Keen’s Thoughts On Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha

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I finally got into Heroes of the Storm technical alpha a week or so ago, and after spending several hours going head to head with heroes, villains, and well-known characters from all of Blizzards IPs, I’m ready to share my thoughts.

First impression: Blizzard polish is (duh) amazing. They enter the MOBA scene years after so many others yet create a game that just ‘feels’ great. I don’t need to go into details about the UI being great or the game running smooth. The map is standard MOBA with a Blizzard flare (more on that in a moment). It’s all flawless, and that’s to be expected. Go watch a youtube video if you want to see more.

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Heroes of the Storm is, essentially, a dumbed down version of other mobas at least where mechanics are concerned. There isn’t last hitting or denying. There are no items. Experience is shared across your entire team. Everything is super basic, but remarkably it works.

Gameplay centers solely around improving your team’s heroes faster than your enemy. Hero customization comes in the form of choosing talents and abilities that actually make the customization in HotS significantly better than most if not all other mobas out there. As you level you get to choose to upgrade abilities, and you have to make a choice of which ability will receive which upgrade. Upgrades may make an ability do more damage or gain an effect.

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As you play heroes more and win games you unlock new traits for them and gain experience to level those heroes up. This encourages you to pick a hero, buy it (yay cash shop?) and rank it up.

HotS also has mounts. It wouldn’t be a F2P or a Blizzard game without mounts. These can be activated by pressing Z and make moving around the battlefield when traveling a little bit faster. They can also be customized (more later).

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What makes Heroes of the Storm unique is the interesting gameplay twists. Throughout the match there will be timed events to gather things or beat the enemy team at performing a challenge. In the Halloween map ‘Cursed Hollow’ the goal is to curse your enemies by collecting the tributes. This curse makes the enemy creeps have 1 HP — a great way to push their base. Another map I’ve played had players entering into a goldmine (good ole classic Blizzard gold mines) to slay undead and collect tokens to spawn a boss that would fight for your team.

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The free-to-play component of HotS disappointed me. I hate games that only make certain heroes available each week. It’s like League. I prefer DOTA2’s method of giving you every hero. You’re forced to buy heroes and they ARE NOT CHEAP. Some range from $3.99 up to I think I saw one for like $10? It’s crazy. Yes, you can unlock them with the in-game ‘gold’ you earn slowly by playing normally. Other things like mounts, cosmetic skins, and the usual fair can be found. Blizzard clearly likes Riot’s business model.

Worth playing? Yep! Heroes of the Storm is a lot of fun despite being a somewhat obvious cash grab. If you’re like me you’ll look to find the most value possible without paying a cent. I can have plenty of fun for free.

  • Dota 2 gives all heroes for free. That makes it the most fair and competitive Moba imo. It has zero pay to win.

  • Cannot wait to eventually get into the alpha/beta. Also if there’s a bundle at the start with heroes/mounts added and the game is good – im fine with paying for such a thing

  • Luckily (or at least it was this way before the big update haven;t played since) the beginning quests and gold from the first ~10 levels was enough to buy one of the more expensive or 2 of the cheaper heroes. if I recall right i have I think 2-3 heroes bought and haven’t played that much and haven’t spent a dime. Probably less than 20 hours total.

  • “pouts” I am not invited…. Now that we got that out of the way,

    Myself I enjoy riot’s League of legends f2p model.
    I consider it fair and fun.

    I have been following heroes of the storm on reddit for quite a while.
    And right now the only recurring concern is indeed the fear that blizzard is monetizing to heavy.
    The general consensus is that Heroes and skins cost to much.

    Other then that it looks like mad fun to me.
    I for one am glad they got rid of the start up grinding xp phase of getting to lvl 6 to gank and 12+ for team fights.
    This game starts the team fights from the start.

    No more hassle learning the best item combinations. To be fair I never enjoyed the trips to town to buy new gear. Even dots2’s carrier system did not change that for me. Just do not bother me with it at all.

    One aspect you have not named in your article is blizzards approach to create the least possible toxic environment. (raging, name calling, threats, abusing your own and the enemy team)

    While I loved league of legends and put money into it. Eventually I just quit the toxic environment is just not worth it. I play games to have fun and relax. Not to have some 12 year old abuse me. (yeah try that in real life punk)

    This game feels made for me. Now if only they tone down the pricing of heroes, mounts and skins.
    (if riot got greedy in the begin of LoL they would have never become the powerhouse they are today.)

  • Oh and I am not a fan of last hitting either. (or minion kill denial)

    The reason is mostly, because some classes have a harder time last hitting. Like a tank specced for defense to guard his team.
    Why should I be penalized hitting creeps? While mister high physical dps last hits with ease?

    That and I find it a stupid mini game that only exists, because the startup phase is boring.

  • No business model is perfect, you have to sacrifice a bit of your potential market whenever you choose your model. A game that only sells cosmetic stuff has exactly zero chances to make money with me. I don’t care much about cosmetic customization, I don’t see any point in it and will not spend a dime on it. This type of game has better be very good enough for me to fork some dollars to wallet-vote on things I don’t need. On the other hand, buying new heroes adds some replay value to me, gives diversity in my gaming experience. That’s something I can relate to and will be fine with paying for this.

    There’s no easy way out here, it’s a matter of trying to understand your business market and trying to minimize the loss of potential customer money. Some market segments need the bait approach (I’ll show you part of the game to convince you to pay), others are turned off by not having the full game in front of them right away. Pricing plays a role too. I’m a wrestling fan, so I’ll take the upcoming WWE2k4 game. Game is not out and there’s already a lineup of known DLC with their prices. Last time I checked, the DLC are going to cost more than the base game, the season pass or whatever they call it will only bring minor savings, all that available on launch day. Sorry, but this looks like a team trying to ripoff the customers.

    Of course, if the game totally sucks, the business model won’t even matter ! So many F2P games forget this part.

  • Here is also a tip or Hots that you do not see in the tutorial.

    Those water wells that you can heal from are not shared with the team.
    Every team member has its own pool to draw from. Even if you only see 1.

    So take from it when you need it.

  • Few things about Heroes that stand out, not already mentioned.

    1) Heroes is much more team fight oriented than other MOBAs. While early in the game it is advantageous to get exp from lanes, team fighting skills are critical. Also, players need to assist in team fights whenever possible, for the most part. The maps are small enough that going to team fights should be a priority for all players. This simple concept appears to be the hardest for players to figure out. It is sooo frustrating when players do not assist in team fights to instead attack a lane or minion camp. While this can be over come early, once players’ rez timer hits 45+ seconds, team fighting is everything.

    2) Games are usually much shorter than other MOBAs. Which is nice if you have time constraints and you don’t get stuck in 30-40 min fails.

    3) Look for Blizz to add items at some point down the line. This was experimented with for a little bit but removed. Adding items will make the game a little more complicated and grindy.

    4) This has been mentioned, but the heroes aren’t cheap. Sure the basic guys can be bought in bundles every now and then, but on average this isn’t the case. Using gold is possible, but gold really slows down after the initial level boost. If you are going straight F2P, you must do the dailies, which forces you to use character you don’t like or know. I find playing games just to complete a daily frustrating. IMO, the gold cost should be reduced or gold rewards boosted. Doubt this will happen though…

    5) The multiple different maps adds some uniqueness and freshness that other MOBAs don’t have.

    Solid game all in all, but very casual compared to LoL and DOTA. For me Heroes is basically a three-mother, but easy to come back to for a few games here and there.

  • “You’re forced to buy heroes and they ARE NOT CHEAP. Some range from $3.99 up to I think I saw one for like $10? It’s crazy. ”

    I find this pricing comment odd given that you play (and praise) the Skylanders model, which charges a hefty cover charge before they’ll start selling you the $10+ DLC figures with zero option to unlock them in game.

    I suspect Blizzard took a conservative approach with the gold unlocks because they have promised that these are now permanent – it would be better to buff gold gains later than nerf the gold rate after the early testers have gotten to take advantage but before the game is available to the public.

    That said, if you do the daily quest every day (NOT counting one-time bonuses since they aren’t part of your long-term income) you can expect to unlock a new character per month, plus or minus a bit depending on the price tier (the current roster is about a third each at the 10K gold, 7K gold, and 2-4K gold price points). This is about as fast as they claim they’re going to add characters (every 6 weeks or so, perhaps getting paid by the hero will encourage them not to leave a patch on the servers for 10+ months like they’re doing in WoW these days).

    I.e. if you’re playing daily, you will have an adequate roster (supplemented by the free rotation for variety) pretty quickly, for free, and a robust roster almost immediately if you are willing to spend some money to get started. If you’re not playing daily but are willing to experiment you can play for free. In both cases, you can expect significantly more cosmetic options for free than you get in League (none unless I’m missing some, and League also has a stat-effecting rune mechanic as a sink for the currency that unlocks characters to play). If you’re not playing much at all but you insist on having the choice to be able to select all of the dudes you aren’t actually playing immediately and without waiting or doing anything to earn them then yes, you’ll pay up the nose. As evil plans go, is this really the worst?

  • Glad to see you finally made into the alpha. Kudos!

    Secondly, I’d ask you reconsider the term “dumbed down” when describing the game.
    The revising of mechanics to be more meaningful and intuitive doesn’t have to equal “dumbing down”.

    It’s like the illusion of choice vs meaningful choice. It took a while, but even world of warcraft eventually figured this out. Having 30 “choices” that turn out not to be choices at all, doesn’t trump 8 really meaningful choices. It simply creates more ways for the player to “screw up”.

    The thing I hated most about existing MOBA design was the way so many mechanics were counter intuitive. Killing your own mobs? Last hitting? Having to read guides to figure out the right rune and item builds for your character, rather than get to choose them yourself?

    So many things that were simply overly complex for the gameplay experience they offered.

    My hope is that Blizzard will attract the “MOBA for the rest of us” crowd. That anyone who’s looking for more of a “Super Smash Brothers” style brawler will enjoy the game, rather than the hardcore MOBA players.

  • @Quietwulf:

    “The revising of mechanics to be more meaningful and intuitive doesn’t have to equal “dumbing down””

    That is a good point and I hope you are right, because in contrast in the case of Hearthstone I felt that it was a very polished, but dumbed down take on a card game.

  • @Gankatron: To be fair, Hearthstone successfully managed to achieve it’s design goal; it’s an easily approachable, casual collectable card game, designed to be enjoyed by beginners to the genre.

    Basically “Magic the Gathering for the rest of us”; those who were interested in the genre, but found the barriers to entry too steep.

    I suspect Blizzard is attempting to do the same thing with Heroes. Attract those who might enjoy a MOBA style game, but find the existing games far too intimidating to jump in and try.

  • Sure, but from my POV that contention begs the question; i.e. simplifying a game is acceptable if the developers intended to design a simplified game.

    I think such an argument could be used to justify any game design if the mechanics are “working as intended” even down to Zynga games, but still it avoids the question of whether the design meets the expectations for a given audience, which I will assume for most readers of gaming blogs are more stringent compared to the general public.

    In this case if Blizzard’s version of simplification is essentially efficient streamlining of MOBA mechanics then that is cool by me; conversely if it is to design a game where tactical complexity is sacrificed in order to reach a greater audience of casual players then they will have lost my interest, regardless of how polished the final product looks.

    I believe the latter is how Blizzard approached Hearthstone, and although I am absolutely sure it is working as intended (i.e. increased accessibility > increased casual player base > increased profit), it is too simplistic to maintain my interest.

  • @Green Armadillo: For the record, I think Skylanders are outrageously expensive. 😉

    @Quietwulf: As far as individual mechanics go, I stand by my statement that Heroes of the Storm dumbs down many of the things found in most MOBAs. I certainly do not think this is bad. Quite the opposite. HotS as a whole is a much more enjoyable game despite certain mechanics being much simpler or non existent.

  • @Green If you think you can play Heroes every day and complete every daily for more than say 2 months. good luck. I attempted to do that and last about a month. Continued to play off and on for another few months. Since the wipe, I’ve been playing casually, up to about lvl 14 on my player, but have little to no desire to complete dailies. This basically forces me to unlock char with real money, unless I’m only looking to get one new char every 3 months or so. Blizz is betting the casual, easier nature of Heroes will keep people playing. It will to an extent, but casual players will probably be less likely to drop significant cash into the game.

    Despite the fact I haven’t played DOTA in a long time, their F2P model is much more player friendly.

    I’m sure they do studies to maximize purchases but be careful getting greedy, especially with many viable and good alternatives.

  • Except for smite the moba scene became pretty stale, lacking innovations and new ideas.

    Got to give it to Blizzard for taking the concept apart, picking what they liked and adding things to form a fresh new concept.
    I think this game will become good competition for dota 2 and LoL.
    Perhaps even grow bigger.

  • @Keen; But surely you admit that the phrase “dumbing down” gives a negative connotation about the design choices made.

    “Dumbing Down” suggests that something has been simplified to be easier for the “less intelligent” to understand.

    Streamlining suggests that unnecessary complexity has been reduced to provide a better experience.

    It is, of course, your prerogative to describe things how ever you like. I just felt like it as an inaccurate way of describing the design choices made.

  • I agree with Quietwulf on this.

    The fact that the word “dumb” (in this context meaning not intelligent as opposed to mute) is in the term a subtle hint. 😛

  • I don’t take it as negative as you guys, but if it’s really that negative to you I’ll say “simplified and removed” rather than “dumbed down”. I think the phrase has just become common place to describe a simpler version of something with less complexity.

    In the end it all means the same thing to me.

  • “My hope is that Blizzard will attract the “MOBA for the rest of us” crowd.”

    What crowd is that? LoL is the most popular game out, by a mile. I don’t think there is an even larger crowd, one that finds LoL too hard, dying to get into a MOBA. That’s the problem I think HotS is going to run into; DoTA2 already exists for people who want a more niche, but ‘harder’ version of LoL. LoL itself can be a very casual, ‘easy’ MOBA at lower rankings. It can of course be hyper-difficulty, as the world stage shows.

    What hole, that has tens if not hundreds of millions of people, is HotS going to fill here, especially long-term? (Remember LoL has been the top game out for 2+ years now, and isn’t getting any smaller. The longer it remains popular, the easier it is to make money, as newer players have a ton of champ choices with a larger pool of skins to buy).

    I find Blizzards approach both with Hearthstone and HotS interesting; both are very simplified versions of existing, popular games. It’s the WoW model, but WoW took something that was very complex and made it less so, but even so vanilla WoW wasn’t a ‘simple’ game limited by its simplicity. Hearthstones is, and it sounds like HotS is as well. I think that simplicity isn’t going to help with long-term retention, and I don’t think you can sustain a steady income stream from a player-base that knows, at best, that these are drift-in, drift-out titles.

  • @Syncaine:

    I’ll bet they will create that niche audience, …this is the power of their brand.

    I imagine people that play WoW, but are not interested in the more competitive MOBAs, will give it a try and get hooked.

    That audience will not have to compete with LoL or DoTA2 as the primary pool may actually come from currently non-MOBA players, and then of course they will grab some of the LoL and DoTA2 players’ money also as it is a new hunting ground.

    I think they will do quite well.

  • @Syncaine:

    Well, for myself and my friends it’s been a chance of “barrier to entry”.

    I’ve tried getting into LoL and Dota2 before, several times. But the complexity and backwards design choices, coupled with GIANT game lengths (45min-1hour) was simply too much for me. As a 35 year old, I just don’t have the time. There are other games to play, other commitments to meet.

    I’ve always thought that was a shame, because I enjoyed the *idea* of the genre, I just couldn’t get past it’s execution.

    Heroes (so far) appears to address most of my concerns. It’s straight forward enough to dive in and try, yet appears to have enough nuance to keep people interested.

    I’ve been playing every day for the past few months and haven’t burnt out yet. I’m still learning and experimenting with different characters.

    My hope at launch is to attract more of my friends into a ‘causal team’, who can play a few matches and week and have fun. This simply isn’t possible within the current models of Dota2 and LoL (for me at least).

  • I didn’t even talk about game length, but that’s a big one. The games are roughly 20 minutes for me so far and that means I can get in 2 or maybe 3 games of Heroes compared to one game of Dota2. I’ve even had LoL matches push 45 min.

    The barriers to entry are lower, and the Blizzard brand will create its own niche. Hearthstone is a dumbed-down card game (simpler? :P) and I see people at work playing on their iPads during lunch — people who aren’t really “gamers” but still play when convenient.

  • But the numbers don’t add up for me if we are talking Heroes become a success due to the brand.

    7m or so people still play WoW globally. Close to 100m play LoL, another 40m player DOTA2. Even if you assume not a single current WoW player plays either LoL or DOTA2 (and obviously many/most? do), and every single current WoW player plays Heroes (nope), that’s still just 7m. If that’s the niche Blizzard carves out, the game will be seen as an utter failure. Even if you toss in D3 and SC2 players, and again assume zero overlap, that number still doesn’t scratch DOTA2, let alone LoL. Somehow I don’t think Blizzard is aiming to be a distant 3rd place here.

    Not to mention that retention is key for a MOBA. Just getting someone to play for a month or three isn’t the model, because you have zero up-front cost and there is very limited ‘whale’ options (at least in LoL/DoTA2 currently). You need them for 6+ months, if not years. Is an overly simplified version of that going to retain people, or is the game going to mostly be a stepping stone? Hearthstone already has this problem for a lot of people, where it’s a nice distraction for a few months, but as there is little to no depth, people drift away.

    The game length thing is a strawman. ARAMs, Dominion, and TT in LoL are 20min games, most ranked games don’t go above 30min, and queue times are generally around 1min if not shorter.

    TLRD: HotS isn’t aiming to be a niche within a niche product played by a few million ultra-casuals, but why would the tens of millions currently playing ‘real’ MOBA games switch over to an overly simplified version?

  • @Syncaine:

    I imagine they will actually pull some of the LoL and Dota2 players as well do to the game actually being better. Is it simplified? Yes. Does that make it a worse game, or even a game that is less compelling or less fun? No. In my opinion the game is better than Dota 2 or LoL. I have completely quit playing both league and dota2 since I got into the alpha for HotS. Because it is simply… a better game. It does away with the laning phase for the most part, which is the most boring and toxic part of the game, and so the game ends up focusing more on teamfighting and small skirmishes over objectives rather than last hitting neutral creeps.

    This is where I feel they will draw their crowd from, from the people who want a more PvP experience rather than the mixed PvE, PvP experience that is Dota2 and LoL. Because lets face it, in LoL the PvE aspect is at least as important as the PvP. You can see this ins pro games, where a players success isn’t measured by kills, but more by how many AI creeps they have kills, because that is the most consistent way to measure how much gold they get.

  • Not sure what level you played LoL at, but at anything above silver I’d never call the laning phase PvE, in any of the three lanes nor the jungle.

    Also the higher you go, the less ‘sit in lane, last hit’ the game is. You mentioned the pro scene, so you must have seen how different the game is at that level; they mix up lanes, have 4 people top/bot constantly, and everything focuses not around last hitting (because that becomes automatic after a bit of practice) but on setting up the other side. Solo queue isn’t that, but its still very far from sitting in lane and focusing on last hitting.

    But sure, I could see HotS pulling some people away initially (though again, having a hard time believing its going to be tens of millions who are just dying to play an overly simplified moba). But with it being as shallow as people describe, is it going to keep people long-term? We’ll find out whenever it finally makes it out of beta.

  • Speaking of straw man, you seem to base your argument on the success of Heroes on a comparison to LoL and DOTA2 numbers. How is that relevant?

    Heroes is looking for a casual demographic and isn’t directly competing with LoL/DOTA2.

    Nonetheless even if one bites at your numbers argument I still believe it is flawed in a variety of ways.

    First you have framed the WoW player base negatively, as if it is the primary demographic that Heroes will be able to draw from. I think of it as a 7 million player head start as opposed to a 7 million player wall, a pump-priming resource that any new entry into the MOBA field would jealously covet.

    Second does your statement “…if you assume not a single current WoW player plays either LoL or DOTA2 (and obviously many/most? do)” have any documented validity? I believe we come from 2 different bubbles of reality, as I have played many MMO’s including WoW, but rarely play MOBA’s (SMITE for a short while), and so this presumptive a priori assumption may not be appropriate. Conversely while I have no reason to believe that playing MMO’s is directly associated to playing MOBA’s, I do think that brand loyalty tends to lead to cross product experimentation.

    Heroes is likely to appeal to a wide range of casual players as its accessibility is greater, plus current dedicated MOBA player should find it appealing as a less stressful and potentially alternative way to stroke their competitive egos (after all repetitively playing match after match of any PvP game likely is reinforced by besting other players).

    Since you seem to believe that their numbers will be marginal, seemingly largely limited by the 7 million WoW player base, I’ll make a gentleman’s bet with you. I say that the numbers of Heroes players will exceed 10 million at 6 months from launch, you game? The loser will have to post a short video of themselves doing the Arrested Development chicken dance shouting “I was wrong” in between rooster screeches.

  • So wasn’t even going to bother responding to Syncaine, but since someone else did I might as well.

    Your argument/statement about what rank did I play at and how higher levels of play is different… is the wrong way to look at it, Not sure of the exact numbers but I know there was an article awhile ago that showed that only like the top 10% of players are even platinum or above in LoL. This means that they should not be worried about how players who play at a high level view HotS, but how players who do not play at a high level view it, since the majority of their player base plays at a low level.

    Even though your statement about high level player being less PvE based (it’s more, players avoid each other, and go for creeps objectives more at a pro level than a low level), the fact that being someone who isn’t very good at the game doesn’t drag your team down nearly as much in HotS (and it’s easier to learn how not to be bad at it) alone would be enough to pull a lot of people in the lower levels of LoL. Especially if blizzard actively tries to force a decent community and actually takes actions against toxic people early in the games life, something LoL did since 80% of what is wrong with that game is how horrible the community is. And with HotS being much more casual I can see it drawing a lot of people who just do not want to deal with the dicks that are the majority of the vocal LoL community.

    So there is all of that, in addition to Gankatrons post above.

  • You missed my point Gank; if HotS caps out at around 10m, it will be a failure. Since when does Blizzard aim to be a distant 3rd (if 10m or so active players even gets your 3rd in the MOBA space these days) in anything they do? And 10m free accounts for Blizzard should happen if they put out a grass growing simulator. Now, if you want to set the bet at HotS challenging DoTA2 (I’ll leave LoL out since it has 0.0 chance of doing that) after it’s first year, I’m game. Let me know.

    As for the WoW/LoL connection; there are 7m active WoW accounts, there are 100m+ active LoL accounts. Both are online games. If you don’t think there is already significant cross-over, I don’t know what to tell you. You might not be playing LoL/DoTA, but a huge percentage of gamers are. You and your view are in the minority here. So again, unless you think the new Blizzard plan is to cater to a minority, they aren’t banking on just people like you playing HotS. They absolutely need to draw LoL/DoTA players, and I don’t see how providing a dumbed down version of something that has already reached a massively casual base (because 100m can’t all be hardcore) is going to happen to any large degree. It’s like someone coming out with a more ‘accessible’ version of Farmville.

    Drath; Plat is top 3%, gold is around the top 10%. Now with that said remember that 3% of LoL is a larger number of players than most MMOs not called WoW have, so it’s not exactly a niche in the way we think of niche numbers.

    Not really going to continue the PvE/PvP thing; at plat I can tell you laning, along with every other phase, is PvP. Objectives are contested, and if they aren’t, its due to PvP having happened earlier to prevent the contention. It’s interesting that someone can watch the pro scene and think they are playing a more PvE game than lower-level players, but that’s more of a perception issue than a reality statement I can assure you. If they dropped you into a game at that level you would very quickly find out just how much of a PvP game it really is.

    And in ranked you don’t have people dragging down a team; everyone is at the level they should be at. If you are in silver, you are playing with other silver-level players (baring the occasional smurf account, which Riot filters out rather quickly now). People have bad games, or get on tilt, but after a few games you are at the level you should be at, and only through steady improvement (or getting worse) over a good set of games will that change. HotS won’t be any different in this regard. Hell, even DoTA2 ultimately dropped the hyper-carry design of DoTA1 because its a poor mechanic in a MOBA.

    Finally your faith that Blizzard will create a great player environment is interesting, given that this is the company that game us Barrens chat. But sure, if HotS ends up being a nice little niche MOBA for those that needs a simpler game than one played by 100m people, maybe that niche will contain all really nice people who never rage in a forced-team PvP game. Could happen.

  • Can someone explain to me what a “barrier to entry” for f2p dota clones are? I understand what the barrier to entry is to a card game, you have to buy the cards. What makes one f2p game have a higher “barrier to entry” than another? Is “barrier to entry” code for “I don’t have the intelligence or attention span for this game” ?

  • Having 10 million players for one’s recently released game would be a unique way to define “failure”.

    Actually I chose the 10 million as a safe bet for a 6 month milestone as I didn’t want to be the one prancing around as a chicken on the interntz; by comparison Hearthstone, Blizzard’s “dumbed down” version of TCG’s, garnered 20 million+ at 6 months.

    And don’t lose perspective that at 6 months is in no way meant to imply it will be representative of their maximum player base; 10-20 million players for a brand new game is an unequivocal success in my books, all relativistic examples notwithstanding.

    I think your argument is based upon a more of a philosophical than financial definition of “failure”.

    If Heroes eventually reaches even a 3rd of the player base of LoL or DOTA2 I do not see the dev team getting fired for release of such a relative “failure”; on the contrary raises and promotions will likely be in order.

  • So you aren’t taking the bet on HotS being a viable competitor for even DoTA2 after a year?

    Because lets not be silly here, HotS isn’t a ‘new game’, its a Blizzard themed clone of the most popular game out, with reward hooks to other games that Blizzard is going to give away for free. Again, it could be a grass growing simulator and get 10m to try it. I’ve addressed Hearthstone already on my blog; its competing against the borderline incompetent MtG:O and that’s about it (plus its a little early to evaluate the legs of that game, MtG has been around for decades and remains popular, lets see how well the dumbed down version is doing after a year or so). LoL is a legit, established game. It’s not the EQ2 of Blizzard’s WoW, where they get to walk in and assume the #1 spot by default.

  • Neither one of us can predict whether HotS will be a viable contender for DoTA2 once it has matured in a few years, so there isn’t a sensible bet to be made, just a wild guess, arbitrarily choosing one side or the other of a coin flip.

    Now betting on numbers for a 6 month milestone is something we can attempt to theorize on with some validity given the current state of the game and trends based on other Blizzard F2P recent releases, and the massive MOBA fan base, so since you flinched at my bet, why don’t you instead predict something tangible such as HotS 6 month account numbers, or more importantly what their daily peak concurrent user numbers will be at that point?

    By addressing concrete numbers we can readily reassess your prediction in 6 months as opposed to vague concepts of how disappointed Blizzard will feel if the young HotS fails to meet DotA2 players’ criteria of success, apparently defined in relativistic terms to the numbers of active players of their mature game.

    Your argument sounds far more like a fanboi/hater forum definition of “failure”, that is, my game is better than yours because mine has 100 million and yours “only” has 30 million.

    The point you persistently and purposely avoid is whether Blizzard will consider HotS a failure from a financial POV at 6 months with a player base of 20 million, which is exactly what I am addressing.

    This is an altogether far too common misperception bloggers fall into, specifically what defines a successful game to them as players is not the same for developers; any definition of HotS “failure” based upon relativistic numbers of active accounts to DotA2 is meaningless. What would be meaningful is a 6 month player base of 20 million players as it would serve as a positive indicator of the games growth in such a short period of time.

    Please just come out and admit you cannot possibly have any idea what HotS concurrency numbers will look like in a few years; nonetheless it has in no way prevented you from declaring HotS dead in the water prior to release. That’s actually somewhat humorous, even for an overall Blizzard-hater such as myself.

    Additionally direct comparison between F2P and subscription numbers is not valid. From a developer’s POV, which would you rather have, 32 million monthly active players for a F2P game or 8 million monthly people paying you a $15 subscription fee? I think likely the answer for a developer looking from the outside in would be please give me either, as tons of money is likely being generated by both models. In the same light any developer should be quite happy to have 20 million players at their 6 month anniversary, how can you not see that? Absolute numbers and net profit will define success to Blizzard, LoL or DotA2 profits notwithstanding.

    And in no way can you make the flight of fancy conclusion that because WoW and LoL are both online games, with WoW having 8 million monthly players as compared to LoL’s 32 million monthly players, most WoW players must play LoL, this is fantastically illogical. Candy Crush Saga has 93 million daily players, so if I plug that fact into your “Both are online games” mental process then most WoW players play Candy Crush Saga, …perfectly logical.

    For some reason it seems important to you to disparage HotS relative to other MOBA games. I find this fervent polarized love-hate attitude commonplace especially in PvP-centric games, but your arguments are not objective, and clearly evince a desire for HotS to fail.

    …so again a straight-forward question, what are the HotS numbers going to be at 6 months post-release?

  • There is nothing vague about setting DOTA2 as the target, just like there is nothing vague about setting LoL as the target. LoL has 30m+ monthly users, DoTA2 has 10m+. How is that difficult?

  • Just out of curiosity Syncaine, have you even played HotS? Looking through your posts I don’t see you mention whether you have or not. I am just curious about whether your conjecture that it will be a failure comes from just that… conjecture, or actual experience with the game. Honestly at this point you sound like a league fanboy trying to discredit HotS.

  • Don’t play Blizzard games so nope, haven’t played HotS. Just going off what Keen and others have wrote about it, which is generally enough in most cases (called SW:TOR in 2010 when BioWare first mentioned the 4th pillar).

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