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A grassroots Hearthstone Ad has garnered worldwide attention… Austin interviews it’s creator!

 

Hearthstone player JamieFTW has been making waves in the community since he put his money where his mouth is. When most Hearthstone players are unsatisfied with the game, they vent on Reddit or to their friends, but Jamie decided that enough was enough. Jamie decided to make an ad…

The ad in question (As you can see above) targets a longstanding issue in Hearthstone’s Wild format, which affects many members of the community. The issue centers around Naga Sea Witch, which Wild players use to fill their board with cheap, powerful minions. In the months since this technique was made possible by Activision-Blizzard as part of an undocumented change during a patch, nothing has been done to address the outcry from the community.

So, in early May, Jamie put out his ad, which has since garnered hundreds of thousands of views and 3,100 clicks, thanks in large part to fellow Redditor Bentastico noticing it and making a thread about the ad. I took some time to speak with Jamie after the ad had been circulating for a day, having already garnered 2,300 clicks and nearly 100,000 views.

Here’s what he had to say:

JamieFTW: I honestly wasn’t expecting anything after one day other than to have spent $6. I really thought the whole thing would just die on the vine really – I knew that I couldn’t really start my own reddit thread about the ads, so I made the ad and just hoped it would get noticed.

Austin: Right, due to Reddit’s stance on self-promotion and the like.

JamieFTW: I am super grateful to Bentastico – Really without them I don’t think it would’ve taken off

Austin: I’ll be honest, when I saw Bentastico’s post, I thought it was a cute little meme, not something that would rack up seventy-five thousand views.

JamieFTW: Quite amazing – Agreed; right now it’s sitting at 22,596 points – Totally unexpected for just over 24 hours.

Austin: Absolutely! What made you decide to sink the money into making the ad? Obviously, the ad speaks for
itself, but what made you decide “today is the day”?

JamieFTW: Well, what I wrote in the ad was 100% true; I was sitting at the rank 10 floor, I queued into a game, it was Mage, so I expected aggro… And then on turn 5 they played what is in my screenshot – I stopped for a moment, and then I took that screenshot, and when I did that, I was like – This is nonsense now – I faced this on my climb to legend and I found it unacceptable then; that was in Hunter and Warlock… But to see this in Mage, and I’ve seen it in Paladin too in the last few weeks, that was it, so I conceded, and I went to reddit with the intention of making a post about it

JamieFTW: …And when I went to /r/hearthstone, I was greeted with one of those “do you need therapy?” ads, and I was like “I have PTSD from Naga Sea Witch – Hell yeah I need therapy” – And then it hit me – All these ads on the Hearthstone subreddit are completely nothing to do with Hearthstone, but imagine how fun it would be to have an ad – An actual paid ad – From the community to the community about the meta in Wild and an issue like Naga Sea Witch.

JamieFTW: So that was it – Decision made. I edited the image a little to remove the battletags and adjust the aspect ratio to meet the ad specs for reddit; I had never advertised on reddit before – Didn’t know the process, so I just followed the bouncing ball; click here, do this, and the next thing you know I have an ad “Awaiting approval” Cool, huh? This was right before bed.

Austin: Aye. We often think about ads as something big corporations do, not grass-roots activities.

JamieFTW: Yeah exactly – So I fall asleep around 12.30, and when I wake up – Bentastico has picked up the torch and run with it; I have done a little online advertising before with Facebook and a few other platforms, so I roughly knew all the concepts, but yeah, I think people often forget that anyone can just run an ad…

Austin: I certainly wouldn’t have thought of it!

JamieFTW: Heh, well I almost didn’t either – I was two seconds away from posting another reddit thread that would go ignored

Austin: And now here you are, breaking new ground. How are you handling the financial expense? Is it significantly cutting into your income?

JamieFTW: Well, I would really like to thank a very good friend of mine Mr. Visa. He has always been good to me and he has agreed to pick up the tab for this ad campaign. He’s a thoughtful guy… But seriously, I am very lucky; I live in a wonderful country – Australia – I have great job with a big company and I am lucky enough to have a little spare money to spend on things that are important to me now and then there are many people who play Hearthstone who don’t have money to spare

JamieFTW: We all know the F2PBTW meme, but for many people it is true… And so I thought, yeah it’s money I could spend on packs or other stuff, but this is for a good cause – It’s an issue that bothers so many Wild players –  I really just cringed when I saw the video of Dane last week, I have great admiration and respect for him, and so the money kind of seems secondary to the cause – I may not feel that way in month 2, haha!

Austin: Fair, fair. You said it’s, what, 6 dollars a day?

JamieFTW: Yeah it’s around $6USD. Technically the minimum spend is $5USD, but I believe Reddit reserves the right to go 20% over your budget. I think I ended up spending like $5.80 or something on the first day

Austin: How do they go about determining the price?

JamieFTW: The web interface isn’t super easy to understand, sorry reddit marketing folks but it’s true – It’s a typical Cost Per 1,000 impressions system, the same as most online advertising; you can bid how much money you want to spend on 1,000 shows of your ad – As one astute observer in the latest thread reverse engineered, I am bidding the minimum – $0.20USD for 1,000 impressions.

Austin: And ads which bid a larger amount per 1000 instances show instead of yours, I presume? I’m not well-versed in online advertisements in the modern age

JamieFTW: Yep, exactly – So if those “do you need therapy?” ads outbid me, you won’t be hearing about Naga Sea Witch… But I think with the number of impressions per day on /r/hearthstone there is plenty of traffic to go around

Austin: Certainly seems that way. Are you concerned about the ad having the opposite of the intended effect?

JamieFTW: Honestly, not really, I mean I’d hate to be the guy that stopped Blizzard from going ahead and nerfing Naga Sea Witch, and there have been a few people on reddit who have told me that is what I am going to cause, but what do you do? Stay silent? As far as I’m concerned the ad was really just the catalyst – It is no different to the previous thread that Mike Donais responded to last month, or ControlTheBoard’s video, or Dane’s recent reaction, or Kripp’s now famous “because f*ck Wild” video – The reality is, the ad itself has a number of upvotes, but the real attention was garnered by Bentastico’s thread – That thread, and my subsequent update thread were not paid for, and they are what have been getting all the upvotes and attention

Austin: Aye. In an age of ad-block and the like, I’m sure there were plenty of people who would have never seen the ad

JamieFTW: Exactly. And that’s why I am so grateful to Bentastico because he really shone a spotlight on it – I really did expect the ad itself to go nowhere. In fact a number of people have commented they have never seen the ad but they want to!

Austin: Have you been contacted by anyone working for Activision-Blizzard or Reddit about the situation?

JamieFTW: I have not been contacted privately except by members of the community to say thank you (And by some very nice journalists wanting to talk more about the whole situation)

Austin: So, where do you see yourself going from here? Holding firm against the Naga Sea Witch interaction until it is changed? Producing ads for every game-balance issue in HS? Retiring on a job well done?

JamieFTW: Heh, I am really hoping to see the Naga Sea Witch issue through. I meant what I said, I intend on continuing to run this ad until the issue is resolved one way or another. As for other game balance issues, I have played Hearthstone since public launch – Believe me, over that time I have raged at the screen as much as the next person; I think everyone who plays has their own issues with particular playstyles; I play aggro so I don’t like control – I play combo so I don’t like aggro; it goes on and on – Have there been cards during that time that I might’ve wanted to see changed? Maybe. But even with the deck I hated the most, I just accepted that it existed, I didn’t like it at all, but I accepted it.

JamieFTW: Naga Sea Witch is a whole other different thing – So, I don’t see myself creating ads for other cards or anything like that. This is an idea I guess that is out there now, so if other members of the community want to do that then that is up to them – There has been so much response from the community – The vast majority of it super positive. I just really hope that Blizzard see that this is something the community wants addressed.

Austin: Have there been some negative comments, then?

JamieFTW: Yeah sure, it’s Reddit. You can be nice as pie and within 2 minutes someone will be downvoting you and telling you what an awful person you are – I had someone messaging me today telling me I am a terrible parent for spending money on ads and not on my kids

Austin: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview you!

JamieFTW: No problem!

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