Blizzard’s quality standards are stellar, as you can see from both their list of released titles and the list of those that never made it out of the gate (Starcraft: Ghost, Warcraft Adventures, Project TITAN…). After embracing the Freemium model with HearthStone and its 30 milion users, Blizzard is now returning to try its luck with the trend established by DOTA 2 and League of Legends. Heroes of the Storm has been running on a closed beta for more than a year, but it’s only now that the public beta has been released with no restrictions and can be downloaded via Battle.net.
eSports have begun to pop up in the media in the same way that other mass trends like Minecraft did in recent years. Although you wouldn’t have guessed it, Heroes of the Storm has become one of the leading eSports games. The so-called Heroes of the Dorm was recently held, for instance, as a national Heroes tournament for students in the U.S., with the grand prize being nothing less than a full college scholarship for the winners. The final made such a splash that it was broadcast live on ESPN2. And this is just the lead-up to the international championship, which is supposed to offer over a million dollars in prizes.
The business model in HotS follows that of League of Legends in lockstep: you can get characters and decorations for them with real money, but that’s completely optional and you can also get them by amassing wealth as you play, although the process is slower. The open beta includes 30 characters and seven settings, which will be expanded with the release of the final version on June 2.
The odd thing is that this game is not at all pioneering in terms of gameplay. The studio just keeps making GOOD GAMES. If not, how else to explain the resounding success of a trading card game and, shortly thereafter, of the umpteenth MOBA to appear in the shadows of the two big ones?
To download the game you’ll need to create an account on Battle.net, Blizzard’s online games manager, where you can also try HearthStone or even the trial versions of World of Warcraft, Diablo III, and Starcraft II. You’ll also find the option to register for the upcoming closed beta of the studio’s next game, Overwatch. These people really know what they’re doing.