What’s next for MOBAs?


Tomorrow is a big day in the gaming world. Tomorrow, more than a million people will have made a decision to either renew or cancel their subscription to SWTOR. I say it’s a big day because Star Wars was heralded by many as the “next generation of MMOs.” In my experience, it’s little more than single-player RPG wrapped around a near exact clone of a seven-year-old game. Nearly everyone I know who was interested in the game at one point either cancelled at pre-order or have cancelled in the first month. I think a lot of that can be attributed to the lack of innovation — people just know the current MMO scene too well for even a kickass license like Star Wars to save a game.

How does this relate to the MOBA/ARTS genre? MOBAs are about to be in the same position SWTOR is currently in. There are several highly successful models in the genre, but for something to be successful in the next few years, I think it will really have to innovate. I’ve been looking forward to DotA 2 for a long time, but I know the map and most of the heroes so well that I still find myself bored with the experience. Blasphemy, I know, but I like a little variety and sometimes the hero list just isn’t enough.

For a while I thought Dominion might be the answer, but a few months after that map launched it started to drop off the radar. Obviously I don’t have usage stats, but I know they aren’t what Riot would like them to be. I still enjoy Dominion on occasion, but it just wasn’t enough.

One thing I would really like to see is game mode variety. The original DotA had some truly fantastic variations (my personal favorite was -dmarem). I would love to have different options for games with similar developmental arcs to a Classic Summoner’s Rift or DotA match with some different game mechanics.

What do you see for the future of the genre? Will we be stuck with a branching DotA-clone, LoL-clone future or is the next big MOBA development something else entirely?


HoN is free this week

Heroes of Newerth splash.

This is just a heads up for all you MOBA fans. HoN is celebrating its one year anniversary by offering the game up as free-to-play for the week. If you’re interested in checking out the other mainstream modern MOBA, head over to the website and download the client.

I tried out a quick game this afternoon without much success. My team won, but I’m not entirely sure how or what exactly was going on during the match. I played a lot of Dota so I’ve always been surprised by my inability to make sense of HoN. I think there are a few issues. First, it’s totally unclear what skills do what in the game. One of the champions was puking black stuff all over the screen. Another was casting some sort of slow, which I only knew because I started moving more slowly, not because there was any sort of indicator, and another champion was somehow 3-shotting me at level 8. Remember, we were winning, so I’m not sure how that happened.

Then there’s the store. I had enough trouble with the Dota store, but this one is somehow worse. There’s more happening on the screen without any real explanation of how it works. The recommended items for the character I played didn’t make much sense, at least as far as skill synergy was concerned, and the icons for the items are as indistinguishable as the attributes those items provide.

Maybe I’m getting old, but I don’t want to work in order to learn a game, and I think that’s how HoN feels. I think I could probably come to enjoy the game – after all, I loved Dota – but it would take so much time just to get familiar with the items and champions again that it doesn’t feel worth it. Why a developer would make an exact clone of a game but change the names and styles of every item and character is totally beyond me.


Related Posts