So it is with last night’s surprise update on the status of Blizzard-universe MOBA . Blizzard now says “we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects,” and thus has “made the difficult decision to shift some developers from to other teams.”
This doesn’t mean the immediate end of the game or anything of the sort.
Blizzard promises continued active support, “with new heroes, themed events, and other content that our community loves, though the cadence will change.” We’re guessing that last part means the “cadence” will get less frequent, for what it’s worth.
Blizzard also says it’s cancelling esports plans surrounding the game, and it won’t renew the Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm programs for next year. That suggests wasn’t able to get the expected traction in the lucrative esports market, where the biggest online games can really cash in on their popularity. That fact alone suggests Blizzard’s promises of robust “long-term sustainability” for the game might not pan out for years and years.
has been far from a flop for Blizzard, with an estimated 6.5 million players as of April, according to Superdata. But that number paled in comparison to the tens of millions of players (and even more regular esports viewers) for genre heavyweights like and . It seems there just wasn’t room in the market for a third MOBA—even a well-received one with Blizzard’s backing—to succeed at that kind of scale.
But ‘ biggest competition may have come internally. With games like and raking in money with tens of millions of players and robust esports scenes, even a minor hit like starts looking like it might not be worth the smaller return on investment. Add in Blizzard’s plans for new games on both mobile phones and PC, as well as other rumored projects, and you can see why might end up being relatively neglected.
We can’t help but think of Epic’s crowdsourced revamp, launched in alpha back in 2015. That project quietly stopped receiving updates last June, just as started taking off, before development was officially confirmed as dead just this month. That’s not a perfect analogy for (which is still receiving updates), but probably echoes the long, slow decline the game can expect as Blizzard shifts its focus to its biggest hits.