Update: Blizzard has released some Runestones infographics showcasing bundle sizes and what players will be able to purchase with each currency (Runestones, real money, Gold). You can find them at the bottom of this post.
In a new blog post, Blizzard has just announced an introduction of a new premium Hearthstone currency called “Runestones”. Here’s a quick summary:
- Runestones are an extra currency – they won’t replace anything, Gold will still work the same way it does right now.
- Runestones can be purchased in Hearthstone or through the Battle.net shop with real money. There is no way to earn them by playing the game.
- They will be used to buy things that are currently available for real money – like Hero skins, Battlegrounds boards etc.
- The prices of items are staying the same, just converted to Runestones.
- Some of the more expensive/key things like card packs or expansion pre-orders will still be purchasable with real money.
- The best comparison is all kinds of “gems”, “diamonds” etc. from mobile games – if you played any of those you know what I’m talking about.
I’m really against this kind of thing because it’s hard to see any benefits for regular players. It only opens the possibility of predatory mobile gaming tactics like items costing just a bit more than the amount of Runestones you can purchase in a bundle (so you need to pick a bigger currency bundle and pay more). Devs are saying that they won’t do that, and I’m not saying it either. But there’s always a possibility they change their minds in the future, or they get pressure from higher-ups to maximize the gains etc. I usually try to defend devs if they have a good reason to do something, even if players might not like it, but this time I have to say that I just can’t see it.
This is not the only controversial choice they are making today, because in other news Battlegrounds will no longer be truly “F2P” because 4 hero choices that could be purchased with Gold will now be tied to the newly introduced premium rewards track that you can only buy with real money (or, well, Runestones). I covered the Battlegrounds update here.
Anyway, here’s the official info about Runestones we have from the short Q&A in the latest Battlegrounds announcements:
Q: What are Runestones?
A:Runestones will be replacing real money purchases for nearly every product in the Hearthstone shop. Some products, like Pre-Purchase Bundles, the Hearthstone Tavern Pass, and Packs (purchasing more than one at a time) will be able to be purchased with money or Runestones. A few other select products, like individual packs and cosmetics crafted in the Collection, will remain purchasable with only Gold.
With Runestones we’ll be able to offer additional smaller-scale items, such as the individual Battlegrounds Hero Skins offered in the shop with this patch. Runestones will be available in bundles of various sizes, including quantities that correspond to our major products (like the Battlegrounds Season Pass), so you can buy exactly the quantity needed for that product or you can stock up on more for later. No product costs are changing with this conversion—all prices are staying the same, just converted to Runestones.
Q: Can I earn Runestones in-game?
A: No, there are no plans to earn Runestones in-game.