Bad news, Heroes of the Storm fans: the 2015 MOBA's developer Blizzard Entertainment, best known for World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch, is cancelling 2019 Heroes of the Storm esports events and slowing the game's continued support to a relative trickle. Having failed to spark greater public interest in the game's esports scene, Blizzard announced that it is also directing an untold number of the game's development staff to other unnamed projects.
Heroes of the Storm was Blizzard's answer to Riot Games' League of Legends and Valve's Dota 2, a multiplayer battle online arena (MOBA) game of its own featuring heroes from all walks of Blizzard's other titles. The MOBA's roster of heroes ranges from Starcraft 2's Tychus and Kerrigan to Overwatch's Tracer and Genji, including almost everyone in between. Despite fielding such a large and instantly recognizable cast of playable heroes and sporting more accessible gameplay, Blizzard's foray into the MOBA genre proved to be too little, too late. While Dota 2's The International and League of Legends' World Championship each consistently put up massive prize pools and attract millions of viewers year after year, Heroes of the Storm's 2018 Global Championship Grand Finals fronted a comparably smaller prize pool than its competitors and struggled to reach less than 200,000 concurrent viewers at its peak.
It shouldn't come as the greatest surprise, then, that a joint statement by Blizzard Entertainment President J. Allen Brack and CDO Ray Gresko bore the bad news. After a preamble about Blizzard's evolution as a developer, they announced that they had "made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm" to other projects. Though assuaging players' likely fears of the game's outright abandonment by declaring that Blizzard will continue "actively supporting" Heroes of the Storm, they conceded that the "cadence [of updates] will change." Additionally, they confirmed that the scheduled Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm esports events "will not return in 2019."
Blizzard's apparent decision to cease support for Heroes of the Storm comes only a month after the PR disaster that was last month's Diablo Infinite announcement at BlizzCon 2018. During the keynote address at Blizzard's 14th annual promotional celebration and forum, paying attendees - comprised primarily of hardcore PC gamers - were insultingly asked if they didn't own smartphones when reacting negatively to Blizzard's announcement of Diablo Infinite, an upcoming mobile game developed by Chinese developer NetEase.
Clearly and understandably, Activision-Blizzard is following the money. Beholden to its shareholders, the large publisher is taking the Diablo franchise to mobile platforms because that's where the lion's share of consumer spending has led it. It can almost be certain that the company's recent decision to divert Heroes of the Storm's labor resources to other areas is based on the conclusions of a similar cost-benefit analysis. It shouldn't be forgotten that the very creation of Heroes of the Storm was also the result of Activision-Blizzard chasing market trends in their attempt to replicate the success of other MOBAs. That said, while PR and core user base loyalty are much less tangible than cold, hard cash, when Activision-Blizzard repeatedly and publicly shoots itself in the foot while backpedaling on profit-driven failures like Heroes of the Storm and other scandals, it lends credence to accusations that they have grown out-of-touch with their core fans.
Source: Blizzard Entertainment