The renowned game developer Blizzard Entertainment has announced it will withdraw support for Heroes of the Storm (HotS) esports and slow down development of the game by shifting its developers towards Blizzard’s other games.
HotS was Blizzard’s own take on the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre that has long been dominated by Dota 2 and League of Legends (LoL).
While Blizzard wanted their game to appeal to a much more casual market by stripping it down of some of the features it found made MOBAs too difficult for the casual player, HotS simply could not garner the same presence and following as Dota or LoL did.
“We’re [now] at a point where we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects. As a result, we’ve made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm to other teams,” said J. Allen Brack, Blizzard president, and Ray Gresko, chief development officer, in the announcement on the developer’s blog.
As such, the game’s biggest event, the Heroes Global Championship, and its collegiate league, Heroes of the Dorm, have both been canceled.
“This was another very difficult decision for us to make. The love that the community has for these programs is deeply felt by everyone who works on them, but we ultimately feel this is the right decision,” said Blizzard.
The developer added that they will “continue actively supporting the game with new heroes, themed events, and other content that our community loves.”
“Ultimately, we’re setting up the game for long-term sustainability,” they added.
For a time, HotS was known as “Blizzard Dota” as the developer staked a claim on the name of the mod that brought the MOBA genre to life. That mod was first created using Blizzard’s popular real-time strategy game, Warcraft III.
However, Blizzard lost the rights to use the Dota name to Valve Corporation, who had employed Dota’s enigmatic developer, known only as Icefrog, and went on to create Dota 2. While Blizzard did go on to create HotS, it simply could not capture the MOBA magic the same way that Valve did with Dota 2.
For now, it seems that Blizzard will be focusing more on its more successful projects in esports such as Overwatch, which is currently preparing for the second season of its esports league.
“We appreciate all of our hard-working developers and everyone in the Blizzard community, and look forward to sharing many more epic gaming experiences with you in the future,” said Blizzard.