Former Blizzard Employee Reveals Reasons for the Failure of Esports Heroes of the Storm

The name Heroes of the Storm in 2019 may have disappeared like it was engulfed by the earth. But one year ago, Heroes of the Storm, aka HotS, still held the position of a prestigious branch of esports supported by a giant company, Activision Blizzard. BlizzCon 2018, which was held at the Anaheim Convention Center, presented the Heroes Global Championship (HGC) competition, with the participation of famous teams such as Gen.G, Team Liquid, and Dignitas, as well as prizes worth US $ 1,000,000.

The Heroes of the Storm esports ecosystem at that time looked alive and well, but one month later, something surprising happened. Blizzard announced that some of the HotS developers would be transferred to other teams, and that the official esports circuit — the Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm — would not be held again in 2019. The competitive HotS ecosystem automatically died, something that made some HotS professional players sad and angry.

However, the closing of HotS esports in general was not accompanied by too much drama. Related parties are clearly disappointed (or lost their jobs), but Blizzard is a company, not a charity. Changes in business strategy are not uncommon, and the remaining HotS developers still continue to update new content. Then let it pass, there is no choice but to just move on.

But is the story really that peaceful? Probably not. According to information obtained by Inven Global from a number of former Blizzard employees, the closing of HotS esports was a surprising decision, even for Blizzard employees themselves. Little is known that this decision will be taken, and many employees feel that the decision makers are not people who are closely involved with HotS and do not understand the importance of HotS for the company or the Blizzard fan community.

Many employees thought that HotS esports would continue as usual, that the HGC would be held again at least until 2019 or 2020. Then the closing announcement arrived, and they were immediately flooded with messages from the community asking what was really happening. They are equally confused, and can only express frustration to management.

Naturally, if they are frustrated, because the HotS development team in Blizzard is a fairly special team. They are a very close and passionate team towards the project, and highly committed to making the best HotS game. But according to former Blizzard employees, the HotS team actually has a problem that has been running for a long time: their workload is too heavy.

HotS is one of the few projects at Blizzard that demands continuous development in a fast time. This game must continue to get patches and balance improvements, also continue to get new content. The demands of the fan community are huge, and this ultimately creates a work culture that is “extremely unsustainable”.

“People who work on the game (HotS) are under pressure all the time and are super stressed. In other franchises, they have a large patch every three months so they have time to relax and play video games in the office. But all those who work on Heroes (of the Storm) keep on working, constantly working overtime to make things happen, “said one source contacted by Inven Global. For some members of the HotS team, Blizzard’s decision is good news.

There is one other factor that plays a major role in the transfer of HR from the HotS team, namely a game called Diablo IV. Or rather, the fans’ demands that Blizzard quickly announce / release Diablo IV. How did this happen?

If you remember, BlizzCon 2018 has become a bad record in Blizzard’s history because of the announcement of their new mobile game, Diablo Immortal. There is really nothing wrong with Diablo Immortal itself. It’s just that the fans didn’t expect that an event as big as BlizzCon turned out to be “just” a mobile game announcement event.

The fans were disappointed and angry, designer Diablo Immortal was derided on stage, even one of the fans openly asked, “Is this an April Fool’s joke?” All social media channels were hot with scolding, and as a result, Blizzard’s management panicked. They know that there is only one solution to restore fans’ confidence, announcing Diablo IV as soon as possible.

And there began a massive team reshuffle at Blizzard. The most senior employees on the HotS team moved to work on Diablo IV, while the rest moved to work on World of Warcraft. Diablo IV must appear in BlizzCon 2019. After all, the potential long-term benefits to be gained by Diablo IV are felt to be greater than HotS.

“They need to announce Diablo IV at BlizzCon (2019), right? That is the plan and they must ensure that the plan is realized. To be honest, most of the talent from the Heroes developer team who broke up moved to the Diablo IV team. Some of them moved to [World of Warcraft] because the game was still alive and breathing and also needed a lot of support. Interesting people who have worked on live games like Heroes are reasonable, “said another source.

The two big things above are the main causes of HotS having a miserable fate at the end of 2018. Currently HotS is still ongoing, but with a smaller developer team and slower content updates. At nearly five years old, HotS still provides entertainment for certain groups, but its journey in the world of esports has closed books.

For those who are on Blizzard, the moment that “HotS died” leaves a fear that occasionally comes to haunt. “If the Heroes esports don’t make as much profit as they want, what’s the point of continuing, right? Looking back, the same thing can be said for my work. Oh, we have 800 employees, can we contract their work to outsiders at half price and save money in a number of places? Yes, they (Blizzard) can do it, so that’s what happened, “said a source.

A solid team, a popular game franchise, and an esports ecosystem involving millions of dollars, can actually die overnight. If a decision of that size could come out so suddenly, it is possible that the fate of employees could change 180 degrees in the same short amount of time.

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