You probably have a friend or two who wants to get into Hearthstone, but just can't for one reason or another. They might very well feel slighted by being matched up against players with golden heroes, expensive collections, and powerful netdecks. It doesn't seem to be all that uncommon of an experience and the Reddit community has been discussing it as of late. Game Director Ben Brode has responded this morning, revealing that win rates for new players in Casual have gone up while Ranked continues to grow increasingly difficult.
"We agree that the new player experience needs more work," Brode begins. "We've been tweaking it for years and have seen significant increases in retention among new players since launch. Most new players start playing against the AI and then take on other players in Casual. The Casual matchmaker has gone through a lot of iteration and new player winrates have increased by ~15%."
Brode can't say the same about Ranked however, "Ranked is becoming more difficult for new players over time. I spoke about some of the challenges we are currently facing with our ladder system before I left for paternity leave here." He proceeds to link to this post which he made following the blowback from the two-game win streak bug.
"Something you may not realize is that new players actually play in a seperate matchmaking pool for their first several sessions. In Casual, we match them entirely against other brand new players with similarly-sized collections."
But the team is very much aware that the experience as a whole isn't satisfactory.
"That all said, we think the introductory missions up through Illidan feel pretty good," Brode states, "and after that it still feels like a bit of a cliff. It's definitely something we're aware of. Thanks for your feedback, and for the feedback of everyone else who's been chiming in on this over the last few months."
It's great to see some communication on this front. As the number of cards in Hearthstone continues to grow, many potential players find it harder and harder to get into the swing of things. Even if they only play Standard there's this entire swath of content completely out of their reach. And if that wasn't enough, to actually grow their collection they're going to have to take on a ton of players that have more expensive collections and as a result, more powerful cards than they do.
Many cite this as an issue brought about by the Ranked Ladder resets every month. From Rank 25 to Rank 20 you can not lose stars due to losses and as a result many players sit around the high-teens on a routine basis. And that's problematic considering that anyone who finishes lower than Legend also ends up in those ranks towards the beginning of the month, leading to more unequal matchups.
Hopefully Blizzard finds a decent solution sooner rather than later, we'd certainly like to tell our friends that the game has become much more friendly for new players.