Arena Doesn't Pay For Itself: The Math

Arena Discussion
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Actually it's not 9 people going 0-1.

It's one person going 0-1.
It's another person going 1-1.
It's another person going 2-1.
It's another person going 3-1.
It's another person going 4-1.
It's another person going 5-1.
It's another person going 6-1.
It's another person going 7-1.
It's another person going 8-1.

At least, that's how it will work once there is a sufficient Arena population for the matchmaking system to function properly. Right now, its tolerance on who matches up against whom is far looser, and it's possible for two people to play each other in back-to-back games.

But what I describe above is what they said during the Arena livestream about how Arena matchmaking is going to work.


Where did the other 27 losses go? Those players didnt get their wins against bots, someone must have lost them. This is what would actually happen:

if you had 1024 players, after the first round of matches:
512 1-0, 512 0-1
Should be obvious enough.

After the 2nd round of matches (assuming everyone plays against people of the same win/loss amounts)
256 2-0, 512 1-1, 256 0-2

256 lose from the 1-0 bracket, and 256 win from the 0-1 bracket for a total of 512 going 1-1.

3rd round:
128 3-0, 384 2-1, 384 1-2, 128 0-3 (removed from arena)

4th round:
64 4-0, 256 3-1, 384 2-2, 192 1-3 (removed from arena)

Note that it stops being symmetrical since the 0-3 bracket stops playing.

5th round:
32 5-0, 160 4-1, 320 3-2, 192 2-3

6th round:
16 6-0, 96 5-1, 240 4-2, 160 3-3

7th round:
8 7-0, 56 6-1, 168 5-2, 120 4-3

8th round:
4 8-0, 32 7-1, 112 6-2, 84 5-3

9th round:
2 9-0 (arena finished), 18 8-1, 72 7-2, 56 6-3

10th round:
9 9-1, 45 8-2, 36 7-3

11th round:
22.5 9-2, 22.5 8-3

At this point I realized I should've done the math with 2048 players instead of 1024 players to avoid fractions, but oh well, you could just multiply all the results by 2.

The end results for this then, if you used 2048 players instead of 1024 players, and assuming everyone is *always* matched up with someone of the same win/loss record will be:

256/2048 people go 0-3
384/2048 1-3
384/2048 2-3
320/2048 3-3
240/2048 4-3
168/2048 5-3
112/2048 6-3
72/2048 7-3
45/2048 8-3

4/2048 9-0
18/2048 9-1
45/2048 9-2


its amazing how with these numbers laid out, people still wont understand that 80% of the people that enter arena, dont make their money back.
If you go 7-3, that means other people had to go 3-7 for those games.

How do people not understand this, still?


I understand perfectly. The point I made before is not everyone is going to win, there are going to be bads that are farmed, and there will be people that win their monies worth consistantly. Arena pays for itself IF you're good enough. It does not pay for itself for everyone.
If you go 7-3, that means other people had to go 3-7 for those games.

How do people not understand this, still?


I understand perfectly. The point I made before is not everyone is going to win, there are going to be bads that are farmed, and there will be people that win their monies worth consistantly. Arena pays for itself IF you're good enough. It does not pay for itself for everyone.


How long do you think bads will sit there and throw away money just so you can farm them? As Arena becomes less and less popular, even the good players who were getting in that coveted top 10% will find themselves in the middle of the pack again, and losing money.

That's called a death spiral, by the way.


I understand perfectly. The point I made before is not everyone is going to win, there are going to be bads that are farmed, and there will be people that win their monies worth consistantly. Arena pays for itself IF you're good enough. It does not pay for itself for everyone.


How long do you think bads will sit there and throw away money just so you can farm them? As Arena becomes less and less popular, even the good players who were getting in that coveted top 10% will find themselves in the middle of the pack again, and losing money.

That's called a death spiral, by the way.


Don't underestimate the power of stupidity, I'm a game developer myself and the amount of money people throw away for speedups in our freemium games is utterly ridiculous. Considering you can enter arena for free about every 3 days with gold earnt in game, I'd say there's always going to be bads to farm. A lot will take the mindset of it being more fun to play arena for a card pack then just buy one.

Edit: throw away money*
09/02/2013 09:35 PMPosted by Mand
How long do you think bads will sit there and throw away money just so you can farm them?

It's not necessarily throwing money away though, is it? You get a guaranteed pack, plus gold / dust.

Are there any stats on average gold and dust returns for each number of victories? At what point does it become less cost effective to enter the arena than to just buy your packs straight up, taking into account gold and dust as peripheral rewards?
A simple solution will be to make getting 3 wins give you the money needed to re-enter (IMO the cost to enter the arena should come down to around 100gold), and the point at which you get a Booster Pack should be pushed up from 0 wins to about ~5 wins.

This way your Arena entries can pay for themselves fairly easily but you wont actually gain anything unless your a decent enough player.

Also essentially the gold rewards would scale down fast once you hit the re-entry cost

If the Arena fee was 100 gold for example: 0-3 = 20g, 1-3= 50g, 2-3= 75g, 3-3= 100g. Then it scales downward like: 4-3 = 110g, 5-3 = 120g, 6-3 = 140g, 7-3 = 160g, 8-3 = 170g, 9-3 = 190g.

All gold rewards are approx, also maybe some rebalancing on dusts. 9 wins gives a chance at 2 packs as usual.


How long do you think bads will sit there and throw away money just so you can farm them? As Arena becomes less and less popular, even the good players who were getting in that coveted top 10% will find themselves in the middle of the pack again, and losing money.

That's called a death spiral, by the way.


Don't underestimate the power of stupidity, I'm a game developer myself and the amount of money people throw away for speedups in our freemium games is utterly ridiculous. Considering you can enter arena for free about every 3 days with gold earnt in game, I'd say there's always going to be bads to farm. A lot will take the mindset of it being more fun to play arena for a card pack then just buy one.

Edit: throw away money*


It seems like designing your game around unenjoyable gameplay for a large portion of your player base is a bad business model, power of stupidity notwithstanding.


I understand perfectly. The point I made before is not everyone is going to win, there are going to be bads that are farmed, and there will be people that win their monies worth consistantly. Arena pays for itself IF you're good enough. It does not pay for itself for everyone.


How long do you think bads will sit there and throw away money just so you can farm them? As Arena becomes less and less popular, even the good players who were getting in that coveted top 10% will find themselves in the middle of the pack again, and losing money.

That's called a death spiral, by the way.


A Death Spiral that's been consuming Magic since the draft was invented oh... 15 years ago? It's always been only the top x% of the people who make their money back, that's just the way the model works.

The KEY question is if the game mode is fun enough to keep people playing even if they lose out on some money, and the answer so far seems to be yes.


How long do you think bads will sit there and throw away money just so you can farm them? As Arena becomes less and less popular, even the good players who were getting in that coveted top 10% will find themselves in the middle of the pack again, and losing money.

That's called a death spiral, by the way.


A Death Spiral that's been consuming Magic since the draft was invented oh... 15 years ago? It's always been only the top x% of the people who make their money back, that's just the way the model works.

The KEY question is if the game mode is fun enough to keep people playing even if they lose out on some money, and the answer so far seems to be yes.


Drafts are a little bit different in Magic though. In Magic, draft is a day-long event, so people view dropping $15 or whatever on packs as being fine. It's the same as going to the movies.

Arena is not an "event", it's a game. It would be like asking people if they want to go play WOW for $10 a day; almost everyone would say no.

It's comparable to the difference between going to the movies and renting a movie. People will spend more money for the event of going to the movies than watching a movie at home.
Lmao, I love this post(I'm only being a little sarcastic)! Obviously ya tried to put a some thought into "the math" of it all, which I'm All for the Details, But it's actually a Lot more simpler to explain, Especially to those who didn't want to read through your Extremely Long post!

And that's by simply saying EVERY GAME HAS A WINNER AND A LOSER! So on "Average", over the whole community, the Average arena record is and will always equal out to be 50%! Meaning 3 wins and 3 losses!!

So No it doesn't pay for it's self overall, and it's looking more and more like that's the way Blizzard wants it :(!! Especially since right now Arena is the "funnest" way to play!! Do you really think they didn't give it a gold earning reward system for ranking up and didn't give it a tournament system on accident??? lmao Don't be stupid! They planned it, so they could call it a free to play game but make it "funnest" when the Average player Has to spend money on it!!

Honestly that's why I have a hard time truly considering this game a "free to play" game!! Because the normal games don't give crap for rewards and you'll Never win ranked games without Buying cards(and they still don't reward better)!! You Have to Buy multiple packs to even start standing a chance in ranked games so really they're not even worth playing! Or yes you can waste a few months of your life Grinding out literally Thousands of WINS(since loses are Worthless!!) and Pray the RNG's are on your side when you finally can spend your gold for packs, which again is only giving you a chance at a higher, yet honestly unrewarding, rank!!! Which to me is Not a "free to play" game, because NO ONE continues to play a game without worthy rewards, especially games they usually(<--casual players) lose!! So Sadly it's more of a "pay to win" game!!

Except...

You can't analyze it based on 3-3. First off there's nothing more average about 3-3 than 2-3 (Let's assume I play 6 games and I win 3 and lose 3; average. But if the first 5 contain the 3 losses then the 6th game doesn't matter).
Moreover; this isn't a game where 1 win gives one reward, 2 wins gives double the reward and so on. So 3-3 isn't 1/3 of 9-3. Why does this matter? It matters because you can have a "fair" payout without having 3-3 "break even". (It's called expected value and that's what the OP was analyzing).

If I play a game with you where I roll a die and if it comes up 1, 2, 3 you give me a dollar. If it comes up 4 I'll give you a dollar, if it comes up 5 I'll give you two dollars and if it comes up 6 I'll give you three dollars. Now the average is 3.5, and 3 is -1 dollar and 4 is +1 dollar so it's a fair game right? Well no because, assuming the die is fair, you'd be a fool to not play this game with me. Even though by your reasoning neither one of us stand to benefit.
stop treating this !@#$ like statistics class.

if you played lebron james 1 on 1 basketball, 1st to 20, 10 games...

your win % isnt going to be 50%. if you're wanting to win out in arena, maybe you have to play better than opponents, have a better understanding of deck types, know about pick orders etc etc etc.

do things that will increase your win% to above 50%, its pretty simple.


Not it's not that simple actually, infact my last arena I played against a guy who right off the bat put down two blood imps, I have ZERO choices of AOE cards so that meant infact he had +2 health on every unit for the rest of the game for the cost of 2 mana on turn 1 because of course he got the coin. This goes to show how by simply trying hard doesn't get you wins, a lot of it is luck and even luck plays into people getting 8-0. By your stupid logic I bet you're 100-0 in this game right? No you're not, stop acting like you know anything because you clearly don't and i'm sorry you failed out of stats class


actually i just got a B in stats last semester and going through quant methods this semester.

im glad you are a numbers nerd, and this game means so much to you that you would actually take the time to give a !@#$ out something so trivial. im sure you are a real winner in life.

go use those statistics and get laid or some %^-*.
If you go 7-3, that means other people had to go 3-7 for those games.

How do people not understand this, still?


and? i dont get it, is the point of arena so everybody gets free stuff and continues to play without paying anything? wtf do you guys want from the arena exactly?
09/02/2013 09:12 AMPosted by Values
Thus, the average player has absolutely no hope whatsoever of ever earning back their continuous entry into an arena. So please, stop using this "the arena can pay for itself if you practice!" excuse to justify or explain away other things. If every single player in this game practiced their hearts out, only 9% of us can do it. If someone became good enough to do it, that is only because they dethroned one of us who were previously doing it.


Well, honestly, I've guessing less than 10% of players WILL practice and spend time learning the game. So by practicing and learning TCG/CCG mechanics, you'll probably end up in the top 10%.

Arena won't pay for itself for the majority, but I'm still positive that players that really tried should be able to get to top 9% status.

The reality is most people that play simply don't care for being a top 9% player. They have other things that are priorities over playing HearthStone. So they're accepting being part of the 91% that won't have arena pay for itself. You make a BIG IF in "If every single player in this game practiced their hearts out, only 9% of us can do it".

If 9% of players try, and 91% of players aren't trying, the 9% have good odds of making it.

This is the simple fact that arena does not and never will pay for itself.
..... If four exist, and they go 9-0, 0-3, 0-3, and 0-3, three of them lose greatly while one wins moderately.

You never win in the arena. Except when you win moderately.
If you go 7-3, that means other people had to go 3-7 for those games.

How do people not understand this, still?


and? i dont get it, is the point of arena so everybody gets free stuff and continues to play without paying anything? wtf do you guys want from the arena exactly?


Personally, I'd want there to be a monthly Arena subscription fee so that I can pay a fee of something like $10 a month then play Arena limitlessly. That way I can experiment with different deck types and such without feeling like if I make a botched deck that I just wasted $2.

Obviously there would be either no rewards or severely nerfed ones. The point isn't for free stuff, it's to let me play limitless Arena. Also note the point isn't trying to be one of those f2p mooches; a monthly subscription would still end up paying quite a bit to Blizzard.
09/02/2013 09:12 AMPosted by Values
Building it up like that and believing that these losses don't catch up to you later is the foundation of a pyramid scheme: the fact is that you eventually run out of people to soak the losses.


This is basically the main problem of the way Arena is structured. Yes the very best will have the gold to pay in for their arenas, but the "soakers" will not be able to pay the arena fees for the very best constantly and at the end the very best will be left with no people to pay for their arena fees and one of two things will happen,

a) The soakers will spend absurd amount of money to play in arenas making Blizzard fatter for a while until they get bored of spending money for nothing or

b) There won't be any "very best" people in terms of noone will be able to continually get more than 7 wins and it will even out with people getting above 7 wins 33% of the time they get in arenas.

Option number two is the most likely and most probably most preferred by Blizzard because that way players won't feel as soakers enough to stop playing and will still buy in with real money half the times.

The problem though still exists that as the OP showed, this is a casino structure with the "bank" always winning and i don't believe that this is what people will want to sign up for when they start playing the game.

There have been numerous ideas in this forum about a proper arena structure meant to satisfy both the needs of Blizzard and making it fair enough that the player continues to come back for more and i hope that those ideas are given their proper consideration otherwise i don't see this going well in the future, no matter what the hardcore fans are saying.
This is wrong. Arena gives you a pack (100g) and on average about 50gold worth of gold, dust etc (if you go 3-3 or about that). You also get fun for free.
09/03/2013 02:55 AMPosted by Aldari
This is wrong. Arena gives you a pack (100g) and on average about 50gold worth of gold, dust etc (if you go 3-3 or about that). You also get fun for free.


Wrong again, jeeze when you people stop posting terrible wrong facts. I've gotten 0 gold going 3-3 in Arena before, and i've seen players like Kripp get 0 gold going 3-3 as well. That's like saying on average you get a deathwing every pack, you people defending this gold intact are just a bunch of people who don't know math and spewing lies which is why this is still the most talked about topic on forums
09/03/2013 03:08 AMPosted by Dobby
This is wrong. Arena gives you a pack (100g) and on average about 50gold worth of gold, dust etc (if you go 3-3 or about that). You also get fun for free.


Wrong again, jeeze when you people stop posting terrible wrong facts. I've gotten 0 gold going 3-3 in Arena before, and i've seen players like Kripp get 0 gold going 3-3 as well. That's like saying on average you get a deathwing every pack, you people defending this gold intact are just a bunch of people who don't know math and spewing lies which is why this is still the most talked about topic on forums

He said 50g worth of dust. The average pack contains 40 dust worth of cards (4 experts 1 rare). All you need to get from the arena rewards is 20 dust to effectively break even with the cost of buying the pack normally.
I can't see the point in Arena. I like draft play, but so far I've bought into 3 arenas. All 3 times I got stuck with a class pick I dislike. All 3 times I got what I felt was complete shafts on my draft picks, not even near strategies I was comfortable with or wanted to play. All 3 times I lost 0-3. All 9 games I played were against hunters. All 9 hunters were different people all playing the exact same cards and combos getting out massive beast armies that were all progressive cross buffing themselves to preposterous numbers and gibbing me in 3-5 turns before I had anything fielded. I felt like I was wasting a lot of time, money, and effort and getting nothing in return. Got like 45g, 15 dust, and 3 packs out of it. All 3 packs dropped 1 rare for classes I don't like to play and disenchanted for trivial amounts of dust. Perhaps I'm not a great player but I really did feel like the arena was not for me. I feel like there is some extreme balance issues in the arena, it seems possible to draft a huntard deck that is guaranteed to win. I fought a huntard who had 7 Timber Wolves in play on turn 3. How are you supposed to counter 7 7/7 creatures when you haven't even drawn a creature or damage spell yet? The arena is a complete mess and a waste of time and money for the average player. It should be limited to 2 of each card and the rewards need to be buffed so at least you get something out of getting wrecked by people who got perfect drafts on an easy mode class.

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