Heroes of the Storm Dev Team Downsized, Esports Killed as Blizzard Looks to Cut Costs
In a recent story about Diablo 4, we reported that Blizzard, following years of independence, is being pressured by Activision Blizzard higher ups to cut costs while simultaneously increasing their output of new games. That likely explains the studio’s aggressive push into mobile gaming with titles like Diablo Immortal, but it seems the pressure is starting to have an effect on the studio’s core titles as well.
Blizzard has announced they’re downsizing the development team for their crossover MOBA Heroes of the Storm and shuttering the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship esports league. Here’s what Blizzard had to say about the surprising move:
“Over the past several years, the work of evaluating our development processes and making hard decisions has led to new games and other products that we’re proud of. […] As such, we’ve made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm to other teams, and we’re excited to see the passion, knowledge, and experience that they’ll bring to those projects. This isn’t the first time we’ve had to make tough choices like this. Games like Diablo II, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Overwatch, and more would not exist had we not made similar decisions in the past.
We’ve also evaluated our plans around Heroes esports — after looking at all of our priorities and options in light of the change with the game, the Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm will not return in 2019. This was another very difficult decision for us to make.
Despite the changes, Heroes of the Storm remains our love letter to Blizzard’s worlds and characters. We’ll continue actively supporting the game with new heroes, themed events, and other content that our community loves, though the cadence will change. Ultimately, we’re setting up the game for long-term sustainability. We’re so grateful for the support the community has shown from the beginning, and the development team will continue to support Heroes with the same passion, dedication, and creativity that has made the game such a unique experience.”
Apparently, Blizzard didn’t warn any of their professional Heroes of the Storm players about the esports shutdown beforehand, and, understandably, many of them are more than a little upset. Between this and the strikingly-negative response to Diablo Immortal, fans aren’t exactly embracing Blizzard’s new direction with open arms. Hopefully, Activision Blizzard leadership takes the hint and backs off, but I don’t have high hopes.
What do you think of this situation? Could Blizzard be in trouble?