Developer Insights: Hearthstone Battlegrounds Rating System Update

Developer Insights: Hearthstone Battlegrounds Rating System Update

Take a deep dive into the new Battlegrounds rating system introduced in the 18.4 patch!

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Congratz on your promotion, Tian :joy:


Not to be Debby Downer, but this system doesn’t seem like an improvement. You’re still matched on a rating which doesn’t reset (so it doesn’t solve people wanting to smurf). The only difference is that rating is hidden so you don’t actually know how good you are compared to other people. In it’s place, we get an arbitrary and seemingly meaningless monthly reset since that rating isn’t used for anything.

At least if you played something like an average of your two ratings, you’d actually feel some skill progression throughout the month and maybe feel less like you need to smurf if you want to screw around rather than try to race Amalgadons every game. As it stands though, now I won’t even know where I stand skill-wise vs. the rest of the player base, only whether or not I felt like playing enough to climb in that particular month. And I don’t see any reason to care about that.


Seems like the usual system. Hidden MMR, visible SR used for rewards.


Know what really kills a sense of progression for me?

Not being able to trust the metric of progression really kills the sense for progression for me.

And what makes me unable to trust a metric of progression? Hidden information that represents your “real” ability.

I think this is a bad change.


Completely agree with the comments so far. The update essentially entails that you no longer know how good you actually are - instead, there will be a fake and arbitrary number that continues to go up in order to create the illusion of progress.
Please allow for an “advanced option” that ensures people that want to see their actual MMR can do so.


Can’t wait to see ex 10K points below ex 1000 points because of the hidden MMR :joy:

And also, can’t wait to see people claiming they are getting matched against “legend players” even if they aren’t good enough.

Looks like this is the direction of the new ladder: we are resetting the ranked, so everyone can start a new race from the exact same spot (well, yes but actually no)

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Love having to grind my new rating against harder players than someone who just creates a new account and breezes through a bunch of newbies. 300 rating each win may seem like a lot but when I’m close to 8k rating and have to grind up 300 at a time just to get back up something seems wrong. Add a higher increase for the 1st 4k cuz honestly you just encourage me to make a new acct otherwise


Hi Tian,

Thanks for continuing to provide some transparency regarding mmr and player facing rating in hsbg. I’m currently researching many of the tactics used by developers to commodify player’s perceptions of their own competence and the social psychological consequences of these techniques and so, while I am admittedly quite disappointed in this development, particularly as a high level hsbg player (14k peak) motivated by long term improvement, I also understand the apparent short term financial incentive to implement these systems.

I do not have access to the results of user research data performed by Blizzard but I’m curious about how a system like the one implemented by this patch can sustain player retention over the long term. I understand that the industry perception is that players expect, and to a degree require, a sense of continual progression to motivate their play, even in multiplayer games where perpetual progression along an axis of inter-player skill for all players is by definition impossible. However, repeatedly climbing a reset ladder to the same position will quickly begin to feel like a grind rather than a pursuit of improvement and cause players to burn out unless addiction is successfully induced in them.

How do you plan to sustain the interest of competitively minded players in hsbg over the years if their long term progress is invisible? I recognize that the answer may be simply that you don’t plan to, however this choice seems frankly bizarre considering that the current monetization model for hsbg is something that appeals primarily to competitively minded players. From my perspective it seems that the players most likely to spend money on the game are the ones most alienated by this change, but maybe I am wrong, after all you are the ones with the data.

While I understand that grind oriented ladder systems may lead to short term gains in user engagement, its hard for me to see how this will allow you to retain players who will pay for extra hero selections over the years. If you do want to implement a player facing rating system which caters to their self-serving attributional biases and their psychological need for esteem, even if superficial, rather than one which encourages and rewards people for delving deeply into your game and learning about and improving at it, why use a numeric rating system at all? The effectiveness of skill brackets and checkpoints as opposed to a raw rating value at motivating the types of players targeted by a system with ladder resets, rating floors, and progression boosts, etc has been shown time and time again, both by your competitors, and your other products, including constructed Hearthstone.

I don’t think maximizing the amount of time that players spend engaging with the game necessarily maximizes profits. Anecdotally I am quite willing to keep paying the subscription fee for HSBG during periods where I spend less time playing the game, I still want to play it and that fee feels necessary to play the game in the way I like to. However I am unlikely to pay the subscription fee to play when there is no metric informing me about my performance visible in the client as is the case in systems like the one being implemented. I have no interest in playing a game that rewards me for the quantity of time I spend playing it rather than the quality of that time. While I again don’t have the user research data on your end that I would need to back up this claim, I expect that this trend persists among your player base at large, the players most willing to spend money on the game aren’t necessarily the ones spending the most time playing it. I.e. a corporate lawyer who spends 4 hours a week playing Hearthstone is in a much better position to drop $200 on packs or cosmetics than a high schooler spending 4 hours a day playing. And the potential lifetime spending of that high schooler on your game will plummet if they become a pathological player and drop out of school. If this is the case, why are you designing a system which encourages the high school student to grind more rather than one which ensures a positive experience for your potential whales?

Finally, when user engagement time is the metric used to measure product performance you are inherently incentivized to induce addictive behavior. Please consider the well being of your users when you decide how you want to monetize your game, the reward systems you want to implement, and the behaviors you want to encourage players to exhibit as a result.

Thanks for all your hard work, and your time,
Alex ‘EndoZoa’


Incredible patch! Can’t wait to play Millhouse elementals. Keep up the good work Blizzard Battlegrounds team!

Fantastic read… I agree with every single word!
Really, there is nothing to add. Except perhaps just mention that I definitely belong to the category of players that will feel less incentivized to play. Watch my mmr go up and down is the only reason I play. Knowing that the number I see from now on does not represent my skill level is going to totally kill my will to play.


A different approach - I’d also like to see rating increase/decrease also linked to hero choice. It will be really hard to balance some heroes, so I recommend breaking them into three tiers “champions” a mid-tier and “underdogs .” Give bonus rating points when you select an underdog, no adjustment for mid tier, and less gain for selecting the strongest heroes. This will encourage more hero diversity and then you all save money/time by not having to find ways to rebalance. Just move the heroes into the three tiers each update based on the statistics. Win Win. You are welcome.


Everything fine with new system. I Just wonder why the internal rating should be kept secret ? You have lots of professional hearthstone players, world championships etc. Why do not publish MMR rating somewhere. Lets casual player keep they “feeling of the progress” in game, but serious player have an access to the “true” MMR rating somewhere.


my interest is already lost,i dont think the system is aimed at competitive players…

They had the opportunity to make it great and awesome and then they come with this crap grind that doesnt even show your actual progress.
its such a disapointment,so much potential lost for this game mode.

The casuals they dont even play it much anyway,why cater to them with this fake progression grind.


New rating system is utter crap, here’s why:

  1. I will NEVER know my true mmr
  2. I will have to grind hundreds of games to climb the fake progression that will reset every season like Sisyphus rolling the stones up hill for it to fall down again. wtf is the point of this?
  3. I will NEVER know if im Actually improving at the game because fake progression

So the way to play now is to go to the rank floor,intentionally lose a lot of games by insta resigning them to lower your internal rating while waiting for the opportunity to start with the best hero. Then rush to the next level while increasing your rating. Intentionally insta resign some games to lower your internal rating again,rush to the next level and so on?

This will completely kill the game,lots of people insta resigning because either they are around a floor and dont get the hero they want.
How could they ever come up with such a dumb system? It not only kills the game for any competitive player,it also kills the game for the casual player.
Resigning a few games to get the hero they want,only to end up in a lobby where 3 other players insta resigned because they didnt get the hero they want.

How is this fun and where exactly is the sense of progress?
And since we are invited to give our feedback here,will there be a blizzard response to adress all the concerns and critizism,no probably not.
Noone will buy the battlepass either anymore lol.

How could they not have seen this coming?


You Blizzard ppl are bunch of chickens,since last 2 months do you guys even have a hint how bad gossip is going on on forums about your game?You guys are even afraid to respond even if you get hint.
yep…great future for your game company /shrug


So just because I have a high winrate I would probably be in lobbies with only 9k+ players previously while gaining the same ratings as others that’re much lower in mmr. If you’re gonna reset ratings, especially for the first time, reset everything. Stop trying to force a 50% winrate on literally every mode.


League of Legends does this same kind of thing…and it’s GARBAGE.

I want ONE rating…and be matched against people of that same rating.

If my elo is 1k…put me against 1k people, that’s the only form of progression that will inspire playing.

Did you think about this scenario Blizzard. I invite a friend to play BG, we both start at 0…(except I’m really at 7k) we both que up for games and have Totally different experiences, that’s going to suck.


That’s probably the worst system they could have come up with.
They just keep digging and digging until everyone leave their game, it’s insane.