Hearthstone Getting Big Changes With Real-Money Currency, Separate Battlegrounds Season Pass

Hearthstone is getting a couple of major changes with the upcoming 24.2 patch. The update will add a new real-money currency, Runestones, that will be used to purchase certain cosmetic options going forward. The update will also introduce Battlegrounds Season 2, a major update for one of the game’s most popular modes. The update is coming on August 30.

With the update, the auto-battler mode for the popular digital CCG will be branching off even more into “its own thing” territory. Season 2 will introduce a Battlegrounds-specific season pass and rewards track, missions, XP, and Legendary cosmetics. The new season pass will only be purchasable with the new currency Runestones, which sounds like it will be the new norm going forward for real-money cosmetics.

For years now, Hearthstone has offered cosmetics and other purchases as real-money purchases, along with others that can be bought with gold earned through play. This change would seem to be adding another layer to those transactions, meaning you’ll need to buy Runestone packages to purchase certain cosmetics that aren’t purchasable with gold.

Starting with Season 2, Battlegrounds will offer its own rewards track with XP earned from completing Battlegrounds missions. You’ll get three Battlegrounds missions every week, no longer tied to the regular mission queue. Those will gain you emotes, cosmetics, and strikes in Battlegrounds. There will be a free track that offers some items, alongside the paid (Runestones) track that offers more cosmetics. Season Pass holders will also get to select from two additional heroes during the selection phase.

Season 2 will also introduce Quests, a limited-time mechanic that lets you start a quest challenge on turn four to get a powerful boost for the rest of the match. The update will also introduce 11 new minions and two new heroes: Murloc Holmes and Sire Denathrius. Finally, there will be a new Magic of Azeroth theme to this season, which will include new legendary hero skins and boards.

This is entirely separate from the Tavern Pass, which functions as the usual season pass structure for Hearthstone’s ranked mode. While that rewards track does offer Battlegrounds rewards, most of the rewards are cosmetic heroes and cards for use in Ranked mode. Battlegrounds has also had its own premium cosmetics for sale in the shop. In another move to separate the two, the previous perks that were reserved for Tavern Pass holders will now be offered to all players.

Battlegrounds is one of Hearthstone’s most popular modes–alongside the standard competitive ranked CCG–even earning a dedicated spot in the main menu. Most of Hearthstone’s other modes, including Duels, Arena, Tavern Brawl, and Solo Adventures, are tucked into a Modes sub-menu.

Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard, which would include the Hearthstone team. Federal regulators have been looking into the deal, and the FTC may approve it any day. The deal was announced amid a depressed stock price caused in part by reports of misconduct at Activision Blizzard.