The gaming world reacts to the fall of Heroes of the Storm esports
Blizzard Entertainment’s decision to cancel next year’s Heroes of the Storm esports tournaments has caused shockwaves in the gaming world. Countless pro gamers have taken to the internet to voice their complaints about the lack of communication from Blizzard that could see them out of work for 2019.
Reddit bulletin boards have been ablaze with many gamers who see this as being just another example of Blizzard being out of touch with the needs of their loyal fanbase. And with an estimated 200 HotS casters, streamers and investors seeing their future plans go up in smoke, it’s another cautious tale about how even established titles can be at the mercy of the bottom line of a games publisher.
A lack of communication from Blizzard?
Whilst Heroes of the Storm received plenty of decent reviews upon its initial release back in 2015, it was launched into a hugely competitive battle arena scene with titles like League of Legends already being well established. As such, Heroes of the Storm failed to gain the kind of player base and audience figures necessary to become one of the world’s leading esports.
As a result, even the most naive of gamers would have recognised the fact that Heroes of the Storm esports would get the chop sooner or later. Despite this, most pro gamers have expressed outrage that they were given next to nothing in terms of warning about the fact that the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship would not be returning in 2019.
Even as recently as BlizzCon 2018 in November, there were reports that players had received reassurances that the HGC would be coming back next year. When you include the fact that Blizzard also used the event to show off the new Orphea character, then there’s good reason for the reports that many gamers feel that the rug has been pulled out from underneath them.
As such we have seen a kaleidoscope of different responses from pro gamers about Blizzard’s shock decision to axe future HGC tournaments. From the likes of Liam O’Malley who tweeted ‘I’m so sad’ after dropping out of college to join the Endemic HotS team, to the captain of the Simplicity team, Justing, tweeting ‘LOL what a joke’ at seeing his career prospects decimated, it seems that Blizzard are unlikely to win over any future fans with this kind of lack of communication.
Conflicting views on Reddit
Reddit is well known as being a good barometer of the current state of play in the gaming world. One of the most popular threads at the moment is a Twitch video post of a Korean Heroes of the Storm shoutcaster who is in tears as a result of Blizzard’s announcement to axe future HotS esports events.
The majority of gamers on the discussion site seem to sympathise with the caster’s plight as they feel that it was grossly unfair of Blizzard to cancel the tournament without good warning. Many commenters also stated that Blizzard have been increasingly out of touch with the gaming community, and it’s thought that their merger with Activision has been the cause of such divisive actions.
Despite the general mood of negativity, there are also plenty of Reddit users who appear to be playing devil’s advocate by stating that Heroes of the Storm was bound to get the axe sooner or later. Some critics stated that it was doomed from the start in that it was a pale imitation of other battle arena titles, whilst a recent VentureBeat article even pointed out the basic fact that the HGC tournaments rarely managed to get more than 50,000 Twitch viewers.
But regardless of whether Heroes of the Storm was too simplistic in its gameplay or that Blizzard are just chasing after more profits, it shows that there are plenty of deeply unsatisfied gamers out there.
How have Blizzard handled the controversy?
Blizzard recently issued a statement that attempted to temper some of the disappointment felt by their loyal fanbase. In a longwinded press release, the games publisher stated that they would ‘continue actively supporting the game with new heroes, themed events, and other content’, and whilst this is no substitute for the lack of pro gaming tournaments, it shows that Blizzard haven’t given up on HotS yet.
In addition to this, it’s worth noting that there’s nothing stopping a third-party developer from attempting to get a license from Blizzard to run their own Heroes of the Storm tournament. But ultimately this sorry saga shows just how dangerous it can be to be a pro gamer who puts their livelihood in the hands of a games publisher who can axe a title without any prior warning. Definitely something for pro Overwatch gamers to think about.