Blizzard pulls plug on Heroes of the Storm Esports – Another PR Mess

Blizzard pulls plug on Heroes of the Storm Esports – Another PR Mess

Blizzard released a statement today which announced they will not be pursuing Heroes of the Storm Esports activities next year for the MOBA leaving pro teams and players in shock.

Blizzard’s statement came as a surprise for pros and Esports teams who were told last month at BlizzCon that the future looked bright for Heroes of the Storm. The decision to can the events, which includes the Heroes Global Championship, is down to more cost-cutting measures.

We’re constantly changing and evolving not only our games, but how we support and grow them. This evolution is vital to our ability to continue doing what we love to do—making great games—and it’s what makes Blizzard, Blizzard.

Over the past several years, the work of evaluating our development processes and making hard decisions has led to new games and other products that we’re proud of. We now have more live games and unannounced projects than at any point in the company’s history. We’re also 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, and we’re excited to see the passion, knowledge, and experience that they’ll bring to those projects. This isn’t the first time we’ve had to make tough choices like this. Games like Diablo II, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Overwatch, and more would not exist had we not made similar decisions in the past.

Despite the change, Heroes of the Storm remains our love letter to Blizzard’s worlds and characters. We’ll continue actively supporting the game with new heroes, themed events, and other content that our community loves, though the cadence will change. Ultimately, we’re setting up the game for long-term sustainability. We’re so grateful for the support the community has shown from the beginning, and the development team will continue to support Heroes with the same passion, dedication, and creativity that has made the game such a unique experience.

We’ve also evaluated our plans around Heroes esports—after looking at all of our priorities and options in light of the change with the game, the Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm will not return in 2019. 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 versus moving forward in a way that would not meet the standards that players and fans have come to expect.

While we don’t make these decisions lightly, we do look to the future excited about what the decisions will mean for our other live games and all the projects we have in the works. 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.

J. Allen Brack and Ray Gresko

As Diablo players, after the BlizzCon Diablo Immortal mess, we are more than aware that Blizzard is changing and it’s no longer the Blizzard most of us appreciated during the early years. This announcement was another example of Blizzard doing whatever they want with no concern on how it will affect the actual players or one of their communities. There was no warning from them which meant that HOTS teams and players continued to work towards next year’s events. The way this was announced showed no consideration for the players who have championed and promoted the game. Blizzard has always been ruthless behind the scenes but it’s now seeping through to their actual customers.

HOTS may not be the #1 MOBA on the market but it has a decent audience, but not decent enough to stop Blizzard from cutting costs. Blizzard gamers now have to accept that this post-Morhaime era is going to be quite different.

Jim Sterling sums it up well in his video below. He’s right in saying that Blizzard gamers should be wary of any future Blizzard titles.


Related to this article
  • Activision Blizzard financial call tackles Diablo Immortal – Read what happened
  • Activision Blizzard Stock Takes a hit Following BlizzCon
  • Mike Morhaime Steps Down as Blizzard President

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    16 thoughts on “Blizzard pulls plug on Heroes of the Storm Esports – Another PR Mess

    1. It’s simply a lie to include Diablo 2 in the list of games that wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t moved teams around, because Blizzard North started on D2 a month or two after D1 shipped, they never worked on any other game and there was never any suggestion that they would.

    2. Wow, another dick move from Blizzard. I actually find myself AGREEING with them for once, though. I play HOTS a lot, more than D3 probably these days. But it doesn’t have what it takes to be an e-sport. It’s too casual. If you look at it next to DoTA or LoL, or even HoN (if that’s even around anymore, I played the hell out of that one when SC2 & D3 where in development) it’s blatant. They have too many heroes, too many maps, too much emphasis on the team & map objectives. It’s got casual written all over it. And that’s how I enjoy it most, as a casual game. Taking things a step further, I never personally got e-sports. I know it’s big in Korea, but as we all know by now, Blizzard isn’t interested in niche markets. Personally I thought e-sports detract from gaming over all. I kind of hated how they kept updating and tweaking skills and numbers nearly every week in HOTS. Because I play the casual game casually it’s a pain to go off playing for a month, come back and find my favorite heroes don’t even have the same skills anymore.

      Still, it’s very poor execution to just pull the plug on e-sports in the 11th hour. I know a lot of people have sunk a lot of time into this game preparing for something that’s not even going to happen now. They should have at least run one more season and made this announcement now. Do 2019 and say there will be no 2020 e-sports. For this kind of thing people should have at least a years notice, not a few months. (weeks?)

      • as you say, it’s not the fact the game may not be ideal for Esports but the way that they did it. Why string players along? It’s just bad form.

    3. I imagine they are simply in panic mode right now:
      Heroes of the Storm does not seem to fully meet their expectations (anymore), Hearthstone continues to be a ‘smaller’ project’ and is aging as well, their current plans for Diablo are being booed at by fans, StarCraft is off the radar, and now it looks like their WoW cash cow is losing much more than just expansion resubscribers quite rapidly.
      The state of their latest WoW expansion actually reminds me alot of D3, seeing how they have an abundance of presentation assets ready but no compelling gameplay systems/mechanics capable of turning these assets into fun experiences. And being compared to D3, that can’t be good.
      What if Overwatch suffers from the same disconnect to the playerbase as well? That may happen any day now, seeing how Blizzard seems to be genuinely clueless concerning the reasons for that particular phenomenon.
      Whatever sequels they have in their production pipeline – their new releases’ sales depend massively on the hype surround their reputation as a game developer studio and hype might be a difficult thing to achieve when previous entries left customers underwhelmed. Why was D3X2 cancelled? Because D3X did not sell too well. Why did D3X not sell too well? Because D3, in terms of quality, did not live up to the hype.
      That leaves Blizzard in quite a risky situation at the moment, and that’s not what their investors want to see – they want growth, more growth and even more, always more growth every single year, every single quarter. And Blizzard shares that vision of growth pursuit, what else did they sell their independance to do things in their own way, at their own pace for?

      • They need to make the WoW client free, let players log in and hang out for free, and only charge for leveling, crafting, raiding and dungeons.

        This removes the biggest hurdle for new players and, when everyone is hanging out in town and they want to go off to Battlegrounds lets say, there is a huge incentive to resub because all your friends are doing it.

    4. “Because D3X did not sell too well.”

      Well that article that came out a couple of weeks ago said that D3X2 was cancelled before D3X even launched. Perhaps that was because the plan at that time in D3X was to kill off the auction house and so Activision didn’t want to invest any further money into D3.

      Apparently sales of D3 are 20 million, the 3rd highest selling PC game ever, ahead of WoW at 14 million. Some of that figure undoubtedly includes that weird WoW bundle deal they did at the time (get a 1 year subscription to WoW + the next expansion + D3 for a bundle price), and I’ve no idea how they quantify Chinese sales, and it might also have RoS sales bundled in, but that’s the data that’s available.

      • Perhaps they are in need of an all-skillsystem translateable basesystemdesign to fulfill their dream [, trashed once with Titan, i guess, ] of connecting all their IPs through one, visitable MMO. Diablo is a western ARPG, though, and no eastern Action Adventure with merely RPG-elements. Player driven character development (-> Realizing one his vision of an Archetype provided by Blizzard down to hard- and soft skillpoints intertwined with itemsystem, mob generation and difficulties and so on …) and player generated content/modability are just a few factors that have to be brought back if Blizz wants to do right by the longterm replayability that made the series’ predecessors the groundbreaking games they were.

      • Among younger audiences, pre-purchases are generally a good indication for how hyped customers are about a game. I’m not implying they cancelled D3X2 only because of low D3X1 pre-purchases, but they didn’t need to wait until 3 months past release to see what’s happening.
        D3 was a long and highly anticipated title cashing in a lot of Blizzard’s D1/D2 fame and the fact they released it on multiple platforms. The actual product delivered in response to those record sales, however, did obviously not meet customer’s expectations. So while D3 may have been a top-selling product, Blizzard also sold the franchise’s future with it by delivering the product as whatever the F that was.

      • Remember that D3 is online-only so Blizzard knows exactly how many players play at any time. So although D3 sold well, they most likely saw player numbers drop rapidly after a few months, as many players were disapointed and gave up on it, and they decided to cancel the second expansion based on that.

    5. There is money in anything people want and blizzard couldn’t be bothered working it out.

    6. Wow, this HOTS fiasco speaks volumes about the depth of disrespect Blizzard have on both its eSports partners and fans…

      Imagine the YEARS of investment HOTS eSports players have put into honing their skills for this game… all gone down the drain…

      And Blizzard said in Nov 2018 that “…HOTS future is bright”, and in Dec 2018 turns around and cancels all HOTS tournament going forward, due to “cost cutting”.

      I for one would be wary of depending on Blizzard in the future, for any of Blizzard products.

      So would Diablo 3 game servers would suddenly be turned off, due to “cost cutting”?

      I’m keeping my Diablo 2 Expansion on my PC, and play offline anytime I want 😉

    7. Jesus, Blizzard….You and Bethesda need to be tarred and feathered. We truly are in another gaming crash, in my opinion. This is what happens when gaming companies make a game specifically for profit instead of for quality, with profit as a result of quality. It’s just not the same company anymore. Ditch these stupid card games, MOBAs, and FPS shooter PVP games, and get back to your roots, Blizzard…

    8. The writing has been on the wall for HOTS for a while now, just like it was for D3’s 2nd expansion. Different reasons though. HOTS never got close to the popularity of DOTA 2. It was just a matter of time before management pulled the plug on the devs and fans.

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