Arena Doesn't Pay For Itself: The Math

Posts: 834
It's likely true that if you always went 3-3, that you wouldn't get 50 gold per arena run on average.

However, just because 3-3 is the most likely outcome of an arena run, doesn't mean that it will be the average in terms of rewards. The few times you go 7 or more wins (even though they're rare), will offset the small losses you make by going 3-3 simply because the rewards for going 7+ wins are so massive compared to anything lower.

For instance, going 0-3 twice and going 7-3 once will give much better returns than going 3-3 3 times, even though strictly speaking in total you would be 7-9 as opposed to 9-9 in total. This makes using the rewards from going 3-3 as an average, a flawed approach - going 3-3 will actually be below average (in terms of rewards).
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Posts: 494
This was very interessing, thank you!
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Posts: 181
I don't know if it has been said before, but an easy fix to this is to give people the option of selling their earned pack for 100g each. That way people that solely want to play arena, will be much easier to go infinite (weather that means breaking even or gaining profit)
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Posts: 838
I am confused here - you can also enter the arena for free. It costs 150g to get in. That is 4 dailies, or 3 dailies and 30 wins, etc. And if you do well enough to get some gold back you can subtract off of that too.

If you are dumb enough to pay real money for the arena knowing that you can never cash out no matter how well you do - then that's your problem.
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Posts: 1,247
My god, the OP put in so much effort to argue.... I don't even know what the point of all that was.

It sounded like the OP argued that "arena doesn't pay for itself" because not EVERYONE can win win back their buy-in. That isn't the point of claiming that "arena can pay for itself". Of course the large percent of players will never get their money back. They aren't meant to. That doesn't disprove that it is possible to make gold off arena success as a skilled individual.

That's like Saying the World Series of Poker doesn't pay for itself. No kidding. 99% of players who enter don't make their money back. If you ever watch poker, you'll see the same people year after year sitting at the finalist's table.Thousands of players enter poker tournaments each year, yet never make the cut - While the top players make it in time and time again. Arena is no different. There is a top percentile of players who will make back all/more of their gold because there is a degree of skill that goes into the outcome of each game.
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Posts: 1,277
Very well thought out post and valid points. I feel like the price for arena is very steep for how long it lasts and definitely won't be playing it often. I will play with gold I earned and hope for the best, but that's all this game is about anyway. People that sink 2 dollars on the regular into arena are nuts to me.
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Posts: 6
dropping my two cents here...

I didn't check OP's math but they seem to be correct. And supposing there won't be a mmr system in arena(shouldn't be), we can say that only the top 9 percent can earn more than they spent.

--Thing is here, a lot of people says that arena pays for itself when you earned more than 50 gold, is not true. People here don't care about the value of a booster pack, they only care about gold, so 150 or more gold need to be earned.--

With a lot of RNG elements HS includes (drafting phase, actual draws in each game, cards with random effects), the people in the lower side of the 9 percent will surely be switching places with the people in the upper side of the remaining 91 percent, and they cant help it because of the RNG. So the people who can run the arena indefinitely will be actually lesser than 9 percent of all the player base.

BUT, -cannot bother to do maths here- people ranked around top 10 percent, would probably pay their arenas without spending any real money with the help of the dailies, rewards etc. anyway.

People ranked around 15 to 20 percent probably will need just a few bucks every month.

From here, it goes downhill, and people ranked below the fifty are bound to be doomed and spend a lot of money if they want to continuously play Arena.

The main issue with the arena is that rewards are so low, to keep the below fifty percent players playing arena. This will not only effect them, but everyone except the best of the best players in the world. Because if the below-fifty players would stop playing arena, then the next 25 percent would be the next below-fifty players, and you can see the pattern here.

People crying about rewards are aware of this fact that the worst players are penalized enough in Arena to make them quit it. And these people worry that the system will collapse because of it.

AND THIS ISSUE CANNOT BE SOLVED BY A PLAYER JUST "PRACTICING HARD"

It can be solved by increasing the rewards enough that below-75 ranked people to be screwed instead of below-fifty. So Arena can maintain its playerbase (with the help of newcomers).
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Posts: 878
Common fallacies in the comments on this thread:

1. Player ability/skill is unbound with competency occurring on a bell curve. This statement is false. There is a maximum limit to playing correctly. Like all card games, there are "best" decisions that can be made based on the information provided at any given time. This creates a threshold for skill. Like poker, there are statistical variances based on randomization of card draws. Unlike poker, there is zero ability to win without the best hand/draw. There is no way to entice an opponent to concede from a winning position. In this way, once perfect strategic play is achieved, there is no human limiting factor to influence the outcome.

2. The arena is an even playing field. False again. You will almost never have a 50% chance of winning. There are a couple of things you can do to build a solid deck, but the randomization and the paper, rock, scissors aspect of different strategies means that luck of the draw in both card selection and opponent matchmaking can be particularly unfair (in a good or bad way). The opportunity for success is equal among participants but the opportunity for failure is much higher.
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Posts: 1,277
I love the ignorant posts of "oh you're math is way off 9-0 doesn't mean three people go 0-3 hahahah"

People don't understand statistics is the weatherman p mathematics, it's predictive analysis. The simple fact is if someone wins 9 games, that means he generated 9 losses as well, which CAN equate to 3 people losing. Whichever way you splice it, it is a gold sink.

I don't play because I don't have a beta key but the arena does look fun and I see that as a value in and of itself, so losing might not even be that bad. Gambling is a fun activity and makes for fun gameplay.

Also I hear you get a pack no matter what?? Is this true? If so, it's not that cost inefficient because a pack is 100g
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Posts: 13
It wouldn't be that bad if you could pay part of your entry to the arena with a pack (like MTG drafts or sealed), but you can't.

It ends up working like another gold sink, because the only option with that pack is opening it.
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Posts: 15,534
It wouldn't be that bad if you could pay part of your entry to the arena with a pack (like MTG drafts or sealed), but you can't.

It ends up working like another gold sink, because the only option with that pack is opening it.


If there was an option of taking either the pack or 100 gold if you happen to get that reward in arena that would certainly help the situation for those who just want to arena.
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- Hearthstone
Posts: 8,118
It wouldn't be that bad if you could pay part of your entry to the arena with a pack (like MTG drafts or sealed), but you can't.

It ends up working like another gold sink, because the only option with that pack is opening it.


I keep hearing people use the term Gold sink, i don't really understand what you mean. You only have two things you can buy with gold, Packs or Arena that rewards you with Packs. So if Arena is a Gold sink isn't packs a gold sink too?

If you could by alternate art for your hero or something that does nothing to further your collection for those who have nothing left to spend gold on, i could understand if you called it a gold sink, the arena not so much...
Edited by Sisk on 9/3/2013 2:46 PM PDT
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Posts: 20


However, just because 3-3 is the most likely outcome of an arena run...



(a small correction:)
Actually 3-3 is not the single most likely outcomes. 2-3 and 1-3 are tied
as most likely outcomes.
50% of the players will have 2-3 or worse, 50% will have 3-3 or better
(ignoring draws, if draws happen then it will be more then 50% at 2-3 or worse).
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Posts: 99
The bar for a player breaking even on arena is set very high. Sure, a player can win 7 games, but that isn't going to be the case for most players, and it won't even be the case for "expert" players the majority of the time.

Of course arena is a gold sink; a big money-maker for Blizzard. I'm pretty much OK with that, but anyone thinking it's otherwise is deluded.
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Posts: 13
Anybody that expected Arena to be +EV for the average player clearly has no idea how business works. Nobody with a brain actually assumed Arena was putting more out than it took in. The point of "paying for itself" or "going infinite" is to reach a level of proficiency to be able to fairly reliable reach the magical seven win mark, with your failures offset by your eight and nine win campaigns.
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Posts: 20
Very Well Done, Value!

what a fitting name, too :D
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Posts: 834


However, just because 3-3 is the most likely outcome of an arena run...



(a small correction:)
Actually 3-3 is not the single most likely outcomes. 2-3 and 1-3 are tied
as most likely outcomes.
50% of the players will have 2-3 or worse, 50% will have 3-3 or better
(ignoring draws, if draws happen then it will be more then 50% at 2-3 or worse).


Yeah, I made a small mistake there - kind of strange because I actually did the math earlier and I should've known it wasn't the most likely outcome. I suppose I should've said that 3-3 is the average number of wins/losses (approximately), but not the average in terms of rewards given.
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Posts: 1,396
I think a big blind spot people who are okay with the current rewards system have is that they assume that they're going to be the skilled/lucky ones in that small percentage that wins enough to play again. Statistically that just isn't the case, and I've seen even excellent pro TCG players get a bad draft or go up against opponents who had the right combos and go 1-3.

The simple logic is that people are going to be willing to pay for this game, but if they are constantly running into walls where it's an option of pay more or have nothing to do then they're going to quit. If playing another arena off the winnings of the previous one is so far out of reach most people won't get it, and farming for days to get enough gold to buy in is required, then arenas are going to dry up.

The ideal is to have that sweet number close enough within reach that even if players lose they'll buy in to another arena hoping to get it next time. And requiring 7 wins just isn't cutting it.
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Posts: 7
This idea would hold water if all you earned was gold however you also earn card packs and they have a set value of 100g per meaning wining 50g and a pack make you brake even in terms of value
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