By Nathan Grayson on October 18th, 2013 at 9:00 am.
Blizzard might want to consider firing its acronym-wrangling-keeping-washing-and-redeploying department (or AWKWARD, for short), because it seems to have run out of ideas. Once upon a time, there was this little expansion pack called StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, but its friends just called it HOTS. And now Blizzard’s MOBA, once known as Blizzard All-Stars, has been rechristened Heroes of the Storm – aka, er, HOTS. Gee, this sure is awkwar– wait, I get it now! Oh AWKWARD, you clever scoundrels, you. But yes, Blizzard’s officially chasing dreams of MOBA glory again, and a big re-reveal is set for BlizzCon next month.
While that video seems indicative of roughly, er, nothing, I’d say it’s fairly safe to assume that this one’s no longer a glorified spin-off of StarCraft II’s mapmaking functionality. One thing’s certain: the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Blizzard DOTA has changed. We’re just not entirely sure how yet.
“Set aside whatever you think you knew about Blizzard All-Stars, and get ready for what’s brewing at this year’s BlizzCon,” reads Blizzard’s note on the matter.
If I had to guess, though, I’d wager that Blizzard is hoping for this to be its Next Big Thing – the rampaging runaway success katamari that rolls up the money WoW’s recently been failing to make and then some. I mean, Blizzard had to feel comfortable essentially scrapping all work on WoW successor Project Titan for some reason, right? Plus, MOBAs are a) proven and all the rage, but b) known for a lack of accessibility. Last time a genre had that look about it, Blizzard streamlined the MMO formula, made WoW a global hit, and took over the world. Nowadays, it’s a company that specializes in doing things the safe way, but it also knows how to do them damn well – with oozing gobs of polish and style. MOBAs probably look pretty good from where it’s standing.
Granted, LoL and DOTA are – from a pure player count standpoint – bigger than WoW’s ever been, but there are absolutely still barriers to be broken down. Blizzard would have to be insane to ignore that. So then, we’ll see where this all goes.
It is kind of funny, though. This entire genre spawned from Warcraft III, and Blizzard’s only just now nibbling at fruits that blossomed in its own backyard. It’s hard, too, to imagine a reality in which Heroes of the Storm isn’t behind the times in this rapidly evolving genre in some way. But I suppose that’s what happens when players invent a genre of their own, tailored to exactly what they want out of games. Everyone else plays catch up for a long, long time.