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Blizzard Cuts Back Heroes of the Storm Development

Things are not looking good for Blizzard's MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, a title that blended together all of the company's games like Overwatch, Diablo, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft. The president of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, and chief development officer, Ray Gresko, announced today that developers are being pulled from the game and being transferred to different projects within the company. 

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In a press release that was made public today, Brack and Gresko said that it was a difficult decision to make and it will ultimately impact the future of the game. 

“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,” Blizzard said. “We now have more live games and unannounced projects than at any point in the company’s history. We’re also at a point where we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects. As a result, 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.” 

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This Isn't the End for Heroes of the Storm

The company assured they will continue development of the title, supporting the game with new characters and events, but the time between these updates will increase. According to the two executives, this is to set up Heroes of the Storm for long-term sustainability. 

Unfortunately, this news also means that Blizzard had to cancel both of their planned eSports events for Heroes of the Storm. The pro-level tournament, Heroes Global Championship, and the collegiate level contest, Heroes of the Dorm will get the axe. 

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Tough Call for Blizzard

“[A]fter 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,” the press release read. “This was another very difficult decision for us to make. The love that the community has for these programs is deeply felt by everyone who works on them, but we ultimately feel this is the right decision versus moving forward in a way that would not meet the standards that players and fans have come to expect.” 

It is a shame that this is the beginning of the end for a game that many enjoyed so much. Blizzard is making a responsible move by reallocating employees internally rather than laying people off. The MOBA space has plenty of competition in today's market and it looks like Heroes of the Storm couldn't keep up with games like League of Legends and DOTA. We here at Gigamax will keep a close eye on these deveopments, so be sure to check back here at GigamaxGames.com for all the latest details. 

Source: news.blizzard.com/en-us/blizzard/22833558/heroes-of-the-storm-news

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The Overwatch League Revolutionizing eSports

The Overwatch League Revolutionizing eSports

The first Overwatch League championships are over and London Spitfire took home the trophy and the $1 million prize. Gigamax Games was lucky enough to be in attendance for both days of this incredible eSports event. Overwatch by itself has not only revolutionized the "Games as a Service" business model but Blizzard Entertainment and the Overwatch League completely transformed eSports in a massive way.

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London Spitfire - Overwatch League Champions

eSports isn’t a new concept. The company, Major League Gaming (MLG) was founded in 2002 but was recently purchased by Activision Blizzard in 2016. Gamers have always had a competitive streak in them since High Scores first made an appearance in arcade games. However, the world has had an extremely difficult time taking competitive gaming seriously.

eSports Credibility Rises 

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London Spitfire and Philadelphia Fusion Take The Stage

The Overwatch League just broke the mold and helped completely transform the way the public views competitive gaming. With the minimum league salary set at $50,000, selling out the Barclays Center in New York City two nights in a row, and broadcasting live on ESPN, Disney and ABC family networks gave the concept of eSports an incredible amount of credibility. Furthermore, it shows that these competitions can resemble a professional organization and sporting league. What’s even more astonishing is that all of this notoriety is surrounding a single game, Overwatch. 

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This is not to say that other organizations haven't hosted impressive, international eSports tournaments. In 2013, MLG hosted the Winter Championships and offered up a hundred and seventy thousand dollars in prizes. More recently, Epic Games unveiled the Summer Skirmish series. This 8-week series is offering gamers a chance to compete for a total of $8,000,000 in prize money. Yet, the Overwatch League is unmatched in creating an eSports environment that rivals conventional sporting events.

A Year of Hype

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Jeffrey Kaplan, VP of Blizzard Entertainment and Game director of Overwatch

Kicking off in January of 2018, The Overwatch League closely resembled other professional sporting leagues. The MLB, NBA, NFL all develop throughout an entire year. They gradually build the hype until the end of a season when the two best teams meet in an epic showdown. This is exactly what The Overwatch League achieved, and was incredibly successful in doing so. For nearly seven months, fans tuned in to watch the matches and developed their favorite teams and players until The Overwatch League finals came along and the true winner was crowned.

The Video Game Community Is Spectacular 

When the Gigamax Games crew pulled up to the Barclays Center, it at first felt like attending any other concert or sporting event. A massive amount of people all working their way into a gigantic building to watch talented people perform for the crowds' entertainment. What stood out was the people. Instead of rowdy sports fans or enthusiastic concertgoers, this group felt familiar.

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The Overwatch League Community

All these gamers ended up grouping up together as if guided by an invisible force. The gaming community can be incredibly friendly when the toxicity of anonymity is removed from the equation. Everyone felt like a family. No matter if they were rooting for the London Spitfires or Philadelphia Fusion, the entire crowd was rooting for the sport to succeed. The Overwatch League was the event that brought not only like-minded gamers together but forced the public to take note of this massive eSports movement that’s taking place.

As fans get ready for a Season 2 of The Overwatch League, more teams are expected to enter the competition. The massive success of its inaugural season and other countries and U.S. states interest in starting their own teams is not only a great sign for The Overwatch League but for eSports as a whole. There's no telling what the future will hold.

Be sure to stay up to date with the entire video game industry, eSports included right here on Gigamax Games.com.

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Will OWL Competitors Hurt Its Future?

Will OWL Competitors Hurt Its Future?

The Overwatch League (OWL) has brought in millions of viewers from all over the world. Its first week drew over 13 million viewers, outpacing the latest NA LCS season in League of Legends. Blizzards OWL might be finding views are dropping during the second week but reports are coming in that viewership is stabilizing. However, will this last with the recent bad press OWL is experiencing?

Conduct of the competitors and viewers continue to be a topic of discussion. Racist and homophobic remarks and memes are popping up in the stream chat as well as the actions of some competitors are calling the professionalism of the competition into question.

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This Is Just The Beginning 

Blizzard set out to create an eSports league unlike any other. Salaried competitors, one of the most popular games in the world, and holding individuals accountable just like professional football or baseball players. However, not being aired on national television opens up some questions about what type of conduct will be tolerated.

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Players are already feeling the impact of the OWL’s Code of Conduct. Friday, January 19th, Dallas Fuel player Felix “xQc” Lengyel was suspended for four matches and fined $2,000 for violating the Code of Conduct during his individual stream. The official Overwatch League website stated that the league “takes standards of player behavior seriously whether during league play or otherwise, and is committed to responding swiftly when violations occur.

Where Is The Code of Conduct?

Even though the officials of the OWL say they take the Code of Conduct seriously, there is still no way for the general public to see what they actually are. Overwatch league’s commissioner, Nate Nanzer has still not made these rules public. “We just haven’t gotten around to it,” Nanzer told the Telegraphic. “I don’t know the exact timeline, but it’s something that we’re working on, and I think we’ll have it published within the next few months.” http://bit.ly/2nbMDOI

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Having a solidified Code of Conduct available to the public will be an important step toward further legitimizing the Overwatch League. They need to be clear, set in stone, and competitors must be held to the standards. Blizzard is allowed to set their own rules and conditions, but it will be important for the public to be able to understand what will be allowed in the professional eSports league so it doesn’t feel as though Blizzard is making things up as they go along.

Things Start Slow

Just as in professional Baseball and Football, standards and the code of conduct continue to evolve. Now, football players aren’t allowed to spike the ball in the end zone or celebrate with a dance. Rules and regulations of the NFL have changed over time and the Overwatch League is still brand new. It will be quite some time before the Code of Conduct will mature to a point where viewers and gamers can both surmise what’s acceptable behavior. Furthermore, the fact that these events aren’t on national television and instead streamed through services like Twitch could impact the decision making when creating the rules.

It will be important for the future of the league to address these issues. Blizzard is building the foundation for an impressive eSports league. However, if these issues continue to persist, the future of the OWL could be in jeopardy. There’s no telling if these streaming services will pull the plug if these kinds of violations continue to escalate.

Be sure to check back on Gigamax Games as the Overwatch League progresses. This is only the second week and there is sure to be more news coming out of this impressive tournament.

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Sources:

https://overwatchleague.com/en-us/news/21363702/xqc-suspended-and-fined

https://www.polygon.com/2018/1/25/16933532/overwatch-league-profit-middle-finger-xqc-rules-code-of-conduct

https://compete.kotaku.com/overwatch-league-commissioner-just-hasnt-gotten-around-1822393347

https://compete.kotaku.com/racist-jokes-keep-showing-up-in-overwatch-league-broadc-1822376195

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