More Microtransactions than a Casino
I went into Heroes of the Storm (or HotS) as a skeptic. My elitist Dota 2 nose turned upwards, I decided to download it because I had received a beta code and I wanted to see just how right I was about this silly game. You can imagine my surprise then, when I found myself gleefully smiling as I jumped around as the Diablo III Demon Hunter, slaying my enemies with ease.
HotS is simple. There is no item purchasing, everyone’s XP is shared so you don’t necessarily have to worry about falling behind, there is no focus on getting the last hits on creeps, no runes or wards to watch and place, and you don’t have to focus nearly as much on ability synergy (you won’t be seeing “Reverse Polarities” into “Black Holes” in HotS, and that’s ok.)
So here I was, in my first match ever. It was a tutorial against Bots, and I started wailing on the NPC early – five kills before five minutes. I felt like a god. Never before had I played a MoBA that was actually easy before. I’m sure it was made easier with my Dota 2 experience, but there was no constant stress of ganks, no dread from falling behind the XP wave… Just a pretty map with some enjoyable stress-free combat.The moment that won me over was the first real team fight that ignited. Seeing all of the iconic characters from Blizzard’s colored past all in one place duking it out was pretty darn awesome.
So here I was, overlooking all the design choices I found strange because of the neat usage of the characters and their signature abilities. I happily charged into the enemies base, which admittedly seemed to bear much less weight than doing the same in a Dota 2 match, throned the other team, and nodded approvingly at the quick and manageable playtime that a round took. It’s clear that Blizzard has gone with ease of use and accessibility this time around, and I did appreciate not having to sink 55 minutes of my time into a MOBA for once. I watched happily as my XP was tallied and my player profile and character both leveled up.
But that’s when it happened…
It dumped me on to the character page. Grey. Grey everywhere. Countless beloved characters behind paywalls, begging to be released. Anger and sadness coalesced into anguish in my heart, and my entire view snapped on Heroes of the Storm. This anger was only compounded when I hovered over each character to get an idea of their costs…
Suddenly all of the small tweaks that I didn’t quite like turned into massive points of dissonance. Who the hell wants to play a MOBA where the XP is shared? I don’t want my hand held like that! What if my teammates are utterly dragging me down? Now there is no chance for me or someone else to get beefy and carry our asses home! No items? That makes for some exciting customization. Not! These graphics… This map… This paywall… It’s literally League of Legends! Pah!
If there is one thing that would lose me, it’s putting a price on characters. It’s why I left League of Legends angrily, and it’s why I will never play HotS. Dota 2 contains 112 characters. One hundred and twelve. Do you know how much I spent on each one? That’s right… Zilch.
“But wait, but wait! You can use gold to buy them!” Yes, this is completely true. So let’s break the math down: After one friendly online match, I received a whopping 30 gold. 20 for completing the match, and 10 for winning…
So that’s 30 gold and the match was 20 minutes. Let’s take a look at what some of these guys cost in gold form. How about Azmodan? Hm… Oh! 10,000 gold for a $9.99 character.
10,000 gold/ 30 gold per game = 334 matches before you could unlock him. Thats 6,680 minutes (if each game is 20 minutes or shorter) which is 111 hours or 4.5 days of gameplay. That means Blizzard values your time at 9 cents an hour. And yes, there are quests to be done and gold rewards for leveling up characters, however daily quests pay anywhere from 200-800 gold so it will still take a while.
So let’s say that you find this all a good deal, even though the game is in Beta and they are charging their Beta testers to test new characters. The next thing that really distanced myself from any fondness of the game was the product of this paywall scheme… I kept fighting myself, and the same four characters over… and over… and over. Just like myself, no one else wanted or had the money to purchase the other characters. The best thing about MOBA’s is studying your enemy and adjusting to their abilities, learning the way their team synergizes with them, and finding cool new ways for your teammate’s characters to do the same. In Dota 2, no two matches are the same thanks to the endless combinations of teams and item selections… but here I was; 5 games into Heroes of the Storm and I was already playing something similar and formulaic… Nuh uh.
I really am disappointed that this is the route they have chosen to go. I was fully expecting to have a full roster of fantastic and memorable characters to try out… and then the slap in the face. On top of this they also push to sell you new skins and booster items for you to gain XP and gold… Just…. Ugh. I swore that smell was Zygna but I was wrong.
Sorry Blizzard, but you won’t have my 9 cents an hour. The best thing you ever did to MOBA’s was simply not shutting down Dota 2 in it’s infancy. Thanks!