Is Blizzard quietly killing Heroes of the Storm?
In a Heroes of the Storm Reddit AMA in May, Production Director Kaeo Milker made the current state of the game’s development sound tough: “Part of our journey right now is figuring out the balance between what the team wants to do, and what the team can do.” With Blizzard announcing that it would shift developers away from the game, it apparently left the team starved of resources for the things they wanted to make.
It’s been almost a year since that announcement that also shuttered the game’s esports league and the game has seen several high-profile departures. The game has lost a senior game producer, lead hero designer, creative content lead, senior animator, and more recently a concept artist. Even if these departures are unrelated to the franchise per se, over time it seems troubling.
Despite this, Heroes of the Storm continues to release new content in the form of cosmetics and new hero Qhira. But with each departure from the team, it’s easy to worry about the future of the game. It’s not uncommon for staff members to leave when they see the writing on the wall in other game studios. And it’d be easier for Blizzard to do it internally where everyone outside the company will be distracted by other games. Come BlizzCon, the game might sit in the shadow of the company’s other massive announcements.
Milker’s struggle to find ways to make things with a small team seems to be getting worse. It might reach a point where bug fixes and balance changes are all that the game receives. Not because the team is lazy or uninspired, but because they simply don’t have the resources to do more. And when you work on a project that is clearly not going anywhere, you get bored and unsatisfied. And you probably leave — if not internally to other projects, then to other companies altogether.
There’s a whole discussion on what it means to create and maintain an online, competitive multiplayer game today. When you look at the conquering success of Fortnite and even the surprise of battle chess games, you start to wonder what the place is for complex, strategic games anymore. Those games will always be loved, even if they aren’t the hits they used to be. Blizzard is a company that at the very least has always welcomed and supported that passion. Hopefully Heroes of the Storm is here to stay in some form or another.
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