Blizzard are planning a six-month coming out party for Heroes of the Storm with a series of qualifier tournaments for a final showdown at BlizzCon.
As the company’s MOBA enters final stages of a closed beta, ready to be released on June 2, the makers of accessible break-out success World of Warcraft are aiming their focus on eSports.
Spurred on by the response to their US collegiate competition, Heroes of the Dorm, Blizzard are working with tournament organisers across the world to bring eight teams to Anaheim, California for a final bracket at their annual conference.
The total prize pool for teams in each region - from Korea, Europe, The Americas (including Oceania for some reason), China and Taiwan - will be $1.2m, with $500,000 of which to be awarded at BlizzCon itself.
Heroes of the Dorm, which was also broadcast over cable TV via the ESPN2 network, exposed a new audience to the game - despite reports that that audience was fewer than 0.1% of American households. But according to Heroes of the Storm’s Executive Producer, Chris Sigaty, that is exactly what they are hoping to do with the game.
“There was a lot of effort that went into talking to the common man or woman that would be watching that has not yet experienced Heroes,” Sigaty told Polygon. The company’s focus on introducing wider audiences to nicher, less-accessible genres is legendary given their success with World of Warcraft.
However this same approach has given rise to pre-existing fans of competitive MOBAs to be wary of the game’s feasibility as an eSport.
”We want the Road to BlizzCon to demonstrate that it is different, it does have this depth that we’ve been accused of not having,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is let the world know that Heroes is a highly competitive, rich game with a lot of depth to it.”
The plan for Heroes’ launch appears to be torn in two opposing directions at the moment, though a continued commitment to keeping livestreamed games “novice-friendly” could help bridge the gulf.