HotS: Shut up newbie

First, we have one spot open in our CoC clan, “Supreme Cream!”. If you are at least TH7 with lvl 2 dragons and a functioning brain, feel free to apply and just mention the blog. Also the Boom Beach Task Force has two open spots as well; Hardcore Casual. No requirement on that as BB is more casual than CoC, so the braindead are welcome!

Moving on, a few follow up points from yesterday’s HotS post:

If HotS is your first MOBA, I would expect you to enjoy it, but that has more to do with you finally playing a MOBA rather than specifically playing HotS. Imagine if your first-ever MMO was current-day LotRO. You’d enjoy it more than a seasoned MMO player because all of the normal MMO stuff would be new to you, and only after some time would you come to realize that LotRO is a pretty poor MMO.

MOBAs until LoL were the hidden gem of gaming, and the core ideas behind the genre are solid and great. There is a reason DOTA was such a popular WC3 mod for so long, and why LoL today is the top game out year after year. The model works long-term, and HotS doesn’t appear to destroy that model (it does, but that’s not something you will notice immediately). Much like I wouldn’t put a ton of stock in someone telling me LotRO is amazing because you can group with other players to complete quests, people who haven’t played a MOBA before saying HotS is a lot of fun should be taken in the correct context. Not saying you’re wrong, but… you’re kinda wrong.

The “Blizzard wasn’t aiming at LoL” argument. This goes back to the Hearthstone discussion about that game being a bearly-top-50 mobile app. Old Blizzard didn’t release niche products; they made niche products/genres mega-hits and mainstream. If the argument for New Blizzard with both HS and now HotS is that New Blizzard is just aiming at a little slice of the pie, that alone shows how far Blizzard has fallen. Also I’m not sure investors on the stock market would agree that Blizzard is the little guy just hoping to attract a niche audience to one of its ‘different’ titles.

I think it’s more accurately to say that with both HS and HotS, Blizzard simply missed the mark and created two sub-par games. Games that area very easy to pick up, but also very easy to put down due to a lack of depth, a quality previous Blizzard titles always had. And with both games not having a box price, and business models that rely on long-term retention (and continued spending as the dev teams continue to work on them, although I’m not sure I’d call the Hearthstone support ‘work’), that’s a big problem.

Shorter games: I haven’t played a HotS game under 20 minutes yet, while I believe the average ARAM in LoL is less than that, and I’ve personally had plenty end in 15 minutes or less. The surrender time in a ranked game is 20 minutes as well. Worse still, every game so far in HotS has taken that long regardless of what is actually happening. Very close game in terms of kills? 20ish minutes. Complete faceroll? 20ish minutes. It’s almost like what you do in the game doesn’t matter, which linking back to Hearthstone, is perhaps the New Blizzard design mantra? Creating games where player action matters as little as humanly possible?

Same for the community; don’t confuse people not caring to flame you because actions don’t matter with somehow the actual community being better. Let’s not even get into the whisper spam from bots/hackers that doesn’t happen in LoL but is rampant in HotS already.

Where HotS is facing an even bigger challenge than Hearthstone is that we have direct comparisons to other games. People got very upset when I compared Blizzard’s mobile game to the top mobile game out (oh how crazy of me!), but at least there they are very different games. HotS is a very poor LoL, and there is no denying that. Regardless of how much you try to explain the ‘Blizzard twist’ on HotS, it’s a MOBA. And in the MOBA genre, updates are expected to come quickly and with solid depth. Mechanics get tweaked, skills get adjusted, and new heroes are released. Blizzard can get away without updating Hearthstone for months (as is currently the case, in the last few months exactly two cards have been tweaked and NOTHING else has been done with the game), but that won’t fly in the MOBA market, especially when said MOBA is already a kiddie pool of depth banking mostly on a gimmick rather than core gameplay.

That rapid update requirement is going to be a big problem for Blizzard when HotS underperforms, especially after you take into consideration how slow in general Blizzard is about updating anything. How big is the HotS team going to remain when things go south? And how quickly will whatever players the game has left begin to jump ship when the updates slow due to the dev team getting cut back?

HotS is shaping up to be a rather beautiful disaster, one that will be fun to watch unfold.



About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Clash of Clans, Combat Systems, League of Legends, Random, Rant. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to HotS: Shut up newbie

  1. CF says:

    I agree with you about update schedule. I will quickly loose interest if they don’t release a new character once a month at the slowest. I think that’s what hooked me to LoL was the new character on a regular schedule and that new character went into the free rotation the week after it was released.

    I have played a quick match that lasted 6 minutes. i have also played a match that lasted over 35 minutes. It depends on player skill and team synergy like all the other MOBAs.

    Your post title says shut up newbie, are you talking about yourself? how much have you actually played HotS? or is this one of those outside looking in posts?

    Your antiestablishmentarianism is great. Keep questioning the man. you can only get better from criticism so i home Blizzard is reading your posts.

  2. kalex716 says:

    The fact that Blizzard is only going for small meaningful slices of target audience isn’t a sign they’ve Fallen man…

    Its a sign they finally get it too!!! They’re also living in a post WoW world.

    Even they know theirs not going to be a next WoW.

    • SynCaine says:

      Get what? The companies can’t make smash hits in the post WoW world? So LoL, Skyrim, CoC, and dozens of other mega-hits don’t exist?

      Prior to this recent downturn, here is Blizzards track record on the PC (not counting expensions): Warcraft, Warcraft 2, Diablo, Starcraft, Diablo 2, Warcraft 3, WoW. All mega-hits. That’s what old Blizzard did. New Blizzard I guess makes 50th and (maybe) 4th place titles.

      • kalex716 says:

        What they get is that trying to make a smash, world wide, hit is lunacy. It just doesn’t work. You can’t possibly disagree with me on that sentiment.

        The best a developer can do is try to make a great game, for a certain type of audience, the rest is fucking magic. Timing. Luck. Zeitgeist. Whatever you want to call it.

        Blizzard is not an exception to this rule. Nor is Riot Games. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

        • SynCaine says:

          I do disagree, because Bethesda isn’t hoping Fallout 4 turns out to be a pretty decent little niche RPG.

        • cristiand90 says:

          The best a developer can do is make a good game, to make a good game you need money, to get money you need to set expectations.
          So no! Luck, timing, or voodoo magic have nothing to do with doing quality work.

        • kalex716 says:

          Quality work and a good budget no doubt gets you a good game, and a good return on your investment.

          If you don’t think DIablo 3, and Hearthstone look good on Blizzards books then you are living in an insane world.

          But when we’re talking mega hit, we’re talking genre defining success. That is unfortunately, lightning in a bottle.

  3. You said:
    “If the argument for New Blizzard with both HS and now HotS is that New Blizzard is just aiming at a little slice of the pie, that alone shows how far Blizzard has fallen.”

    Pulled from a recent I interview with Kaplan:
    “In the post World of Warcraft-era of Blizzard, something we had to learn and it took us awhile to learn was that not every game is going to be World of Warcraft,” said Jeff Kaplan, game director on Overwatch. “What I mean by that is a game that enjoys 10 million subscriptions. A game that lasts 10 years.
    “Sometimes it is OK to have a smaller, self-contained game.”

    You may consider this as Blizzard failing but I think it’s realistic. You can’t step up to the plate and hit a home run every time.

  4. saucelah says:

    I hate last hits. With a passion. I’m not convinced, I don’t think it’s even possible to convince me, that mechanic is necessary for the genre. I’d love to see a MOBA get rid of it in some way that favors tactics or strategy over twitch timing.

    But I haven’t played this one, so I’m not arguing that it has removed that mechanic in a good way.

    • SynCaine says:

      Post for tomorrow, but to me last hitting is like XP in an RPG; yea maybe you can make a game without it, but odds are high its not going to really work out all that great for you.

    • A concerned Minmatar says:

      Last hitting is a feedback mechanic which gives you an economic boost by dominating a lane in the early game. This focus on dominance rather than outright killing is a subtle point, and something that greatly enhances the depth of traditional dota clone gameplay. If you remove last hitting, you have to either add another mechanic which rewards dominance in the laning phase or introduce a new way to judge and reward dominance and control (dragon in lol is an example, possibly to compensate for the lack of denies making lane dominance slightly less critical than in dota).

      Last hitting is not something you can remove without filling the void, unless you want a very shallow game. I’m sorry for rambling, but I have to defend it as I feel this is something that dota already got completely right.

    • Matt says:

      Last hitting is an artifact from the Warcraft 3 engine.

      • Ranamar says:

        Of course, like any number of terrible design decisions in D&D, people started out getting used to it and now it seems to be a sacred cow.

  5. carson63000 says:

    I guess we can expect a few months of you banging on about HotS now, in a fashion every bit as tedious as the months of banging on about Hearthstone.

    • SynCaine says:

      Seems lots of people love my ‘tedious’ posting all these years. I just wish more people posted comment with better content that maybe brought something to the table about said posts, but that’s why I’m me and others aren’t.

      • Gmbad says:

        Surely you miss the points underlying the comments posted then.

        In that your judgement on a game based solely on your comparing it to another game is flawed criticism, but does make for an entertaining read.

        Why not try to objectivly review that game on what it is trying to achieve alone.

        Without that approach your view ends up being essentially… this game doesn’t have the features of this other game that I syncaine perceive to be Essential. This game must be trying to compete with said game and so it is a failure, the developer is an idiot for trying said approach and so is everyone that claims to like it or play it.

        • SynCaine says:

          It’s pretty standard during a review to compare the focus item to others it directly competes against. HotS is in direct competition with other MOBAs. If Blizzard didn’t want to compete and be compared to LoL and DOTA2, they shouldn’t have set out to make their own MOBA title.

          As its own entity, its a slow, boring, feature-incomplete take on something that generally is a lot more fun than what is found here. The changes aren’t so much ‘different’ as they are worse, and in what should be a layup (MOBA + Blizzard IPs) for something at least decently entertaining is instead entirely forgettable that bores you halfway into the second game and doesn’t show any long-term appeal or improvement.

  6. “Creating games where player action matters as little as humanly possible” isn’t a bad idea if you want to make your game “casual friendly”. After all, if your actions don’t matter, no matter how bad you are, you can still win and feel awesome.

    Works well for World of Tanks.

  7. Neri says:

    I tried HotS for the first time on Friday night, and that was my first ever attempt at a MOBA/Brawler/whatever the hell that format is and… I hated it. There are others who are similar to me but they now absolutely love the genre as a whole thanks to this title.

    Pile of rubbish or not, introducing newbies to a genre they may not have otherwise tried surely cannot be seen as a bad thing? If someone loves LotR won’t they be more inclined to try some other MMO’s now that they know they really enjoy that kind of play?

    Thanks for sparking a great debate :)

  8. Whorhay says:

    I’ve tried a couple moba’s and couldn’t get into them. In fact I couldn’t get past a half hour of play in any of them that I’ve tried to date. Most of the people that I know who’ve played and really liked hots also didn’t like the other moba’s they had tried. So I find it entirely possible that they are deliberately aiming for the casual slice of the pie, and that slice can be huge. Just look at the numbers of people who play games like candy crush. Trying to make a better LoL probably is a fruitless endeavor, but making a similar game aimed at a different demographic is likely to be very profitable.

    A friend gave me a code for hots, but I really don’t think I’ll ever bother trying the game out. After my previous experience with LoL and Heroes of Newerth it’s hard to see why anyone actually likes playing these games, regardless of how finely crafted or deep they seem. The game play was just completely unappealing to me.

  9. cristiand90 says:

    ” updates are expected to come quickly and with solid depth. ”
    This made me lol. Blizzard has never been able to do this.
    They might be good at releasing content (or where), but it then takes them 6 months to fix the issues of said content.

  10. I still think you’re going to eat humble pie when the first Hearthstone figures are released. Blizzard seem pretty smug (Compare with HoTS and Diablo3) and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are catching a lot of whales.

    The trick is that you can always redefine what success looks like (For example, WoW is a failure because its user base is not growing), but this game was put together as silly side project by a team of 15 and has grown to over 40 now. The content is cheap as chips to create and a year after launch has a bigger esport scene than Starcraft (Outside SK) or WoW. That means something.

    Forget about the AppStore – this could grow to be bigger than MTG.

    • SynCaine says:

      The first HS numbers are out. The game is a profitable footnote for Blizzard, rather than some major contributing hit. Growing to be bigger than MTG is also not exactly a high bar for a Blizzard produced, WoW-IP fueled mobile app.

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