Part of what makes Valve’s Dota 2 so popular is that the development team shares the content creation burden with the community. Armor sets and weapons are designed by players and fans, approved by Valve, then sold on the Steam market. It’s lucrative for both Valve, who takes a cut, and the artist(s) that designed the item. The fan base wins because new, shiny bits of content are released fairly regularly. Everyone is happy.
I’d like to see Blizzard follow a similar line of thought. Community driven cards or mechanics would be wildly unsuccessful – look at most of the fan made expansions out there (not to mention my weapon idea from October) – but there is a slot for community created expansions that won’t break the carefully controlled game.
Beyond custom portraits, or at least alternate portraits, allow the players to illustrate original works for use in Hearthstone. Properly formatted, colored, and approved by Blizzard, obviously. The Hearthstone store could sell them as packs done by the same artist or team, as singles for cards or as bundles organized around a theme. Blizzard obviously takes a cut, but the bulk of the sale would be deposited straight into a player’s bank account. The players can collect alternate, high quality art, Hearthstone expands, Blizzard makes money. Everyone wins.
The fan art submissions on the Battle.net pages are already high quality, well done illustrations and paintings. Including those in Blizzard game seems like the logical place to go. Most of the Hearthstone art is recycled from the Warcraft: TCG anyway. Not that the art is bad, but new art would be a good way to go.
Who’s with me? I’d love not to look at the same Valeera portrait every game.