I’m fresh back from visiting the Heroes of the Storm Spring Media and Influencers Summit, and man oh man do they have a lot planned. The team at Blizzard considers it a big enough change to warrant calling this “Heroes 2.0”, and after seeing and experiencing what’s coming, I have to agree it’s justified. Check out my coverage on MMORPG and GameSpace below.
Oh – and another shameless plug for GameSpace.com here. If you haven’t encountered the new site yet, it’s the genre-agnostic project of a lot of the MMORPG.com crew. If you’re an MMOer who sometimes dabbles in other genres, this is a great outlet where you’re going to see a lot of familiar faces.
The low-down on the big overhauls to progression and reward systems coming to Heroes of the Storm with the launch of Heroes 2.0.
Heroes of the Storm’s next hero is introducing an old favorite from Diablo 2 – Cassia, the Javazon warrior.
My exclusive interview with Lead Hero designer Kent-Erik Hagman to talk about the exciting updates coming to the game.
Pretty exciting stuff on the horizon. I think the game is really going to benefit from the “Overwatchification” patch; having a method for earning cosmetic unlocks through gameplay is going to make the game a lot more sticky – particularly for casual players who play for fun without any real concern for pushing a competitive ranking. It’s honestly shockingly rare for a MOBA to offer any cosmetic reward structure (as they generally keep everything in the cash shop), so this has the potential to be a serious point of differentiation for Heroes going forward.
It’s interesting that I’m so accepting of lockboxes in this scenario, since I’ve always been so opposed to them in MMORPGs. I think primarily, you just aren’t going to fault a situation where a developer is taking rewards out of the cash shop and putting them into the game. In MMORPGs, the problem occurs because this is generally happening in the reverse order. On top of that, the loot ecosystem is really different in a MOBA than it is in an MMORPG. There’s a whole element of immersion to a virtual world that I think is key. MOBAs are inherently more “gamey” purely on the basis of being lobby games; the loot isn’t something that’s supposed to be believable within the game’s universe.
I still don’t love lockboxes when monetization comes into the mix. They’re based completely on driving sales by using artificial scarcity to create losers in a gambling environment where there isn’t any real need for that to happen. It’s not like a casino where the losses are redistributed to fund the winnings; Blizzard could hypothetically make it rain ostensibly rare cosmetics as much as they want without breaking the system, though obviously that would cut into the profit margin. I think the lockboxes are going to be palatable in Heroes because you’ll be earning so many through gameplay, but there’s still a predatory aspect for the people who choose to buy with real money. And people will be buying these with real money, even if it is entirely optional.
The actual event was a blast, and the Blizzard PR team knocked pulling it all together completely out of the park. Not too much else really needs to be said here, but again, major props.
I also had a really fun time meeting and hanging out with so many members of the Heroes of the Storm community. You don’t get to say complimentary things about MOBA communities often, but these guys were a real pleasure to be around. Heroes has always been my MOBA of choice, but between my experience with the community and the new updates, I’m really looking forward to Heroes of the Storm occupying a bigger space in my gaming schedule.