heck, I don’t even know how much of a planned design decision that was, and at least half of the player base wouldn’t feel the effect. But I still find this interesting and worth discussing.

I want to talk about the extra 5 coins. Hearthstone’s in-game economy system is based on multiples of 10. Playing ranked mode will regularly provide 10 coins, your daily quests reward you with 40, 50, 60 or 100 coins, and the prices of things to spend them on is 100, 150 and 700.

And yet, in Arena mode (and only in Arena mode) there’s like a 95% chance that you’ll get a reward that is multiple of 5. Why is that? Those 5 coins are seemingly useless, there’s nothing in the game that costs multiple of 5.

Well, based on my perception of things and some discussions with other Hearthstone frequent Arena players, this little deviation from the norm has a bunch of interesting effects related to Arena and outside of it.

1. Your reward in Arena feels bigger. You don’t get 10 coins, you get 15. You don’t get 30, you get 35. You don’t get 60, you get 65. More than that, this pays off in the next Arena run when with the other additional 5 coins you’ll essentially get 10 extra coins that you can finally spend.

2. When you have those 5 extra coins, – and by the way, as the first Arena run is free you’re almost guaranteed to have them, – you’re inclined to play just a bit more. Let’s say you have 95 coins. You’re so close to buying a pack you want, might as well play a couple times in ranked to get extra coins. When you have 90 coins, even though nothing has changed, you still have to play those couple games and you’ll get a pack, the goal doesn’t feel as close and therefore you might be less motivated to get it.

3. It doesn’t feel like a manipulation attempt, due to the localized use of the reward (just in Arena) and the fact that it actually doesn’t hinder any progression, just helps a bit when you play Arena regularly.

Of course, one can always look at this from another angle. That instead of adding 5 coins, they’re actually removing those. That you could’ve had 100 coins, but because of Arena you have 95. And I think that’s also a valid viewpoint. Which is why this particular topic is so fascinating to me.

There’s really no proper indication in the way it’s designed to prove one way or another, it could work both ways. If you have any thoughts or insight on the matter, feel free to leave it in the comment section. See you next time!

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Posted on February 3, 2016, in Game Design and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Glad you have found something very close to Evil Islands. I played Hearhstone and even enjoyed it, I think that Blizzard did their best in case of game design, their “take something very hardcore and make it easier and challenging enough for everyone”. But i played it not that much, probably 20 or 30 hours or so and then dropped it. You know, I’m kind of wanna-play-more-different-games guy. 🙂
    An interesting finding about 5 coins btw. It’s always fun to watch how Blizzard makes small changes that brings more joy to the players and how they make big dicisions that leads to global changes of existing mechanics. Take Diablo III for example. Those loot systems or potions, or even auction house.

    • Yeah, and it shows that little details matter when they’re all bundled up together. On its own, for example, the way you move Hearthstone cards with a cursor may not seem like much – the cards tilt a bit when you drag it, and tilt more the faster you drag (and there’s a ‘woosh’ sounds that appears). May seem like a little thing, but when taken together with all the other elements it really enhances the experience 🙂

  2. Probably just nice and soft Zeigarnik effect.

  1. Pingback: Blog: The 5 extra coins in Hearthstone - GeekTechTalk

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