About this time last month, Blizzard released a highly detailed infographic highlighting various arena stats in Hearthstone. From the best players in the world to class averages, card popularity, and other fun statistics, it covered a good chunk of the popular game mode. Since then, players have been clamoring for more insight into what's happening on a more frequent basis.
The developers already publish a list of the Top 100 players each month on the ranked ladder and many popular streamers would like to have something similar to strive for since there's really no long-term tracking for arena built into Hearthstone outside of total wins.
Popular Twitch streamer Trump asked the developers if this is something that will happen more often.
You guys released the Arena stats. Is that something you're looking to do more of?
Dean: It's something we're talking about doing. I think it's reasonable to assume that we would post something. Most likely on the web, we're not really looking to do anything in client right now.
It's actually really tricky to understand how to rank the top arena players.
We talked a little bit about having a formula that calculates, based on how much you play versus your actual win rate, because we obviously don't want the top arena player to be someone that played three arena runs and 12-0'd three times.
We don't matchmake based on skill in arena, we matchmake based on records, so there's no background MMR. I can't just say, "This is the top ranked player in arena." It doesn't even exist so we have to create a metric that makes sense so that people respect [it].
If we're going to post the Top 100 players or however many players, we want people to look at this list and be like, "Oh, I see these statistics and yeah, that person does look like the best person," right?
It's not a huge challenge. It's just a talk that we have to figure out.
We want to celebrate a bunch of arena players. You guys are playing a ton of arena and it's nice to be rewarded or have something to shoot for even.
One of the challenges [is the] perception that some classes are better than others. So if there are rankings it's not ideal to make people feel like they have to choose the most powerful classes.
We're addressing some of the problems with arena balance as well [and] it's actually getting a lot closer. Mage was at the top for a while, and now it's still there, but it's also a tricky problem. We actually try to explain it a lot of times and right now it's so close I think Mage isn't actually the best arena class. But because the perception is so, it really affects how things work.
All of the best and informed arena players are going to all these websites and they're going to Reddit and everyone is saying that Mage is the best. Good players and informed players and players that are going to all these websites, that group of players play Mage at a higher rating whereas the people that aren't engaged at all - don't read any websites at all - they just pick whatever class they want.
It doesn't actually matter if Mage is better than Shaman if a great player is playing Mage and the worse player is playing Shaman.
But we're getting closer and closer to the balance. We're tweaking a bunch of numbers. There's a lot to think about.
There are two huge directions and we have to choose which one is the best. And I'm not sure [what] the answer is yet.
You can increase the quality of decks in arena where there's more synergy. [So if] you get a dragon, you have more of a chance to get dragons or something like that. We can do something like for the future, but it makes it feel more and more like constructed.
Or we can actually decrease the quality of arena decks and take out stuff like Spider Tank and River Crocolisk. A lot of Arena now is you're just playing one-drops and two-drops and snowballing the game. Spells are less and less frequent as players just play minion after minion.
I think you can make the game more interesting by actually making the quality of decks overall a little bit worse.
Plus there's also the problem [of] the growing card pool. Before long it'll be thousands of cards and if you're just drafting you can't really play around anything.
So there's a lot of decisions to make.
Yong: As you can see, we have guys like Dean on the team who are super passionate about Arena.
Dean: I'm working on it.
Yong: I think there's sometimes a little bit of perception from the community that we don't think about Arena, that we don't care about it. That's just not true. People like Dean spend so much time thinking about it, we have so many debates about it.
We're very excited to investing a lot of different tool chains to give dudes like Dean more tools to effect the arena. We're very excited about that. We're going to continue to work on that for 2017.
Dean: There's stuff we're reactively working on.
Because there is a difference like sometimes when we say, "Hey, we're talking about this thing." It is true. We are talking about the thing and we're aren't actively doing anything.
This arena stuff is something that is actively going on and we're figuring it out.
So I would say that it will happen. I don't know when, but it will.
More From Our Interview
Want to read more about Mean Streets of Gadgetzan and Hearthstone in general? Check out our previously published snippets.
- Mean Streets Of Gadgetzan Started With A Gangster Murloc
- Tri-Class Cards And The Case For Less Of Them
- BlizzCon Interview: Legendaries, Twitch Integration, And Tavern Brawls
- Iksar: Patches Deck Is "Maybe The Single Hardest Deck To Play"
- Blizzard Talks RNG, Curvestone, & HCT 2017
- The Power Of "Reno" Effects And Balancing Wild
Mean Streets of Gadgetzan Guide
We're nearing the conclusion of our BlizzCon interview but we still have a few topics left to touch on. In the meantime, you can head on over to our official guide for more information on Mean Streets including all of the revealed cards, gameplay, trailers, and more!